Before I tell you what I am doing and what this blog is about, I suppose starting at who I am would help colour the picture....
As a 20-something mum of two preschoolers, my life is shaped by chaos - a structured routine chaos, an ordered world of crazy, and I find myself in orbit around my home planet: The House. Married young(19!!!), I dove into baby-making and by the time I was 23 I had one toddler and another on the way. My kids are now 4 and almost 2, and I spend my time racing from doctors, kindergarten, coffee dates and more, while The House where we live waits, brooding, a nest to which we reluctantly retreat for sleep and food. It sits on the edge of our horizon, uncared for, untended, functioning only as a convenience stop and laundromat.
I have known for years that a change was afoot - but after two bouts of severe post-natal depression(the second ending in a trip to hospital) and with yet another Christmas just newly tucked under my belt(the tree is still up!) I finally have come to understand that change does not usually chance upon us, we ourselves must be the catalyst.
Traditionally my husband and I plus the kids limp soberly north the day after Christmas to The Bach - a work of art that my father-in-law designed and built himself and in which we lived in at one stage of our rental journey - to stay with the lovely Osbornes while they holiday there. Upstairs at The Bach, 2 small bedrooms, kitchen and living area all open on to the East and a view of Arkles Bay with Rangitoto in the distance. Two tall trees stand guard before the stretch of sand and clear salty water, and their seasonal mood changes are one of my most vivid memories from living there. Downstairs in a concrete-block basement is a pair of bunkbeds and a double bed, a couple of old chairs and another wall of floor-to-ceiling bifold doors. And so we stow ourselves below deck, pop up the portacot, unpack our bags and then spend several glorious days reading books in the hammock and hanging our bright washing on a picturesque length of twine stretched over the grass, while Nonni and Poppa take the kids swimming and cook wholesome bach food on the gas stove.
But of course the worst part of going on holiday is coming back home, even when you cannot wait to sleep in your own bed and shower without fear of the water running out. Thus, we return sheepishly to The House, which when opened releases a dank breath of old nappies, unwashed clothes, and rubbish that has not been put out. The kids rush in, breathless with the excitement of seeing all their toys again, but within half an hour are begging for a DVD to watch on the couch, and we brew ourselves a coffee which we drink out of slightly sour mugs and contemplate the damage. The carpet needs a vacuum, there are mounds of wrapping paper and boxing to sort out, sour bottles lurk in the corners of the kitchen, cups are just where we left them on the table, and ants pour over the food scraps which we didn't have time to get rid of.
Now while this state of decay never happens more than once a year, it is never a surprise to any of us, more of a flaw in ourselves that we have come to accept or tolerate, an itch that we can't be bothered scratching. I have been married for 6 and a half years now, and the pattern has been the same with only one exception: it gets worse every time. With kids have come the accumulation of the plastics, the toys, the nappies that always manage to escape the rubbish round, bottles and teats piling up on the sink. And while this is a seasonal disease of post-Christmas-scumminess, it is merely an exaggeration of what our life looks like. With the fresh perspective of living in someone elses home for a few days, we cringe inwardly at the thought of how our home is run.
Before you think that I am being very melancholy about all of this(those of you who know me will be poo-pooing the whole description and telling me not to be so hard on myself), let me clearly state that I do love my house, my children, husband and life. We are happy, mostly content, we laugh many many times every day, our home is full of love, hugs and hilarity, and were you to turn up unannounced tomorrow I would welcome you in with only a small scolding, plenty of kisses and the promise of good coffee. BUT something must change, and I have the blueprint in my head of how it will come to pass. Although I am incredibly tired, and lets face it, still a little bit queasy from New Years Eve, I will give you a quick preview, a teaser, of what the plan is...
It involves a lot of going back to basics, working more conscientiously to make the house run smoothly and simply, there will be more sitting outside under the trees, more washing hanging on the lines, in short, more holiday spirit in The House.
My short term goal at the moment is simple: do the dishes by hand for a week. A WEEK! Because when you do them by hand, they need to be done, and the kitchen clean and tidy, after EVERY meal. Because when you do them by hand you save metric tonnes of water by not using the dishwasher and the water that you do use can be thrown on the garden. And because when you do them by hand it means you have to stand still for about 20 minutes, three times a day, looking out the CLEAN window at the world outside. We'll see how that goes, for starters.