Declutter your home, your mind and your heart for Christmas

Heigh ho and away we go. It’s the second week of advent already and no doubt you are up to your eyes preparing for the Christmas holidays. No? Maybe you are a bit like me. I like to keep it low key and as decluttered as possible. But I admit, decluttering Christmas began for me a long time ago out of necessity rather than reflection.

It had a lot to do with living with an autistic child. Children on the autistic spectrum find this time of year very difficult to understand – the sheer chaos that ensues from changes in routine added to the extra noise, sights and smells are just too much! Consequently overwhelming and anxious behaviours often lead to glittery tinsel shredded all over the house, chaotic shopping escapades, a frazzled Christmas tree and a bunch of expensive toys from a man in a red suit that Motley had no interest in whatsoever. All that, on top of slaving in a kitchen over a dinner that the kids didn’t really want to eat forced me to re evaluate what matters most.

What transpired was a minimalistic Christmas served up with hot chocolate, beans and toast, and a nativity scene that Motley insisted on being the focal point of the decorations ˗ a pretty subtle and valuable reminder of what the Christmas holiday is all about. Motley just loves cradling the baby Jesus. He also plays with the donkey, the sheep, and the horse for hours. They sometimes have racing competitions which is much more fun than taking part in the month-long retail Olympics that is dictated by the world around us just so we can acquire more stuff.

Keeping stuff to a minimum will help you keep your surroundings clutter free but Advent is a good time to carry out a few simple actions that will declutter your mind and heart as well while you prepare for Christmas.

1. Breathe. Take a few minutes throughout the day to be still and just breathe deep.

2. Write it down. Get your to-do list off your mind and on to paper.

3. Identify the essentialwhat’s the most important…then let go of the rest.

4. Go for a walk. We are blessed in Inishowen with so many beautiful walks on our doorstep…a perfect gift to yourself the whole year round.

5. Before the family starts to arrive declutter your heart. Worrying about something? Angry about somebody? Frustrated? Harbouring a grudge? See if you can let go of them. More difficult than it sounds, I know, but it’s worth the effort especially when Christmas is a time when we connect to family and reach out to others. Preparing your heart to forgive and let go of grief and anxiety will create a happier Christmas time for all.

Decluttering Christmas has not only been an incredible gift to me, it has also taught me that less is absolutely more at holiday time. When I don’t buy into all the “should do’s” reinforced by the consumerism of Christmas, I am able to enjoy the celebration. I hope you do too and if you go all out to have a singing and dancing Christmas, keep the happy spirit in tact by accepting the clutter and chaos. Advent is not a time to banish the mess but to enjoy it. After all, the baby Jesus was born in a cow shed. Sure, your clutter couldn’t be any messier than that! Until next time, have fun and enjoy the preparations! Aileen

© Aileen McGee

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