It happens all the time: I walk into a neighbour’s house, or a friend’s, and marvel at how orderly it appears. Then, I spend the next few hours wondering why I can’t do the same, and how I might be able to overcome my tendency toward clutter. OK, calling it a “tendency” is a bit of an understatement. I’m virtually as messy now as I was back in high school. It’s embarrassing and there’s no question it bugs the hell out of my husband, who happens to prefer order and neatness.
I wish I could attribute my awful housekeeping skills to any one thing. I was once diagnosed with ADD! I’m an artist whose head is always somewhere else! I thrive in clutter! I’m too busy thinking profound thoughts to notice the plate that’s been on my desk since last week! It’s all of those things (well, I’m probably not that profound a thinker), but none of them are excuses.
I’ve read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it really didn’t have the profound impact it had on my husband and others I know. I own another couple of books on how to tackle clutter, but they sit on a shelf with too many books that I’m unwilling to part with.
Books aside, it’s not even as though I’m hoarding all of this junk – though I could definitely do with a de-clutter – I just don’t know where to store a lot of things, or make the best use of the space we have. My brain doesn’t do well with spatial problems, so I find myself staring into space while I’m trying to declutter a specific drawer or section of my closet, or even the kitchen counter. Add to that 2 small children who love all their toys and enjoy playing with them by strewing them over every available surface, and you’re left with one overwhelmed mom.
When I write about an issue I’m facing, I try hard not to let it devolve into an essay that’s just me complaining, because who wants to read that? Right now, you’re either judging me for being so damn messy, or saying to yourself, “thank god, I’m not alone!”
To those women in the latter category, I ask, “What can we do about this?”
For me, I think the best first step is in the vein of my post about self-care for moms. The truth is, keep your home relatively tidy (we’re not talking June Cleaver-clean, people) is kind of about self-care, too. If taking care of myself involves taking the time to wash my face each night, why wouldn’t it also mean taking the time to keep surfaces tidy for easy cleaning? By putting things in their place, so that everyone knows where to find them and you’re not caught three minutes before leaving for the doctor, unable to find your son’s health card? That’s a scenario which will cause you stress, and since self-care is about reducing stress, it only makes sense that one step you should take is to organize and de-clutter your home.
Oh my god, that is so much easier to write than to put into practice.
Here is my plan: I will commit to ten minutes every day of de-cluttering a tiny part of my home. That’s beyond doing dishes or putting away laundry; I’m talking about going through my desk drawers or the top of my dresser, both of which are receptacles for a million things that don’t need to be there. Next month, I will write an update to let you all know how much I accomplished and how I feel. If you want to join me, feel free to comment with your commitment!