We all have different levels of ‘clutter tolerance’ and this can cause frictions in a relationship, especially if your partner's view of a tidy home isn’t in line with how you’d like your home to look and feel. Our home environment impacts our emotions and mood, so when things at home aren’t aligned it can lead to arguments and resentment – neither of which is good for a joyful life.
A recent You Gov poll commissioned by Olio found that almost half of respondents (47%) had clutter in their home with 40% pointing the finger at their partners 'stuff' and 22% saying it was their kids belongings. The most common clutter culprits are:
Piles of random items sitting around (a result of things not having a home)
Dirty plates stacked up
Piles of opened letters
Read on for some tips to help you overcome your differences and create a home where you can relax and spend quality time with the people you love.
Having a good declutter makes life easier
Clutter is anything that gets in the way of you doing your normal daily activities – if it isn’t needed or is in the way then it slows you down. The mess is just extra stimulus and stuff that your brain has to process, this stops you from getting on with what you need to do. It also makes is much more difficult to switch off and relax at the end of the day. I’ve seen first hand with some of the families that I work with that they avoid inviting friends and family in to their homes, so their clutter has stopped them from socialising and enjoying their space.
Is your partners clutter driving you mad?
If you get frustrated with your partners things not having a home you're not alone. Almost a quarter of people (23%) said that their partners approach to tidiness was putting a strain on their relationship. Whilst it may be tempting in a fit of frustration to declutter your partners belongings you really shouldn’t do it as it inevitably leads to more disagreements and can impact trust in each other.
Don't declutter someone else's stuff - always lead by example
Rule 101 of decluttering is always to start sorting your own belongings first. It will make life easier for yourself and you may even find that your partner takes note of what you are doing and the impact that it has around your home.
Decluttering always makes a difference to how your home looks and feels. You'll create space so you can see the things you love and find homes for everything which makes it easier to find items (and put them away again). I’ve often found that my clients partners, who’ve been sceptical at first, will join in the decluttering journey once they’ve seen a few results and experienced the difference it makes. It can be addictive so always lead by example!
Things that will help you notice a change straight away.
Decluttering your wardrobe creates space so it's much easier to pop things away once they been washed – so no more piles of laundry stacked up looking for homes.
Decluttering your kitchen and finding a home for everything in the kitchen cupboards will help to create clear worktops. This makes it easier to prepare and cook meals and super easy to pop things back in to cupboards.
All these little steps create less stress when doing everyday tasks. It makes it quicker and easy to get jobs done around your home and creates more time (and space) to focus on the things you really enjoy doing.
Follow this simple decluttering process to create a home you both feel confident in
Create a shared vision of how you want your home to look and feel. Take time to discuss how you both want to use the space and how you want it to look and feel.
Focus first on things you agree on
– are there any areas that you both feel are clutter magnets
– what does this get in the way of you doing at the moment?
Talk through any potential differences of opinion and agree on a compromise that you both feel comfortable with.
Declutter one thing at a time (clothes, games, kitchen things) and be realistic about the space you have in your home. There’s often a lot of overlap in kitchen equipment so you may have duplicates you don’t need (I once worked with a couple who’d moved in together with 3 cafetierres which they didn’t used as they’d bought themselves a Nespresso machine as a flat warming present!).
Use my Decluttering Checklist to guide you through each category in your home.
Organise the space giving everything a home – popping the stuff you use most frequently in easily accessible places that work for both of you.
Maintain – establish some ground rules for keeping on top of things. Eg – putting the lid on the toothpaste, throwing away old toiletry bottles so they don’t clog up the shower space. A weekly reset of each living area is a great idea!
Communication is the key when trying to tidy up each others things. You can’t declutter someone elses stuff but if you’ve agreed on a vision (point 1) you can pop things back to their rightful home and let your partner know this is what you’ve done.
Enjoy the benefits of a decluttered home
You’ll find it easier to find the things you need when you need them which saves time and money
freeing up your time and space to spend relaxing, connecting and doing the things you enjoy doing together. It may not solve all relationship issues but there will definitely be one less thing to argue about.
A decluttered home will save you money as it will reduce unnecessary purchases – you’ll use what you have and be less likely to buy duplicate items as you can’t find the original.
You’ll be more efficient and productive in the daily jobs around your home as it will be easier to clean, cook and get all the ‘jobs’ done – again freeing up your time.
Your home will be somewhere that you feel happier to share with other people, no more mad 30-minute clear-ups before you have guests. Being sociable and connecting with people is something that’s really important for our wellbeing so being able to do this in our own space is important.
A clutter-free bedroom can improve your well-being as there’ll be less stimulus for your brain to process at the end of the day as you’re getting into bed. You’ll feel more relaxed and it will be easier to switch off.
It will also help as you wake up in the morning as you won’t be tripping over things and it will make it easier to get ready, dressed and out of the front door – no more ‘getting out of bed on the wrong side’… tripping over stuff first thing in the morning is never the best start to the day!
If you found this useful then check out some other articles about how to declutter in a simple way to create space and time in your life:
Are you ready to start living A Life More Organised? I’d love to hear how easy you find it to declutter your home - what sort of things do you struggle with?
Let me know them in the comments below! I’m Sue, a professional home organiser and KonMari Consultant based in Hampshire, UK. I trained with Marie Kondo and the KonMari team and help busy people declutter, organise and simplify their homes so they can get on with the important job of enjoying life. For a no-obligation chat about how I can help, please get in touch. email@example.com m: 07740 782575 www.alifemoreorganised.co.uk I'd love to keep in touch - why not follow me on Instagram or Facebook