DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Bin there, and have done the decluttering

August 29th, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

How much of your kids’ lives do you need to curate? Depends on how much Ikea storage you have I suppose. An easier question to answer is how many people have already booked a holiday for next summer? Everyone – it seems.

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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: It’s week 77 and while I’ve been busy ‘sorting’ things, looks like everyone else was busy getting in early and booking their summer holidays for next year

• IN an attempt to ignore my own mess, I went on a mission of mercy this week to help my sister declutter her home office. As we waded through the mini-mounds of paper it got us to thinking (always a dangerous thing), how much of your own life, or your kids’ lives do you really need to catalogue? I should point out that she’s not by any means someone who’d be candidate for one of those TV intervention shows, but rather she has a strong ‘attachment’ to lots of things, including the invite to every wedding she was ever at (even the ones she’d really rather forget); every birthday card and school report from the age of around nine; and every card for every occasion her three kids have ever received (I randomly opened around six of them, and they were all from someone called Ciaran. Admittedly they were written in super cute writing that I bet took a grown-up about an hour to coax out of him, which made them slightly harder to recycle but we had to stay focussed). She also has a huge box of all the kids’ art work from over the years which we just plonked straight into the ‘to sort’ corner. I’m patient, but c’mon. She promised she’d sift through it later and curate a small but meaningful collection, but I can’t be sure she hasn’t kept the lot.

• I know other people then who are the complete opposite – as soon as they open a card and read it, they toss it in the recycling, it doesn’t matter how meaningful the message. Same for their kids ‘art. After they convincingly proclaim ‘that’s fabulous pet’, out it goes. There’s no place in their hearts, or their Ikea storage, for sentiment. I’m probably some place in the middle. I’ll allow an especially cute baby card to loiter on a windowsill or under a magnet on the fridge for a week (max), before it gets the door; and as for kids’ artwork … I’m literally too afraid to ‘relocate’ any of it. Any time I’ve even attempted to move a piece on (even ones that have been brought home mistakenly and are by someone else), I’ve been caught rotten and had to put on an Oscar worthy performance along the lines of  ‘I’ve no idea how that got in the bin. Luckily you spotted it’. Of course I’ve only one child, so it’s relatively easy to keep a handle (and a lid) on things. Once you start to scale up, so called ‘mementoes’ can get out of control very fast indeed. So where do you draw the line between heartless and hoarder? Exactly how many pictures and creations made out of loo rolls say ‘I love you’ sufficiently. I mean if our kids already occupy almost our every thought, living moment and personal space … must they occupy all our storage baskets as well?

• Anyway, while we were sorting we also came across a baby book. Not a single page had been written on it, so it went straight into the ‘regifting box’ (along with, you’ve guessed, 27 candles). It was one of those books where you’re meant to write in when your baby took their first step, got their first tooth, slept through the night sort of thing. That got us thinking (again), though, how some records are actually useful and worth keeping, as you quickly forget things you never in your wildest dreams thought would slip your mind. If there was a gun to my head I’d honestly have to say I cannot remember when my own kid got her first tooth or took her first step. I could approximate (I know it wasn’t freakishly early or late), but that’s about it. I know some people who set up an email account in their kid’s name and write them random messages about these things, and other stuff. Now I’m not knocking it (well, not completely), but where would you even get the time, or more importantly the inclination? At the end of most days the only thing I’d be motivated to write would be along the lines of: ‘you were a right pain today and bed time was more torture than usual’ sort of thing. Anyway, under my strict watch, my sister managed to whittle her paper mountain down to something more manageable for her boys’ memory boxes. As we sat back with a well deserved cuppa, we wondered if they’d appreciate them in 20 years … probably not, we decided, but we would, because we know all the sodding hard work that went into them.

• Anyway, changing the topic completely I’ll admit to feeling a bit envious of everyone who got abroad this summer. Obviously no one posted the airport queues they endured or the Covid tests that it entailed on social media, only the poolside shots, but still I feel like I’ve missed out, so I figured I’d get a head start for next summer and had a quick look around. News flash! There’s very little left. News flash! Tropical storms and wildfires aside, I’m certain I don’t want my third staycation in a row. As the evenings are drawing in, I need something to look forward to even if it’s a whole year away and even if it’s just a week in Benidorm.

• In the meantime we’re headed to the capital for an overnight and to take in the delights of Dublin Zoo. We’re nothing if not wild. I have to admit that vaccinations or not, the increase in Covid cases is slightly ... distracting. I know lots of people who are having ‘start/stop’ weeks as they find out they’re ‘close contacts’. And of course everyone wants to play it safe and do the right thing by restricting their movements, but that’s not to say it’s not frustrating and also unsettling. To make things even more unnerving, lots of people have summer colds right now. The sooner everyone gets back to school, I think, the better!

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