Buying time…

time-precious-commodityIf you could have the choice between time and money which would you choose? I’m genuinely interested to know if people without children would go for money because its not until you have children that you realise that time is actually the most valuable resource in the world and, as the song goes, you only need the light when its burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow…and ‘spare’ time when you realise you have just signed up for a mammoth 24/7 job for X years (add the number yourself depending on subjective opinion)…

So yes, right now I’ve opted to buy some time and I am genuinely thrilled that I will finally have a few precious hours a week to snatch back a little bit of that precious resource in a couple of months time. I have so many thoughts whizzing about in my head about what I want and need to do –  a lot of short term stuff like cleaning and tidying, but also some long term projects too which I should be able to approach in a methodical way once I know that I have a specific chunk of time in which to work. The most important thing to remember (and place to start) will be getting organised. Specifically, managing and controlling a budget a lot better than I do right now as I will have less money to work with. But also planning to plan if you see what I mean – for example I need to be organised about how I approach present buying throughout the year but in order to do so I need to have a rolling plan in place, I just haven’t had the time to make that plan and therefore the situation remains a haphazard arrangement.

Since reading Time Management for Manic Mums at the beginning of the month I’ve found myself able to act on the ‘think positive’ side of things, but the actual practical steps of striving for a more organised way of living are still alluding me as I have this little voice inside telling me not to start something I can’t finish and I never have the time to finish anything with only a few short evening hours to myself at the best of times.

I have lots of ideas for blog-related projects – or at any rate projects which will be great to feature as blog posts. I am desperate to try my hand at cooking for pleasure – particularly baking. I want to be able to use the lovely new bicycle the hubster got me for my birthday last year and which has since lain dormant in the shed collecting dust. I look forward to being able to visit a few of the many charity shops which my town boasts and browse in peace (I’ve never been interested in spending hundreds of pounds on clothes and often pick up cheap items in places like supermarkets, New Look or H&M but I can imagine that finding a second hand gem for a knock down bargain will be very satisfying!) . I also attempted my first bit of crochet recently but it was late, I was tired and just couldn’t get the hang of the second stage so I intend to find the time to get my head around this too.

I also have a great idea for a linky which I would be excited, if a little nervous, to offer up to my lovely blogging community.

And I have just started wondering about supplementary income and if there is any way I could find something easy and flexible to fit in for a few extra pennies but this one is probably the bottom of the pile right now as there is clearly no real point in buying time just to…make money!

All cluttered up

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Recently we have been contemplating a potential house move. Not because we don’t like our house or the place we live in general, but mostly because we would like to live somewhere with both decent, off-road parking and the potential for expansion. We don’t want to move too far (and to be honest can’t afford to move to anywhere more affluent with better schools anyway) or spend any more money or raise our mortgage from its current level either.

On Monday this week the hubster arranged for an estate agent to come and value the house and he was already finished by the time I got home from our friends’ house with the boys. It quickly became apparent that, if we want to stand any chance of buying any half decent house that may come on the market, then we need our house to be on the market too (preferably under offer) so that we don’t miss out. I think the sentence “I can have your house on the market by the end of the week” came up which put me into a state of some panic and shock I have to say. Although we had been discussing the matter and brainstorming about our options, the stark reality of picking up all our worldly belongings and being out on our ears – possibly into a smaller home, maybe losing out on some character (our house is a Victorian red brick and full of charm in my opinion) really freaked me out!

But probably the one really frightening thought about getting our house on the market was the fact that this would mean the dreaded ‘de-clutter’ operation that we have been putting off for years.

I am ashamed to admit that I clutter. There should be a support group “Clutterers Anon”. The hubster himself is just as bad – actually worse to be honest. Neither of us does DIY. I try my hardest to keep the place to a certain standard (for example, the kitchen and bathroom are priorities and get cleaned on a rolling basis for hygiene and my sanity!) I also tidy up where possible within my own framework of acceptability and the clutter is generally hoovered and sometimes even dusted when time and opportunity allows.

But I am reminded of those reality programmes about hoarders and “How Clean is Your House” – not because we live like that at all, but because the people who do crossed a line at some point beyond which they were unable to get back to normality without a huge operation, or series of operations. I feel like I need to tackle a series of operations (and this is not just de-cluttering but attending to all those little tasks that we have let slip over the past five years – re-papering the dining room where damp had peeled the paper away; binning the crappy old curtain in the kitchen which my mum always likens to a tarts knickers; removing the unsightly old plastic bathroom cabinet (the doors of which fell off years ago!) – you get the picture).

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One very cluttered kitchen surface

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Another very cluttered kitchen surface…

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My attempt at a de-cluttered kitchen surface.

My nemesis in this (purely conceptual) drive to achieve the home of our dreams is Time. I work four days a week (varying hours) (plus sometimes a bit of overtime at the weekend) and when I’m not at work, I’m mostly trying to feed, dress, entertain, educate (?) (jury’s out on that one!), police, and just generally mother my four year old and 15 month old. In the little squeeze of “me” time that rears its head once in a blue moon, I dust the clutter. Or I cook a batch of food for freezing. Or I blog.

I have had one day off (both work and kids) in the last two months and that day was after we came back from our week in Cornwall so there was a huge amount of washing and organising to do. I also spent a couple of hours on one of my long-intended ‘operations’ filling 6 full black bin bags with old unwanted clothing (both mine and the boys) and took it to our local Cash4Clothes (brilliant idea, not only do your old clothes go to charity but you get a few quid back too!).

However, this demonstrates just how squeezed my time is. I feel like all the ‘jobs’ can’t be done without the initial de-cluttering operation, and I have very little energy or motivation to try and get my head round where to even begin, so the years continue to go by with little being achieved.

That said, the sudden thought of strangers wandering around my home and, even with the most open of minds and the greatest ability to see past the detritus of our lives, not being able to overlook the fact that the walls could do with a paint, several rooms need proper curtain rails, the tell-tale signs that the (dusty, unused) shower has caused damp problem on the ceiling below which we haven’t had the time or inclination to deal with, etc, etc, just strikes fear into my heart! Maybe it started off as blinkered laziness but at this point in our lives, it is all about time, or the lack thereof. Just the thought of buying and wrapping Christmas presents and doing the cards freaks me out right now – let alone attempting to sell our home and move house with a 15 month old wriggler!

So the question is: do we shelve our idea about moving at this point? Do we put the house on the market in its current state and let the ‘character’ speak for itself? Because one thing is for sure – my greatest desire and the one thing that I won’t be getting for Christmas this year, is Time…