It seems impossible sometimes, right? Well, it is. And it's not.
Some of you don't mind a messy house. It must be the way your brain is wired. My sister is like this. But for those of you who, like me, really don't like a messy house, this is my message to you, and I hope it's helpful! It has sure helped me.
I'm not going to talk about how to *like* cleaning, or how to build habits, or how to organize all the things. Those are all extremely helpful and worthwhile topics, but I'm talking about the simplest of simple breakdowns that cause an enormous shift in the way you view your living space, and the false perspectives that I believe are robbing people of so much freedom and peace. Without addressing these things, you're going to be continually discouraged with even your most valiant efforts.
#1 - Viewing Cleaning Up As A Project
"Cleaning up isn't worthwhile because everything will just get messy again."Sound familiar?
When you view cleaning up as a project with a definite completion and then life wrecks it over and over again, you're going to get extremely discouraged! No wonder you gave up.
But it's NOT a project. It's a maintenance routine. We think it's completely normal to brush our teeth over and over and over, every single day. Cleaning up your living space is actually the same thing. It makes a heck of a lot more sense to do it when you realize that you're SUPPOSED to do it over and over.
“We think it's normal to brush our teeth over and over and over, every single day. Cleaning up your messes is actually the same thing.”
#2 - Believing You Choose Between Happy Memories Or Tidy Home
This one bugs me. A lot. There is a very popular phrase that I've seen on signs and posters everywhere - "Excuse the mess. The children are making memories." I'm not sure what the original intent of this phrase actually is, and I believe there is some element of truth in it.
But many of us are stuck believing that tidy living and happy family memories are mutually exclusive. Which is a lie.
To assume that it's the messy home that is happy is a huge mistake. There are plenty of homes that are both miserable and messy. And there are messy homes, whether happy or not, that don't have any children (or even significant others) to "blame!" They're just messy!
Memories will be made, houses will be used, things will be played with. And then we take care of things. We get the house back in order. We put the toys away. We wash the dishes.
Because you know you are going to be stuck wondering if you should cry or scream when everyone's whining for dinner and there's barely any counter space to work with. Or have to try not to yell at someone because you stepped on a lego and feel like your leg is going numb. Or getting angry at random passers-by because you couldn't find your shoes (again) and now you're late for work.
Happiness and tidiness can absolutely be friends. Don't let a false divide between the two be an excuse to stay somewhere you don't want to be. Cleaning and good family living are not mutually exclusive.
#3 - Believing You Must Do Everything Or Nothing
“Don't let a false divide...be an excuse to stay somewhere you don't want to be.”
We don't always have time to clean up the *entire* mess right now. But we forget that. When you're walking past your living room and it's completely covered in toys and throw blankets and books and trash, and maybe a few dishes thrown in there somewhere, you will very likely not have the time to tackle the whole thing! We all have a million things to do!
So when you walk away, doing absolutely nothing, you are choosing the mess. Even when you *do* have 30 seconds. Another little lie we believe that has some very drastic consequences is that those 30 seconds won't be worth it! But we can do A LOT in 30 seconds. How about pick up those throw blankets? Maybe put the books back on the shelf, or at least throw away the trash! That's potentially an enormous chunk of floor space or surface area that you just cleared away. And you are that much closer to a tidy living space.
I want to take it a step further and point out that this goes for regular tidy-up times, perhaps in the evening after dinner. You don't *have* to clean the whole house! Just get it back to pleasant living! Maybe there are still shelves that look cluttered, and maybe the floor could have been vacuumed, and maybe you haven't dusted in a while. It's ok! Never, ever, ever let that rob you of the joy of what could be better. Clearing away some floor space, putting things back where you can find them so you're not late for work again - this is a win!
Enjoy Your Space
The entire point of all of this is to beg you to please, please don't trap yourself in these lies that are keeping you from even believing that you could possibly be "one of those people" who has a tidy living space. I know that you absolutely can.