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Smug married: Toying with dreams of one day reclaiming our home

When Number One was born, I felt sorry for him because he had no toys. But soon this only child, grandchild and nephew had a ridiculous number of beeping possessions (I have a hit list of everyone who ever gave one of my children a noisy toy.)

We had a house with three bedrooms, one of which was truly tiny, barely big enough for a bed. We had one normal room, Number One had the other, and soon his was filled to overflowing. Storage was the eternal problem, how best to keep tidy but accessible his squillions of little things. Lego, swords, books, Play-doh, paint, models, souvenirs, jigsaws, board games and endless miscellaneous.

Small tidy-ups never seemed to do it, so every now and again either Beloved or I would take a turn trying to come up with the definitive solution. Shelves, boxes, drawers, hangy things, flatpack things, cardboard, MDF, plastic, metal, combinations of all and any in an ever-failing attempt to keep some kind of order. It would be tidy for two days and then, the inconsiderate little rascal would want to actually play with his toys.

The boxroom was our dumping ground, the room you could shove everything into when people were coming and you wanted to give the impression of not being a total savage.

But then a baby girl arrived, and the boxroom became a bedroom, and it too started to overflow as she accumulated tonnes of tiny fiddly things.

There was no extra room downstairs in which to fling stuff, and I worked in the attic in a space increasingly encroached upon by boxes and prams and cots and lamps. It all started to feel a bit tight, so laughable amounts of virtual money changed hands and we moved to a house which had rooms for mess upstairs and down. Woohoo.

Number Two is once again in a small room (at the height of the boom a quarter of a million euro was the difference between having lots of space upstairs and down, as opposed to just downstairs. Mercifully we didn't lay out that extra virtual 250K, we just owe all our vital organs, not our souls.) But the tiny extra room we did get upstairs means not that we have a spare room for guests, but that Number Two has space to spread the mess. There's not a room in the house without a homeless CD, a hair bobbin, a teddy or a handbag stuffed with the maddest miscellany, but there are two rooms upstairs which have been totally invaded.

Once again we have attempted a million solutions. Ikea offered a whole new world of possibility, but no, not even Ikea can fight against the tide of a small girl's imagination. We have just completed the latest, most radical overhaul of Daughter's Possessions. It should last a few days. We have never lived in a child-free neat home, it seems unimaginable. But then it dawned on me that it's been years since Number One last required storage solutions.

Yes he leaves a trail of towels and dirty washing, but his stuff is compact, largely electronic and easy to tidy. There is no need for complex storage devices or endless sorting, no boxes marked Yu-Gi-Oh!, Little Men or Lego. Grooming products and games need only a few shelves.

Turns out this storage challenge only lasts a decade or so then. Just 10, 12 years (per child) of mess then it's mere dirty laundry and lumps of gel on the sink.

Sunday Indo Living