It seems to me that clutter-busting TV shows fell out of fashion a few years ago - I miss them! In the early 2000’s there were a couple shows out there that focused on helping people tackle their clutter problems. Remember Clean Sweep? Or Neat? I used to like watching these shows not only for the organizing tips, but also to see why people felt so attached to their worldly possessions and to remind myself of the joys of purging.
But I always wondered if an expert coming in, working with the participants to clean out their house, and setting up a nice organized space for them all over a couple of days really helped to solve their clutter problems. I mean, so many of these folks had been clutter bugs for their entire lives, could one weekend cure them?
Well the newest HGTV show, Consumed (that premieres tonight at 10pm ET/PT), addresses this exact issue. It is hosted by de-cluttering maven, Jill Pollack, who uses a technique that she calls “shock therapy” to help pack-rat families get their homes, and lives, back on track.
Rather than coming in and working with them to purge and sort right away, she lets them choose their bare essentials and these are the only things they get to keep with them for a month. She takes away all of the stuff (aka rooms that you can’t even walk into and piles and piles of laundry) and gets them to live very simply (aka 10 personal items and that is IT). After 30 days in their practically empty homes and really “walking the walk”, she helps them reset their minds, giving them better perspective on what one really “needs” to have and how to value the things that really are important.
Last week I had the chance to sit down with Consumed host, organizer to the stars, and fellow yummy mummy, Jill Pollack. Sitting in the restaurant of the swanky Park Hyatt hotel in Toronto with sexy Colin Farrell strolling by (Hello?!), we chatted about the show, her organizing tips and the challenges that moms face to keep clutter at bay. And I even asked her for some counselling on how to mitigate a couple of organizing issues between Mr. Org and me. (Yes, we DO have some!)
Here are some of my favourite insights from Jill:
Consciously Invite Things Into Your Home
Jill’s mantra is to “own your stuff, don’t let your stuff own you.” Such good words to live by. She explained that by living for a month without most of your belongings, people start to realize what things they really miss and what they don’t. After the 30-day experiment, they can rethink all of their belongings and only bring back what matters most. I think this is a terrific way to approach the stuff that comes into your house each and every day. If it is not important, don’t even invite it in!
Become a Life Surgeon
Ever had a day where everything was clicking? Ever get into a “zone” and things just went super smoothly? Getting rid of clutter in your home can help create an environment where that can happen, Jill explained. If you have to move 10 things out of the way just to get to the kitchen, you’ve made the simplest of tasks harder. Cut down on the number of steps it takes you to do something and keep things where you use them. By having the things you need where you can easily find them, you can become a “Life Surgeon,” as she calls it. This way you have your tools all at the ready when and where you need them. Did somebody call for a pair of scissors? Stat!
Junk the Junk Drawer
If you have a drawer that is full of “junk,” that should be called the garbage can. If it is truly “junk,” then toss it.
Live in the Moment, Mummies
We had a great talk about moms. Often motherhood brings with it the feeling that we have to be “at the ready” for whatever is thrown at us by our kids. And we all know that kids come with stuff. But time and time again, it was the moms on Consumed who were reluctant to give up stuff connected to their kids. I’m sure most of us can relate. Who hasn’t held on to boxes of baby clothes thinking “Are we really done?” or felt connected to the strangest of items because they remind us of a time in the past when our kids were younger? So many moms hold on to this stuff for fear of the empty nest or of losing those memories, as our kids grow up. Jill points out that things change and we have to accept the stage of life that we are in. Just like we should get rid of those old stone washed jeans that haven’t fit for years, we need to get rid of all of the kids' macaroni art, ladies!
Accept Some Stuff as the Sweetness of Life
Now this was a piece of advice for me. As someone who doesn’t like visual clutter and is inclined to put everything out of sight, Jill points out that having the stuff we use out where we use it is ok. It isn’t always clutter. Especially when it comes to kids. Having a few of the Kid’s Hot Wheels out is “part of the sweetness of life with children,” as she puts it. We have to live in our homes. If you can’t have dinner at the dining room table because it is covered with stuff, that’s a problem. A few toys out in the living room to be played with, not a problem.
Anyways, I could go on and on because I had such a great time getting to know Jill! She is super fun and has so much great info to share. The good news is that we chatted about her writing some guest posts on my blog in the coming months. So stay tuned and in the meantime, you can watch Jill on Consumed!
Tonight Consumed premiers on HGTV Canada. Check it out and catch it every Tuesday at 10 pm ET/PT.
I was in a lunch meeting with Erica and another colleague yesterday, when somehow in the conversation I mentioned something about my husband creating a spreadsheet to manage some aspect of our household. Knowing my flair for detail and having received many of my spreadsheets, our lunch guest looked surprised that I was married to someone as organized as me.
Erica proceeded to tell him how Mr. Org and I are super similar, how we are mega planners, how we both love to have all of our ducks in a row AND how fate has blessed us with a child who is a big ball of energy, who is all over the place, and who is very impulsive. Kinda ironic. Yep, I know.
Parenting is challenging. Any parent knows to expect the unexpected with kids and that even the best laid plans can go awry when kids are part of the equation. But some kids take it to the next level and my son is one of them. It is pretty funny, challenging and healthy for me that so much of my son’s nature pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to give up some control. And the fact that my hubby and I are very organized is good for the Kid, too. For an almost 5yr old who has a hard time reining it in, some imposed structure can really help.
But every so often I get glimpses of him catching the organizing bug and my heart soars! He’s getting better at properly tidying his toys and sometimes he even initiates it himself. When we had our folks over a couple of weeks ago and he chastised them for not putting their shoes in the right spot, I was kinda embarrassed but oh so proud!
And then, the other day, we walked into the living room and he had set this up:
He very carefully arranged some of his favourite Hot Wheels into this beautiful line up. He’s very passionate about his vehicles and knows intimate details about each and every one of them. When we asked him about what he had done, he told us that they were set in order by speed, fastest at one end and then all the way down to slowest at the other. Note that the photos above are taken from opposite ends, with the Le Mans racer being the fastest and the trailer being the slowest. (Of course, as a trailer has no engine!)
It reminded me of the stories I heard about my hubby and his brother when they were little – how they set up ramps to send their cars down so they could record which ones went faster than others on charts that they created.
Maybe the Kid has a little chip of the old organizing block in him after all!