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When Does ‘Collecting’ Tip Into ‘Hoarding’?

As I’ve chronicled extensively through the last month or two, I’ve just moved house. Now in my new house, I’m still putting together the last few bits to make the house actually feel like a home. That means lugging my glass cabinets upstairs to the spare room, and starting to redisplay the collections that I’ve been curating over at least the last decade.

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I didn’t think I’d collected that much until I had to pack it all up. It was some of the first things I packed up, as anything decor could easily be thrown in a box and left, without affecting day to day life. (Try packing up a kitchen. You can’t. You need everything still. It is a nightmare). As I packed, I realised just how much stuff I do collect. Here’s a non exhaustive list of the items I collect over time:

 

  • My Little Pony toys
  • Fashion dolls (Barbie, Monster High, Disney dolls, etc.)
  • Terrible fridge magnets (the more ugly and hideous, the better)
  • Enamel pins
  • Artwork
  • Theme park ride photos
  • Empty notebooks (that I will fill one day, I swear)

 

This isn’t even all of it. That’s not including the things my husband collects, such as DVDs and Hatsune Miku figures. There’s a lot of stuff in the house, is what I’m saying.

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Moving house has brought me to realise just how much I collect. Some things don’t take up a lot of room, such as the magnets and pins. Magnets, obviously, live on the fridge, and I display my pins on cork boards so they’re just hanging out on the wall. Other things do take up room though, and it’s a fine balance between things that ‘spark joy’ and just straight up clutter.

There is a small voice in my head that’s screaming about becoming a hoarder, that I’m wasting my time and money on these things as they’re just ‘things’, after all. What are they really? Am I just filling up my house with useless junk?

That’s the question. I do try and keep on top of my collecting, though. I know many people who want to collect full sets of things, such as My Little Pony toys and playsets. As cute as the playsets are, I’ve already made peace with the fact I’ll never have the room for them. I also don’t pick up full sets of the toys, unless I like each one. It’s better for me to have less toys that I love equally, rather than packing the spare room full of every plastic filly Hasbro ever made.

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I also regularly go through and clear out my collections. Sometimes you realise you just don’t like something as much anymore. That doll was great when I bought it, but now I just feel rather ‘eh’ about it. These things go on eBay and I send them on to someone who would appreciate them much more than I would.

At the end of the day, collecting is something that makes me happy. I’m not big on makeup, I don’t own a lot of shoes, and I’m not into expensive bling. Instead, I spend my money on plastic toys and little shiny trinkets. As long as I’m not creating hallways in my home from discarded toys and plastic junk, then I think I’m going to be ok.

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Why It’s Ok Not To Own A Show Home, Or, What The Hell Is ‘Hinching’?

Right now, my entire life is packed full of boxes and chaos. Nothing in my house is where it’s meant to be. I’ve spent today pulling picture hooks out of walls and filling them back in, readying the house for the next people who move in. As I’m about to move this week, there’s so much to be done that I can’t even think about keeping on top of a cleaning schedule. In fact, with so many boxes piled up in my living room, I can’t even hoover the carpet.

I think that’s why I had such a negative reaction to seeing Mrs. Hinch’s Instagram account this week. My friends pointed her out to me, saying that they love watching her Instagram Stories and getting tips on how to clean their houses. When I took a look though, it seemed like her feed was full of everything that I just can’t get along with.

(Please note, I am in no way meaning to insult or do down Mrs. Hinch. Her feed is full of positivity and she’s very kind to her followers.)

Firstly, it was the house. Every room in her house is white and grey, perfectly polished, show home standard. If I visited her, I’d be scared to touch anything. Everything very clearly has a place. Her feed is an uninterrupted stream of white and grey, grey and white. It make me feel kind of itchy.

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Then there’s her habit of calling cleaning ‘hinching’. This is a super personal irritation, but I can’t bear it. It’s so twee, it makes me gag. Plus, ‘hinch’ isn’t a frigging verb!

It’s the perfection that gets my back up. She has her house the way she likes it, and she takes a lot of joy in making it look good. It’s her house, she can do as she wishes. She can even put it on Instagram to show others, that’s very much up to her. Whatever she’s doing it works, as she has thousands of followers and even has a book coming out. The perfection scares me, though. What’s it like, living in a house like that?

She’s just one of many cleaning gurus that I’ve come across in the last few years. Firstly, of course, there’s Marie Kondo, she of the KonMari Method. Then there’s Jolie Kerr, who ran a cleaning column on Jezebel and wrote a book called ‘My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag’. There’s also Unfuck Your Habitat, run by Rachel Hoffman, who also wrote a brilliant book by the same name. I’ve devoured them all, soaking up tips and gathering the energy to make my space better.

What is it about them that doesn’t put me off, like Mrs Hinch does? It’s the fact they’re not asking for perfection. They’re not advocating buying expensive cleaning products (Unfuck Your Habitat is a big fan of the ‘drain volcano’, otherwise known as baking powder and vinegar to clean your drains). They just want you to be able to take care of yourself and your surroundings.

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KonMari wants you to find a place for everything in your home, but she wants you to do that so you can find all the things that ‘spark joy’ for you. Unfuck Your Habitat just want you to spend 10 minutes clearing something, so you can actually see what you own. It’s manageable, it’s doable. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be.

