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How Hiring Professional Organisers was Mental Health First Aid

In November 2021 I engaged the services of a professional organising service Blue Lilac to help me declutter and organise some key spaces in our home that were, to be honest, driving me nuts.

The background

I had been fantasising for some time about having someone sweep in and sort out the main clutter areas in our home, like Barry Du Bois does on the TV show The Living Room. It was a bucket list thing for me and also in my self image script to be the woman who gets help and invests in professionals who are specialists in their field. I wanted the feeling of relief that I knew would come from cleansing cluttered spaces that had been hanging over my head for what felt like forever.

When we moved into this house in 2015 we had a 16 month old son and prior to that had moved houses approximately every two years, which meant I’d had the regular opportunity to do a cull of our belongings. Come late 2021, we’d lived here for 6 years, added 3 more babies to our brood, I was back to work in our businesses, and time was at a premium.

I’d done a bit of sporadic Marie Kondo’ing and kept up with regular sorting of select spaces in our home (e.g. clothes, office, pantry, baby gear) but there were other spaces where stuff had accumulated and it had become overwhelming. I hadn’t prioritised these spaces or it had become so big in my mind that I didn’t know how to attack it. 

My main procrastination point was that I knew if I started decluttering one space it would flow onto another space and I would need days, if not a week, on my own (with no kids!) in order to do the job properly. As you will know, when you’re decluttering you have to make a mess first and if you don’t get it finished the mess gets invaded by small humans and ends up dispersed throughout the house – putting you back to square one! I genuinely couldn’t see how I was going to get it done on my own and I REALLY wanted to get it done. I also needed a fresh set of eyes, a review of our storage system, and someone to help me make decisions on the sentimental stuff that I was avoiding going through.

Meanwhile, the clutter was triggering me every time I laid eyes on it. 

In a recent survey I ran on my Instagram stories, one of the things Mums struggle with the most is being triggered by mess and clutter. Clutter bombards our mind with excessive stimuli and research has proven its detrimental effects. It can make us feel stressed, anxious, depressed, unable to focus, less productive, affect our sleep and other things.

For me, it felt like wearing a shock collar and getting zapped every time I saw the clutter. Every zap confirmed the inner critic’s voices saying: ‘you are not good enough’ ‘you don’t have enough time’ ‘you’ll never get this done’ ‘why can’t you get this sorted like other people?’ 

The strategy

Once making the decision I was going to do this, with a bit of research I found the right people to help. The Blue Lilac ladies typically worked in 3 hour blocks but with the 2.5hr distance they were travelling to be here I made the decision to hire them for 2 days and stay the night here. This was the best decision I could have made because it meant we could really sink our teeth into the job and conquer several spaces. Over 2 days we got so much done and it felt amazing! I was so happy that at times I had tears in my eyes with a pure sense of relief and accomplishment. Suellen and Rachel were a dynamic duo, offering the perfect combination of compassion, energy, professionalism, support and expertise. I loved having them in our home and working with them. At times it was overwhelming making the number of decisions I had to make in a short timeframe (I nearly had a meltdown at one point) but it was also incredibly empowering and once I got into the groove it became easier.

The problem areas

  1. The kitchen bench and shelf where all the sunscreen, mosquito repellent, pens, general clutter, etc accumulates 
  2. The top of the dining room sideboard – another spot where newspapers, homework supplies and stuff accumulates
  3. The dining room sideboard itself
  4. Kitchen cupboards – we have a huge amount of kitchen storage that I’d successfully filled to bursting over the years
  5. The ‘school’ space – bags, hats, shoes, stuff boys bring home from kindy and school
  6. The laundry cupboards including linen, home maintenance supplies and luggage
  7. The built-in wardrobe in my eldest son’s room which was hoarding lots of general stuff from the past
  8. The storage cupboard in our bedroom
  9. Things I didn’t know where to put like reusable shopping bags

The game-changers

  1. Bringing everything together from one theme/category from all around the house, sorting it and then storing it per category (e.g. home maintenance, travel)
  2. Storage baskets! Big, little, small… storage baskets are now everywhere on shelves in our home (many that the Blue Lilac ladies brought with them), grouping and containing our belongings in an orderly fashion
  3. Being forced to make decisions in a time frame
  4. Expertise – people who know their stuff about decluttering and organising
  5. Help with making decisions – compassionate but firm
  6. Woman power! It was a big team effort
  7. Setting the time aside and having accountability that we were going to get it done, not get halfway through and give up because it was too hard
  8. The kids were at school/kindy
  9. Having someone take away our donations so they didn’t then sit in the garage or back of the car for 6 months
  10. A fresh set of eyes to see opportunities I couldn’t see
  11. Using drawers to house items that don’t need to be in sight, and once the drawer is full it needs to be cleaned out!
  12. Having set places for things and training family members
  13. The feeling of freedom and gratitude to let stuff go!
  14. This event motivated me to keep going and do other spaces on my own because it no longer seemed insurmountabl

The Outcome

  1. Elated Benita! And the flow-on effect for all our family. Definite mental health benefits!
  2. Empty shelves
  3. Clean surfaces
  4. A trailer load of stuff to dispose of
  5. A car load of items to give someone else to love
  6. A feeling of lightness
  7. Looking in cupboards for weeks just to smile!
  8. Organised spaces
  9. New knowledge
  10. Less stress triggers
  11. New friends – Suellen and Rachel are gorgeous women and we have a lot in common in terms of supporting mothers with their wellbeing
  12. New growth for me. I pushed through my discomfort zone!

Would I do it again? Absolutely! And I plan to every few years when we need another overhaul or freshen up. However, at this point 9 months on I’m proud to say that the spaces we worked on with Blue Lilac are still in good shape.

I am a minimalist at heart without the learned strategies and habits to support a minimalist lifestyle. I am learning, and I certainly gained a huge amount from my time with Suellen and Rachel. With decisions like this it’s easy to focus on what you’re going to lose (the $ you invest) but you gain so much more than you ever thought possible!

Most of all what I learned is that these ladies are actually in the mental health business and the mental health of me and my family is definitely worth investing in. If you’re contemplating doing this mummas, take the leap and do it!

 

Do you want to gain clarity on something that you feel stuck on?
I can help. I’m an experienced coach, certified motherhood studies practitioner and mum of four, who helps busy mothers reconnect with who they are and thrive in their own way. I’m offering an exclusive number of 1:1 Clarity Coaching Calls each month. Find out more here https://benitabensch.com/clarity-coaching-call/.

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