100 years of … no thank you

Old people, old people everywhere! Last week it was FaceApp digitally aging every second person on my social media feed and this week I can’t scroll very far without seeing a small child dressed up like a elderly lady or gentleman.

This is thanks to an idea quickly gaining traction called 100 Days of School. Basically, to celebrate 100 days of school, little ones are being asked to come dressed as 100-year-old versions of themselves complete with old-person cardigans, grey hair, glasses and walking sticks.

And I can’t cope.

Firstly became it is damn cute. DAMN CUTE.

And secondly because I’m terried my kids’ school will jump on the bandwagon.

I’m already having heart palipitations when I hear the works ‘book’ and ‘week’ in a sentence together. I’ve just rescued a ripped pair of tights from the bin in preparation for next year’s Pirate Day. And I’m currently trying to talk my daughter into wearing a princess dress from our dress-up box despite her far more elaborate costume ideas for Medieval Day.

And these are just the school-costume-related tasks hovering on my ever-growing to-do list and adding to my already-heavy mental load. This doesn’t count non-school-related-costume tasks (a dance concert, a superhero birthday parties and omg Halloween) and it doesn’t count non-costume-related-school tasks (locate gloves for tree planting day, collect recylables for bug-making project, find appropriate nature item for upcoming show and tell).

It’s all getting a bit too much!

But, what does this have to do with decluttering?

Well, I think clutter comes about partly because we find it hard to say no to things. And I also think there’s such thing as mental clutter.

My goal is to live a more calm life. A slower and more simple life. I want that for myself, my kids and for you.

So I think we have to learn to say ‘no’ more often.

We have to learn to prioritise for the sake of our own wellbeing. We don’t have to say ‘no’ to everything but we can say ‘no’ to going beyond what’s achieveable without sacrificing our own mental health.

I am all for kids dressing up and having fun. I love books (of course!) and think it is wonderful we have a day to celebrate them. I’m also very happy that my 7-year-old is off to plant some trees today (although I could only find one gardening glove!).

But I’ve recently learned that sometimes I have to say no or I’ll collapse.

For example:

  • Occassionally I buy stuff from the supermarket if my kids have a shared lunch/picnic/party at school. I used to always bake something even when I didn’t have time. Now when I don’t have time to bake, I buy a packet of lamington fingers. No one notices. No one cares. I go to bed at a reasonable hour without icing sugar in my hair.
  • On Halloween I tell the kids to find something in the dress-up box –fireman, princess, Bob the Builder — and then I draw dark rings under their eyes and a scar on their face with eyeliner and they become Zombie Fireman, Zombie Princess, Zombie Bob the Builder. No one cares. All they care about is lollies. My wallet is happy.
  • I’ve used the same Book Week costume for my daughter two years running – the difference between Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Pippy Longstocking is really just a couple of sew-on patches, wire in the pigtails, a fake dog, and some longer socks. I’m googling ways I can turn it into Alice in Wonderland this year.

So please if you’re feeling overwhelmed make sure you look after yourself prioritise what’s really important and say ‘no’ when you have to. Your kids won’t mind. Most of the time they won’t even notice.

Because if we keep on stressing ourselves out and running ourselves ragged then we certainly won’t need FaceApp to prematurely age us — kids, school and life will give us plenty of grey hairs and stress wrinkles!

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