Creating Space to Grow Up.

Until recently, I’d never consciously considered how much space my kids needed to grow up and truly reach their potential band and that without this, their growth could be stunted.

After all, we all need space to grow…just like a tree. An acorn could never become an oak if it had nowhere to stretch out its extensive branches.

However, in the expediency of getting by, it’s easy for the jungle to take over both physically and metaphorically and our growth is stifled.

veggie patch beginnings

veggie patch beginnings

In many ways, our kids have a lot of space. We have a backyard where they can explore a myriad of possibilities. Indeed, after the weekend, we even have the makings of our very own veggie patch. They also have our two dogs, Bilbo and Lady, to play with. There is seemingly plenty of room to move. Moreover, there’s also the beach just down the road where they can gaze out to the horizon and let their imaginations wonder far across the sea. That’s if we actually get there.

Indeed, there’s plenty of space for their minds, bodies and spirits to expand for growth.

However, while there’s all that space out there, their bedrooms are another story.

To be frank, they’re absolutely stuffed. Stuff keeps going in but little goes out. You could say it’s been the result of too much love, a soaring imagination and my obsession with op shops where I keep finding the most incredible things very cheap. It’s not uncommon for me to have piles of things waiting for them when they get home from school and despite my enthusiasm, they’re usually so ho-hum about them all. I’m lucky if they even look up from Minecraft long enough to roll their eyes!!

Our daughter's impressive three-storey doll's house is on the move.

Our daughter’s impressive three-storey doll’s house is on the move.

Anyway, just like Mr Creosote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, all that stuff couldn’t possibly stay in there forever and the big regurgitation process has begun:

Mr Creosite about to explode just like the kids' bedrooms.

Mr Creosite about to explode just like the kids’ bedrooms.

Yes, stuff is literally spewing out.

Much of this is hastily dispatched into the boot and off to the op shop before anyone can change their minds.

However, there are also the left overs, which of course, none of those annoying decluttering “experts” never discuss.

Yes, indeed they never mentioned “no man’s land”.

Anyway, what all the cluttering experts conveniently forget to tell you is that the clutter gets incredibly worse before it starts to get better. That’s because most of your cupboards are packed like a loaded spring and once you start releasing the pressure, the stuff explodes all directions just like an exploding dandelion. The upon release, your clutter plants itself in some fertile corner of your house, grows roots and re-establishes itself somewhere else. These self-sown cultivates are then often joined by those hapless homeless items which keep moving round and round your house from the kitchen table, into the bathroom, the bedroom and perhaps even packed into storage.

Consequently, as a result of this “declutter” process, we have our son’s car bed and our daughter’s huge doll’s house sitting in our lounge room. That’s in addition to the sofa bed we brought back from Palm Beach which is perched in front of the piano, which I’ve been trying to give away for at least a year to a Mum who can’t seem to collect it. We also have a procession of tables and an old sofa bed to move on out the back. Our overcrowded house is indeed starting to look like a departure lounge for a gang of furniture allsorts.

As much as I'm looking forward to getting the doll's house out, it's hard to part with these personal touches.

As much as I’m looking forward to getting the doll’s house out, it’s hard to part with these personal touches.

While the decluttering Nazis can seemingly throw anything out without even a drop of sentimentality, I personally find all this change and transition quite stressful. While I’m delighted that my kids are growing up and becoming more independent and developing their own personalities, I just don’t know how much to let go. There are so many memories etched into their precious things and yet there’s way too much to keep. Indeed, I’m starting to feel like I’ve swallowed a push-me pull-you and I’m paralyzed between going forward and moving back, which should, at least in theory, place me in the present but I’m not so sure!!

Yesterday, for example, I came across a toy rainbow lorrikeet which sings when you press its tummy. Of course, you’d say to keep that. However, when I tell you that it’s beak and eyes are missing, you’ll say: “broken…toss!!” but when I tell you that Bilbo chewed it’s face off when he was a puppy and he’s now approaching old age, then that poor damaged lorrikeet tells more of a story that something brand new and pristine.It tells a story of growing up, growing old and ultimately moving on to that great blue doggie heaven in the sky.

Needless to say, the lorrikeet stays.

Yet, I’m fed up with having no space, wading through the mess on the floor and the arguments over cleaning their rooms. There’s so much stuff that we’re all feeling completely overwhelmed and quite frankly, I just want the lot to disappear. Poof!

Anyway, as I said, the kids are growing up and they can’t grow up without anywhere to move. Childhood slowly but surely needs to give way to … drum roll…the teenage years.

Mister in his new bed. His feet have outgrown his car bed.

Mister in his new bed. His feet have outgrown his car bed.

