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Your home, your kids and lockdown

Learning from Lockdown – my 5 decluttering rules for families

The challenge of lockdown

For most people with a young family, lockdown has been a challenging time. The list of activities that parents have had to add to their daily routines since kids have been home from school seems endless.
Over the past few weeks, you’ve had to help with school work, find ways to keep children entertained, carefully plan excursions to get exercise and fresh air whilst social distancing, provide a catering service offering breakfast, lunch and an evening meal (and regular snacks) – all on top of things like the weekly shop or keeping your house tidy – not forgetting the fact that you still need to dial into ZOOM conference calls at hourly intervals because you’re working from home.
Life can quickly start to feel claustrophobic and family relationships have to bear the strain.

Lessons from lockdown

But although lockdown has been challenging, it has also taught us some important life lessons.
If you are like me, you’re actually enjoying being at home with your closest family and have started to appreciate other family members who we haven’t been able to see in person. We can appreciate nature growing around us without having to compete with traffic and exhaust fumes. Instead of jumping in the car to go to another part of the country, we’re noticing how much our local areas have to offer and time we spent commuting is now being used to exercise or read books.
Managing the space we live in – the benefits of decluttering
Another thing that we can also learn from being in lockdown is the value of decluttering – that is, keeping our living spaces organised, tidy and free from mess. There’s nothing like living in the same space for a long time to help you realise that you need to keep it clutter-free and tidy, and that keeping it tidy helps you feel more comfortable, relaxed and happier to spend time there. And the less space you have to live in, the more important it is to keep it tidy.

Staying Clutter-free. 5 key rules for young families

But keeping your living space tidy is easier said than done, especially when you think of that long daily to-do list I rattled off at the start of this article. So, when I work with young families, I recommend five golden rules to help them stay clutter-free:

1. Take steps to reduce clutter.

Young children in particular often receive a lot of presents and end up with toys and games they don’t need. They can easily forget about everything they have and just carry on playing with a few favourite toys! Try to avoid buying or receiving extra presents for the sake of it and concentrate on giving children fewer toys that they will really value. If they’re not playing with something, it shows they don’t need it, so try selling it second-hand or passing it on to friends, family or giving it to a charitable cause. You’ll end up with more space, spend less time tidying up and be helping someone less fortunate.

2. Let your children play with one toy for longer.

When children have an endless choice of toys to play with, they’ll end up playing with them for a short time only. Set clear rules about how many toys they can play with during a given period and be firm about policing them. Your children and you will start to find more creative ways of playing, and their toys will take on more meaning and value.

3. Makes sure everything you keep has a “home”

– a logical space where things can be easily put away, still within reach for children to play with them. A golden rule is to sort toys into logical categories, with labels on transparent boxes, whenever possible.

4. Space savers.

Use fabric sacks to replace bulky toy boxes. These use up less space and are easier to store. Attach clear labels or cut out the toy label/picture from the box to neck of the sack. So even toddlers can recognise which toy each sack contains.

5. Make them responsible.

When you give children responsibility for keeping their space tidy, they feel empowered. It gives them the feeling they are in charge and that you trust them – and make sure you set a good example with your own tidying habits! You can start with making tidying up a competition game. For example, set a timer to start collecting and putting away jigsaw sets or lego blocks against a parent, friend or sibling; the winner will be adequately rewarded!

More than just space management

Following those five key rules offers families benefits on lots of different levels.
To start with, you’ll simply have less tidying to do around the house, which in turns frees up time for you to do things you actually want to spend your time doing. You’ll start to appreciate your living space more and feel less stressed about having to tidy up repeatedly, and giving children clear rules about keeping spaces tidy should also help to prevent those family “meltdowns” we are all too familiar with.
But perhaps just as significantly, you’ll be teaching your children the value of their toys, encouraging them to appreciate and take better care of their possessions. You’ll also be getting them into good habits and helping them to understand the value of taking responsibility for tidying up after themselves.

On-Line Decluttering with Conchi

On-Line Decluttering with Conchi the Home Coach

It’s as though we are turning into “digital humans”. Lockdown restrictions are forcing us to think outside the box, and find digital solutions that allow us to keep on doing things we are used to.

That’s why Conchi the Home Coach has launched her new on-line decluttering service – working online to give you all the coaching and support you will need to declutter and transform your living space using her tips and techniques – wherever you are in the world.

