I wrote recently about how the walls of our house seem to be closing in Our house is pretty small for five people and as the people in it grow it just seems to be getting smaller and smaller. This is not helped by our terminally untidy children (boys, to be more precise).
Then we got the news we’d been waiting for – moving house seemed to be like a very real possibility It was time for Mission impossible: Decluttering.
This isn’t easy for any of us. And I include myself in that. But it had to be done. Things had dragged on for too long. Don’t get me wrong, I do clear a few clothes out every season and sneak a few bits of crap into the jumble sale bag/ bin, but it’s not enough. Things appear in our house far quicker and far more often than they leave.
We started as soon as we had the news that we might move. Now I HATE tidying, but I felt a motivation I’ve long been lacking. We were creating our own destiny! Make our house look nice and we could sell it, then we could move into our dream house. It’s amazing how that goal helps you find reserves of energy and motivation you just didn’t know you had.
The mission had two points – to make the house look nice and therefore make people want to buy it and to get rid of crap that we didn’t want because it was pointless taking it with us and filling the new house with crap.
We dangled the carrot of a car boot sale in front of the kids. You get rid of some of your own possessions and you will make cold, hard cash out of them! Now my kids like money. But they really, really don’t like tidying or getting rid of stuff.
My younger son started well. Ish. He got three or four toys and put them in a carrier bag. Then he started on his wardrobe. I don’t have a problem with this – he’d been stashing Tshirts and jumpers in age 5 and 6 he’d refused to part with. So he assembled a big pile of clothes to sell and cleared some much-needed space in his wardrobe.
My daughter did really well. She was ruthless in fact. She has an enormous pile of cuddly toys on her bed which is a nightmare when you have to change the beds (my younger son has an even bigger pile). She halved that pile of toys without batting an eyelid. She got rid of stuff she’d been given recently – for her birthday or last Christmas. She was being realistic – she wouldn’t play with these things, so she got rid of them.
Then there’s my eldest. He assembled a modest pile of Tshirts and jumpers – many of which went straight into his brother’s wardrobe. And then he stopped.
He was about to go on Scout camp. The car boot sale was the day after he got back. It was a boring day in the school holidays. I was busy doing housework. He had nothing to do. But would he go into that
tip bedroom and clear some stuff out? No chance. Not even the incentive of money could make him do it. He drifted into the garden.
‘What are you doing in the garden?’
‘I’m looking for things to sell in the garden.’
‘The garden is fine, I want you to clear your bedroom.’
Why can’t he get the message? Can’t he see what the rest of us can see? The bedroom is a hell-hole. It is full of stuff they had as toddlers. They don’t play with toys, they never really have, yet the bedroom is bursting at the seams. And he won’t part with as much as a single McDonalds toy from 2004.
In the meantime, as the rest of the house starts to look more presentable, he continues to drop things on the floor and arms of chairs, to get things out and not put them away. He does not seem to understand that his untidy ways could genuinely make the difference between us getting out of here and not getting out of here.
And if you ask him who the messy one is, he will always, ALWAYS say it’s his brother.
He’s lucky his brother is way tidier than he gives him credit for. Because while he was away catching fish and having the time of his life, his brother did this.
So who’s the messy one, number one son?!