As many of us stare down the barrel of isolation, it's inevitable to enter a vortex of house-anxiety. It will never be tidy enough, the washing will never be done, the kids will destroy another room ... So we looked back to the wise words of Evelyn Lewin. While part of her longed to have a perfect house, Evelyn realised she was unlikely to have one any time soon… Here's what she had to say.
Every week as I log on to The Grace Tales, my computer is filled with charming images of gorgeous rooms. Just looking at them makes me weak at the knees. Oh, how I wish I lived like that.
While I often think I’m okay living with mess, every time I see one of those images, my feelings change. It would be so lovely to flit through my house, stopping only to sniff overflowing bouquets of flowers, I think to myself.
But, dear readers, I’m pretty sure that’s never going to happen. And here’s why: I’m not a tidy person. Let’s do some maths, shall we? I am not tidy. I then live with a husband who is even untidier than me. Add in three children. This includes a seven-year-old who loves getting dressed. She loves getting dressed so much, she does it multiple times a day. The only problem is, she doesn’t love putting away the clothes she was previously wearing. Hence her bedroom floor often resembles a game of hopscotch, where, instead of squares, there are tops, socks and leggings. Then there’s my four-year-old son. Bless his unmatched socks, that kid loves dinosaurs. He loves books about dinosaurs, making pictures of dinosaurs, little dinosaur toys. He shares his love with the whole house, and there is not a room that doesn’t now sport dinosaur paraphernalia. And you can’t forget my toddler. I have many nicknames for her. But when it comes to housework, I like to call her ‘the re-locator’. I put something away; she picks it up and relocates it. This is why the potato masher can sometimes be found in the laundry, or why the garbage bags may end up in the toy basket.
So it’s no wonder my house never looks picture-perfect. But that’s about to change, I thought to myself, when I came across Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The life-changing magic of tidying up”. I couldn’t wait to read it and learn how to change my ways. The book starts by explaining the wonderful life-changing joy of having a tidy house. The author believes this is best done in one fell swoop. All you need is one good tidy-up and then you never have to tidy again.
Boy, was I sold. That is, until she explained that a good tidy-up takes six months. SIX MONTHS.
Yes, feel free to pause here. It certainly took me a while to scoop my jaw off the floor.
I kept reminding myself that, once tidy, you never need to tidy your house again, and on I read. The first step she describes is all about discarding. The best way to do this is to go through the house category by category (think clothes, then books, then miscellaneous items etc.). You then collect things in each category first (say, clothing), lay them out on the ground, hold each one and decide whether it brings you a ‘thrill of pleasure’. Only the things that bring a ‘spark of joy’ are kept. In theory, that’s quite lovely.
But here’s the thing I realised: the stuff that brings me a ‘spark of joy’ won’t necessarily lead to me having a tidy-looking house. This is because I love having a house full of things my kids make, play with, or things that bring them joy, too. While eclectic, this is not the recipe for a picture-perfect house.
The book did help me chuck out lots of stuff and I picked up some great tips on tidying up. It also made me realise that even though part of my longs to have a neat house, at this stage in my life, I’m actually okay with not having one.
Besides, if I really want to see rooms oozing gorgeousness, I can always hop on to The Grace Tales and simply drool over other people’s picture-perfect houses instead.