And there’s no better time to transform your living space. Just as many people are using the lockdown to get stuck into DIY or gardening jobs they’ve been putting off for years, this is also the right time to take control of the space you are spending time in – reducing mess while increasing style!

To use Conchi’s words, it’s the time to turn your house into a sanctuary.

The Benefits of Conchi’s Remote Service

  • Benefit from Conchi’s expertise wherever you are in the world
  • Video conferencing is flexible and can be done at a time which is convenient to you
  • On-line decluttering gives you more privacy than 1-2-1 decluttering
  • Conchi’s on-line decluttering service is about giving you the skills to do the job, and to stay clutter free afterwards
  • Because it’s more hands on you’ll learn and grow in confidence more quickly – so you can repeat the process time after time
  • Save money. A digital consultation with Conchi the Home Coach will cost less than if she has to visit your home
  • It’s quicker. You don’t need to wait for Conchi to fit you into her busy diary before cracking on

 

How does On-line Decluttering work?

  • You’ll start with a free consultation via a phone call or a videocall, where you talk her through your objectives and she will explain the process and estimate a time scale which will depend on your time availability and work approach
  • You can then choose to book one or more sessions (see pricing page in her website), which will be paid in advance
  • During each session Conchi will coach you on how to tackle each step and then allow you to work on that given task. At this point the videocall can be paused or interrupted. So when you are executing a task, and time is paused, you will not be charged for it! When you are ready to move on or need extra assistance you can resume the session by contacting Conchi again
  • After a coaching session Conchi will send you over a task schedule report to ensure you work step-by-step through the process
  • Conchi will be available for any questions you may have as you put those steps into action – and ensuring you have systems in place to stay clutter free
  • Conchi will be able to source any suitable storage if it is required

Ready for on-line decluttering?

Just give Conchi a call on +44 7922 454487, or email enquiries@conchithehomecoach.co.uk for an initial chat

 

Why is Conchi a “Smart” Declutterer?

Conchi, the “Smart” Declutterer

I am loving being at home – forced to “work smart” during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It’s not just because I am enjoying spending time with my family, something which happens very rarely now my son has gone off to university. And it’s not just because I get the chance to spend time blogging, one of my favourite hobbies.

The main reason is because my wife Conchi The Home Coach has turned our house into a “smart home”. I’ve learnt that she is a “smart” declutterer.

I look around and feel contented.

What does “Smart” mean anyway?

In recent years, the word “smart” has taken on different meanings.

If you google it, you’ll see it is traditionally used to describe something clean, tidy, or well-presented. But recently it’s taken on different meanings. Just consider how many new terms have crept into our language that weren’t there a few years ago: smart working, smart meters, smart industry, smart speed cameras – what these terms all have in common is that they start with the objective of doing something more efficiently, to optimise the resources and time at your disposal, to avoid waste and wasted time. Spend time more productively, get more out of your resources, lower your costs.

So, our house is definitely smart, according to the old definition as well as the new.

Organised Storage – from Tea to Toothpaste, from Docs to Socks

So yes, now I am being forced to spend time at home, I appreciate being married to a “smart” declutterer.

Firstly, I know where everything is.

Conchi The Home Coach’s organisation and storage solutions are clear to see in every room of the house. In the kitchen, everything has its place and spices, tea, coffee, jams (to name but a few) are all carefully arranged and labelled. Where once I used to waste endless time searching for clothes – cricket socks, my infrequently used white sweater, winter coats – now my wardrobe has been decluttered I find things quickly and easily. My stress levels have come down accordingly.

Quite incredibly, a few weeks ago, I was asked to prove to a training organisation that I had Maths O-level. In the space of two minutes I had opened our filing system, found my Maths O-level certificate from 1984, and taken a photo of it for evidence.

From tea to toothpaste, from docs to socks, we know what we have, we know where to find it – and the result is that we don’t buy more than we need, or waste valuable time finding it.

Everything has its rightful place – and simple storage solutions mean that things don’t just get left on surfaces.

A Style Injection

Also, and just as important, I really like the space in am living in. The longer Covid-19 keeps me here, the more I appreciate my surroundings. I feel at home.

This is because Conchi’s decluttering involves more than just efficiency and storage. Our house is well-organised, yes, but Conchi also has the knack of arranging the objects at her disposal in the space that is available, combining style with efficiency. She organises spaces so that they are functional, but also injects style and character at the same time.

