I want to tell you a story about when I was living in the nurse’s quarters in a small country town in my early days of teaching.
For reasons only known to themselves, the Education Department had sold off most of the teacher housing in the town. They then discovered that once all the teachers who married farmers left to start a family, they no longer had enough accommodation for the new teachers employed at the school.
A lovely lady (If I recall correctly, her name was Lynn), tried very hard to find me something to rent privately but those options were very thin on the ground. Her best example was like an oven when we visited and she had been airing the place for a couple of hours before I arrived. Needless to say, I declined this little unfurnished hot box in favour of something a little more liveable.
This was how I ended up in the nurse’s quarters.
The benefit of this was that I didn’t have to purchase any furniture on my first year teacher salary, and rent and utilities were pleasingly low.
I had to share the kitchen, living room and bathroom with a number of other people but this didn’t bother me. The place was actually quite empty by this time. The town had shrunk and the hospital had far fewer nurses working at it than in previous years. Most of the time it was just myself and two other girls.
The biggest problem was the size of my room. It was just big enough for a bed, small walk space, built in desk and robe and not much else. Admittedly I didn’t have much in the way of belongings but when all of your worldly possessions need to fit into this small space, you are in for one tough time.
I moved in and set about making it my home.
In this little room I did all of my classroom planning, lesson preparation and resource creation. I was an avid sewer at the time so part of the desk housed my sewing machine. I also loved to craft and had a number of hobbies such as folk art painting and porcelain doll making. All of these resources had to be squeezed into the room too.
In my first year at the nurses’s quarters I rarely had any visitors to my room. I would entertain in the communal area or out in the yard or go to others’ houses instead. Whenever family were planning to drive down to visit me, I made sure I had a very good tidy up before they came. Mostly this involved simply cramming as much into the drawers and cupboard as possible to get it out of sight.
Then at the beginning of the second year things changed. At lunchtime on the first teacher planning day, Lynn met me to ask if I could show the new teacher the nurse’s quarters so she could decide if she wanted to move in.
There wasn’t much choice really. How could I say no? We both jumped into Lynn’s car and headed down the road. Well, on the way there I began to think about the state of my room. I had raced out of it that morning without a thought and I was more than a little worried about what this new teacher would think. I pictured the craft things scattered across my desk. I wasn’t sure how many clothes were littered around the room. Then there were the piles of school work in the corner. I wasn’t sure what else was there, I guess I had become blind to it if truth be told, but I was sure there was bound to be some other embarrassing thing hanging out in there.
The first impression she was going to have of me would be based upon my cluttered and messy room. Not exactly what I would have preferred if given the choice.
In end I had a small reprieve. I had packed my room key in my teaching bag and since I had left that at school, in the end all I could do was show her around the communal areas. I was unable to show her what an individual room looked like. Everyone else thought it was a real shame. I was relieved.
Looking back now I can see that that is where my decluttering and organising journey began. I never again wanted to be embarrassed by how I had left my living space.
So if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, I’d love to help you create your very own Clutter Free Life.
I clear a path to decluttering success in my new ‘Clutter Free Life’ Membership Community.