I paid someone $1,000 to help me throw stuff out.
The painful realisation hit me when the topic was dredged up during discussions around the office about ‘clutter’ being a first world problem. Was I the ultimate elitist, or a desperado who will pay any price to regain my sanity (and space?). I can’t tell you this, but I can impart to you what my thousand dollars got me.
De-cluttering is big business these days since Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” rose to the top of the NYT best-sellers list, and stayed there. There’s been a sequel, spin-off blogs, listicles, podcasts, critics and detractors. Kondo had tapped into a weakness in the modern human condition, the yearning for space and clarity. Neither of which I was getting in my dusty rubble of a semi.
Mia Freedman, Kate de Brito and Monique Bowley discuss whether clutter is the ultimate First World Problem. Post continues after video…
To be honest, I was also moving house on my own (hubby was travelling) with two kids under the age of 3. The sheer prospect of relocating my junk into a house with less storage was panic-inducing. Also I come from a long line of hoarders. Those of us with Chinese heritage will know of at least one relative who keeps newspapers decades old, with no other purpose except to prop up the broken fan in the garage, alongside the meticulously washed coke bottles (in case of a zombie apocalypse of course).
It was all too much. I couldn’t just follow the instructions in Kondo’s book. I needed someone to do it for me.
I employed the same due diligence in finding a personal organiser in the same way I approach my job. I googled it, and cross-referenced her stats with reviews in my Facebook mums’ group.
Georgie was great. At our first meeting she wore a neat twin set cardigan, and carried a notebook. I expected her to snap on some gloves and go straight into the business of tossing my detritus out, much like the meticulous and ruthless way Julie Andrews cleaned up the toys in Mary Poppins. But no. Georgie frustratingly sat down with her notebook, and asked me to detail what my big concerns were.
Three hours later I was still sitting on that couch, having gone through the state of my marriage, my relationship with my parents and siblings, and how uncontrollable my children had become. The real work would begin in my next session.
We faced my Mount Everest in session two. My wardrobe. I knew what was buried in that moth eaten pile. A basketball shirt from two boyfriends back. A gap jacket I picked up from a skip in New York. The cardigan my cousin lent me which I never returned. It was a reminder of my sins and I needed to get rid of it all.
Georgie stood there holding out each hanger while I sat back like a judge on The Voice, indicating my ‘stay or go’ option with the flick of my thumb. I never understood how painstaking it was to do a thorough spring clean. Going through every article of clothing and the memories attached to them was exhausting, and I was glad to not be doing it alone. In the end she took away 6 garbage bags stuffed with memories. Good riddance.
Cleaning out the kitchen was less emotional. It’s incredible how much joy a million plastic little baskets will bring to your life when they contain the mess of a hundred spice packets. I could see the irony in this: purchasing more stuff to contain your stuff. But this was not just about purging, it was also about organising and segmenting parts of my life.
Fast forward 8 months. The mess has slowly seeped back into my house. It was inevitable.
Georgie wasn’t going to fix my life, but she did ease the pain of moving. She gave me the space and clarity at the time to focus on other things in my life. Like finding a job. And playing with my kids.
And for that, I’m pretty grateful.
Would you pay $1000 to have your house de-cluttered?