Fine art on a budget

Fine art on a budget

And it’s not about being rich and buying expensive items. My favourite examples of how Conchi’s work injects character into our house are when familiar objects have been given a new life, either by being completely repurposed, or by being carefully placed in a new setting.

For me, that’s the essence of “smart”, optimising the space and the objects you have to get the best possible result.

Cushion covers

Upcycled sweaters blended to make cushion covers

In the lounge, for example, one of Conchi’s stylish old sweaters which was nearing the end of its life has been converted into a lampshade cover, and our daughter’s sweaters that she has outgrown have been upcycled to make attractive cushion covers. Old books have been piled up to create a stylish table to place a lamp on, giving them a new life and purpose.

lampshade cover

A sweater, transformed into a lampshade cover

In our study, the front covers of an Italian magazine she used to subscribe to have been cut out and tastefully placed in carefully coordinated monochrome frames alongside our daughter’s artwork from junior school. Fine art on a budget.

IKEA stools

IKEA stools, repurposed

And my favourite – in our garden, we have created a path using the bricks taken from the old electric storage heaters which were still in the house when we first moved in.

Valued objects from our shared past have been carefully combined with new, functional storage solutions and furniture, resulting in a blend that makes me want to spend time here.

Want to learn from Conchi the Home Coach?

Remember that Conchi has just launched a remote decluttering coaching service, so you can learn her techniques, tips and processes and put them into action in your own home, without needing to meet her in person!

Why not give her a call on 07922 454487, or email conchithehomecoach@gmail.com

 

Stuck at home. An opportunity rather than an issue!

Covid-19 is forcing many of us to stay at home. But whilst it’s frustrating not to be able to go out, to visit family and friends for example, it really is the time to make the best of things.

Why not take this opportunity to get rid of clutter and take control of all those messy corners and untidy spaces around the house you’ve never had time to sort?

Decluttering can be overwhelming

Starting to remove clutter from your house isn’t so simple.

Picture the scene. The kids are home from school, so space around the house is reducing fast, you’re checking your phone for the latest news or your social media, you need to organise meals and snacks, school prep for your kids, so stuff piles up more easily than ever.

It occurs to you that this could be a great time to get stuck into some spring cleaning, but the amount of clutter in the house will always stop you getting to the root of the issue. What you really need is a spring CLEARING, and in these circumstances, this can just be overwhelming and just adds to a sense of frustration.

Conchi can help with remote decluttering
Conchi The Home Coach is offering online, 1-2-1 decluttering sessions to guide you step-by-step through the processes you need to organise every part of your house effectively, teach you some key rules to help you and your family stay on top of clutter in different rooms of the house, provide an effective system for space and storage solutions.
Discover the benefits

Remote decluttering has many benefits:

Video conferencing can be done at a time convenient to you.
You will receive personal guidance designed around your needs and preferences.
You will be in the driving seat in the decluttering process because you will doing it first hand, so you will adopt the new changes more quickly.
You can involve your family when tackling your given tasks, so they won’t see it as an imposed new regime, but as a fun team project and effort!
You will be given a detailed list of each task to undertake so you don’t feel overwhelmed
If privacy is important for you, not having a declutterer going through your personal belongings could be the best solution for you!
Conchi will be able to source the suitable storage if you need to buy any.
Conchi will be your coach or mentor after the sessions, answering any questions you may have as you put those steps into action. You can apply those steps, time after time.
It’s cheaper than having a professional declutterer in your home.
Conchi can guide you to make your space smart, so you will never want to leave your home!

And finally your document filing

Conchi can take special care to sort household bills, mail and documents once and for all, taking the weight out of your filing cabinets and cupboards putting labelling in place so you can find what you want in seconds.

She can also provide you with a fast and efficient way to reduce your bills documents and save you money at the same time.

Call now on 07922454487 to book an online decluttering session and your FREE consultation.

Decluttering, the modern cure for a modern illness

MORE TIME, MORE MONEY, LESS STRESS

Many of us live under the impression that surrounding ourselves with more possessions and objects will make us happier – but whether it’s at home or at work, reducing clutter, using less and organising it better can help us focus in on what we really value, help us to spend less and to use our time doing the things we really love and feel more content with life.

