We live in a pretty small house for five people. Most of the houses on our road are bigger than ours. And most are occupied by widows living on their own. We love our house, but we really need somewhere bigger.
Lately, it’s really felt like the walls are closing in on me and I’m starting to get desperate to get out. It all started with a new dining table. The old dining table had a dodgy leg and, although it always stood OK on three legs, there was always the worry that it wouldn’t. That it would come crashing down all of a sudden and spill stuff everywhere or, worse, land on someone’s toe and break it. So we got a new dining table. The new dining table is bigger than the old dining table. The dining room is where we dry our washing for 90% of the year (maybe more) on two clothes horses. The new dining table doesn’t leave room for clothes horses. There is only one place those clothes horses can go. Our bedroom. The one room which has a little bit of space. The one room where I can go and clear my head away from noise and mess. I don’t want to share it with two clothes horses full of damp washing.
For a while the old dining table was leaning up against the walls in the dining room, until my husband could make the necessary adjustments to the very full garage to put it away. (It might be dodgy, but we weren’t actually going to get rid of the thing! The kids might want it one day.) This enhanced my feeling that the walls were closing in and also made it difficult to hoover the dining room. Now, I don’t like hovering, but I do like to see the house looking reasonably clean and tidy once a week, but it’s getting harder and harder.
The kids seem to endlessly acquire STUFF – birthdays and Christmas, things they buy themselves, things they make or draw at school. We are surrounded by stuff. The boys share a bedroom, which is overflowing with stuff – out of the drawers and onto the floor. If they can’t quite reach their clothes and they knock a few others on the floor, they don’t bother to pick them up. Like they don’t bother to pick up the clothes they take off at night or the pyjamas they take off in the morning or the school uniform they take off before changing into Cub uniform or football kit.
They kick their shoes off in the hall, put another pair on, go out, come back in again and kick their shoes somewhere else. They move cushions around, they get games and DVDs out, they get paper and scissors out. They leave them on the floors and on the arms of chairs, they leave them on the windowsill and next to the telly. They never, EVER put them away.
By Friday it can feel like the house has almost disappeared under their crap – and that I am continually going around in circles picking up and putting away. We ask them, we tell them, we nag them, we shout at them. Nothing makes a difference. They just don’t get the message.
Then there’s the kids themselves. You try to get two tween boys sharing a room in a bungalow to vacate the lounge and stay in their own bedroom at 8.30pm. It doesn’t happen. Their stuff is under my feet and they are under my feet.
After nearly nine years in this house I have reached my limit. In that time our kids have grown from toddlers to tweens – and we’ve even had another one. They have acquired more stuff and generally take up more space. I am convinced that the key to happiness and tidiness lies in a bigger house – one where you don’t have to dry clothes in your bedroom, boys have separate bedrooms with their own televisions and, if they are going to drop stuff on the floor, they have the decency to do it in those bedrooms.
I guess I’m going to have a long wait. And if, after all that waiting, I discover that it isn’t the key to happiness, I don’t know what I’ll do.