On a sunny mild Saturday in November we decided to all head out to the garden to prepare it for the winter. Hippo bag out, secateurs and a spade in hand, we pruned the trees and plants, cleared leaves, removed weeds.

We then take a trip to the local recycling centre as a family and often use it as an excuse to head to Budleigh for a walk and a warm drink. The whole venture was timed to be 90 minutes, so that everyone played a role and got stuck in but, as we are not super keen gardeners, no one got fed up. Plus, there was a promise of a hot chocolate at the end.

The garden was transformed, and soon after the day, the weather turned colder and wetter and less conducive to garden ventures. We had done our bit to look after our garden which looks great in the spring and summer.

I had read in one of Gretchin Rubin’s books about ‘power hour’; how she galvanised the family once a week to an hour of tackling jobs that had remained undone for a while. Chores that we do not enjoy need that sense of being tackled together it with a positive outlook. You need a sense of hope that you will get some if not all of it done and it will be out of the way. Those activities require allocated time with no distractions and of course, encouragement that you are not alone.

I also remember to speak to clients about the parallels in pruning your garden and reviewing your belongings. The focus is not on what is going out, but what is being preserved and looked after. Only by cutting back can you see what you have, and what you have then thrives.

On my path, if there is a weed, the fallen leaves all gather round it and before you know it you have a slippery mound on the path. I consider this to be like items on the floor in the home. One item gives permission for another item, and before you know it there is a gathering, then a pile. Best to spot when it is congregating and get the base item out.

The sense of space, of looking after your own asset, of making the environment work for us is a real boost. But so too is the sense of achievement in tackling something challenging together, winning and rewarding ourselves. It paves the way for other challenges in the future and helps show my son that hard jobs do need to be done, and we must step up. Importantly, we are motivated by making a difference together, the sort of achievement that unites us.


Change Your Space is a professional decluttering and downsizing service in Devon. We have helped hundreds of people address a sense of overwhelm in their homes since 2013. 

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