It is the season of detoxing and decluttering. I’m overwhelmed by all the post-Christmas STUFF everywhere so I decide to ruin Sunday afternoon by insisting that everyone must get rid of twenty items.
“If you don’t use it or it doesn’t bring you joy, it has to go!” I order.
This is met with wails and sobs from the younger members of the family. Daisy insists that all fourteen of her handbags bring her joy, even though she doesn’t use any of them, so she wants to keep the lot.
Ollie cries if I as much as suggest he might want to remove anything from his room; and Tom is strangely absent, deciding instead that now is the time to focus on the washing up which has been sitting there all day.
It’s a one-woman campaign but I keep my mother in law in mind (she’s the queen of decluttering) and after three hours we have a car packed with charity stuff and a full wheelie bin.
Bedtime can’t come round quick enough (arguing with your offspring is very exhausting). Once we have got through the farce of putting the children to bed (Ollie now has to have his blanket anointed with lavender oil before he’ll even consider sleep), I’m excited about the prospect of watching the penultimate Bridge.
I’m on a self-imposed internet detox after throwing my phone on the bathroom floor when half-asleep and breaking it. I am now operating an ancient Nokia and completely loving the lack of World Wide Web access. I’ve started reading again and broken the obsessive habit of checking my phone every time I’m in a queue / waiting in the playground/ have a moment to myself. It’s wonderful, BUT that doesn’t mean I want to give up the telly.
I come downstairs to find Tom reading on the sofa. This is an unusual sight. I look nervously from him to the television. The room is silent.
“Shall we read tonight?” he asks.
This is not how our evenings normally pan out. They usually involve murder and sub-titles and a lot of chocolate. In fact our evenings have never involved sitting in silence together. In the early years it was two bottles of wine for a fiver from Le Chateau (paid for on my cheque book); the post-student days were either pub or property programmes on TV; and the baby years were spent rocking colicky babies between the hours of 7 and 11 or obsessively going upstairs and checking they were still breathing . Definitely no reading together.
Tom breaks the awkward silence by announcing that he will be adding to our decluttered, detoxed January lives by taking up exercise. Getting up at 6am every morning and going running, to be precise.
This takes me by surprise, plus I am still reeling from the prospect of not watching The Bridge tonight. As a result I start to say things I will later regret.
“Oh exercise! Great idea! I’m a 100% behind that……I tell you what, every time you get up and go running before work, I’ll get up with you and make you a healthy lunch to take to work”……
Once spoken, the words can not be clawed back and it is for that reason that I find myself foregoing my fix of Swedish crime, and putting these salads together instead. The prospect of getting up whilst it is still pitch-black is too awful; I’d prefer to do the hard work now.
Once I’ve sourced the jars from the shed, I make an ‘English’ salad for Tom with roast beef, pearl barley and beetroot; an Italian pasta salad for Daisy and a made up Mexican salad for me with rice, black beans, tomatoes and avocados.
The first two are taken from Jamie Oliver’s new book, Everyday Super Foods http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/healthy-jam-jar-salads-jamie-oliver/ .
These jars of salad are a labour of love but leave you with a smug feeling and an extra half an hour in bed the next morning. Tom is very appreciative but wants to know if he’ll have to take a big bowl to work to accompany the heavy 1kg glass jar. Daisy is equally enthusiastic in the morning, but comes out of school looking embarrassed.
“It was disgusting, mum,” she whispers, “can I just go back to cheese sandwiches tomorrow?”
Apparently everything got a bit too soggy. I don’t know what these people on the forums are talking about when they say they make up FIVE such salads to last them for five days’ of lunches. What lettuce is going to survive that?
I get more positive feedback from Tom who says the flavours were delicious but there was enough in that jar to feed the whole office. On balance, next time Tom goes running, I’ll be handing him a fiver from my warm place in bed so he can get his own lunch from Waitrose.