Wow! Here is where I am going to start. At home.
Mess creates stress. Looking at crap (clutter) everywhere just reminds you of all the back stories, baggage and procrastination. Your mind wanders, anxiety peaks. Then you get stressed out. Day turns to crap. Ever since I was old enough to have my own room which is about the time Japanese 80s minimalism first went mainstream, I have kept my things ship shape. Because MESS CREATES STRESS!
Sure. We are all adults and should be able to function in muddy trench warfare or rough camp it in the bush. But when you are working from home. That my friend is another story. This is that story.
It has also helped that for most ( 85%) of my adult Generation X existence, I have rented rather than owned and that generally restricts how much you can decorate and embellish. Nevertheless, the two times I have owned my own home, less has been more. Since returning to Australia, we have been renting and we might as well be lepers because people here only worship the real estate gods.
It was only yesterday our clean up efforts of the last month made total sense. It was a kid free day, so Stayatworkfatherofthree and Stayathomemotheroffour watched a Youtube video of a cruise ship chef showing how they make so many meals for the various on board restaurants. His initial quote was priceless:
This made so much more sense now. When we first bought our Bangkok apartment and starting cooking for three children, the first thing we did was rip out the ancient wood panel kitchen with wall facing cooker and single sink. Re-tiled the floor and made an island double sink with an electric stove and oven on the end. Anyone cooking then had full view of the living room, the cityscape from the window and everything looked IKEA white ship-shape. The mood when cooking improved, the flow was more efficient and the food tasted better.
Our neighbor who was a hotel chef said it was the most workable residential kitchen he had seen in our building and we became more adventurous with our cooking, hosted kick ass dinner parties for our friends and our lives, for the first time since Charlie was born, were finally in order.
Fast forward to now and our two and half years renting in Australia and tolerating whatever kitchen was installed, we have now got our groove back.
Everyone has heard:
“Happy Wife, Happy Life”
Fewer have heard my own retort:
“Happy Hubby, Lot’s More Money!”
My productivity has been stellar, Stayathomemotheroffour is totally in the mood, the kids are all falling in line with house rules. Yes! Structure is easier when there is less chaos. But you know what is the best thing?
Good fortune now has more clean open surfaces to land on and we have not had a day without some wonderful turn of fortune. Not luck you understand. Good fortune simply appears when there is room for it in your life. In the last month, we have let go of many possessions, been more hands free with concerns and just simply kept our heads down clearing the decks (is it no accident many of the idioms for coping with life come from the seafaring).
You do not need to own a boat to appreciate things work better when they are stored in the right place and the right place being where you can find them when you need them. That means putting like-purposed items together. Sherlock Holmes kills two birds (mental clutter and home clutter) with one stone:
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
Words I have lived by since first reading that passage from a Study in Scarlet in 1983 and in no less than 19 fixed abodes in as much time.
So two weeks ago we had our first inspection by the local real estate agent managing the two-storey townhouse we are currently renting. It kinda crept up on us, but in 72 hours we had jetisoned two-wheelie bins if trash, donated a trunk of stuff to a local Church charity bin and moved some furniture and things around. IT WORKED. So let’s not keep it a secret.
1. KEEP ALL THE KIDS STUFF IN THE KIDS BEDROOM…
…..and under no circumstances let it infect other parts of the home. Specically keep it out of the living room, the carport, our room, any bathroom and all balconies etc. This step involved us moving a set of shelves from living room to kids bedroom that had nine A4 square compartments full of kids books and toys. They were constantly taking them out and leaving them everywhere between kitchen and every corner of living room.
2. USE CLEAR PLASTIC BOXES WITH DIVIDERS TO STORE CRAP…..
…and label the compartments.
3. SCHEDULE CLEANING TASKS INTO BATCHES AND DIFFERENT DAYS.
Do not try to clean a home in one day.
4. SORT PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS WITH GOOD MUSIC AND WINE.
If not windy this is even better outside. Stand as much as possible so you can dance to the good pieces and clean all surfaces first so you have lots of places for pages to land and sort into categories.
5. COMPLETE IN THE LAST PHASE OF THE MOON.
Nothing says preparing for a new moon, like having a purge after the full moon and getting reading for new projects.
6. FOCUS ON THE KITCHEN, THE FRIDGE AND PANTRY
There are menu planners and there are realists. No home can stick to a set menu, but you can plan meals according to the activities of the day. This gives you flexibility for unexpected visitors or events. Make this your rock though as food is fuel and without it being clean and made without haste, you are doing you home a disservice.
7. WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK
One thing missing from so many families are their own traditions. Don’t just follow a method because that is the way it has always been done.
8. I AM NOT MOSES. SO THERE IS NO 8, 9 or 10.
It is Saturday night and we cleaned my Father’s kitchen and bathrooms today, along with several loads of washing, vacuuming and so we are going to have Chinese in the next town.
Have a great and safe weekend. Variety is indeed the spice of life.