Clutter – a Modern Illness
There are many things that contribute to clutter building up around us.
First of all, in recent years, we’ve started to shop by default. We all have more money and evermore sophisticated advertising persuades us that we need to have the latest, the best, the most sophisticated, more, to improve our existence. Cheaper shops and credit cards have made it easier to spend money, building an illusion that we are getting bargains, but just leaving us with more than we actually need.

Then there’s time … or the lack of it. We divide our lives between work, family, hobbies, socializing, travelling. Managing our home is no longer a priority and can wait another week or month. Objects and paperwork start to accumulate and piles of stuff start lingering in corners, under beds, in spare rooms or even on worktops and shelves. Not only do we not have the time to tidy up, we simply don’t have the time to enjoy using all those things we bought on our shopping sprees.
It’s even worse in the office – if you’re like me, the work just keeps on coming. How many of us actually get time to go back to organise our emails, or filing? We just keep on going back to what we need on the day, whilst “digital clutter” starts to accumulate in folders and shared drives until we start to waste time finding the critical files or instructions we need. If we need to print items out, these slowly start to build up on desks or in filing cabinets.
As if this wasn’t enough, new houses are getting smaller, office space is increasingly at a premium, and furniture also has less storage capacity. We are allocated less space pro capita and end up with less space in which to store our possessions or file our documents.

A Vicious Circle
We find ourselves in a vicious circle of having more building up around us, but having less time and space to organise it. And it’s not just at home, clutter invades our work spaces and offices just as much.
According to many experts, this clutter fills our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on things that aren’t necessary or important, making us less productive than we should be, and adding to our stress levels. When things aren’t stored properly, or there is mess around us, our brain receives subconscious signals that our work isn’t done, making it difficult for us to relax.
At home, clutter can also cause embarrassment when people drop by unexpectedly, or the prospect of someone coming round unannounced can add to our stress levels.
In the office, clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the clear space that allows people to think and problem solve with an open mind.
Decluttering – A Modern Cure
By removing excessive clutter, not only do we free up space in our homes, but we also free up our time and money for ourselves, resulting in less stress and more calm and confidence and greater focus in our lives. Removing clutter can improve our well-being and give us renewed energy.
Let’s consider those three things: time, money and stress:
Save time
• Putting logical systems in place will help you to find things more quickly – this applies to everything: books, records, food, clothes. You name it, you can create a system!
• A simple, up-to-date filing system helps you find important documents quickly when you need them. (It’s not just about physical documents: how much time do you spend at work looking for emails or documents you remember writing, and filed away somewhere safe?)
• Stop wasting time looking for clothes “you know you had somewhere”: your wardrobe will have everything sorted, so it will take half the time to get dressed
• You’ll start jobs more quickly because you know where your tools/equipment are, and you’ll feel more focused and productive by having an organised work space. Less clutter, fewer distractions
• You or your cleaner will clean your house or office more efficiently, hence more quickly! You’ll be able to get to the places that need to be cleaned
Save money
• You will stop buying more of what you don’t actually need because you will be aware of which food, clothes, medicine, cleaning products you already have
• You will learn to buy less, because you are more in control. For example, by having your kitchen cupboards, or your freezer/fridge sorted you will not waste food
• You could stop paying self-storage bills by freeing space in your house or you will eventually realise you can dispose of items altogether
• An up-to-date filing system will help you understand how much you are spending on your utilities and how to keep direct debits under control
• Use the space you have. You’ll end up using the space in your house or your office for the things you want to use it for, so you don’t have to upsize just to store your stuff!! Unless you want a big house (but don’t have to buy one for extra storage!!)
• Spend less time going out. Creating an inviting, comfortable space you want to spend time in will mean that you invite friends round more often, and spend less money going out
• You could turn new tidy space into a money maker by occasionally renting your guest room as a live in Air B&B or to students if this is something you are considering

Reduce Stress, Increased Focus
Ultimately, de-cluttering your home we will help you to de-clutter your mind, give you greater focus and self-confidence, make you more efficient at work and at home, and reward you with more time to do the things which really make you feel happy.
Knowing what you have and where it is will give you a feeling of greater control. You will have adopted a logical system, where things are easy to access and to remember. Also, your family will gradually accept the new system and start to see the benefits.
A clutter-free converter states: “Living in a clutter-free house means I have much more energy, which I put down to the fact I can find everything I need in an instant. Everything has a place – even my handbag is clutter-free. I also sleep much better now, as my home is a more relaxing space.”
Being more organised at work will help you gain self-confidence and help you to come across as more professional. Your space working space will look tidy and efficient, you’ll feel more confident you can find what you need quickly, colleagues and managers will see your professionalism and trust you.
No matter what the scale of the project is, step one is always de-cluttering. When you’re ready for the new, you must clear out the old.

