A little while ago I wrote about our renovation, and I'm thrilled to say that, 12 weeks later, it's 99% done. I'll get to that another time but I'm mentioning it today because while we were renovating we had a bit of a clear out and that's what I'm writing about now. We couldn't make our house any bigger, we just had to be very clever about the space that we have, and really decide what was important to us - something we should have done years ago.
I was dead keen to get rid of the old IKEA furniture that came with the house, and Dave was determined that there was no way the old TV was coming back. I managed to reduce the number of toys we had accumulated, and a fair few clothes and books went to charity. We tried to clear out while we packed up, and it felt cathartic initially, but then we ran out of time and shoved things in boxes with the intention of sorting through it when we moved back in. We put a bit in storage and took a lot with us to the house we were staying in. As we went along we shopped for new things and had to figure out where to keep them, and we were very grateful when friends offered to look after things for us. In the end we moved 4 times, had our belongings spread across no less than 6 houses, and on our final move managed to whittle down the essentials to one suitcase and a few boxes of food and toys. It was at that end point, when looking at what we actually needed, what had followed us from one house to the next, that we realised something - we own a lot of crap.
We moved back in two weeks ago, and we still haven't unpacked all the boxes, and we still have things in storage, but we're almost there. And we are throwing things out or giving them away on a daily basis. There are times when choosing what to throw out, and what to put into storage, has been quite easy. There have been a couple of heated debates about things like whether or not I really need to hang onto my teaching resources from 2003, and if there is a more appropriate place for Dave's model aeroplanes than the bedside table, but mostly we have agreed on what stays, and what goes. We each have one piece or furniture that we have had longer than we've had each other, and neither of them fit into our new aesthetic, but they have stayed and been put to good use. I've mostly enjoyed looking at what we have, and remembering why we've kept it. We both love things that have a history, and all of the pieces of furniture or knick knacks that we have held onto have that in spades, but they also still have a purpose - everything else has had to go. Clothes I haven't worn in the last 12 months, books we haven't read (or books we read and didn't like), old sheets and towels, mismatched dinner plates and cutlery, blinds that no longer fit the windows, and anything broken or unusable is no longer with us.
The things I've found the hardest to let go of have been the baby things. Friends of ours have, just this weekend, welcomed twin boys. I was more than happy to pass on clothes my boys had grown out of, with the exception of the outfits they each wore home from the hospital, and the little onesie I bought for Charlie the day I found out I was having another boy, but I also found myself keeping anything that was gender neutral. I've still got the majority of my maternity clothes, and anything baby related that I found essential. Even though we don't think a third child is a good idea, I keep putting things away "just in case." I sold a few big items recently and it hurt deep inside in a way I didn't expect. We had a bouncer that both boys sat in as newborns, and the moses basket that was Josh's first bed, neither of which were irreplaceable, but I remembered my excitement when I bought them, and the moments of joy that were attached to each of them. I sold a Fisher Price rocker this week - the chair where both boys sat for their first taste of real food. As I was packing it up Dave reminded me of how Josh used to play with the tag on one of the toys for hours on end, and I choked up. It's silly to be attached to things like that, especially when they take up so much room, and are no longer necessary but I can't help it. I'm not sure if I'm struggling with the fact that my boys really aren't babies anymore, or with the idea that there won't be any more babies... Maybe it's a bit of both, but I'm really not ready to let go, no matter how much we need to clear out.
So the gorgeous new version of the house we're now lucky to be living in is free of outdated IKEA furniture, and the teaching resources are tidily packed up and stored away, but if you look closely you'll find a white onesie here, and a swaddle there, and a co-sleeper under the bed; just in case.