Hubbie and I have been thinking a lot lately about the house we live in. It has to be so many different things within a normal week and we’re struggling to help it became these things and then turn it back to being a family home. Downstairs is starting to be sorted but the rest of the house seems to be groaning, as much as Hubbie and I are, with just how much stuff there is. In short: I feel like I’m a student again and that we’re living in a student house but with our family.
Some of you will know that we home educate 2 of our children which means that the house is a science laboratory, a design workshop, a drama studio, a nursery, library and so many other things. We host a number of home ed groups so every week day, apart from Wednesday, we have at least 15 people in the kitchen/sitting room. Our house transforms itself each day depending on whether it’s a recorder group, design technology or book group.
This is hard as to use the space both as an educational venue and also a family home means we need extra chairs, tables and resources. These all need to be brought in, taken out and stored.
We’ve noticed our home has many things that we use on a daily, weekly, monthly basis but it has so many things that I couldn’t even tell you the last time I even looked at them let alone used them.
These are fast becoming our accidental ornaments.
You know the things that are in your home taking up space yet you can’t really remember where you got them from, why you got them or (which is worse!) how long you’ve had them. These are the things that quietly sit in your house and lovingly collect dust.
My accidental ornaments come in a range of sizes and shapes. I’ve boxes in my workroom (I say ‘workroom’ but really it’s the junk room) from christmas that need to be cleared. Shelves in the kitchen that contain books but also old wooden toys that need mending (classic accidental ornament), a watch, a half sewn gingerbread man, some magnetic strips (absolutely no idea) a watch and (hooray!) the whiteboard pens that I’d been looking for for most of last week but only find now, when I’m writing a blog about being overrun with stuff that I looking a a place that is, ironically, overflowing with stuff.
I’ve got cups full of pens balanced on shelves that really could fall off an smack someone on the head at any time. I’ve got cooking books on shelves that I’ve never even opened and a pile of story CD’s that we’ve either listened to or the kids didn’t like.
And that’s just what I can see from where I’m sitting in the kitchen.
I know the rest of the house is like this too.
I’m not lazy. I work hard each day but seem not to have the time to sort it all out.
Am I overwhelmed?
I’ve just thought about this and I really don’t think I am. I have just arrived at a point in time really not knowing how on earth I got here, probably en route to having 4 babies. A point in time where I just didn’t notice the house becoming full and I don’t just mean the children.
So I started.
There’s always a starting point and mine was this morning and a drawer in the kitchen.
Lots of people have this drawer, the one that doesn’t really have a defined purpose yet you can find most things in it if you can dig about for 10 minutes.
I decided to empty out the entire drawer onto the kitchen floor so I could see exactly what I did have in it.
This is everything. I sat back and looked at it and then grouped it into obvious categories and then lesser obvious categories and then the final I-have-no-idea-what-this-is-let-alone-what-it’s-doing-here pile. (Strangely there was quite a few bits in this one!)
I started with the candles.
I lined them up. I thought it best to keep one of each number as we have F who is 2 along with the others and O who is just about to be 13. (Ironically we have many candles but not a 3?) I got rid of the 6 and large 8 as they don’t have wicks and can’t be used really. I also kept two 1’s as I will have an 11th birthday next year and it’ll save me buying another 1 after throwing one out.
I put the numbers to keep in a bag so they are all together and then the other pile was to throw away. I would offer them to other people but I’m not sure people would want them as they are half used.
Now to the wooden utensils.
I’m keeping the rolling pin, large spoons and jam spoon but decided to keep 1 of each of the spatulas. The little wooden utensils have never been used, I think because I didn’t even remember they were there to get them out and use them. These I thought would be great for F to play with when she’s in the kitchen or for water play. I put the large wooden spoons and spatula in the utensil pot by the cooker and the others I no longer want into the charity box.
The metal spoons.
I don’t need 2 whisks of the same size, a ladle (never used it), salad spoons (who has salad spoons????) a thing that cuts cheese – I just use a knife but everything else can stay. The knife is going in the utensil pot by the cooker as it gets used a lot.
I admit it. I am a sucker for cutters and if I’m being honest we have only ever used the ginger ninja cutters (awesome biscuits we made too) from this section. I’ve kept a start of 2 different sizes, the ghost (I might use it now I’ve remembered it’s there but if not it’ll go in a few months) and the ninjas but everything else is going in the charity box.
I’ve had these measuring cups for about 15 years. I love them but again I never use them. F plays with them a lot so she can have them in her box. The 3 spoons tied together do get used, the red one doesn’t (as I use the 3 ones tied together) so it can go into F’s box too.
No idea why we have a wine thermometer. We don’t need the stoppers either as we hardly ever drink wine but because there are 2 of us we then to drink the bottle when we do. These will go into the charity box. 2 bottle openers? Well actually I found another 3 in the top drawer later after I finished this drawer. 5 bottle openers? Why? 4 went into the charity box.
2 pairs of scissors. 1 are kitchen scissors and the other are dressmaking ones. The kitchen ones stayed but the dress making ones went back into my workroom. The knife sharpener has lost its guard which led to a fab conversation between Hubbie and I about whether it works anymore. I said it did (as I’d used it for months like this) he thought not. I put it back in the drawer.
Shouldn’t really be in this drawer so they’ve gone to the garage.
Kitchen wrap and bags.
I use these a lot so they stayed.
The 3 coloured ones are part of a set of 6 that we do use for serving spoons. I’ll keep these but the others F can have for her play box.
Wire strippers? A solid white tube? No idea but most of this went either in the bin or the charity box. Other items were filed to the proper places.
These went into the garage too.
The children’s red books.
Now these have always been in the kitchen drawers. I have no idea why but I felt it was a safe place and I have never lost them as a consequence. We’re moving them now so the next time I need them I probably won’t be able to find them.
I cleaned the drawer while it was empty.
I then out the things that we really want back in.
This seems a whole lot more manageable and sensible.
I was so enthused by my new look drawer that I did the other 2 too.
Tea towel drawer.
So all the drawers are done.
I am happy that I’ve started decluttering and it really wasn’t that difficult.
With the kitchen it isn’t really a case of ‘Do I like/love it?’ it’s more of a question of ‘Do I use it?/Need it?’ I don’t love my wooden utensils but I do need them in order to cook. I need the whisk but I don’t need 2…
Next I’ll be doing the kitchen cupboards. I’ll apply the same method in that I’ll get everything out, put it on the kitchen floor so I can see what we have and by seeing everything I can then make better decisions. I know we have a lot of small oven dishes from when Hubbie and I were first together. Having a family of 6 I know we no longer need these anymore so I know there will be lots of things to give to charity/rehome.
I enjoyed starting to declutter.
I can’t wait until the whole house is done.
I’ll just take it one drawer one cupboard at a time…