• Beth Paul

I am not a minimalist, but. Clutter and my ADHD brain

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Shame is a familiar experience for those with ADHD. For me, a life long inability to manage my personal belongings was a source of intense shame. I had been "sloppy" since childhood. As my ADHD was not recognized the reason for this sloppiness was attributed to innate messiness. My messy room was legendary and I was teased for being able to spend all day in my room and still not completing the task of cleaning it. My sister, a wise young women, was able to use this to her advantage. When we shared a room she would remove any clutter from her portion of our space and deposit it on my side, where it went undetected and added to my piles.

As a adult, I continued to struggle. I wanted clean surroundings and considered cleanliness of great importance but I just could not stick to a cleaning routine and somehow the piles reappeared and the corners were always dusty. .

Then children entered the picture. The struggle began to feel impossible. How, I wondered, would I be able to teach my children to care for their belongings if I could not model that behavior. At some point in the battle to find my couch under the laundry and my floor under the toys I landed on a YouTube video about minimalism.

Minimalism is a trend that is defined by The Minimalists (www.theminimalists.com) as a "Tool to rid yourself of life's excess in favor of focusing on what's important - so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom." Essentially, minimalism is an intentional decision to own less stuff. For some this can mean owning almost nothing.

The concept made sense. If I own less then I have to clean and care for less things. Seems simple. I took a deep dive down the rabbit hole of all things minimalist and became enthralled with the power of owning less. January of 2016 I set a goal. That year I would remove one half of the things we owned.

I set to work. Over the next twelve months I parted with hundreds of books I had collected since childhood, I viciously decluttered every drawer and corner of our home. Extra dishes, spatulas and Knick knacks left by one bag at a time. I got the kids into the act rewarding them for bringing me bags of unused clothes or toys to donate. I joined a buy nothing group. We had a garage sale. I shrunk my wardrobe and discovered the concept of a capsule wardrobe (an amazing concept deserving of a post of it's own).

By the end of the year, thanks to turning getting rid of stuff into a creative focus, I had accomplished my goal and my home, well far from perfect looked like a different family had moved in.

Did the change stick? Yes and no. Decluttering was just a beginning. From there, I still needed to learn how to clean. That too,is a post for another day. And, I discovered, I am not a true minimalist. I like having belonging that I love. Pretty vases, scented candles and cook books make me smile. In time my standard for the objects that I own became do I love it? Does it help me or my family accomplish a task? If the answer to one of these questions is no then the object goes away.

Are you struggling with maintaining a clean home? Why not check out minimalism? All you have to lose is your clutter.

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