The journey to simple isn’t easy

Ironically, right after I wrote on here last week about simplifying our lives, there followed the weekend where I felt the most frazzled and overwhelmed I’d felt in ages.

I woke up on Saturday morning full of the joys of Spring, the sun was shining and I was excited (I know it’s weird) for our first ever Saturday morning family deep clean. I cranked up the Trolls soundtrack, sent Carl upstairs to tackle the bathroom, set the girls to work  on the kitchen cupboard doors with spray bottles and cloths (basically their favourite activity ever), and I started the dusting, hoovering and general tidying… so far so good!

But as I tidied, I got cranky. Really cranky.

First of all, in the last couple of weeks we’ve got rid of probably over 20 bin bags of crap from our house… so why is there still stuff literally everywhere? Boxes of random junk that I found in Ernie’s room and still needs going through, that shelf of doom in the playroom that we haven’t got around to sorting yet, the kitchen cupboards, the top of the kitchen cupboards, the top of the fridge freezer (which collects crap because it’s probably the only place in the house the kids can’t reach)… everywhere I looked there was clutter that needed dealing with, and it was frustrating. What no one tells you is that when you start to purge your belongings, sometimes it gets messier for a while when all the bits and bobs you’ve been hoarding come out of their hiding places while you get around to dealing with them, and also, you start looking at your things differently. You notice it all. You realise how much of it is unnecessary and you want it all gone. Now.

But when you’re working around three children, you can’t always make progress as quickly as you’d like.

And that is really, seriously annoying.

Then I started to think ahead to the rest of the day. I had a bulging email inbox that I knew I had to get through sooner rather than later and a few blog posts that I’d agreed to write for other people that really needed my attention. Since deciding to simplify and declutter, blogging is still a priority of mine but it’s slipped down the list a little, and I haven’t really been able to devote much of my attention to it. The only time that it makes sense for me to fit it in is first thing in the morning, and let’s just say that my morning routine is still a pretty messy work in progress. I’ve got to put family, homeschooling, the house (and sleep!) before blogging, it just doesn’t make sense any other way… and yet knowing that I’ve made commitments to other people and I wasn’t on top of them was creating a lot of mental clutter. You know when you don’t feel like you can focus completely on anything else because you have this thing that you haven’t done, and even though you can’t do anything about it right now because you have kids to deal with and dinner to cook and laundry to do… it just sits constantly at the back of your mind, reminding you that you’re a disorganised mess etc. etc.

Then there was the wedding reception that we were going to that evening. I really wanted to go and celebrate with our friends, see people we haven’t seen in ages, get dressed up and have a dance. But at the same time, I really didn’t want to go. I had nothing to wear. I’ve put on a lot of weight and I don’t know how to dress myself anymore. My normal style leaves me cringing at my body shape but outfits that disguise the parts of my body that I don’t love, just don’t feel like the kind of things I like to wear. I don’t feel like me. So I was stressing about what I was going to wear and what people were going to think of me, I needed to go shopping and find the mystical unicorn of an outfit that makes me look both younger, slimmer and less mumsy than I actually am… but I’d have to drag the kids along with me, and I was pretty sure that it would be a fruitless trip anyway.

Oh and then there was the small matter of leaving the kids for the evening with their auntie and uncle, who had never babysat them before. The girls were really really excited. I was doubtful that they’d ever go to sleep and all I could see was me tipsy and tired, trying to settle them into bed at midnight, before being woken up at 6am ready for a day of being hungover whilst dealing with 3 of the grouchiest kids in all the land.

Even the sunshine beating through the windows was winding me up. Instead of standing here stressing about outfits and emails and babysitters, we should be out having an adventure! With the idea of living by our values fresh in my head, it seemed completely counter productive not to be outside making the most of the perfect Spring weather. That’s what we live for, that’s what makes us happy! The outdoors were calling me to an adventure that we didn’t have time to have.

When your values and your reality don’t match up, when what you and your kids need doesn’t align with what you have to get done that day… well that feeling just sucks. It feels like complete and utter, ‘I am done with this, when is a proper adult going to turn up and fix this mess for me?’ overwhelm.

It was horrible. I had way too much on my mind, I felt out of control of several different things, and I felt stuck in that situation. Oh and it didn’t help that Carl was grumpy from not getting enough sleep and the kids were fractious and emotional (probably reflecting our mood back to us to be honest).

In the end we went to the woods for an hour or so, popped to the shops where I cried in the changing rooms and bought nothing, went to the party and had a lovely time, and Sunday was a completely lazy, hungover, everyone was tired, wasted day.

But I did learn a few things. I learnt that I can’t keep pushing things I don’t want to deal with to the back of my mind, because that is never a good idea. Even if I just allocate them some time in the future when I know they are going to get done, I will immediately feel more in control of them. I learnt that it really doesn’t take a lot to overwhelm me at the moment, and that I need to be better at dealing with the clutter inside my head, just writing it down on a regular basis makes a huge difference. And I also learnt that I’m impatient with myself on this journey, and I’m desperate to get to the other side already.

I’m on a journey to take back control of my time, my home, my possessions, my health and my weight, and that’s a lot to tackle all at once. I’m sharing this with you because being at the beginning of that journey is really flipping hard. Last week I wrote all about my reasoning behind why we wanted to simplify and some of my dreams for how life can look in the future, but the reality is that we are still quite a long way away from that. This life change takes a lot of hard work and it’s not going to happen over night, I know that, but it’s so frustrating when it feels like you take 2 steps forwards and 1 step back. We’ve simplified hugely, but it only makes me see how much further we have to go before we get to where we want to be.

But there’s no short cut on this trip, it takes as long as it takes and you have to do the work, there’s no way around it.

What I’m learning is that maybe at the beginning you have to cut more things out than you necessarily want to, while you deal with the real bones of the problem – decluttering your possessions and setting up solid routines. Then when you’re in a good place, you can start adding things back in again.

So for me that means not taking on anything more with my blog for the immediate future, and trying to be content with having less adventures for a little while if needs be. The more time I can free up to spend on purging our home, the quicker we are going to make progress towards our goals, and eventually get to living the life we were meant to live.

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  1. May 11, 2017 / 7:49 am

    I totally understand this – I’m terrible for clutter, both physical house clutter and mental clutter. And time and time again I just let it all build to a point where it all becomes overwhelming. Good luck with it all – it’s definitely a slow process, and I completely agree with you on writing things down, it really does help to identify what’s actually bothering you and getting in the way of things.

  2. May 17, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    Read this when you first posted it and it had me nodding the whole way through. I’ve been decluttering for so long and I get to the stage where it’s all in piles but finding the time to eBay/ charity shop seems to be elusive. I’m determined to get on top of it all though as simplifying our life is top of my list now Matilda is more predictable with naps etc. I’ve also been trying to find a balance with how I use the tiny amount of ‘spare’ time I get. Good luck with your mission xxx

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