Decluttering with Astrid (22)

Everything in its place

Spring is just around the corner, a time when my mother was always busy with the annual spring clean. A time when we would come home from school to find, completely out of the blue, all the dining chairs stacked up in a pile in the middle of the hallway because the rug was in the wash. We had no choice but to endure this behavior for a week until our house – and my mother – were returned to order.

Me. I’m not exactly what you’d call a “spring cleaner,” but thank the heavens for José, without whose help I could not be. She does things that are way beyond me. She sees when windows need to be fixed. She dusts the tops of the books in the bookcase with a feather duster (that she demanded I buy for her), and she finds things, like the other half of a pair of earrings, or the “wig” of a Lego doll. These crazy finds are then left lying on the mantelpiece or table, waiting for us to be reunited with them upon our return home.

But there is just one teeny-tiny thing with José: She doesn’t always put things back in the same spot. My set of side tables and stools are always positioned along the walls, as if the room has been cleared for a school disco, and the cushions all end up on a different couch. My white ceramics are always spread out across the entire windowsill, so to the outside world they resemble something more of an elderly lady’s interior preference than a hip layout, while my collection of stones from England are always shoved to one side of the fireplace (I think deep down, she’s not feeling the love and would rather throw them away). I’m not sure if it’s some sort of secret code; that by putting everything in a different place, I have proof that everything really has been cleaned, or whether José is just calling my styling capabilities into question. Whatever it may be, the end result is always the same: I race through the house as soon as I get home and put everything back in its rightful place.

And that’s how José and I are kept busy with all the stuff in my house, week in, week out. It’s during these times that I always think of those decluttering gurus. They’d be telling me: “The more stuff you have, the more time you spend on it.” But to be honest, I’m actually secretly a little attached to our weekly “stuff dance.”

Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the senses – and nonsense – behind decluttering.


“Week 22 – Everything in its place”