And they're back to school. All of them. Six hours of relative silence will fill each weekday. It's so quiet that my husband and I will be whispering to each other for three days out of sheer confusion. There's mixed emotions here, dear readers. I won't say I was waving them off with snot and tears streaming down my face. But neither have I got bunting and balloons adorning the house, and I'm not cartwheeling for joy. The reason being...
One wrecked house.
I am not over-exaggerating, only shame stops me from posting photos as proof. But hey, I love a challenge. There's nothing more I love than my ordinary routine of spending five days cleaning and clearing, to have the kids undo my work in two days flat. However. This is different. They've been home since the 21st December. That's... *counts mentally* seventeen days of decimation they've had versus my *counts mentally* approximately two days of cleaning? The odds are not stacked in my favour.
Apart from the six week summer break, this has to be the worst clean up for a Mum. At Easter break, attractions start to open, the weather is better (unless you live where I do, or anywhere in the UK for that matter). In the summer the kids can be shoved into the garden with their tents and toys and craft supplies and water pistols and left all day, walks in the woods, days on the beach (unless you live where I do... see above...). The Christmas break, has seen six people confined to one house, with visitors. With more new stuff coming in than old stuff has gone out.
I've said it before and I will say it again, this house AIN'T big enough for the amount of stuff we have. So, you know what? I'm adding a goal. Stuff. Everywhere. And in 2013 - we're downsizing our stuff. ALL of us, you hear? (Three of the 'ALL of us' I refer to subscribe to this blog, I'm talking about you!)
I could speak to you ad infinitum about decluttering. There's nothing you can tell me about decluttering that I don't know or haven't tried. You know what the problem is? It's always my stuff that gets decluttered! My CD's and vinyl? Converted to MP3 and sold at car boot. My books? Donated to Oxfam and the ones I want to read again bought for the Kindle. My clothes? Nowhere to store them. Bye bye. The two ASD kids won't part with anything. The youngest even keeps rubbish in case it comes in handy for something (Mum, can I keep this foil sweet wrapper?) The eldest won't part with his video cassettes. We don't even own a VCR anymore. Every McDonalds toy that has darkened my door... you get the picture?
The worst culprit used to be my darling husband. Specifically with clothes. It's got so bad now, that before he's allowed to buy a new top, he has to get rid of two.
Him - 'I'll keep this for when I lose weight'.
Me - 'How long have you had it for?'
Him - 'About 25 years'
Me - 'Yeah, why not. Keep hold of it then, it'll be back in fashion in another 5 years...' Grrrrrrr.
Today, however, my darling husband took charge in the bedroom (Stop it! You know what I mean, I'm talking about cleaning here! Tsk!) My normally sentimental guy was practical and ruthless, and we managed to get so many clothes cleared and ready for donating (and not just mine for once!). He found stuff he forgot he had bought. He then was ruthless with my stuff (Which ran along the lines of a) That's nice; b) That'll be nice when you've lost a few more pounds and c) I wouldn't let you out of the house wearing that and if you insisted I'd walk several paces behind you). As a result the wardrobe is empty at the bottom, the clothes aren't crammed together so tightly in the wardrobe that I can't see what I have, and I have two empty drawers. Small drawers granted, but they're empty. Not for long. But I'm relishing them for one night.
I feel lifted and liberated. The house looks no tidier than it did this morning, but I know, in my mind, what has been achieved today. The clothes that I feel guilty that I bought and I know I'll never wear, be it because they don't fit, or don't suit me? They can go to someone who will love them. And benefit a good cause in the process. It's still a charitable donation in a roundabout manner, isn't it? The high heeled knee high suede boots that I bought on sale for £5 that I can't get over my calves (anyone laughing with me/at me yet?), the high heeled ankle boots I bought on sale for £3 that I have wore once, to a funeral (by the time I was greeting the bereaved family, I had no sensation in my toes, and had someone been there to physically wrench them from my feet - oh yes, they were those kind of boots, didn't I mention? - I'm sure my toes would have been blue). I now have a self-imposed lifetime ban on buying shoes with a heel higher than 1 cm.
So, how do you feel about 'stuff'? Do you love stuff and clutter around the place? Or are you minimalistic? Do we place too much value on having 'things' just for the sake of it? I find it mentally draining, but I think that's because the house we live in is smaller than our old one (albeit one room extra). Our personal space has decreased immensely, and so has the amount of storage space and space for furniture. If I had a massive home, would I feel differently?
I'd be really interested to hear what you think about this issue, whether you're a hoarder or a thrower!