Chores, minimalism and juggling it all

little girl leaning against a patio door about to lick it. window is covered in smeared hand prints

How on earth is your house clean AND tidy, when you home educate three children? How do you keep on top of everything? I get asked that all the time. All the time. And now I have finally come to the end of my journey towards minimalism I feel I can finally share it all with you.

My journey actually started about three years ago. It ramped up a little when I was pregnant with Clementine and I combined my crazy nesting with further decluttering. I never really finished. I thought I had but really I had stored things away pretty well. After Clemmie was born I watched the minimalists and got stuck in to it again and thought I’d given everywhere a good going over before I returned to work.

But I kept getting that nagging feeling. I had placed our TV from our bedroom under Prue’s bed to see if we could manage not having a TV in our room. I’d then put some frames in with it, thinking they would be safe. I kept meaning to get back to them, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with them. Then I knew it had got pretty dusty under there and that was playing on my mind. Before I knew it, it had grown in to a pretty big to do job. It had made it on to the deep clean radar.

two shelves, with books, a basket, word art that says 'ph my darling clementine'. a toy car and a poyt plant

But time still trickled on, I was irritated that silly jobs like this spoilt our few and far between family days. I gave away family time so I could get stuck in to my ‘to do’ list without little fiddles fingers around. Finally on January 1st, Marie Kondo’s new tv series was released on to Netflix and I was filled with renewed energy and everything was cleaned and again, I thought, sorted.

Then the mother-in-law came to stay for a few weeks, in which we got to celebrate her birthday with her.

Finally I had thought I was on track to sit back and relax and enjoy my newly ordered life. As I made the coffee that morning I thought how nice it would be if the children made her breakfast in bed, and took in my husbands baby album for her to look through with them. Fifteen minutes later I had pulled out half of Prue’s wardrobe digging for them, dusted it off and handed it over. Finally the real epiphany hit. The items I prized beyond all, the things I always say I would grab should the house go up in flames, my absolute, irreplaceable treasures, we buried, dusty and unloved in the top, hard to reach, recess of the built in wardrobes. This was crazy.

a corner of a home education classroom. showing minimalism. a small selection of books in a basket. work books filed on a wall hanging and paper mouse lantern hanging on the wall

That day I pulled out her entire wardrobe. I thought I had sorted it, I thought it housed just the girls clothes, and a few baskets of toys stored at the top, and the photos. Once I pulled it out it towered like a mountain on her double bed. It spilled off the sides, I was shocked I had managed to store so much and think I had so little. I was shocked how much of it none of us even wanted (25 year old and pretty empty record of achievement book? Yes world, perhaps I would one day need to prove I can swim 10m, no more, no less).

So I did the whole house. I watched the whole of Marie Kondo and the series ‘consumed’ on netflix and it kept me focused the whole time. I touched every item in the home. Did it have a place, did it have a purpose and did it bring me joy? It took me nearly the whole month of January but I did it.

Life is now finally ordered, properly. Doing it during ‘no spend January’ certainly helped as it kept me out of all those warm, steamy coffee shops I love so much.

a little girl sitting out of focus in the background. in the foreground, a mid century side board with an assortment of wooden toys displayed on it

I finally accepted that having lots of things, not only did they not bring me joy, but they brought me stress, anxiety and sadness. I was either sad because they didn’t make me the person I want to be (goodbye bazillion faddy health books, cook books, hobby books, hello normal internet where everything is stored at the touch of a button. Definitely goodbye ancient and out of date encyclopaedias, hello Google).

I easily said goodbye to clothes that just weren’t us. I sent out a message to the main culprits of arriving here with children’s clothes that just aren’t our style, so now I hopefully don’t have to worry about them making a reappearance.

Decluttering is exactly like weeding your garden. You can’t sit and enjoy watching the buds push through, or new flowers blossom proudly, if they are drowning in weeds. Your unwanted clutter is just that, weeds.

