I am sitting on the chaise that we bought for £50 from Facebook Marketplace for our wedding and loved too much to get rid of. We’ve had to move it from it’s usual position to accommodate the desk and chair that Ethan needs for his home-school lessons. The room feels a lot more crowded than it did a few months ago. There is a stack of Lego trays on the floor under the TV, so that I don’t have to try and carry them downstairs whilst holding a baby. Nick has inexplicably perched the printer on top of the 10 green balloons Ethan asked me to blow up yesterday so we could play balloon tennis. Under the piano stool I can see the trug of cloth nappies, extra clothes and the boxes of wipes, living there because the nursery isn’t ready yet. I have to step over 2 different playmats to get from one end of the kitchen to the other; placed there to ensure that Erica has somewhere safe to hang out while I make the 52nd Ethan snack of the day. The landing currently holds 3 piles of clean washing that need putting away and 2 boxes of clothes that are already too small for Erica and can’t go on Facebook because of #socialdistancing. My bathroom is probably a health hazard…Ethan is yet to learn to aim consistently and cleaning the toilet whilst baby-wearing feels fairly precarious.
My house is chaotic right now.
I do not deal well with chaos.
My childhood was quite chaotic, our two bedroom council house too small for 3 adults and 2, then 3 children. We were busting out at the seams, with books and clothes and toys and washing and hormones everywhere. I hate chaos, its really triggering for me. I have moved myself such a distance away from Social Security payments and milk tokens and food parcels from kind churches and too small uniform and embarrassing packed lunches filled with fluorescent reduced labels. And part of that has been creating calm and clean and a slightly minimalist space – turning my home in to somewhere I can breathe – not in a cold clinical way, I love hosting friends and family, with people turning up in the morning and still chilling out in the kitchen with some wine at 10pm – but clutter is not something I am comfortable with.
But you grow to fit the space you have, and we have a LOT of stuff now…which was fine: we have loft space and a playroom and a garden shed. But with this new tiny human we needed to rearrange, and to get some of the stuff out of its hiding place to be wriggled on and in. Lockdown and homeschooling and, to some extent, Erica’s slightly early arrival, have meant things are not yet in their place, we have not yet settled into how our house will look for the near future, and it has left me feeling as unsettled as my spare room. This is compounded by being stuck inside for all but 1 hour of the day with a hormonal 8 year old and an uncommunicative milk monster.
The piles of washing and messy bathroom frankly make me feel as if I am slipping back into the poverty of my past. As if I am only one cluttered landing away from free school meals and Tesco white bread sandwiches. I tell myself that this is silly, and illogical, that we are in the middle of a global crisis, and a significant change in our household, and so un-ironed t-shirts are not the end of the world. But my brain is wired oddly…and I find the fear hard to shake.
So today we will be sorting things, clearing spaces and working out how to make our immediate surroundings fit our new circumstances…it will be fuelled by coffee, Judge Jules’ Carfest set and, later, probably wine. I won’t quite be turning into Marie Kondo, but I’m going to give it a damn good try.