Decluttering with Astrid (49)

Now or never

I’m afraid that every now and then, I’m guilty of being a bit of a witch who yells, “If I was living on my own, this wall would be a beautiful petrol blue!” Or, “If I lived alone, I’d spend the whole afternoon binge-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix.” And “If I lived on my own, nothing that starts with the word ‘play’ and ends with the word ‘station’ would enter this house!” All of which are of course pointless, because I don’t live on my own. So sorry my dear house mates, sorry that I sometimes say such things in a flurry of not-counting-to-ten.

What do I care about the walls? And I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want when I’m 60. Or perhaps, when I’m 60, I’ll even spend the whole day glued to the PlayStation myself. You never know…

There are also times when I hear myself saying: “If I lived alone, this place would be a lot tidier.” And with this statement, I will stick to my guns and not take it back, because this is quite simply fact. I live with three males, and men have a very different definition of the word ‘tidy’. For example: if my other half says he will clear the table after dinner, he doesn’t actually mean straight away. He means: “I’ll just watch tonight’s episode of [Dutch current affairs program] De wereld draait door and finish reading today’s paper, and then I’ll do it. I’ll clear up when it suits me, but it’ll be sometime this evening. Just don’t fix a time on it.” Which is why, as I’m currently typing this blog, I’m surrounded by plates containing the remnants of spaghetti. Nope, I’m not a happy bunny right now.

His tidying of his stuff in the attic is also an on-going project: one in which varied piles are relentlessly being formed on the floor, being moved, growing, falling, taking root, and now feel almost familiar when I encounter them week in week out. And amid these piles, is my man – The Project Leader – sitting on the ground, ordering some photos from his recent half-marathon, with music playing in the background, and a (working) lamp casting a cozy glow over the entire scene.

And when it comes to Son F., the term “Like father, like son” springs immediately, unquestionably, to mind. If said son declares, “I’ll put my stuff in the wash,” he doesn’t quite compute that this is linked to an action that needs to be carried out too. What he actually means is, “Probably sometime this week or, if you are lucky, tomorrow, if nothing more important comes along that needs my attention.”

Postponing and decluttering are not, as far as I’m concerned, pals. Declutter gurus who talk about ‘later / maybe’ boxes, in which you can put things that you’re not quite sure about yet, have failed to understand the concept of decluttering. In the minds of the men of this house, ‘later / maybe’ means the same as: I don’t have to. Whereas, I’m more of the ‘Strike while the iron’s hot’ type.

So if I’m ever going to write a book about decluttering, one of the rules I’ll include will be: Do it fast, do it now. But, having said that, I’m not entirely sure who is happier. The man who sits there ordering his marathon pictures while sorting through his junk in the attic or me, who flaps around like a hysterical ‘now!-now!-now!’-er as I clear the cabinets. Deep in my heart, I know the answer to that, but at the moment I like the feeling that we’re equal 😉 So maybe it’s a good thing that I do not live alone.

P.S.: We once featured the following quote in Flow, which had a lot of likes on Instagram: I feel like I should clean the house, so I think I am going to read until the feeling passes.” Susan Wiggs.

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

“Week 49 – Now or never”