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More or less

At the weekend my teenagers undertook the onerous task of sorting out a bedroom, one of them asked her sister to help her and they set about it in an act of togetherness. This wasn't just changing the sheets, emptying the bin, putting clothes away and giving it all a good dust. No this task was a case of emptying everything out of everywhere and sorting it. That doesn't sound too hard but it was, especially as everything that wasn't put away had to be sorted. Anyway it's done now and the bedroom is tidy.

However the landing is now full of stuff and by stuff I mean stuff. There's bin bags of clothes destined for the clothes bank, baskets of laundry and who knows if they're clean or dirty, shoes from before the ark, items from this fad and that fad and every other fad in-between, books, magazines, posters and things.

The one thing that struck me was that there was so much stuff it was impossible to work out what was what, with the phrase can't see the wood for the trees. The daughter whose room it was couldn't find her socks under her pile of sweatshirts, when she found one sock it took an upheaval to find the other sock, thus uprooting the tidy pile of sweatshirts and then starting all over again.

How much 'stuff' does one person need? How much stuff is in the house just sitting there doing nothing? And how much time do you spend sorting inconsequential stuff that has no purpose other than sitting there and taking up your time when you could be doing other stuff?

When the children were younger we had the 15 minute rule, take any 15 minutes and say in that time we will tidy up the toys, if it took less time then we would have more time to do nice stuff, if it took longer then we would have less time to do nice stuff. I think I forgot this ditty and now it's time to reclaim our nice time from the stuff nonsense.

There's a pile of socks with holes in them, odd socks, short socks, long socks, fluffy socks, slipper socks, sports socks but not one pair of socks match and whilst they don't need to when hidden by shoes it certainly helps when matching up socks and putting them away.

Underneath the stairs there's a basket of odd socks, they've probably got their other number somewhere upstairs but I've got sock fatigue.

Clearly my daughter needs more socks to replace the worn out socks, but she also needs less socks. And how many socks is enough? Probably the same amount as pants.

Life seems to be about socks and pants these days.

Let's not forget the t-shirts, jeans and leggings. How much stuff that's just sitting there not being worn is taking up space? How much energy does it take to sort it? How much time is spent sorting out what's staying and what's going? Too much that's what, too too much.

All the stuff in the house just being 'stuff doing nothing' requires time and effort to sort out, when it's sorted it's then done. The stuff that's old, outdated, unloved and unworn gets to go to a new home and the stuff that's left will then have some purpose and will be useful.

I applied this logic to my kitchen - all those things that were there because are now not there, the stuff I bought because I thought it would be useful yet only used once has gone, the one chop stick that I thought I would find the other one has gone - it's now a plant support, the cake tins that lost their clippy usefulness have now gone - the bases are painted with chalkboard paint and now serve a purpose on the wall, the tins have been painted with rough paint are in the border providing a slug defence. The whisk with a dodgy cable and wonky whisks has gone to a better life at the tip.

The same logic was applied to the dresser - the bowls with no lids were given a new lease of life with a pretend plant, the plates that weren't being used are now being used - nothing matches but it doesn't matter. What's there is being used.

The bathroom came under attack as well. The towels that had seen better days were cut up into squares and are now used for cleaning, the shower curtain that has seen better days was used as lining for a plant trough, the bath salts that had turned into a dampish block were teased out of the box and used, bottle of things that had a shelf life of 12 months despite it being 18 months since we'd last glanced at them on the shelf had gone.

So whilst this post started out being about socks it's about more than that. Each room has been given the 'more or less' treatment. Use it more, forget about it less. We don't need half the stuff we have and if it only gets used on high days and holidays then it just sits there. I want a home that everything is either used or admired, not shoved away and brought out incase the Queen comes to tea.

I know some people operate a one out, one in policy when it comes to stuff but I have decided to be different - for every three things that go out then and only then can one thing can come back in. Today I bought a new whisk because the old one was broken, I put the new whisk in the drawer and took out a spatula that had seen better days, I'm thinking of the third one!

Time I want more, stuff I want less.

Things, stuff, socks, pants.



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