So, I realized something: I don’t care about having a neat, tidy house. I know! This is shocking, given how much time and mental energy and blog space I’ve devoted to the subject. In a “no duh, what took you so long” flash of insight, I realized that no matter how busy I am, I DO make time for things that are important to me – sleep, exercise, sitcoms – so if I wasn’t making time to keep my house clean and clutter-free at all times, it must not be that important to me. I’m a secret slob! Who knew?!
OK, maybe not a slob. I have always been the type of person who needs SOME measure of cleanliness and order in my environment. I am fine with some clutter and dust, but I draw the line at sticky countertops and piles of dirty laundry. (Piles of CLEAN laundry are fine. Bonus: doubles as an air-freshener!)
I have also always been the type of person who is organized in my own way. My desk may not look like something out of the Container Store catalog, but I can put my hands on that camp form or the phone number for the tree guy or that back issue of Working Mother with the funny essay in minutes if I need to.
Household organization is a big issue for most moms I know, and a source of major guilt. This is because we judge ourselves and each other by the state of our homes. Admit it: we all do it. I have a couple friends who have gorgeous, clean, minimalist homes. Every time I visit them, I am wracked with guilt over my own cluttered, dusty abode.
Why can’t I keep all the kids’ toys off the floor and sorted in color-coordinated cubbies? Why do I have stacks and stacks of old magazines on every surface? (I mean, not in a scary hoarder sort of way. More like an “I know there’s a recipe in there I might want and I forgot to tear it out or look for a link on Pinterest” sort of way.)
One time I flat-out asked one of those friends: “What do you DO with all your stuff?! Don’t you ever have a stack of catalogs and invitations and random paperwork sitting around?” Her answer was no. Each piece of paper that came into her house was immediately dealt with: filed, recycled, or filled out and sent back. To be fair, that friend does not have children. I DARE her to organize all that oversized, 3-D, glitter-encrusted artwork that comes home from preschool!
I just don’t care enough to be that disciplined about paper. The other thing I realized is that I thrive on praise. The nicest thing anyone can say to me is, “Your house looks really clean.” I beam with pride and say, “Thanks for noticing. I DID bust my butt all morning.” What? You thought I’d pretend it always looks that way? If my house looked amazing all the time, I’d never get those compliments! It’s better to set the bar low, I find.
Lastly, I realized that as long as I have a family and little free time, my house will never look like the pages of one of those magazines piled in my family room. My husband and children, sadly, don’t share my organizational vision. I mean, if I have to EXPLAIN why Pokemon cards go with Pokemon cards and action figures go with action figures and keys go on the key hook … And do you know how exhausting it is sorting Lego pieces night after night? Yeah, you probably do.
So I’m not saying I’m going to let my house devolve into total chaos and squalor, just that I’m going to stop trying so hard to be something I’m not. Like a minimalist. Truth is, I think a little clutter makes a house feel like a home.
READ O’ THE DAY: This post, which is surprisingly funny and not guilt-inducing for a post about organizing, got me thinking about all this stuff. Speaking of, I love the line “Stuff is the worst.”