Stacey Solomon Explains Why She Told Her Family Not To Buy Her Kids Gifts

Stacey Solomon Explains Why She Told Her Family Not To Buy Her Kids Gifts

Stacey Solomon and her husband Joe SwashStacey Solomon and her husband Joe Swash

Stacey Solomon has a picture perfect home – all neutral hues, natural materials and organised to a tee. But with four – soon to be five – children living under one roof, how on earth does she keep it all so enviably tidy and clutter-free? 

It turns out the presenter has had to put her foot down when it comes to what people bring into her home, and that includes telling friends and family members not to buy her children presents.

Solomon is married to actor Joe Swash, 40, and has two children with him – Rose, 15 months, and Rex, three – as well as two other children from previous relationships: Leighton, 10 and Zachery, 14.

“I remember one Christmas – and this was the turning point for me – my family all got the kids different Superman and Spiderman [toys]. This was before I had Rex, before I’d even met Joe,” she tells HuffPost UK.

“The kids were opening toys and just moving that toy to the side, and then opening the next one – and there was not even a reaction to what they were seeing and getting. It made me feel sick.

“I was like: they don’t even know what they’re getting. I’ve never opened a present and not been like: ‘Oh my god, this is amazing,’ and been really excited.”

It was a turning point for Solomon. “I just remember saying from then on, ‘Please I don’t want presents for them. Take them out, take them for an experience, put money in their bank accounts, whatever.’

“I don’t want crap. I don’t want it in the house. I don’t want them being bombarded by loads of stuff that doesn’t make them feel good about themselves, that they don’t appreciate it. It just made me feel awful.”

Anyone who follows Solomon on Instagram will know just how devoted she is to keeping clutter to a minimum in her home, which the family has dubbed Pickle Cottage. 

Her Stories are littered with daily updates of her big January sort out – whether that’s deep-cleaning the fridge, organising her makeup, or repurposing Rose’s old baby things ready for their impending arrival.

At the end of December, Solomon announced at that she’s expecting another baby. She’s since revealed that she’s due very soon, as baby number five was quite the surprise.

“We’re so grateful,” she tells me. “It was a massive surprise for us but we’re just so grateful and we love being parents.”

The 33-year-old is set to reappear soon on TV screens  as a new series of Sort Your Life out airs on BBC One. The show follows Solomon and her team of DIY-ers and professional organisers as they help families transform their homes with a life-changing declutter, while also renovating their space on the cheap.

If there’s one person who knows her beans when it comes to organising mess, it’s Solomon. For her it’s become something of a hobby.

“Lots of people ask me: how do you even do it? How do you organise, and have kids, and have dogs, and have a job, as if it’s one or the other.

“But actually, for me, if I don’t get meticulously organised I can’t function properly – I can’t get my kids ready for school properly and I can’t look after the dogs properly.

“It’s a necessity.”

She admits that while her husband doesn’t particularly enjoy tidying, she “genuinely enjoys” being methodical and putting things in order as it helps her feel in control. 

“I get a real sense of satisfaction, order, calm and also the process of doing it focuses my mind on that one thing for quite a long period,” she says, likening it to a form of meditation. 

“Some people can sit there and hum and completely free their mind of everything. I cannot. 

“I have to focus on a task... When I’m organising or doing DIY around the house, or making a craft even, I’m focusing my mind on that particular task which frees up my brain of any worry, anything else I might be thinking about, and has a huge impact on my mental health.”

As a parent it can be pretty difficult keeping on top of mess – laundry and toys can quickly and easily infiltrate every room in the house if you’re not careful. Post-Christmas, you’ve might’ve stood scratching your head wondering where you’re going to put all those new toys when space is already limited. 

“There’s only two things that will change your life in terms of toys for kids,” says Solomon. “The first thing you have to do as a parent is have a proper system with your in-laws, and your parents, and your sisters, and your brothers, about – when it’s Christmas or birthdays – what they get your child.

“It’s very British of us to be like: oh no, I can’t tell someone what to get my child for their birthday or Christmas and I can’t say I don’t want that garish, giant tent they’re going to bring round or whatever. But you absolutely can.”

She suggests that, as a nation, we need to start “putting boundaries in place when it comes to what we let into our home. Because our home is our sanctuary and our safe space.”

Plus, kids can get overwhelmed with too many toys, she adds. 

If you’re trying not to drown under a mountain of toys, she advises keeping some of your child’s favourite toys in your living area and then putting the rest in a loft, or a garage, or any kind of extra space you might have that isn’t living space. Then, every few months, rotate the toys.

“Every few months I will go in the loft and I will rotate their toys,” says Solomon, discussing how she manages this with her own family. 

“So if they’re playing with the toys they’ve got downstairs for three months, six months, and I can see they’re a bit like: ‘oh I’ve been playing with these for ages,’ or they’re looking at adverts on the telly saying: ‘I need that,’ I will literally swap around the toys that are in the front room with the toys that are in the loft and they feel like they’ve got a whole set of brand new toys.

“They get excited because they either don’t remember it so they think it’s new, or they remember it but haven’t seen it in a really long time so they think it’s exciting.”

If you’re wondering when on earth she finds time to keep her home organised while raising four kids, she’s keen to remind readers that she has lots of help.

“It takes a village and everyone has to do their bit,” she says. “Joe has to get involved. If my mum, dad or sister or anyone is helping me out with the kids, I’m like: ‘do me a favour, just don’t put everything away in the wrong place. Help me out.’ And if I go to my family’s house and I’m helping out, I’ll do the same. 

“I have loads of help. I have childcare help. I wouldn’t be able to be at work today if I didn’t have my dad watching the kids, because Joe is doing his documentary.

“We are a whole village and we’re so lucky and I’m so grateful to have that. I think it’s unrealistic for anyone to think that I sit at home, on my own, juggling it all, doing it all.

“But at the same time – even if I had a cleaner or maid or something like that – they’re not going to do what I do to my cupboards. That’s like the extreme. So if I want it to stay like that, I have to do it and keep up with it. And I enjoy that.”

Sort Your Life Out airs on BBC One and iPlayer from Wednesday January 25 at 9pm.

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