About a week ago, the fam and I finished up two weeks of housesitting, here in town. We were at one house for a week, then packed up our things and relocated to another house for the second week. House number one was in town, walking distance to the downtown mall, and (woohoo!) babyproofed for the homeowners’ little one year old. House number two was outside of town about 15 minutes and comfortable/lived in but not babyproofed.
Here are a few things I learned, in no particular order:
1. I need systems of some sort and “homes” for our things. When we moved our stuff into house number 1 for the week, we sort of just dumped stuff anywhere, then let the kids play with the toys for a while. We watched t.v.- a treat for us, since we don’t have a t.v. at home. We played with the dog. Repeat repeat repeat. On day three of this, I felt edgy and stressed. The housesitting-vacation glow had worn off. I finally figured out that I didn’t like having our stuff scattered around the house. Diapers were never where I needed them to be. Bottles were curdling on various bookshelves and bedside tables. Dirty laundry was in piles in the bathroom, bedrooms, office, and screen porch.
I took that afternoon to find homes for all of our things. Kids’ clothes got consolidated back into their open suitcase. Dirty laundry got accumulated at the top of the stairs, ready to be carried down to the basement at laundry time. Diapers were collected and put in a bag for easy access in the living room. And so on.
Ahh, much better. I could enjoy our time again. Systems were in place. Things had a home.
2. Having a limited number of clothes was a tad bit boring, but so very simple. We housesat for two weeks out of one suitcase and a few bags of stuff. The kids had maybe 5-6 outfits each. I had two skirts, one pair of shorts, and a bunch of tank tops. I did laundry about every 5th day, roughly the same as when we’re at home, but gosh the quantity of sorting and folding was so much less. It felt very simple and easy. Fold things and put them in piles for use the next day. No jamming things into overflowing and packed drawers (my least favorite part). Love it.
The pros to this: Simplicity. The ease of fewer choices. Less effort involved with doing laundry.
The cons: When the kids wrecked their last outfits by 9:00 am, that meant laundry couldn’t wait until the next day. They wore dirty clothes until I could get a load of laundry going. Also, there is something fun about pulling out special little outfits for church on Sunday, instead of the same play-dress Chicken has worn two times already that week.
With that in mind, I’m thinking about this for next months’ goal. A friend suggested it to me and I really like the idea. I pick out 30 items of clothing and wear those and those alone for 30 days. I’m not much for style and putting them together in super-cute ways, but the simplicity of just having limited options really appeals.
3. We really seriously honestly truly do not need a lot of toys for our kids. House number one was awesome in that it offered so many new toys, which the kids loved for the first little stretch. Within a day, however, it was obvious which toys the kids liked and played with over and over. Monkey found a toy shopping cart that he pushed around the living room for at least 72 hours, total. Just around and around that living room. I am sure he wore a groove in their hardwood floors. Tupperware and dog toys went in the shopping cart, then around he’d go again. Chicken loved playing with the dog and reading their books. She was pretty “meh” with most of the toys once the initial thrill of them wore off.
At house number two we didn’t have any toys for the kids. I gave them each a stick and a rock and told them they’d play with those and like it, goshdarnit. Worked like a charm.
So those are my lessons. With some of those things in mind, today I am weeding out my clothes in a closet-organizing spree. My kids are with their grandparents for the day and, yes, that is how I choose to spend my time. I’m sure to some of you that sounds like torture but to me that is one exciting afternoon!
Checking white t-shirts for pit stains! Trying on clothes that may or may not fit! Untangling a jumble of plastic hangers! WHEEEEEEE!!!