With her colour-coded wardrobe, meticulously labelled pantry and spotless playroom, Shaheen Pathan – who swears by the saying, ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ – may just be Britain’s most organised mum.
Always neat, Shaheen, 37 – who is taking a break from her job as a business analyst – only became serious about decluttering in 2016, when she moved into her four-bedroom home in Batley, West Yorkshire, with her husband, Sajid, 40, a contractor for a financial company, and their older children, Eesa, 10, and Adam, seven.
Streamlining her clothes, she gave away five bin bags full of unwanted items to friends, family and charity, before overhauling her pantry, medicine cabinet and cleaning cupboard.
Hoping one day to turn her organisational talents into a new career, Shaheen, who also has a daughter, Aisha, two, keeps her home neat using the KonMari method – the brainchild of decluttering guru and Netflix sensation Marie Kondo – where tidying is performed according to category rather than by room.
Regularly sharing tips with her 450 Instagram followers, she insists that keeping a spotless home does not need to be time consuming, explaining: “I absolutely love organisation. I think the saying, ‘Tidy house, tidy mind’ is very true.
“I didn’t set up my Instagram for the likes or attention, but because I genuinely want to share some pearls of wisdom with people.”
“One of the most common comments I hear is, ‘I wouldn’t have time to get my house that organised,’ but actually, once you’ve done one big clear out, it’s barely any bother to maintain,” she continued.
“My motto is, ‘Put it back where you found it.’ It really is that simple.”
Even as a youngster, Shaheen was neat and tidy as, sharing a bedroom with her two sisters, Shazeda and Sayra, meant space was limited.
“I was always making sure my part of the room was nice and organised,” she said. “I’d keep all my toys together and stack my clothes neatly in my section of our shared wardrobe.”
Over the years, the organised streak that had been instilled in her at a young age stayed with Shaheen – although her love of fashion and accessories saw her build up an expansive, but never messy, wardrobe.
“I’d hold on to stuff for sentimental reasons, despite the fact I never used it,” she said.
“I had things like the first bag I bought with my very first pay cheque when I started working as a teenager,” she added.
“It’d be impossible to see everything I owned. Things would be hidden at the back of my wardrobe, forgotten about.”
Then, in 2016, Shaheen and her family moved out of the home they had been staying in with her in-laws and into their own place.
Keen to live a less cluttered life, she seized the opportunity to get rid of unused and unwanted household items and start again from scratch.
Over the course of a few days, she organised her home, cupboard by cupboard, using the KonMari method.
“If you take the time to do it properly once, it isn’t that difficult to maintain,” she said.
Now, every single item has its place in Shaheen’s home. All her wardrobes are colour-coded and she stores anything she does not hang up in drawers or baskets, stacked sideways.
“That makes it easier to see what you have – nothing is hidden away,” she said. “Every season, I take two to three hours to rotate all our wardrobes, storing away winter clothes and getting out summer bits, or vice versa.
“That way, nobody has to rummage through things they aren’t going to wear.”
Her pantry is similarly spotless, with items organised into set categories, like tins, treats and condiments.
To avoid clutter, everything is kept in corresponding baskets, which she buys for just a few pounds from B&M or Poundstretcher.
In her bedroom, her perfume collection is organised in height order and her jewellery is neatly stored in a tray, according to colour and style.
She keeps the beauty products she uses every day in a special caddy, while everything else is neatly stacked in her medicine cabinet in categorised 79p Poundstretcher baskets.
“I don’t want to just shove things into cupboards at random,” she said. “It may seem easier at the time, but sooner or later, things become cluttered and you end up making more mess trying to find the things you need.
“Keeping everything in tiny baskets is a good tip. You can pick them up really cheap. I use them for everything – make up, cleaning products, plasters, medicine and even odd household items like batteries and spare lightbulbs.”
She added: “Whatever my family and I need, we will know exactly where to find it.”
Even Shaheen’s playroom – the site of utter chaos for many parents – is pristine, with toys categorised by type and stored in crates and baskets, while books are neatly stacked in height order.
She continued: “My kids and husband aren’t quite my level of organised, but they know to put things back where they found them.”
“Don’t get me wrong, with three children, sometimes things get chaotic, but I want to let them play and enjoy that time,” she added.
“I’ve found that they will naturally tidy away after themselves, anyway.
“They’ve seen me do it enough times that it is ingrained in them.”
On an average day, Shaheen will wake naturally at about 7am, get herself ready and fed, then wake the children and prepare breakfast for the family.
Afterwards, she runs the vacuum round, does laundry and straightens the house, making sure everything is in its rightful place, before devoting the rest of the day to her children.
To save time, she will meal prep as much as possible, cooking up batches of food in advance.
Not only do her organisational skills save her money, as knowing exactly what she has in the house means she does not overbuy, they also help her to reduce waste and free-up more precious time with her children.
She explained: “I want my house to run as smoothly as possible. I don’t want to be running around like mad every morning, frantically getting things ready.
“I find cleaning therapeutic. Being prepared and organised means I’m not spending every spare minute cleaning and tidying.”
“Instead, I’m able to have quality time with the children, especially now they are home from school because of the coronavirus,” she added.
“Their childhood is precious. You never get that time back, so I’m grateful I have the opportunity to make so many memories with them.
“I will play with them, or we’ll do some crafts together. Or, if they are doing schoolwork, I’ll have a bit of time to myself, which is so important as a mum.”
Since setting up her Instagram page last year, Shaheen has steadily been building followers, who flock to hear her latest decluttering tips.
Adding that she would one day like to become a professional organiser, she concluded: “People have been so lovely and supportive over Instagram.
“I help family and friends out a lot – I’m known amongst them for my organisation skills, and it was their idea to set up an account in the first place.”
She concluded: “I hope I can one day get some proper clients.
“Decluttering your home is cost-effective, it minimises waste, it saves time and it’s also good for the mind to live amongst order and tidiness.”
You can follow Shaheen on Instagram at @organised_happiness.