Does your daily routine make you HAPPY?
I ask this because, just before Christmas, I realised that, while I have many things in my life that make me happy and for which I am deeply thankful (my family, my friends, our home), what was NOT making me happy was: my daily routine. My 'daily work'.
"Nothing is really work, unless you would rather be doing something else." J.M. Barrie
One of the most unexpected challenges of parenthood, for me, has been the metamorphosis into Household Manager, Family Secretary and General Dogsbody.
For someone earlier famed for untidiness (as well as a tendency to spend hours on the loo, reading... - What? It's peaceful!), the throwing of domestic duties at me at the same time as I was tackling baby-care and sleep deprivation was, let's say, an INTERESTING EXPERIMENT.
For many years, our house looked mainly like this:
Okay, this was in the midst of a renovation, but still, fairly representative.
This particular renovation experience was transformative, for me. We put the house up for sale after we'd finished renovating (- we were off to China for an adventure!) and so had to spruce it all up.
'It needs to look IMMACULATE,' the estate agent warned us.
We sifted through our stuff, put things on Ebay, did countless trips to the tip, bought big wardrobes from Ikea to hide things in, and stuffed all the kids' toys into the car when viewers were coming round. And we got that messy bedroom to look like this:
I didn't actually think I had it in me. I remember the joy - the ease - of keeping house when we had so little stuff, everything had its place, and we'd cleared out all the rubbish (or hidden it in the boot of the car).
5 and a 1/2 years and 4 house moves on, I sometimes feel as though we've gone backwards from that point. I feel as though I am constantly sorting stuff - and still the house rarely looks as nice as I'd like it to.
In some ways, it has changed my life. I've been through all our stuff again and got rid of loads more clothes, books, toys, papers. We have less stuff. Instead of flinging clothes into piles in the cupboard I now fold them on end in the drawer, so I can see them all every time I open it, like this:
And I can't imagine going back to the way I did it before.
But, still. Somehow it all seems to creep back again - especially after Christmas, with all of those presents, paper and packaging. I can't seem to inspire much tidying zeal in the rest of the family, and I am still so new to it myself - and still quite lazy - that I don't really know how to TEACH it.
For me, a way of getting myself to do chores I dislike is to find some sort of INSPIRATION. The 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui' book talks about how you shouldn't spend your time tidying: you should get your home organized and clutter-free so that you can then focus on what is REALLY important to you - your work, your family, friends etc.. Marie Kondo says something similar in her book - tidying in and of itself is not important; what is important is what it frees you up TO DO afterwards.
In theory. But sometimes I feel as though I am going round in circles, cleaning up the same old sh*t.
Know what I mean???
We went away for the New Year week, to France. I had a week of sitting on the sofa reading novels, interrupted by the odd walk, pony ride (the kids, not me) or bit of cooking. It was lovely.
We got back late after our drive home and walked through the front door and I thought, 'Oh. All this STUFF to manage again.'
I read an article on apartmenttherapy.com (a website I am now totally addicted to!) which said [something like]: keeping a house clean and tidy is a lot of work. There is no way round it.
I thought, huh.
That's kind of helpful. I COULD keep my home super clean and tidy - IF I could be bothered. But I can't. Not really. I want it to BE tidy, but I don't really want TO tidy.
I have signed up to the January Cure, though. Every day in January you get a small 'assignment', so by the end of the month your home - be it big, small, owned or rented - can be as spruced up as you like.
I am a bit behind on my 'assignments', if I'm honest, but I do appreciate the daily INSPIRATION HITS. They get me thinking, and then, when I'm ready, doing. And it feels good, afterwards.
So, de-cluttering is back on my list of NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS.
What I REALLY want, though is to TRANSFORM my daily routine. And part of that, I think, is worrying less about the house, getting out of the house more. Sometimes I think I had more FUN when the house was still like it was in the first photo :-).
So, my other GOALS FOR 2016 include:
- Doing more exercise - getting strong. Prioritizing physical well-being.
- Learning about plot and how to structure a novel - reading creative writing books and novels
- Meeting up with friends - several times a week, if possible (to banish loneliness )
- Adding activities with the kids to my To Do list - I feel I used to do loads of fun things with them at home; now we seem to spend time at home doing our own thing, and I'd like to get some of that FUN back.
How about you?
Is de-cluttering on your 2016 list too?
Is there an answer to the circular task of TIDYING, or is it just 'hard work' - what do you think?
Have you set any other goals? I'd love to hear!
Love Elizabeth, aka The Writing Parent
"Out of clutter, find simplicity." Albert Einstein