If you’re one of those people who finds a good sorting-out and tidying session at home quite calming, Stacey Solomon can definitely relate.
“I wouldn’t say it’s as strong as therapy, because I think therapy is a really important thing, but it definitely distracts you,” says the singer and Loose Women panellist, when asked if she thinks tidying can be therapeutic.
“If I don’t want to have intrusive thoughts like I sometimes have, or if I feel nervous about things or just a bit on edge, then passing time tidying – anything I can focus my mind on – is a real distraction, which I really appreciate.”
Her ‘tap to tidy’ Instagram posts have really struck a chord with her 4m followers, as well as the home crafting projects, and the drawer and shelf-organising missions she’s shared.
Solomon, who recently moved into a new ‘forever home’ in the Essex countryside with her three sons – Zachary, 13, Leighton, eight, and Rex who’ll be two in May – and fiancé Joe Swash, plus their dogs Theo and new puppy Peanut, has now written a Tap To Tidy book.
It’s packed with tips and projects and fun seasonal crafts, alongside sweet illustrations and glimpses into Solomon’s journey – from early struggles as a teenage mum (she fell pregnant with Zachary at 17), to the joy and chaos of balancing work and family life. The 31-year-old, who has been open about her experiences with anxiety, explains with her trademark warmth and humour why being organised has become so important to her.
That doesn’t mean she lives in a permanently tidy world, though. “There would be no such thing [as ‘tap to tidy’] if my house was immaculate all the time! It’s a constant battle to keep organised,” she adds with a laugh. “But it’s almost like a little game for me, and makes it a bit more fun… We might as well get some joy out of it!”
She’s first to admit staying on top of everything during the pandemic has been “an impossible task”, and we all need to cut ourselves some slack.
“I let it go a little bit. I gave myself permission to go: do you know what, for however long this lasts, the house is going to be a bit of a mess,” says Solomon, reflecting on this past year of lockdowns and homeschooling.
“I found myself little tidy spots and thought, ‘OK, I’ll sort out a cupboard at a time’. So at least one cupboard is organised, even if the house is a mess!”
She clearly absolutely adores her boys (her “pickles” – the book is dedicated to them, as well as her treasured readers and followers), but being honest about the realities of family life is another reason people find Solomon so relatable.
“They’re amazing, and they’re the best they can be at the moment, given that we’re indoors all the time,” she says of her brood. “But I quite frankly have moments where I’m sick of them! I’m obviously very grateful to be a parent and have my kids, but my God, we see a lot of each other these days!
“For anyone struggling, I’d say you’ve got to try and find those tiny little moments – sometimes I just sit on the toilet for as long as I can, even if I don’t really need the toilet. It’s the only place in the house that has a lock on it. I have a competition going with myself where I’m like, how long can I sit here before anyone notices I’m missing…”
Did writing the book help give you something to focus on this past year?
“Absolutely, especially the focus. I think at some points, it took me away from everyone and they were getting annoyed with me – I just really wanted to get it right! It has been such a lovely distraction. I think now it’s actually happened and [the book] is out, it’s more nerve-wracking than when you’re writing it! Now people are actually going to see it and read it!”
You seem to have a really positive approach with social media – is that something that’s been beneficial for you this past year?
“Genuinely, through this whole lockdown, it’s not like I’ve had a group of friends to go to – I know that sounds silly – but I feel like I’ve had something outside of my household [with social media], to turn to and talk to and share things with, and that’s been a real positive. If anyone’s getting on my nerves, I can sit in my cupboard and go [on Instagram], ‘Oh my God, everyone’s getting on my nerves!’, and then [someone] will go, ‘Me too! Don’t worry!’
“You just don’t feel alone. It really can be such a lovely, positive space – if you use it properly. I do think parts of it are dangerous, and there are age restrictions for a reason. But when it’s navigated properly, and you follow people that make you happy and inspire you, I really think it’s a genuinely special thing.
“Also, I mean I feel alone sometimes and I’m in my house surrounded by people, and I sometimes feel like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on my own here’ – imagine people who are completely on their own and the only thing they have is social media, to have a conversation with people. I think it’s actually a lifeline, and sometimes it’s underestimated and the bad overshadows the good.”
Have you managed to stay fit and active in lockdown?
“I wasn’t fit and active before lockdown, if I’m honest! Whenever I’m asked about exercise, my answer is always: I have three kids and I run around after them. I don’t go to the gym. Joe loves the gym, he’s really missed it, but yeah, my exercise is running around after the boys.
“We do go for a walk every day, but we always have, even before the pandemic. We live by a little forest, so that’s like our little happy place. If I don’t take [the boys] out every day, they’re an absolute nightmare!”
How do you approach self-care and looking after yourself?
“I think daily, it’s a work in progress to be nice to yourself. Because I think, I don’t know why we’re programmed – or at least me, why I’m programmed this way – but I’m programmed to sort of doubt everything. It’s a constant work in progress to remind myself: no, do you know what, you do deserve this, you are good enough, you are worthy of nice things and good things happening to you.
“And I think it’s an everyday thing. I’ll make myself a nice bath maybe once a week or every two weeks, which is one of my favourite things to do. But to me, that’s a lovely thing and I enjoy it, but real self-care is an everyday thing, trying to be nicer to yourself instead of being horrible to yourself.”
What helps get the day started for you?
“Probably my first cup of tea. I try and come downstairs before everyone else has woken up, at half-six, seven, make a cup of tea, and then sit outside while I’m waiting for the animals to go for a poo! And I’ve got my golden few minutes to myself.”
Tap To Tidy: Organising, Crafting & Creating Happiness In A Messy World by Stacey Solomon is published by Ebury, priced £14.99. Available now.