Can decluttering spice up your relationship?
I've been with my husband for over 10 years and he is always so much happier when I keep the house tidy. A chaotic house has a huge impact on his stress levels. The issue is, I was raised in chaos. It was a happy type of chaos though and therefore living in a show home is not my number one priority. For one, we have two young kids and when I am without them, I would prefer to be writing and creating content, not cleaning up for them to trash the place as soon as they get home. I was speaking on BBC Radio about this recently and what became very clear is that there can be a lack of motivation when you live with a perfectionist. It can be exhausting trying to keep up to such high standards, especially when you do not share the same level of passion. Without passion we have no energy.
I believe that we are all perfectionists at something. I may not deep clean a kitchen or iron to my husband’s high standards, but I am great at ensuring we eat lots of fresh, veggie rich meals and I am proactive when it comes to scheduling in self-care and screen free detox time. After all, I need to practise what I preach. I'm passionate about mental, digital and emotional decluttering, yet my husband is desperate for me to share his passion of decluttering around the home. So, how do we compromise? Here are some tips that have helped us, granted we are very much a work in progress. Marriage can feel like a walk in the park and sometimes it's Jurassic Park.
I think it's so important to listen with an open mind to discover what makes us the way we are. It can be very easy to judge, without taking the time to try and see things from the other persons point of view. In my opinion, as much as I love a tidy house, there are projects that come first. Projects that excite me more. I wrote my first book, Time for a Mojo Injection, in an often-messy kitchen. The dishes had to wait, they got sorted in the end and were quickly replaced with new ones. But I have a book. A book that isn't going anywhere. A book that has been reviewed as 'life changing'. Yet the state of my kitchen 5 months ago, 2 weeks ago has been forgotten. From my husband’s point of view, he feels more organised and happier when the house is in order. He likes to know where things are and he likes to feel a sense of control. This is his type of life changing. I would encourage you to challenge each other. Which habits have you picked up from parents and role models? Which of those habits serve you well and which hold you back?
Pitch your passion
We often make a pitch to each other, as we do the dishes. He washes, I dry because he apparently washes better. Go figure. His pitch was that a house with less clutter helps his mental health. We get out the door quicker because we know where things are. When we work from home, we feel more creative and focused with the minimalist approach. Events, invitations and daily admin is less likely to be forgotten.
After his pitch, my compromise was that I would either get up a little earlier or dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes a day to declutter. To give clothes to charity I no longer wear, to readdress the never-ending clothes pile chair. To sort through the mail and paperwork that gets dumped on the breakfast bar. To make this time more enjoyable and productive I tune into motivational podcasts or audio books.
My latest pitch was that my husband takes more time for a mental declutter. To listen more and judge less. To appreciate the things that are really important to me and sometimes why those tasks need to come before a sink full of dishes. To cut both of us some slack and know when it's time to switch off and sit down. My rule is that there is no housework after 9pm, so that we can enjoy downtime together. After my pitch, I found that he nagged a little less which meant less arguments and we worked together as a team. Taking the time to talk really helps, rather than letting the resentment build.
A digital declutter is equally important to us both. We have had a rule for a few years that there should be no phones on the dinner table. Each weekend, we try and talk a minimum of a half day detox. This mostly involves leaving the house as a family, getting some fresh air or visiting new places. I also invested in a Lazy Spa to get us out into the garden more and away from such tempting screens full of information overload. We all loved being in the water so it's a great screen free mojo injection. It can be all too easy to become a robot, to forget how to communicate face to face and look those we love in the eyes. We need to do more of this. For one, studies have shown that too much screen time is already having a negative impact in terms of the creativity of our kids. We all need time to get creative, time outside, time to connect. It's of no surprise that many of us get our best ideas when we are out running or in nature. These days it can feel impossible to find the time which is why we schedule it in the diary or it doesn't happen. It's as simple as that.
I've been studying mindfulness for the past few years and I recently completed an 8-week course on it with The Mindful Enterprise. I'm now very keen to send my husband on it too. I think it's important for our relationships that we take time out to just be. Regular mindfulness practise allows us to reconnect with who we are and our deeper purpose in life. Personally, it gave me permission to quieten down my active mind. A mind that is often full of ideas, a mind that loves to use its imagination and create. We know that our minds need comfort. They need to slow down. There is a fine line between being driven and working on overdrive. Taking time out allows us to challenge the thoughts that we become aware of. To challenge the stories we tell ourselves and the limiting beliefs that we have picked up over the years. We all need an emotional declutter and I believe that ultimately this is the most important step towards spicing up our relationships. The key is that we grow together and not apart. Hopefully these words stick with you when you are doing the dishes later. Go on, make your passion pitch and make it a good one.
Jojo Fraser is an author, motivational speaker and podcaster. Find her across social @jojofrasermojo or at mummyjojo.com