Alongside the fripperies of Vintage Housekeeping, there is, to me at least, a deep rooted ambition to make life simpler: to clear enough space in my mind to make enjoying the daily grind at least a possibility. All of us have our troubles. Loneliness, anxiety, parents on the brink of old age, husbands who couldn't give a damn, money problems that constantly threaten to sink us, children who aren't who we want them to be, fat thighs, leaking rooves, or ambitions we suspect we will never satisfy. We all have our troubles but if we are strong enough to resist the demons that are the most traditional of crutches: drink, painkillers, idle gossip, money wasting or the kind of bitchiness born of frustration, then we have no choice but to get up each day, paint on a smile and face the day as if we wouldn't rather be a million miles away...
This is of course possible, as long as the noise in our heads doesn't reach such a volume that we cannot hear ourselves think. And that is why I believe the first step on the path to a simpler life, is to turn the noise down. All noise: from the tv humming alongside our thoughts day in, day out, to the visual noise that is clutter and the emotional noise that is our inner voice reminding us that guilt should be our constant companion, and that our life will never, ever be what we want it to be.
Enough already. It is time for some hush.
* Close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? What can you do about it? Close a window? Fix that dripping tap? Switch the radio off? Have the teenagers adopted???
* Pull the phone out for at least an hour a day. It isn't the fact that it is particuarly noisy, more so that on some emotional level you are waiting for it to ring, and when you are trying to enjoy quiet, it is essential that your peace isn't disturbed by expectation.
* Whenever you are alone in the house, make a conscious effort to turn the television off. You don't have to spoon feed your mind with other peoples nonsense- tape what you truly need to watch for later and learn to enjoy the silence.
* Insist on some quiet time for the kids. You are the Mommy and you have that power. Finley has an hour of "cosy" time every afternoon after school. He is snuggled up in blankets on the sofa with milky tea, a biscuit and a book and left to his own devices and bless him, it has come to be a ritual we both adore. While I appreciate it might be a little harder with older kids, at the very least make sure that all tv's, computers, damn blasted mobile phones and stereos are turned off, or confined to their bedrooms. This is your house and you are in charge.
* Take time out: should the opportunity arise, lie down. Lie down, close your eyes and make the whole world disappear for ten minutes. The dishes can wait.
* Paper exhausts me and is I think the very worst kind of visual clutter. Blast it daily with a 27 fling boogie and consider cutting out daily newspapers in an effort to reduce it.
* Go around the entire house and put away at least two items from every surface you come across. If there isn't so much to see, your mind won't feel so noisy.
* Colour can be astonishingly loud. Go out of your way to hush it, by introducing whites and creams to a room (towels, tablecloths, quilts, pillows, flowers etc), if only for the time that you are trying to calm your mind.
* Practise saying No. It won't make you a social pariah and it will help you create the time you need to sort your life out and hush that constant sense of obligation. Trust me, the world won't stop without you.
* Make an effort to not be in the same room as your partner for at least an hour every evening. Yes he may be lovely, but it is essential to seek quality time alone and it is with our partners that the instinctive, unconscious noise of trying to please (or trying not to displease) can be at it's loudest.
* Don't read magazines or papers after 9.00pm. Choose gentle stories or meditative books. Or simply fire gaze, without cluttering your mind.
* Sit down and decide to commit to a housekeeping routine: it truly is the best way to remove that nagging sense of exhaustion at the thought of it. My routine works for me and has allowed me to create a life abundant with free time and violet cremes. Sit down with your planner and work out a routine that works for you.
*Remember that beauty is calming. Put a flower, candle, or object you adore wherever your eyes are constantly drawn to: ie the mantlepiece, window sill, piece of furniture facing your bed, shelf above the sink etc...
* Make a decision to eat simpler. Plan your meals and reduce the need for constant shopping.
And last of all: get your internet addiction under control. You don't have to answer every email immediately, or furnish every blog with a response. You shouldn't have the screen blinking away in the corner of the room all day and it is always, always essential to remember that your real life matters more than any virtual one...
Might I suggest...
Declaring one day a week "No Computer Day"? Don't check your emails. Heck don't even switch the damn thing on. And if you are feeling really brave pull the phone plug out too. You don't have to be at anybody's beck and call..