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Why I’m Cutting Myself Some Slack {And Prioritising}

Author: Lauren Coleman

When we were buying this house three years ago, everyone remarked how exciting it would be that we’d be in for Christmas. The deadline of Santa Claus’ big day loomed and everyone in the chain felt the pressure to complete before the end of December. We all had our eyes on the prize. We wanted our trees in our new living rooms. Would it have mattered if we completed in January? No probably not at all and I can’t help but think we all put a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to complete. Don’t get me wrong deadlines are good. We need something to strive for but the stress can be overwhelming. The same thing happened a year later when we hosted Christmas; was it really necessary to have every room cleared and the kitchen painted? Nope. And now this year another big date soars in the distance as I get closer to my due date.

Gone are the cocktails that used to be scribed on my kitchen blackboard and instead there is line after line of jobs that we decided need to be done before November. We’ve both come to the realisation that it’s an impossible task and although we wanted to get some work done while we have a double income coming in, I’m told life doesn’t stop when you have a baby and that DIY will resume again.

Rewriting The List

As satisfying as it is to tick jobs off the list, and we’ve done a lot of them, seeing a load of uncompleted tasks makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t find a list of twenty tasks motivating, just overwhelming. We are about to prioritise and rejig based on a few factors and create a much more streamlined list.

Prioritising What’s Essential or Urgent

One job on the list is to replace the rotting wood and mice proof the shed. How glamorously boring is that? It’s not a visible task either so once it’s done who would even know? However it’s going to save money in the long run if we don’t need to buy a new one, and if my outdoor cushions don’t get eaten by rodents. Anything maintenance related has made it’s way to the new list while replacing things that are in full working order but don’t look the bomb, such as bathroom taps have slipped.

Prioritising What’s Important

I got so many helpful comments on my nursery practicalities post and there were some recommendations not to decorate the room before he arrives. For a time I wondered if I was crackers planning a nursery that wouldn’t be used for months but this has definitely been my most favourite home decor project EVER. Perhaps it has been a bit daft to concentrate on a room that will rarely be used this year when we have umpteen other rooms to paint but it’s kept me sane when I’ve had a bad day; when the nausea has got too much I’ve gone and sat quietly in the nursery. It’s not essential but it is important to me so I would like to finish off a few jobs in there.

Estimate The Effort Vs Return

This is one I struggle with but use this principle in work life. Do we do the biggie whammy of a task (the downstairs bedroom which so far hasn’t been touched?) which we’ll see most reward from but at the expense of the smaller tasks? I think I’m going to have to say if we haven’t started it by the beginning of October then it’s just going to have to wait until next year.

Call In the Troops

How many times do people offer to help but you decline the offer? I do this all the time but no longer. I’ve lapped up the requests from friends and family to help out and we’re going to spend a weekend in October blitzing any leftover tasks. Dare I say it, I’m quite looking forward to it.

Remind Myself It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

A few of my friends are moving house at the moment and delving into the pages of RightMove has reminded me what real houses look like. I love instagram, it’s given me so much inspiration but it’s easy to get drawn into a trap thinking that most houses are perfectly curated homes. They aren’t. Most houses look like RightMove; with strip lights in the kitchen, dodgy paint jobs and gardens filled with weeds or they are somewhere in between. And you know what? They’re all someone’s little castle. I post a lot less on instagram these days because I don’t think my spaces are as well designed as those within other squares, and again that’s fine because it’s my home and it works for me.

How do you prioritise a long to do DIY list? Or any list for that matter? Have you had any times when decor or renovation deadlines have driven you to despair?

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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28 thoughts on “Why I’m Cutting Myself Some Slack {And Prioritising}

  1. It’s refreshing to read this. I’m getting bored of interiors on IG. Unless someone is renovating or doing projects semi regularly I don’t need to see 17 posts of their kitchen gin shelf in a 12 day period.

