My child has destroyed my house and now I need a new one. Is it just me?
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When you’re pregnant, you quickly discover that everyone around you has something to say about it, and, back when I was pregnant, one of the things people would say most often was that my future child was going to absolutely DESTROY my house – to an extent that I just would not believe, apparently.
And, to be totally honest, I didn’t believe it. Not in the slightest. I mean, I knew the house would likely be significantly messier with one (tiny) extra person in it, but destroyed? Nuh-uh. Not possible. Not on my watch. It just would not happen, and that was that.
Well, fast-forward four years, and, yup, my house has been totally destroyed. In fact, while most people I follow on social media seem to have spent the extra time at home some of us have had to declutter, decorate, and do DIY, we mostly spent our days systematically destroying our home.
We didn’t do it on purpose, I hasten to add. But when everyone in your house is physically IN your house all day for weeks on end –– as we all were for long weeks of 2020 – it doesn’t really do much for the condition of the place, does it? With a business to run and a toddler to look after, we didn’t have time for all of the home improvements everyone around us was making, so, instead, we managed to get through around a decade’s worth of wear-and-tear in the space of a few short months. Which is also an achievement of sorts, I suppose?
At the time of writing, we’re on our third living room rug since the start of the pandemic, and I’m currently trying to talk myself out of replacing THAT one, too, because, despite our best efforts to clean and maintain it, it looks like we’ve had it for decades, rather than months. The cushions on the sofa, meanwhile, were replaced last year, when they became too flat and worn (A bit like my 2021 self, now I come to think of it…) for Max to build decent cushion forts with them, and, like their friend the rug, the replacements are already ALSO in need of replacing.
That brand new coffee table we got last summer, meanwhile? Now covered in three mysterious yellow stains (I say “mysterious”: it’s most likely from slime. Almost every stain in our house can be traced back to slime…), plus the barcode from a packet of wipes, which somehow transferred from the packet to the table.
The kitchen table ALSO has a couple of barcodes on it now (Yes, you WOULD think we’d have learned our lesson by now, wouldn’t you?), the sofa is looking more than a little bit battered, and the walls bear the many scars created by the tricycle we allowed Max to bring indoors, so he could burn off some energy on a rainy day by cycling endlessly around the loop that runs from hall ––> kitchen –– >living room ––> hall. In retrospect, an indoor bicycle turns out NOT to be a great idea, folks: you heard it here first.
By my calculations, then, we need a new rug, coffee table, sofa, kitchen table, cushions and complete repaint of every single wall. And that’s just the downstairs. Don’t even get me started on the rest of the house. Or the garden. Or – shudder – the shed.
My house is broken now. I need a new one. Or, failing that, I need a portrait of my house from this company, which sells custom house portraits, just so I can hang it up somewhere and remind myself of what our house could look like if we could just somehow find the time, energy (and, well, money) to fix everything that needs fixing, and replace everything that needs replacing.
It’s a full-time job, though, this home-ownership thing. As in, even if I didn’t have a full-time job to fit in, I STILL can’t imagine how I’d find time to fit in all the home maintenance tasks I’m apparently supposed to be doing. On Mumsnet, for instance, people clean their skirting boards on their hands and knees, wash the windows twice a week, and change the bedsheets daily – twice on Sundays.
OK, I’m exaggerating. But only a little bit.
I do, however, increasingly find myself wondering how on earth other people manage to stay on top of all this endless maintenance (Yes, I have looked at the Fly Lady and the Organised Mum Method, and no, they haven’t helped much: my problem isn’t that I don’t know what to do, it’s that, the second I do it, someone comes along and immediately UN-does it, so I feel like I’m just trapped in this endless cycle of maintenance, without ever feeling like anything is being maintained…), while simultaneously working, raising a child, and maybe even having a bit of time for themselves every so often? Is it even possible?
And if so… how?