Things I owned on moving into my last flat in Dublin:
- One very large grey suitcase, full of clothes.
- A couple of boxes of books and other mementos from my time in Mozambique.
- A bicycle.
- A digital piano.
- Prints from an an artist in Nambia (1 framed, 1 unframed) and a painting of a fat elephant from Mozambique
- One woven mat from Swaziland.
- A year old bottle of chardonnay from South Africa.
Oh, and a cat, also from the continent of Africa (crazy cat lady).
I went to IKEA hungover with a friend and bought some shelves. We are still friends but we probably won’t ever got to IKEA together hungover on a Sunday again. We may also measure the dimensions of the car boot before we purchase large flat pack items.
I bought a mokka pot, a matching sugar bowl/milk jug set. I bought a cat scratching post (only a week too late for the single armchair). I bought a down duvet and a bright striped duvet set. I had no bed for the first week but at least my duvet was cheery and comfy.
When I left the apartment, 5 years later, I was no longer a crazy cat lady. Well, not only a single crazy cat lady.. I had acquired a husband, a toddler and a baby. And we needed a van to move all of our stuff.
I still owned the piano but my bike had been sacrificed to the Parnell Street bike thieves gang. The South African wine was long gone, drunk with Thai food on my 34th birthday.
The woven mat survived, probably with residue of baby pee from ‘nappy off time’. We owned more pictures, posters and photos, buggies and baby toys, a cot and a car. Our freezer was home to a placenta (which has now lived in three freezers, and still awaiting its final home under a cherry blossom tree in a future garden).
For reasons that made sense at the time, we put all of our stuff in storage first (multiple runs to the storage unit by husband plus two year old, between shows and naps) and then loaded it into a van and moved it to our new house.
Once I packed a rucksack and I traveled around the world. I thought then I had come to a profound realisation (and resolution) regarding the surprisingly small number of material things I needed to live (Is a bedframe really necessary? Why do we need to sit on sofas anyway?)
But my life was so different then.
The baby paradox. How can something so small take up so much space in your day? How can something that can’t talk need so many things?
Things I learned from moving with a baby (and a toddler):
- You need more boxes than you thought. Boxes for the books, boxes for the dishes, boxes for the clothes, plus boxes for the toddler to play with.
- If you stagger your packing over a month (in between naps and feeds), it will simply feel like you spent an entire month packing. Enlisting help over a shorter period is probably the sensible way to go about it.
- Two year olds are terrible at decluttering. “Does it spark joy” is a good test for de-cluttering your own stuff, but I’m still at a loss as to how to implement it with a toddler (bawling his head off because you tried to throw away the box of stickle bricks that he never plays with)
- No matter how many times your husband sighs when you voice your concerns over the ratio of stuff to ‘space for the stuff to fit into’ and says “yes dear, of course it’s all going to fit”, it’s probably not going to fit.
- Being clumsy and breaking an average of one glass a week is a good way of minimising kitchen packing.
- If you have anything in your food cupboards that has survived more than 1 house move, it’s time to throw it out. No really, it’s time.
- Visiting a self-storage facility is equally (if not more) entertaining for a toddler than a trip to the zoo and cheaper than a season ticket.
11 months on, our ‘stuff’ continues to expand to occupy all available space. Another house move is on the cards in the not too distant future. Where the placenta will find a forever home and I will finally get around to framing the second Namibia print. And I’ll buy a new bicycle, with a trailer for two, and the once-was-baby-now-is-toddler will happily play with the rescued stickle bricks.