While this might be a period of dread for many parents, it feels less daunting for me than facing the terrible twos, although we’re not there yet. Although our 9 year old daughter thinks she’s already there, our 11 year old son, at least, seems blissfully unaware of what lies just around the corner when he starts high school next year.

It turns out that Minecraft does have some virtues, after all!!

So instead of simply writing about sorting that mess out and procrasinating

    , I’d better get back to it.

    Time and the tide of clutter waits for no one.

    xx Rowena

22 thoughts on “Creating Space to Grow Up.

  1. colinandray

    A suggested guideline for clearing clutter:
    If it has served no functional purpose in the last 24 months, and if it has no tangible sentimental value ………… it goes out! 🙂

  2. roweeee Post author

    I like how you add the “discernible sentimental value”. Sometimes, some of the weirdest things have great sentimental value which completely overides their monetary value.
    I collect find bone chine tea cups and these “beauties” don’t have to justify their existence. Well, not to me , anyway. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

  3. colinandray

    No tangible sentimental value = the old lampshade that might be useful one day; that bad water colour that was a gift (from whom?); those cardboard boxes that could be useful; the hula hoops that you’ll never use; those chopsticks souvenirs from that restaurant (where was it?); the old bike in the shed that is rusting away; all those empty plant pots; all those National Geographics that you haven’t picked up in years etc. etc. 🙂

  4. vanbytheriver

    Good luck with that process. I saved so much of my kids’ stuff, finding out later they weren’t interested in taking any of it, especially the toys, school art, writing/science projects, etc. I took about 12 boxes of their school years down to 1, things that were sentimental to me. Best to nip that clutter in the early stages…it can get to be overwhelming !! ☺ Van

  5. Tails Around the Ranch

    Funny how they tend to grow. I remember buying a MG Midget and wondering how/where are 2 kids and a standard dog were going to fit into it? My daughter who rode in the space behind the 2 seats ‘promised’ me she wouldn’t grow if we bought that car. [smile] The joys of kids growing up.

  6. roweeee Post author

    Monika, you wouldn’t believe it after finding out we both have had Old English Sheepdogs, we have an Austen Healey Sprite, which is very similar if not the same as an MG Midget. Ours has been in the shed for 10 years awaiting restoration but I know exactly what you mean about space. I also know how much we love our car and yes, it’s worth compromising to fit in there.
    Loved your daughter’s comment, by the way. I’ll have to tell my husband.

  7. merrildsmith

    Good luck with your decluttering! I think every single room of our house is filled with extra “stuff.” We hope to get rid of some of our younger daughter’s stuff once she marries this summer and hopefully has a more long term home and space. (We’ll see!). We still have plenty of things that belong to our other daughter in Boston, too. Then there are all my books and papers. . . 🙂

  8. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Merril and good luck to you too. I have wndered if we were artists instead of writers whether the in between phases of creative output would be tolerated better with canvas scattered all over the house instead of piles of paperwork and leaning towers of books.
    I have had some major breakthroughs. Bags and bags are leaving each week and my daughter’s floor is actually clear and she chose to make her bed this morning. I’d bought her these beautiful Australian Girl Dolls and they have real human hair and there’s one that looks just like her. I found them naked with bird’s nest hair and yesterday, I brushed and brushed that hair with conditioning spray and now they are all nicely dressed and back on display. I’m starting to feel like our train wreck is starting to get back on track again. It would be a welcome relief!!
    By the way, thought you’d like this story. My grandfather was a chronic hoarder of books. Anyway, my grandmother told me that after they’d arrived back from their honeymoon, his mother had dispatched all his books and so they’d arrived before they even had any furniture.
    My Dad is pretty ruthless about sending anything that even could be mine up here. He’s quite the minimalist. He doesn’t even need to go through all those mental checklists they recommend for decluttering. He doesn’t have any clutter in the first place.
    The downside of that is, however, that there won’t be much to remember him by. That said, I have overdone that side f things just a little.
    Hope you had a great weekend xx Rowena

  9. merrildsmith

    Both my daughters are also lovers of books–the younger one teaches English–and they both have been involved in many creative projects in and out of school. As a school teacher, my husband also has his share of books and papers. I’m afraid we’re hopeless. Haha. Glad you got a lot done. Right now I think we’re in shove that box in the attic mode.

  10. roweeee Post author

    Merril, you’re a mind-reader. I have just packaged up my summer things to go into ours.
    I found a couple of great op shops over near Palm Beach, which had fabulous handbags for around $25.00. I couldn’t resist…unlike clothes and shoes, fit isn’t a problem until you get home. I managed to buy a large Hermes handbag. Don’t know if it’s a copy or not but should really find out. Might have been a very good find.
    What subjects does your husband teach?
    You must have fun with your daughters. Mine sneaks off and reads instead of tidying up her room, although she made some serious inroads yesterday.

