The Goldilocks Principle for your home: When ‘enough’ is just right

I’ve been in my ‘decluttering’ mindset for a long time. I buy new things when I am really sure that we need them, and sometimes I think about some things for a long time before I do actually buy them. But I realised something recently: sometimes, you can simplify things just by having a bit more.

You want me to have more… What about decluttering?

This is completely counter to what I usually say. But let me tell you about what brought me to this realisation.

Samuel, who is currently two and a half, wears nappies at night. He sleeps on his front, and despite being in the largest size nappy, his nappy often leaks. It’s annoying, it creates extra washing but I do know it won’t last forever, so I’m not worried about it in any way.

But – in my minimalism – Samuel only had two pairs of short pyjamas. He has two pairs of long-sleeved ones. That’s all he needs, surely? I didn’t want to buy more as I know he’ll grow out of them before they wear out.

But actually, washing, drying and sorting out his pyjamas every other day was getting annoying. Too often, I would find that I had two pairs of pyjamas in the wash when he was ready for bed. It took me a long time to identify this problem, and it’s something that I’ve noticed in myself – too often, I assume the problem will resolve itself, whereas actually, I could do something about it really easily.

Allowing myself to buy two more pairs solved the problem. Samuel now, really, has ‘enough’ short pyjamas.

Organised is ‘enough’

So sometimes, ‘enough’ might not work with our idea of minimalism, or a clutter free home. Having ‘enough’ can simplify things. Perhaps it’s making sure you have enough drinks bottles in case your child leaves one at school. Or enough towels, bedding or pillows.

If it’s ‘enough,’ it’s not clutter. Clutter comes when we keep things that we do not absolutely use or love. If you’re using something, and if you find you need just a little more of something, that’s fine – give yourself permission to get it.

With Samuel’s pyjamas, I don’t love them. They are absolutely fine, and completely fit for purpose, but I DO love not having to wash them every day. So those new pyjamas are definitely welcome in my home.

Identify the problem – find the right solution

When we declutter, we constantly need to ask ourselves, do I use it? Do I love it? Do I need it?

This week, try turning this question on it’s head: What do I need to solve this problem?

Walk around your home, trying to identify the problems, especially if you feel that you are on top of the clutter. Is there something that would solve the problem for you?

Be very careful, especially if you are thinking about storage. Measure things carefully and do your research. Will that storage really solve the problem? Usually, you will need to declutter further. But, sometimes, decluttering will allow you to identify those problems, and then you can find the solution.

As you go through your day, try to identify what is causing you the stress you are feeling. Is it because you don’t quite have enough of something? Is it because you don’t have quite enough in reserve? If there’s something you can pick up to solve that problem, make it a priority.

Sounds like a familiar tale?

This is the Goldilocks principle: not too much, not too little, but just enough. Sometimes, minimalism, or forcing yourself to stick to a certain number of something – like me with the two pairs of pyjamas – is too little. It caused more hassle than it created.

Equally, having too much is stressful and overwhelming. Imagine storing 10 pairs of children’s pyjamas. I’d feel guilty that they weren’t all worn. We all know the consequences of too much stuff.

Instead, we’re aiming for just enough – and to recognise when enough is perhaps, a bit more than you thought.

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