Now we can open the games cupboard and take a game out easily. Gone are the ones we kept out of politeness because they were gifts, or we have grown out of, or we simply don’t get much pleasure from. Now simply opening the cupboard brings joy, seeing them ready and waiting for us, stacked visibly and orderly, now i grab a game and sit down in such a better frame of mind. I am not irritated about the state of the cupboard I have just riffled through, I haven’t mentally added ‘sort games cupboard’ to my mental to do list. I have just picked up the game and sat down with my family. This is my reward for decluttering.

a little girl sitting in her brothers lap, with a wooden toy set in the foreground

I removed all monetary value of items in the home. Everything went to zero. And then I repriced it all, with a money value worked out by how much joy it brought us. Yes! Some of the things we ridded from the house cost us/someone quite a bit of money. But they brought no joy. I was keeping them for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t respectful keeping them because they were gifts. I wasn’t loving them. They weren’t being used as the giver had intended, they were being half heartedly stored until I knew I could pluck up the courage (or hope the giver would forget they game it to me) to remove them from my home. These items are now out of date and probably unwanted by many people. Or worse. ruined by my useless storing of them. Shameful.

I didn’t want to keep feeling shame about things. I wanted to live life, enjoy what we had. Not be this weird night guard for the storage unit of a house I had created. Spending more time caring for my stuff that caring for me and the family. This had to end. Imagine walking in to a room and it being clear and tidy. Imagine the children had played in there and it took you 60 seconds to return it back to normal. That is how it can be. But it can only be done by you. And it can only be done when you are ready.

This needs to feel liberating, this needs to bring you happiness. If it is bringing you sadness, stress, misery, then minimalism and decluttering isn’t for you right at this moment.

There isn’t a goal anyone can set for you. Some will tell you that minimalism has no end, it is a lifestyle and it goes on and on and a round and a round. But for me that wasn’t the case. I saw my destination every day, I saw exactly where I was going and now I am here it is exactly how I imagined.

For me I now live an unorganised life in organised bliss. Being organised was never my strong point, but my home doesn’t feel that way.

Everyday the house is cleaned with perfect organisation. Not my own organisation, I source that in from the amazing Organised Mum Method. I am one happy member of Team Tomm. Gemma who started the method tells me each and every day which areas to clean, in 30 minutes (plus an additional 15 minutes for the everyday jobs, washing clothes, hoovering etc), and the house is completely done. Everyday. Now the house is deep cleaned and decluttered, this is quite simply, a doddle.

We have cleaned in this way now for pretty much the whole of 2018. I don’t need reminding of what to clean and when. It is ingrained. I don’t feel like a housewife on my days off, I don’t feel like a cleaner. I just feel like the day is finally mine. Mine to do the extra activities of home education. Days to indulge in photography, or blogging, or any of the hobbies that always got pushed further down the list once life got in the way. Finally I felt some of my needs go further up the ‘to do’ list.

So if you too are feeling motivated, and perhaps don’t want to stretch it out over the three year period like I did, then here is what you need to do;

  • Watch the minimalists on Netflix. Check out their website and postcasts.
  • Go find out about Marie Kondo. Her books on tidying could change everything for you.
  • Check out Gemma on the Organised Mum Method.
  • Go follow some amazing minimalist Instagrammers. My personal favourites are Beth and Katrina.
  • Picture your destination. What does it look like, and what steps are you putting down to get you there?

That is it. That is simple what I did. It took a really long time. But in the end, it really only took as long as it took me to be ready.

Blog post written by mum of the Schoolhouse family, Kirsty. If you want to get to know the family a little more check out their other blog posts here! or follow them on their instagram account for regular posts on minimalism, seeking simplicity, home education and living in Cornwall.

a little girl licking a window

2 Replies to “Chores, minimalism and juggling it all”

  1. Love your “about us” and autumn posts. I can hear that sea lapping on the shore and taste the salty air!
    Brings back memories of our early homeschool years. Thank you.

    1. that is so lovely to hear, thank you. how long have you been home educating? xx

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