    In terms of DIY with kids, simply the nest has it pretty spot on. It’s a tag team now. Maybe 6-12 months you can crack on because baby isn’t so on the move but 12 months onwards and gone are the days of two people having hands free time. Weekends become about swimming lessons and parties and having two or three hour blocks a rarity. We found the summer nights handy to do stuff but it’s been in the garden as it’s grown so much over summer. Takes us three nights to mow the bloody lawns. Since we moved in last Christmas I’ve managed to strip the wallpaper in the playroom but we haven’t done anything further. One day right?

    1. Just reading the post on Simply The Nest about renovating with kids – such a good read.
      And also I hear you on the garden stuff – ours has needed so much work this year – I suppose that’s the best thing about heading into winter!

  2. Exactly! I regularly have to remind myself its our HOME and so what if we’ve been here 3.5 years and still have hideous discolured vertical blinds up in the lounge as we can’t afford the perfect new ones……we will get there!
    Agree on the nursery too. Its a lovely part of that nesting and preparing for the baby, enjoy!!

  3. We also pressured ourselves to be in before Christmas and my son’s birthday. We moved into a house in winter with bedroom windows that didn’t shut properly and a broken boiler. What were we thinking?! They were fixed within a few weeks so we should have just waited – I was in a rented house before so there was no need for the rush as long as I was out by the end of the month.

    I know what you mean about Instagram too – I went into my neighbours house last week and couldn’t believe how normal and slightly messy it was. Like most people’s houses! It made me realise how intense and slightly ridiculous I can be about the house at times. I joined Instagram after it was mentioned on here and have also unfollowed some of the big ones. So many photos of the same thing over and over. I now prefer to follow people who’s style is more like my own and only post every now and then, when there is something new or worth sharing.

    I managed to get a fair bit of DIY done around my son’s naps. He has sadly not napped for around a year now 🙁 but as soon as he was sleeping through the night and still napping I was on it! Managed to do a big overhaul of the garden with changing levels, removing rubble, laying turf etc. I did some things inside the house but I did find things easier to do outside as there was less risk that he would wake up. I think it probably does depend on how well your child sleeps at night. If he’d been a terrible sleeper I would have prioritised resting during his nap.

    And lastly, your house already looks beautiful as it is. I know you will only share the bits you are happy with, but it honestly looks so cosy and welcoming. I’d be very happy to have such a lovely place to come back to.

    1. Thanks Jade and thanks for reassuring me that there may be some time to do stuff. Fingers crossed I get a good sleeper!

      Here’s to normal houses! x

  4. Ahh Lauren, same same same!

    I’d decided in my head that the house will be ‘finished’ or a version thereof before our first baby arrives in January – until I made the ‘mega list’ last week and it reached its third A4 page!!

    Ahem, so our essentials boil down to wardrobes and blinds/curtains, along with as much of the nursery as we can manage. I think that’s enough for this year!


    1. Sounds very realistic Katie. I think I was a bit too ambitious with the original list. 9 months seems like such a long time doesn’t it? Then you realise it’s racing by! x

  5. It’ll never be done anyway, the to do list never ends! I’ve got a 3 year old and a 12 week old so we pushed to get some stuff done before he arrived (joiner and plasterer were here on my due date 🙈) but there’s still plenty we’d like to do.
    And yes to real houses not being perfect. We have a garden, patio and driveway full of weeds that I cannot keep on top of no matter how hard I try.

  6. Well said, bravo Lauren, online ‘burn out’ is real! So true that things keep on moving after a baby, but the urge to nest can also be intense! Good on you for fining a balance, you most likely won’t stop until he arrives, but when he does you will definitely not sweat the small stuff x

  7. Our baby is due this month and I have certainly felt the pressure to get all those jobs finished and get prepared. Partly nesting but also partly the influence of the instaperfect home. I do enjoy the inspiration on Instagram and also aspiring to have a beautiful home which does make me happy but equally I think it’s also nice to step back every now and again and appreciate how lucky I am and that these insta perfect homes certainly aren’t the norm so to cut myself some slack sometimes and make sure I don’t always judge myself to those standards x

