When the walls are closing in – coping with clutter

Right now I’m sitting in front of Paw Patrol in a room that used to resemble my sitting room. There are piles of toys in the corner and across the floor, the contents of my handbag, wallet and makeup bag are strewn across the mantlepiece (the only level she can’t reach). On the dresser are a large packet of wipes, papers and baby bowls and this morning’s porridge is dotted around the furniture in random dashes. Oh and there’s a Picasso looking wax work on the front window. In crayon red.

Last night, after I got the toddler (yes toddler, no longer can I say ‘baby’) (sob!) to bed, I cleaned up as best I could and sat down with a cup of tea before tackling my blogging / writing to do list. It was almost 10pm. And what pained me the most, was the state of the place. Everything is filthy. Dirty. Broken.

I had managed to clear a space in the floor and in front of the fire and I tried to imagine that this was good enough by ignoring all the other mess. But, it dawned on me, as I lay strewn on our food covered sofa, that  we have grown used to living in a level of clutter and crap.

We haven’t given up quite yet; I mean there’s cleaning everyday and wiping, and washing and lots of kitchen roll and Cif and sometimes bleach – for the bad stuff. But, no matter how hard we (mostly I) try, the place looks like shit. And I hate it.

I love playing with my daughter and seeing her have fun with her toys and turn things upside down. That’s fine – that’s what toddlers do, that’s grand during the day, when it’s chaos time. But at night, when the day is done, I want to be able to sit down in an adult space and after a day of childminding, cooking, cleaning and disinfecting, I want to feel that I’m at least sitting in some sort of half-clean, cosy home. Not a glazed over crèche. Not a home that looks as though it’s been placed in the middle of a snow globe for someone to shake.

We’ve bought storage boxes. The toys sit on top of them. I’ve tried putting toys away for when she’s older. There’s still too many. We can’t afford to redecorate in the way we want (reupholstery, what a rip-off – don’t excuse the pun). So we use blankets and cushions from Penny’s and I grin and bear it but inside, I wish for a magic interior designer to come along, wave a giant wand and fix everything.

I don’t expect to live in a palace.  I get that raising a small family brings mess. But the whole thing is affecting my mood and my stress levels and many times during the day I look around and want to escape, to run from the clutter and the laundry and the bits of things that touch my legs wherever I go.

It’s like the walls are closing in, that I’m battling a losing war, that until our family has moved on in years and maybe a 2,000 square foot extension, this is our reality. We live in a home that’s lived in. And this is the part of Mammyhood I wasn’t really expecting. The loss of control, the overwhelming work that’s involved in running a household. And then there are women that find time for baking. Seriously. Send help.

17 months pic

Diary of One-Year-Old: 17 months

We’ve had a pretty exhausting month with August – perhaps this is related to my moan above! She started wakening in the night again, and it took us a while to realise that this was her new routine. She’s gone from sleeping straight through the night to wakening between 3am and 5am and having to get up for a break, before she will go back to sleep and then up again at 7.30am, no matter what. We’re gradually trying to try other things to get her back to sleep without lifting her and sometimes we manage it. I read in the Wonder Weeks book that this is an expected leap and other Mammies of babies this age have confirmed it. Excitingly, it’s the last chapter in the book. Have we grown up now?

Her speech is coming on a bit. She says the word ‘gone’ now, when I hide one particular toy. But if I say ‘gone’ and we’re in the kitchen she goes to get that toy – she doesn’t associate it with anything else. I’m trying to teach her ‘all gone’ so that she stops having a freak attack when we reach the end of the food bowl.

She’s discovered squealing. And screaming. It’s like there’s this thing in her throat and she’s only just discovered it. She uses it when she’s very excited, like when Peppa Pig comes on the telly and she wasn’t expecting it. She also likes to use it when she doesn’t get her own way. Which is all the time. Just joking – we always give in to her. WEAK.

Here are some of the other thing she did this month:

(By the way, right now, she’s eating toothpaste out of the tube with my eyeliner)

-Turned the coffee machine on over my shoulder and watched a hot coffee pour straight out

-Ran behind the sofa in her childminders with a box of ferroro rocher and managed to scoff two before she was discovered. Cue childminder freaking out about potential nut allergies and shitty nappies. At least one of those things happened.

-Got hold of a large torch and dropped it when it turned on and said ‘fff ffff’ which is our signal for fire – hot hot. At least she’s learning!

-Grew out of all her clothes. Whole. New. Wardrobe.

-Devoured 17 packets of wipes. She can’t get enough of the wipes.


august 17 months

December Girl is now available on Audio. Visit Amazon or Audible or click on the cover below to download.

December Girl audiobook
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