Keeping that Window Firmly Shut
There was a time, before I became pregnant, when I thought having a baby, and motherhood in general, was just like the 'Hollywood' movies of the 80s and 90s: Look Who's Talking, Three Men and a Little Baby and Nine Months. From these films, I'd gleaned that:
labour is ALWAYS a total nightmare, and within five minutes of my waters breaking, hubby and I would have mowed down at least half the pedestrians in Surbiton
a sputtering Robin Williams (God rest his soul), would deliver my baby despite having no formal training and being a vet
if I didn't leave my newborn baby alone with three random men, I could always rely on a taxi-driving maniac (who I JUST met) to babysit.
Joking aside, mainstream media and popular culture have a lot to answer for when portraying pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. What these script writers fail to appreciate is the significant impact they are having on uninformed mummies-to-be, of which I was one. Yes, it may be funny and light-hearted but I found myself thinking, was the 'Hollywood' story right for me?
Questioning my years of conditioning during pregnancy (which fortunately remained low risk at all times), and successfully managing to block out the well-meaning 'friends' keen to share their own birth horror stories, I found a new script. Thank God for Sophie Fletcher's 'Mindful Hypnobirthing' and Ina May Gaskin's 'Guide to Childbirth'. Their words inspired me. Empowered me. Liberated me.
It'll all go out the window now you have kids...
With my newly liberated mind, at four months pregnant, I read an article which changed my life forever. The content aligned itself with my very soul and after excitedly reading it out loud to my husband over dinner that night, we were both ready to take up a challenge which would change our whole perception of life organisation. The article was about a woman called Marie Kondo, a Japanese tidying expert, who stressed two words: 'spark joy'. Her rule of thumb: to declutter forever, only keep the things which bring you joy.
We followed the KonMari method precisely. After four solid months of hard work at weekends, our house was finally in order. Everything had a place. All things we owned sparked an endless amount of joy and we were very happy with our new existence. To our dismay though, many people around us just didn't get it. 'How could you get rid of every single travelling photo and only keep 24?!', we'd hear them cry in disgust. 'You must keep that Thriller outfit I'd hand-made for you for that pantomime 16 years ago', wailed my mother, 'you'll never know when you may need it'. Although I enjoyed dressing up as a flea-infested corpse at the time, it just didn't spark joy anymore. The outfit had to go. Mother wasn't pleased.
You see, my mother, wonderful creature that she is, is a hoarder. When I wanted a 1920s 'granny' outfit for a friend's hen party a few years back, all I had to do was rummage through her closet to find five possibilities. I love my childhood home but it is full of unnecessary items. Rarely consulting me first, mum likes to buy things that will help me in my life journey, providing it's in the sale. Like that time when she purchased bedroom furniture for my future house and stored it in the garage. Seven years on, it's still there. There's a running joke among our family and friends that whatever they buy for us, unless they've checked beforehand, will end up in a charity shop. My dear sister-in-law wanted to buy our unborn baby a Build-a-Bear teddy. We told her that if it came anywhere near us, it would end up in a charity shop. Any electronic toy, which can be set off automatically like Chucky in the middle of the night when you're walking through the lounge, will find itself in a charity shop.
Through this perceived madness, there was a ray of hope. Surely now they've had a baby, the KonMari method and obsession with charity shops would no longer be possible? If we earned an extra minute sleep every time we heard the phrase 'it'll all go out the window now you have kids', then we'd be sleep billionaires. Reassuringly, it hasn't. We make the time to fold our clothes so they look like bookends when you open the drawers. The compartments of the hubby's pride and joy, his 'stuff drawer' which is organised using old iPhone boxes and resembles what he calls 'a work of art', is still in tact (although yesterday our son figured out how to open this very drawer and upon witnessing the contents, his eyes lit up like Christmas). The laundry gets done, the dishes get washed and we only ask for things that will spark joy in our lives when people would like to buy us a gift.
So to pregnant KonMari fans and their partners everywhere, an organised life does not become redundant when you have a baby. There will be times during the first few weeks when you may have to prioritise eating over folding the laundry but if you've already started the journey of putting your house in order then you're pretty much there. For those of you who are living in chaos now (yes you, who is storing that spare bedroom furniture in the garage), you may want to wait a while before you embark on the life-changing magic of tidying up.
Piece written for An_Organized_Life (https://www.anorganizedlife.info). Many thanks Lauren, for asking me to be a guest writer.