Someone told me, back before The Paleontologist was able to say “Argentinosaurus”, that hours with a newborn would seem endless, but years would pass in the blink of an eye. It’s a great description of parenthood; it also sums up perfectly how I have felt about February. There have been moments that felt like they stretched into millennia (OK, that might be an exaggeration, but they usually involved testing my #sugarfreeFebruary resolutions to the limit, so I feel I’m allowed a little hyperbole now and again). But now that we’re here, on the last day of the month, I suddenly realised all the things I meant to do that I haven’t done yet, and am getting weirdly nostalgic. Not nostalgic enough to continue either of my February challenges into March, obviously, but still, this is enough of an ending to make me wistfully look back over my golden initial intentions.
My #ChallengeFebruary was to sort and rehome 10 things from the midden that was my bedroom. Looking back on this process of decluttering through my current hazy gold-tinted spectacles, a few realisations have fizzled their way to the front of my mind.
- When a job seems impossible, start with the thing right in front of you. In my case, this meant that the first 3 days of February were spent working my way through myriad clusters of receipts and clothes tags. As the clutter started to disappear, however, I realised the solution to problems I hadn’t even realised were bugging me. Sometimes, you have to start along a path before you can see the way through the brambles. And sometimes, you have to clear away the abandoned pasta bracelets before you realise that this space will never work for jewellry and makeup, and all this time, you have needed something completely different.
- Routine is helpful, but so is keeping the spirit of the task in clear sight. I know that I respond well to deadlines and clearly defined tasks. Decluttering 10 things every day is easy to track, to record. That makes it something I am much more likely to stick at; but it also means that if I don’t follow the rules, because I am tired, or away, or I just forgot until way past bedtime, I end up beating myself up and missing the moments of joy caused by genuine successes.
- Always check under the bed before you decide a job is finished. Sometimes you can’t finish a job in the time you have. An important thing to remember when deciding whether to call it a day is that, however tempting it might be in the short term, it never saves time to hide everything under the bed. Well, unless the Bishop or all the family are staying. Then you just need to follow realisation 2, and do what you have to in order to get through…
In the process of clearing at least some of the room formally known as The Midden, my #ChallengeMarch also gradually crept into focus. I have found a huge number of half-done projects, and unmended clothes, and fraying bags. They were layered like sediment in a variety of corners; and when I dug to the lowest levels, I found clothes that felt like old friends, that I had been trying to find replacements for for years, though the replacements were never as good as the originals – isn’t that always the case? My goal for #MendItMarch, then, is to get the number of projects squirreled away low enough that they will all fit comfortably into my newly-created Projects Box. The fact that it is currently full, and there are at least two other mending piles still waiting to be dealt with, will give some idea of the size of the task ahead.
The reason for choosing this challenge is two-fold. One is the intention to reduce the amount of things I buy, getting old favourites back into circulation instead. This will probably be helped by my decision to only buy new/charity shop things if I have already fixed at least one thing in that category – so no new bags until I have fixed at least one of the broken ones currently cowering in the top of a cupboard 😪. It may even convince my children that the automatic response to something shattering across the kitchen floor is not “oopsie, oh well, we need to buy another plate/cup/cake stand” (delete as appropriate).
The other reason for choosing this challenge is more psychological. Many of the things in my mending pile are there not because I really think I will ever be able to fix them, but more because I once really liked them, and now they’re worn through, and I am not at all good at letting things like that go, even when the only other option is hiding them away and feeling guilty each time I notice them. So, following my realisations from February, I have recognised that sometimes you have to start the process before you can see how it will end. And sometimes, you have to try to mend something in order to be able to accept that actually, life changes, new things sometimes need space in our lives unexpectedly, and the only way to have room for everything is to let the broken things go, freeing them from their dejected and dingy hideaways.