The Christmas decorations came down on New Year’s Eve and our house is feeling lovely & fresh again, as long as you ignore the huge pile of cardboard and wrapping paper cluttering up the kitchen until the recycling is collected! For the first time I can remember, there isn’t a tonne of toys waiting patiently for new homes. In fact, all of the Christmas presents seem to have been quickly absorbed into the house without any extra clutter. So I’m starting to wonder if I am finally becoming organised at last?!!
I spent a good chunk of time and a small amount of money towards the end of 2015 painting the rooms of our rented house white and seriously decluttering. I am by no means a hoarder and do not get sentimentally attached to objects at all, but life had got in the way and our house had amassed an unnecessary amount of stuff. I found some really great tips online for how to go about decluttering sensibly so that I wouldn’t regret giving things away. One of the main problems I was trying to tackle was not just mess but the way that Thurston approaches play. He is definitely a collector and has a huge amount of Moshi Monsters and Disney Cars, they are firm favourites and will be for a long time I think. However, that meant that for all birthdays & Christmases, we had ended up buying anything that had Moshi Monsters or Disney Cars emblazoned on, Moshi HQ, Moshi Supermarket, Cars Wrestling Ring etc etc. When Thurston would go to his room to play, more often than not he would end up throwing every toy around the room, and tipping out all the toyboxes in frustration.
It seems obvious now that he was simply overwhelmed by the choice and number of toys. He didn’t need them and was satisfied with organising his collections. Of course I’m too much of a wimp to permanently get rid of Thurston’s toys as I can never quite predict his reaction, they are safely boxed up in the shed should he want them. His playing is so much calmer now in his bedroom, much less stressful and destructive. He can find his favourite things quickly, and if he does tip everything out it takes a few minutes for me to tidy the entire room away again.
Once I’d seen the effect this had on Thurston, I realised it would be great for the rest of the house to feel as calm, so I did the same to all the rooms in the house and it really has worked. Thurston’s toys are the only things I actually saved in the shed, everything else that was unnecessary has gone and not one thing has been missed. I’ve actually left baskets empty and corners bare and it feels so much better. We have stopped using our bedroom as a dumping ground and actually make a point of keeping it fresh and minimal, although my husband did scoff at me when I told him he’d have to switch deodorant brands because his didn’t blend in enough! Now that it’s tidy and easy to maintain, we actually all use that room rather than collapsing there in a heap at 11pm every night!
I did start to get antsy as we approached Christmas that all my hard work decluttering would be undone by truckloads of big presents, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The older boys are really taking pride in their bedroom since I got them a proper desk and shelving, so they were thrilled with bits for their room like fairy lights and Lego storage. Indigo got an extension for her wooden toy kitchen and a replacement toy pram for the one that the boys bent out of shape using it as a skateboard! Thurston was desperate for a keyboard to practice his new pianist skills with. Alex & I were treated to a couple of gorgeous bits for the house which was lovely, and all of us got plenty of books & music which are always lovely presents. So all in all, my plan has worked. There is a place for everything in the house now and after Christmas, everything tidied away with ease.
We are still getting a weep-inducingly tiny amount of sleep as Thurston hasn’t improved at all at night. When I am utterly exhausted, the last thing I want to do is worry about a messy house so although initially, it took a big effort to sort the house out, it is now so easy to maintain. I can have a quick tidy round in half an hour if needed, that is a gift in itself.
In 2016, I want to extend this simplicity to other areas of our family life. I want to try and narrow down the amount of grocery shopping I do, and make sure that I only buy what we need and use everything up before I buy anymore. I would love to get better at using leftovers, growing my own herbs and baking my own treats. One thing I am desperate to do this year is save some money. Our situation is very complicated and finding a way to earn money whilst being a carer is really hard. Alex is eager to change jobs and is actively looking for something new with a better salary, and perhaps an ounce of job satisfaction – not too much to ask?! In the meantime, one thing I am keen to do is make the most of the little money we do have and make it stretch as far as possible so that we can put some money aside for when something/somewhere takes our fancy!
I hope that these are realistic expectations for the year and I know I’m going to give it my best shot. We’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut due to our circumstances for a few years now, and with the lack of sleep & stress etc, it has felt like we have been paddling upstream for the most part. I really want this to be the year when we can push through it all and start making some changes for ourselves! Without wanting to sound too cliché, I just want to live a bit more simply this year; get outside, run around, eat well, enjoy each others’ company and save the cash! Happy New Year!