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Seriously, it’s a big deal

Claiming that anything is “life changing” is pretty cliche, I know. It’s the sort of statement we throw around, but it doesn’t really mean anything…

So I should really call this post something else, but I’m struggling to come up with anything less cliche that could actually convey just HOW MUCH this simple change in my habits has improved my life at home.

I’ve stopped being messy. I do this thing where I put stuff away now.

It’s not like this is something I stumbled upon that no one has ever thought of before, in fact, it’s something that naturally tidy people come by… naturally. But I am not naturally tidy.

My messy struggle with messy

A while ago, I set aside a few hours on my day off (Monday) to really clean the house. Just like every other Monday. But before I could start vacuuming and scrubbing, I had to spend half of my entire Monday off putting stuff away. (Um, just like every other Monday).

All stuff that wasn’t where it belonged.

  • Recycling that was sitting by the front door
  • coats that were over the back of a chair
  • dishes that were clean but hadn’t been put away
  • tea cups on the coffee table
  • my husbands work stuff all over the dining room
  • receipts from our last shopping trip
  • unopened mail sitting on the counter
  • hair stuff and make up on the bathroom vanity
  • piles of screws/connectors that come out of G’s pockets
  • random travel things from our last trip (over 3 weeks ago)

Stuff was EVERYWHERE. And this happened every week. Every Monday I had to spend hours “putting away” just so I could clean. It’s not like I’ve never tried to keep it tidy before. Every week I tidied the house, it looked amazing, and I’d think to myself “That’s it. Now I’m gonna keep it this way”.

But every week I’d give up. Life is busy and we rush in and out and set stuff down and eventually the house looked just like it did last Monday morning. For a while I thought my main problem was too much stuff (and part of it was) but I have really reduced clutter in my home and I was still losing the battle, week after week. The truth is that even when you have less stuff, that stuff still doesn’t put itself away. I believed I wasn’t capable of actually keeping the house tidy, since I had tried so many times and failed over and over and over.

But then I realized my problem was me…My house was messy because I was messy. Anything beyond that was an excuse. I determined that I wasn’t going to live in defeat. Not just because I don’t want to be a big nasty hypocrite, (I’m always saying that I believe change is possible if you’re willing to put in the effort), but because I hate it when my house is messy.

It seriously weighs me down. I feel overwhelmed by the mess. Why am I allowing something I hate so much to continue?

So I decided to stop it. Cold turkey yes, but still one thing at a time, I stopped. Stopped putting my coat on the back of the chair, stopped leaving the mail on the counter. Stopped “soaking” the dishes over night and stopped going to bed without clearing my tea cup from the living room.

I stopped leaving make-up out in the bathroom, I stopped leaving my clothes on the bathroom floor. ( ← RIGHT HERE, this is where it all fell apart every week. As soon as those clothes are on the floor, I lose the battle.) 

( I also read this really awesome blog post at pennypinchingmama.com, and it totally inspired me to keep up with the putting away.)

Every night before bed I take a two minute walk through the house and put away anything I missed. But as time goes by, there is less and less that I’ve missed.

I’ve stopped being messy. I don’t let myself think of the chores I don’t want to do as mundane or time consuming. I think of them as a means to an end, a way to improve my life. It’s a lot easier to wanna wash dishes if you think of it as improving your life.

Now I can relax in my home. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I don’t feel guilty. I enjoy being here. I CAN FIND STUFF. Mornings aren’t a rush to get organized, because everything is where it’s supposed to be. The “cleaning” on Monday mornings is drastically reduced, since I can wipe the (empty) counters and sinks everyday. And then I have Monday free to do whatever I want.

You’ll find the same thing – If you want to sit around in your pajamas and kill some time by taking online surveys for pocket money then GO for it. Or if you would like to enjoy your day off and drink wine and watch TV, then GO for it. If the mess in your house isn’t weighing you down, you can enjoy yourself.

This is how life is meant to be lived. 

If you’re like previous me, thinking it’s impossible…

Well, it is then. Until you tell yourself it’s possible. You can not change old ingrained habits if you tell yourself you can’t (really, you mean you won’t).

It’s totally overwhelming to look at a busy, messy house and tell yourself you’re gonna be “tidy”. But If you start with a clean house and think of every single thing you touch as a new (and not overwhelming, since it’s just one thing) opportunity to change your bad habits you can totally do it. And if you miss something in the day, just do it before bed. When you wake up to a clean house in the morning, you’ll be so encouraged that you’ll do it again today.

You might be able to enlist the help of the other people who live there… I said to my husband (when I started this, that Monday) “Please let’s try and keep the house clean this time. Please help me.” I have to admit that 80% of the mess (at least) is my fault, so it really hasn’t been much work for him to “help me”.

Get your kids on board with rewards (or bribes, whatever).

If you are the one that runs the house, it might come down to you just deciding you’ll do it, with their help or not. I want to blog, and I want my house clean. I’ve pretty much given up watching TV during the week so these things can happen. I have prioritized them. (And actually, I’m finding the whole “keep the house clean thing” isn’t even taking any REAL amount of time. 10 or 15 minutes here there. It might take you half hour a day if you kids are really small and really messy. But it’ll be worth it).

Whatever it takes for you to make the change, just do it. 

If “forgetting” that you want to create a new habit is your problem, put a post it note on all the problem areas – bathroom counter, kitchen sink, coffee table. Or enlist a friend to text you every night and check to see if you’ve picked up the house. Tell them a guilt trip is what you need.

Being intentional about being tidy (or about anything) isn’t always easy. But it’s worth it. Now that my house isn’t messy, I am happier. (Which seems crazy, I don’t even really know how that works. Maybe because cleaning my house on Monday takes me 2 hours now instead of 4, or maybe it’s because I don’t feel the weight of the mess whenever I’m home). I’m happy in my house. And I feel really, really proud of myself, which is always sort of nice.

I stopped being messy and it changed my life

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