While Mrs Hinch is selling a lifestyle, it’s not a lifestyle to me. It’s too much. I’m not that much of an organised person to colour match my towels or perfectly place ornaments in my living room. I’m a bit chaotic, and I’m ok with that. I’m going to stick with my mismatching cushions and ridiculous character emblazoned mugs. I’m not one for ‘hinching’.

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The Curse Of Too Much Stuff, Or Looking For What ‘Sparks Joy’

Last week I said I was in the midst of an ‘enforced KonMari’, and that situation has not changed. I’m frantically getting rid of anything that I don’t need, as I’ll be damned if I pack up and move anything that I don’t need to. In fact, yesterday I went to the tip and heaved an entire wardrobe away, which was deeply satisfying. What I’m saying is, I’m getting rid of anything that I just can’t think about wanting to take with me.

The funny thing is, I’ve actually just finished reading both of Marie Kondo’s books, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy. They’re both really interesting books as they do delve into why we gather all the things we do, and why we cling onto them even when they’re not doing us any good.

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I’ve been very guilty of buying things just for the sake of buying them. As a kid, I would be taken shopping many weekends, and the trip wasn’t considered a success unless we’d bought something ‘good’. I equated getting new stuff as ‘love’ in my mind, and so as an adult I was basically chasing that high. I bought all kinds of stuff that I would never use or wear, just so I’d have something to bring home. The amount of times I came home and thought, ‘I don’t even like this!’, was far too high.

I’m still guilty of doing this. I’m a fiend for stationary, and just today I nipped to Poundland to grab some cleaning supplies. Even though I didn’t need to, I wandered down the stationary aisle and saw that they were selling marble patterned washi tape. It was six rolls of tape for a pound! I grabbed it, even though I already have a box full of washi tapes. I have a problem.

I also am a toy collector, and so of course I’ve got plenty of items taking up space in my home. I have to be careful with them, as it’s so easy to pick up every toy that catches my eye and then I quickly run out of room. I’ve had to restrict myself to buying toys only once a year, at UK PonyCon. To be fair, it’s where I’ve picked up some of my best toys, and I can look them over rather than using the photos on the eBay listing, so it’s much better.

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As a whole, humanity feels as though the more stuff we have, the better off we are. Are we, though? I’ve noticed that the less stuff I have, the better I feel. I had the British Heart Foundation in my house the other day, taking away some old furniture. It was so great to see that empty space where the furniture used to be. That was one less thing to deal with, one less thing to clean.

Marie Kondo recommends only keeping things that ‘spark joy’, and she’s right on that score. Why would you keep anything if it doesn’t keep you happy? Why would you keep it around, just taking up both physical and mental space? It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, but we all do it.We hang onto things ‘just in case’. We hang onto photos because we think we should, even if we feel bad when we look at them. Instead, we should happily pitch those things out, and only keep the things that create happiness when we look at them.

Gotta be honest, pitching that wardrobe into a skip made me happy. It didn’t half make a satisfying CRUNCH when it hit the bottom of it…

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The Art Of The Enforced KonMari

Right now, I’m in the middle of trying to pack up everything I own, as I’m about to move house at the end of the month. I haven’t moved house in nearly 10 years, so there’s all kinds of things I’m having to lug about, sort, and pack into boxes before I can leave this house. Right now, it’s basically hell.

I’m basically undergoing an enforced KonMari session, except that session is going on for weeks and it isn’t really about what ‘sparks joy’ for me. Instead, it’s looking at an item and asking, ‘Can I physically be arsed to pack this up, move it somewhere else, and find a new home for it once I’ve moved it?’

The answer, often, is no.

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If I don’t want it anymore, then I have to find somewhere new for that item to live. Usually, we’re forever getting charity bags through the door. These bags ask me to fill them up with items I want to donate, and then leave them outside on a specific day so they can take them away. It’s a good deal if you’re trying to have a clearout. Since Christmas, we haven’t had a single bag through the door.

Typical.

Luckily British Heart Foundation let you order charity bags on their website, and you can order almost as many as you’d like. You can fill them up, and then give them a ring to come get them. Cheers, British Heart Foundation.

I’ve filled up some bags with the smaller items, and then booked a collection for them and some larger bits of furniture that need to go before we move. This was kind of last ditch, because first I tried selling them, or giving them away, online. I don’t know what it is about online trading sites, but they’re packed full to bursting with time wasters. Has anyone actually ever successfully got rid of something online? Either the item just goes unnoticed, or people promise to come collect it, and then leave you waiting in for nights on end. No, I’m no bitter or anything.

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I’m trying to give away as much as I can because I don’t want to be shoving stuff into the landfill, but despite my best efforts, there’s still plenty of rubbish I need to get rid of. Not having a car, I can’t simply rock up to the tip and throw it out. If I want to book a council collection I’m going to have to shell out for it, and moving is expensive enough as it is. Luckily, a friend has offered to take me but she can’t do it until next week. In the meantime, the house is piling up with bin bags that need throwing away.

Why not throw them away with the regular rubbish? Well, I would, but we have a wheelie bin that we can fit about 4 bags into, and no more. We’re not allowed to leave more bags, so I’m pretty much out of luck. The real kicker? The refuse workers are going on strike as of Monday. I’m not going to start in on them for wanting better wages, but their timing could not be worse.

The upshot of all this? I’m up to my eyeballs in boxes and bin bags, trying to get somebody, anybody, to take all this stuff away from me. Maybe I’ll sell everything, buy a caravan, and drive off into the sunset. Anything’s better than trying to clear out the attic.