  8. I totally fell into this trap too! Got so stressed that everything had to be completed before baby arrived – turns out babies don’t give a crap what the house looks like 😂 but of course it was for me to feel everything was ‘done’. But we reprioritised – like you have – and did all the little jobs and had the nursery ready. We did a weekend of all hands on deck and got so much achieved and for me that was the fullstop to pre baby work so I think that’s a great idea you’re doing the same! You need to find some time to rest and to date your husband too, excitedly talking about your impending arrival, some DIY can wait. Xx

    1. Aww Sophie, the dating your husband bit is so true! We’ve got a London date scheduled in for the end of the month and we’re both really looking forward to it x

  9. I always remind myself that the people who own all these “instaworthy” houses will still have a kitchen draw of c*ap like everyone else.

    We’re just starting to decorate our new build three months after our baby arrived and when I say decorate, I mean getting an F&B colour consultation person in and then paying a decorator.

    1. Best way Pamela – have heard excellent things about those F&B colour consultations. They know their thing when it comes to aspect and what goes together.

  10. I am at the stage of looking at Rightmove everyday and have only recently been thinking that I can’t believe how most average people live. I rarely see a nice kitchen in a house priced in the £180-300k bracket – for me it’s all about the kitchen. Isn’t it funny how we get so used to looking at beautiful kitchens on Instagram.

    I also kinda think the same about weddings. Oh how I want to have such a beautiful day, but would rather spend the money on the next house rather than one day. I only see weddings on blogs that must cost a small fortune but I guess the reality is a lot of people have something much more low key. Where can I find more on those?!

    1. Interestingly Bunny we’re looking to introduce this on RMW so it’s easier for folks to identify the weddings that are on a lower budget.

      Hope the search for the pad goes well.

  11. So sensible Lauren. Absolutely no need to put yourself under pressure, and I thing IG is steadily evolving and changing- the gloss has worn off and it seems to be becoming a bit more real in response to that?? Finding beauty in a pile of laundry or unraked leaves or something…

    You know the barn is rumbling on.. I really want to be in by Christmas, 2 and a half years after we started the actual building work. It’s so near and yet so far still. Although now the lime wash is on and the tongue and groove is on the walls it is starting to look more finished. I don’t know what we will do with ourselves when it is finished!!

    Great idea having a jobs party… maybe one to copy! Are you doing a baby shower or are people going to give their time instead at the party and do both together? Enjoy the nesting x

    1. Oh Lucy it’s been such a labour of love for you that you should just relax and enjoy it when you get in!

      Ahh the old baby shower debate. I decided against one as it became a bit tricky with extended family/ divorces etc plus I wasn’t the only one in my friendship group who struggled to get pregnant so I feel a bit awkward. Around Christmas time a group of the girls usually get together so we’ve decided to bring it forward so we get to see each other before I’m knee-deep in nappies and hopefully we’ll get to give him a little toast then. x

  12. I LIVE for a task list, a bit of prioritisation and a cost / benefit analysis but I suspect that’s because I’m a Project Manager by day! Like so many others, I’m over interiors on instagram – I no longer follow any interiors / reno type accounts because like someone else said, I’m tired of seeing the same shelf from every angle over and over again. And as much as I love a seasonally themed shelfie, if you’ve seen one white pumpkin you’ve seen them all.

    Totally hear you on the unrealistic deadlines, we completed on the 21st Dec, moved in on the 31st (once the place had been deep cleaned, painted, re-carpeted / sanded) then baby arrived on the 5th Jan. Looking back it was absolute madness!!

  13. We tried to decorate a few rooms before our son arrived last year – but mostly because I knew I’d be spending loads of time in them! We did the lounge and our bedroom, and I really did appreciate not having to stare at the horrible old red walls and flowery curtains when I was in the early days of feeding marathons! We decorated the nursery before he arrived too and it made me so happy to spend time in that room before he was born. And I actually don’t know how we would have ever had time to decorate after he was here – he still doesn’t nap on his own at 15 months and I barely get time to wash my hair, let alone paint a wall!!

    Totally agree with the comment about interiors accounts with the same photo over and over – my favourite ones at the moment are renovating houses so it’s always progressing. I wonder what they’ll do when they finish though..!

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