  11. merrildsmith

    Handbags are fun! Enjoy your find whether it’s a copy or not. Who cares, as long as you like it? My husband teaches high school math–not my subject at all. He is retiring this month. I do have great fun with my girls, and I’m thrilled that I’ll see both of them this weekend for our younger daughter’s bridal shower!

  12. roweeee Post author

    A bridal shower sounds like real fun..especially for your daughter. I remember how excited I was on my wedding day and being Mother of the bride would be so exciting. Let me know how it goes.
    I was intrigued about your husband and I actually was hedging my bets on maths teacher. So many opposites attract. My husband works on the technical side of IT and I struggle at times to operate our TV remote. He has excellent spatial skills and is an incredible packer whereas I’m deficient. Get lost easily. Am getting better at reading maps but there have been some incredible fights over the years when we get lost yet again!! That said, Geoff is a very avid reader and goes through about 2 books a week on the train.
    Took the dogs for their beach walk this morning. Yikes it was cold. Second day of Winter and some of the “walkers” were sitting back near some trees out of the wind and letting their dogs exercise themselves. The cold seems to be most Aussie’s kryptonite and we’re not talking extreme cold either. It was probably around 8-10 degrees C and is now 16 but the wind was very “fresh”. Hope you are having a great day xx Ro

  13. merrildsmith

    Thanks for your good wishes, Rowena. It got cool here overnight. We had the a/c on over the weekend, but then thunderstorms and temperature drop. I hope the weather is nice later in the week. Our older daughter got married last summer, so I’ll have been Mother of the Bride two summers in row! They’re going to do a little bachelorette night in Philadelphia after the shower, so hoping it will be a great weekend for my daughter(s).

    My husband and I have known each other since 9th grade! I remember us discussing the getting lost thing–I get lost getting out of an elevator. 🙂 I have no math ability, and no spatial sense–except that I actually can pack and load the dishwasher. I’m also better at figuring out computer stuff because I’m really good at researching and following directions. People always hand my husband the restaurant check to figure out though. 🙂

  14. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena I am amazed at how quickly they grow and how fast the house needs a good declutter from outgrown toys. Less is more in my book but the kids don’t agree.

  15. roweeee Post author

    I am inredibly sentimental, which makes minimalism an imp[ossibility. . I’m just aiming at containment at the moment. Sorting the stuff out also seems to makje it worse for a bit too. I’ve pulled out a stack of picture frames to put up or pass on. I have a collection of antique wooden frames which are really quite beautiful but I have OD’d on frames and need a cull…or turn them into gifts.
    Hope you are having a great weekend. Geoff is at work today and the kids have been quite stressing making so much noise which gets right under my skin. Fortunately, they’re now eating pizza and watching a video and have settled down. Phew!

  16. Minuscule Moments

    I get it my hubs hates throwing anything out, Im a bit better at it and love a nice de-cluttered environment to create art. We are having a Harry Potter Marathon weekend here with my daughter. So pretty easy as i get over a nasty virus. Have not felt the creative vibe in weeks, hoping soon.

  17. roweeee Post author

    I had noticed that you haven’t posted for a bit. I do try to keep up with the reading and check out my reader but sometimes blogs slip through the net. After the intensity pof the A-Z Challenge, I’ve pulled back a bit and am working on the house a bit. Actually, a lot. Another boot load for the op shop. I’m now starting to get ruthless with the books but it’s so hard!!

  18. Tessa

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but the experts (I happen to be a clutterbug/low-level hoarder and in lots of groups and one thing they seem to agree on is with the sentimental stuff is that maybe you could take pictures of it and that would suffice for the memory department. I don’t know if I agree. I finally stopped keeping every ticket stub and things my kids did, but now my kids are all grown up so anything I had of theirs went to them. My parents gave me my stuff from growing up and I drove to the dumpster and threw most of it away.And this post reminds me that I am supposed to be decluttering this hoard.

  19. roweeee Post author

    I have thought about taking photos of some of it. I’ve made some huge breakthroughs. Due to my medical issues, I have restricted mobility and fainlly have managed to get some help decluttering and reorganising the house. That’s been really helpful as I’ve been unable to reach many of my cupboards. Now that5 we are getting more space, that feels so much better and rewards and encourages my efforts. I don’t know if I’ve ever going to reach the end of the rainbow but it is getting closer.
    Good luckj with your hoard!

  20. Tessa

    I have zero interest in it right now. So I am walking on things again.Not in the main walkway that at least is clear.

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