We all want a clean space, well most of us. I know I do, I love the feeling of a clean room with no clutter, fresh, open, airy……ahhhhhhhh…….
However, I do feel my perception of mess is a bit skewed and really isn’t life serving for me or my family. I tend to get very antsy and irritable when things aren’t tidy and in their place. Because of this I am always organizing and cleaning, putting things that have been used away and finding new homes for new things we bring in. I am also always unloading things, cleaning out the kids old clothes, dealing with recyclables… I often times get this neurotic urge to purge. I want to just get rid of stuff, and get rid of stuff I do. I always have a take-to-the-second-hand-store pile somewhere in my house. The kids have to remind me, “Mom, ask us before you get rid of our stuff”.
These are all fine and dandy traits for keeping a house clean and organized, but they have a down side as well. I am the only one who knows where things are and am therefore needed whenever someone is looking for something, it also creates a large workload for myself, I could spend all day every day cleaning and I would never feel done because while I clean one room, another gets dirty, dusty and unorganized.
What I think I really am striving for is a home that is unlived in. I want my house to stay clean, I want to look in a room and see that it has been untouched for days. I want what I see in magazines or on Pinterest. A picture perfect room, a clean space where everything has its place and nothing is dusty. Oh dear, what an unrealistic expectation that is! I have realized that what I think I desire isn’t what I actually desire. A clean sterile house would have no occupants, no one using it. If I lived alone, my house would be clean, but I don’t want to live alone, I want my children, my husband with me. I want my home to be lived in, I want there to be messes, because messes mean my family is home and safe. When I see books strewn on the floor, instead of seeing an inconvenient mess, I could think, “look at what these girls are reading today?” I could delight in there little tornadoes of stuff…..follow their trail. “Oh look here, Grace played Lego with Christopher, these are the books she read to him earlier and over here Raven has drawn in her sketchbook.” These messes are a sign of life! If I had no messes to clean up, I would have no reminder of who lives here.
I do not think that we should live in filth, or that my children shouldn’t have to learn to clean up after themselves, these are important and living in a clean space benefits us all. What I am realizing is that my standards are wrong, they are misguided. I do want to have an organized space and I do want space to breathe, but I need to retrain myself to not expect this all the time. I have to embrace the dust and the messy junk drawer. I am setting myself up for failure if I think I can have my whole house immaculate at once. It isn’t going to happen, unless I have a maid or I drop all other hobbies, it just isn’t attainable.
I can ease the burden off myself by being more mindful of what I bring into my space. I tend to accept anything if it is free and I have more things then I need. Bring in less, and I will have less to deal with. Getting rid of the unnecessary clutter helps create space and makes for less dusting and organizing. I am slowly weaning out the things that I no longer love. It is sometimes hard to let go of things that we have been given as gifts or are reminders of the past, things we have paid for or things we think we might one day – someday use. I have found that a good question to ask myself to determine if it stays or goes is, “When I look at it, do I love it or do I think, ugh not this thing again”. If I don’t love it every time I see it, I must get rid of it! It isn’t the stuff around me that I use and love that is irritating, it is all the unfinished business and uselessness around me that gets on my nerves. David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” says it wonderfully, “if you don’t have an inbox, your whole home is your inbox.” I want my inbox to be somewhere specific, not all over my home.
We all have messes….we like to pretend we don’t. Just have a look on Pinterest and you will see that everything is supposedly shiny and bright without a spec of dust or clutter anywhere. My hope is to embrace the messes, yes they must still be cleaned but not with anger and annoyance, rather with a light heart and gratitude for life.
Some messes actually look quite nice if you look at them right. And sometimes a little organization and some baskets can help.