Sunday, 3 June 2018

Letting It Go: Why & How I'm Taking The Elsa Approach To Our Home Style


If you'd asked me 6 months ago how I felt about our home - the style it's decorated in, it's overall appearance, and so on - I'd have told you how much I hated it.

I'd have reeled off all of the things I'd love to change about it, listed all of the ways it isn't perfect, complained about the wallpaper I don't like and the fireplaces that aren't my style.

And you would probably have got the impression that I hate where we live.

But the truth is, I don't. And I never have.

It isn't perfect...we rent privately and, living in one of the most expensive rent areas in the country, this costs a pretty penny! But of all the places we've ever viewed and all of the ones we've lived in before - this one was a great option. I was desperate to get approved for it when we first viewed it. It's a decent size, it has TONS of storage space, and I love the bathroom and the bay windows. I also love that from some of the back windows, you can even see the sea on a clear day.

So why was I always so down on it?

Well the short answer is...Instagram.

As much as I know that all of the irritatingly contrite quotes that you read about how "comparison is the thief of joy" are true...sometimes it doesn't matter. Scrolling through Instagram can make me feel inferior in so many ways, so very quickly.

Looking at endless images of people's beautifully styled homes dripping in statement rugs and #ontrend dark blue walls just reminded me of how "outdated" our home was.

And reading about people's endless home renovations just reminded me that, as renters, we don't have the power to change anything about the home we live in and pay so much money for each month. We can't knock out the fireplaces I hate or add on a conservatory, or extend the kitchen.

And yes maybe it's childish to allow these things to make you feel belittled or "less than"...and maybe it's spoiled and entitled to feel such things when so many families live in squalor or with no home at all...but sometimes I just couldn't help it.

Another thing that always got to me was the sheer amount of "stuff" we had and my constant struggle to find homes for all of it. My children are, by my own admission, spoiled. They have a LOT of toys and "things" that take up a lot of space in our home.

And I found that Instagram was making me feel as though this was extremely wrong. I was constantly being made to think that I needed to minimize our lives, to throw things out and be ruthless about it - it felt like all I ever saw was people talking about Kon Mari, living as a minimalist mother, and travelling light through life.

Meanwhile here I was struggling to close the lid on the dress up box, and running out of cupboard space for the toys.

All of this combined made me feel as though as I was failing.

Yes our home was always clean, but our cupboards were full and disorganised. Our rooms were busy and far from "minimalist". And our home was very obviously a home to children.

No matter how many storage solutions I bought, there were always still toys on show at the end of every day. There was always too much dress up for the dress up box to hide out of sight. There was always still "stuff" around.

And honestly? I really hated myself for this. I really thought this made me a terrible mother. Because all of the ones I followed on Instagram...you could never see a single toy in their living rooms once the kids had gone to sleep. Their toy boxes didn't overflow. Sometimes you couldn't even see a toy box at all!

And when I watched their evening speed cleans on their YouTube channels, they weren't tripping over legos at 9pm when they were vacuuming around the dining room. They didn't keep knocking off transformers with their bums when they squoze between the dining table and the many Kallax units to pick up peas from the floor. Their homes were roomy and spacious and completely clutter free.

So why wasn't mine? What was wrong with me?

And that's when I realised....

Nothing is wrong with me. I simply have a different way of looking at these things.

And if I just stopped trying to live up to the example other people were setting for me, and started living according to MY own ideals...I would be so much happier.

The reason I kept on failing at living a minimalist life style or keeping my home completely clutter free - is because I just don't care enough about it.

If you take Instagram and comparison out of the equation - my priority would never be to have a perfect looking home.

My home is lived in. It's just as much the home of my children as it is mine, and I don't want to minimise their presence here or downsize the toy collections that they love so much.

It's not perfect, it doesn't look like a show home, it will never be featured in a glossy interiors magazine - but I don't want it to be any of those things.

I want it to be clean, comfortable and full of life...OUR lives together...I want our things in it. I don't NEED to hide them all away every night. I don't NEED every toy to be hidden out of sight.

If other people prefer to live that way, that's absolutely their choice - but I needed to accept that isn't my preference.

And the minute I took the Elsa approach to our home - and stopped worrying about the imperfections, the lack of Insta-style, and the presence of "things" - and just let it go....the happier I was.

It's hard to break free from the desire to "live up" to my peers on my social media though. Just recently I was recently asked to join in a fun little campaign with Furniture At Work showing a look at my office chair and what I thought it said about me, and my first thought was "Oh no! My office chair is about 10 years old and SO unfashionable! I can't share that on my blog! It's so uninspiring!"

And doesn't that just sum up how absolutely ridiculous the pressure of social media can be?!

It's an OFFICE CHAIR. It does it's job...it's comfortable, it's the right size for my desk and it's just fine for what I need it for! Is it the most beautiful office chair in the world? No! But do I need or even really want it to be?! No...absolutely not. I don't want to have to worry about the boys getting pen on something beautiful and expensive, I don't want to fret if I spill coffee on it. I don't want something spectacular...I just want something that works for what I need it for.



And really, that sums up my whole approach to our home now.

I'm not trying to impress anybody, I don't need or want to use our home as a calling card for how stylish or cool I am (coz I'm not!), I just want it to be clean, comfortable and work for us.

And that's exactly what it does!



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2 comments

  1. I found this post really interesting, thinking back to some of your other posts. I know you suffer with some anxiety type issues, so wanted to give you another perspective on 'minimalist' homes (ours isn't really, but all the toys go away and there is a permanent flow of stuff out to the charity shop). It makes me physically ill if the house isn't tidy. I have a threshold of stuff I can manage, and if I have more than that I am grumpy and irritable, plus I get headaches. Put me in a room full of people, fine. Put me in a messy home (even someone else's) and I get more and more anxious. So go you for being able to be the person that I am not!

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    Replies
    1. Oh I totally understand that, I know a lot of people who have similar issues. I think the point for me is that I'm not and never have been somebody who's anxiety is affected by those things but I was still living as though I was...I was allowing myself to feel pressured in to presenting my home a certain way, and beating myself up constantly over not living up to a standard that wasn't even my own ideal. Which is pretty ridiculous!

      I think it's all about living the way that YOU are comfortable...but the problem is, I wasn't doing that. I was living how OTHER people were comfortable and feeling as though I had to keep up with that x

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