Three tips to start de-cluttering:
Decide which room you want to declutter first.
If you intend to declutter your entire home, start from the less personal/emotional attached spaces like the hall, the bathroom or cupboard under the stairs.

Tip 1: don’t de-clutter bit by bit. Give yourself time. Don’t do it when you have only a spare hour. You may risk not finishing the job and consequently miss out on the opportunity to have a proper clear out and an effective system for that room.
Recently we changed our diet, so our kitchen cupboards were populated with new products, and I noticed some snags in the existing system, which was not working any longer for us. Pasta packets were difficult to reach, spice jars together with noodles, quinoa and rice packets in another cupboard. We had stopped buying certain products, so I had loads of space left on shelves. Also, the kids started cooking some food themselves, so I decided to give our kitchen a radical re-shuffle. After some assessment I decided to create an effective storage system where all food will be stored in transparent boxes to fit the full lengths and width of my cupboards and place them according to our needs. The boxes were all labelled, and everybody knew where to find stuff and it was easy to replenish food once finished, because everything was visible and easy to reach.
It took much longer to sort, but it wouldn’t have been achievable in one hour. Now, it takes only few minutes to put the big shopping away, no food is wasted, and everything is at our fingertips.

Tip 2: Be open minded when de-cluttering. It is a purging exercise which makes us realise that life changes and we need to adjust to it. The best approach is to appreciate what we were and had, to let it go and accept a new phase in our life. But, it’s easier said than done! Don’t embark on it on your own, especially if strong emotions are involved. Ask for assistance but avoid close family or intimate friends because they may not be as objective and diplomatic as you would need. A friend, for example, could tell you to throw away your children’s birthday cards, but you may feel hurt and may disagree. So, you will keep them for another decade, maybe! A professional de-clutterer instead would suggest considering which emotions are attached to them, and accordingly she may recommend you keep a few cards with meaningful messages written inside and discard those which say just “happy birthday”, for example.

Tip 3: Every object must have a “house”
In order to keep your house or office tidy and organised, things need to be stored or to put away using a logical system. By having the correct location, which is easy to access and to remember, you will have an inviting, clutter-free environment to work in efficiently. You, your family or colleagues will learn to put things away because they know where to put them. Labelling and using transparent boxes, for example, are a must for a well organised workshop or office. Keep your desk as clear as possible. Go paperless as much as you can. Don’t print stuff. You will also do your little bit for the environment! Create a digital filing system and because paper is inevitable, have a filing cabinet or sturdy folders with labels and dividers. The only paper on your desk should be your planner, note pad, and in and out trays. Since my desk is quite small, I devised trays which hang like a magazine rack on the side of my desk.

Defenestration literally meaning “to throw out of a window”

Defenestration is not only an installation (Brian Goggin- 1997, San Francisco), but an old New Year’s Eve Italian tradition.              In fact, I remember when I was a young girl, on 31st December, at midnight, people were throwing anything which was old and broken out of their windows and balconies, like chipped crockery and glassware, old clothes and small pieces of furniture.
Seems crazy? YES! I can’t believe we did that! It was rather dangerous and uncivilised, but very liberating. It marked the beginning of a new year and a new life. Obviously, everybody didn’t dare to walk on a pavement at midnight!

My wish for 2018 is for each of us to be aware of what holds us back, and look forward afresh with a new energy. In fact, the act of “throwing out” becomes an uplifting gesture of release. Our resolutions to lose weight, to earn more money, to eat healthier, to travel more, to learn a new language, etc. are not easy to maintain. They are long term goals which need a clear mind set and strong motives.

Starting from revitalising your space could help create a clearer mindset to literally declutter your life as well as your space. Sorting out physical objects, decluttering and disposing of unwanted objects is a simpler but still rewarding resolution because it can be done in one go! Once done, you will feel more in control, uplifted and energised.
Conchi offers you an efficient and sensitive decluttering and organising service. Book now until the first week of January to claim your first free hour *.

 

 

Call: 07922454487
Book: www.conchithehomecoach.co.uk
Email: conchithehomecoach@gmail.com

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