I need to show you something. Please promise that you will be kind when you see it. Because I am not proud of what you are about to see. Here is how my bedroom looks (at least) half of the time:
This is the room that is supposed to be my retreat. I badly need a retreat after a long day at the office and the single parent life all evening. You are welcome to agree with me in asserting that this hardly embodies the picture of rest and recovery waiting to happen. I cringe in the reality of this even being out there for visual consumption. I only hope my mess can help others.
I’m clearly doing my best to eradicate any notion that my home is Southern Living worthy. In that spirit, let’s take a glance at my kitchen. (Please note the box of wine featured at the back of the counter. This being a beverage container that I’ve rediscovered in my single days.)
At times, I bring a trunk load of groceries inside and dump them on my counter. Everything that belongs in the refrigerator and freezer gets put away. And then that’s it. I end up pulling all of the non-perishable items from the bag as needed over next several days.
I could offer the same scenario for every room in my house—as well as my car. (How do SO MANY jackets and socks and crumbs and pens end up in my car?!)
I do not want to give the impression that I do not ever have a clean house. In fact, if I took similar pictures of these same spaces right now? You would see clean and barren kitchen counters. And you would find a bedroom without a single stray sock on the freshly vacuumed carpet. Why? Because, as I write this, it’s the weekend. And I spend a big chunk of every weekend going through my house room by room to make it orderly and actually pleasant to see. I love my weekend house.
This is how the clutter happens. I wake up at 5:30am, get the kids on the bus by 6:25am, head out the door to work by 7:00am. By the time I get my kids home and fed and finished with homework and back and forth to a sport or piano lesson and finally to bed? I’m done! I just don’t have the energy or interest in cleaning up after hours of everything getting hurriedly dropped wherever was convenient in the moment. This is not to say my house is filthy . . . the dishes are always done at night and the bathrooms are cleaned. But I am guilty of letting piles of things collect between Monday and Friday.
I’ve come to realize the connection between the state of my home and the state of my mind. When my house is messy, I cannot relax. Thinking clearly becomes impossible. I am more likely to forget something I need for work. My patience with my children takes a nosedive. I feel unsettled. The psychological struggle makes sense, I think. Like most moms, my brain already has a tendency to go in ten different directions at once. When I place myself in an environment that is not calm and structured, the inclination to spin in multiple tangents and not follow one of them in any constructive fashion intensifies.
So, why not acknowledge the fact that I yell more when the house is messy? That I don’t sleep as well and feel like I’m constantly busy but accomplishing nothing? Why not do something about it? I KNOW that taking just the few extra minutes to put things where they belong as I go through my day, or to finish a task completely and not just to ninety percent, would make a huge difference. But I don’t often do it. Because I feel rushed and frazzled. And now you can see the cluttered mind and cluttered home playing a cruel chicken and egg dance—with me not even being sure anymore which one feeds the other.
There are many reasons that I need to do a better job of staying organized. First, my kids deserve a better example. I want them to establish habits of putting their clothes and other items away so that this behavior is second nature when they are adults. I also wouldn’t be so hesitant when friends wanted to stop by to visit—even though I know they would never judge my housekeeping skills.
But it is important to recognize that I want to do better by my family right now. I want us to come home at the end of a long day and enjoy our time together. It would be nice to cook dinner in a kitchen where all food is put away and go to sleep in a room in which I will not stumble over a shoe in the dark. I know why the problems happen, and I know what I need to change. I just haven’t figure out how to get there. But admitting that I have a problem, and then displaying this problem publicly on a blog? That may be the first step to healing.