Total honesty here. Being tidy just does NOT come naturally to me. I
am was always the girl who had to spend couple of hours cleaning and picking up before we had guests… god forbid, overnight guests. I go all out in so many other aspects of life, I guess when it came to the end of the day, I just never wanted to deal with whatever mess I may have created. And I never thought it bothered me.
(In my defense, my house was rarely ever DIRTY… just unkempt. And sometimes, not even that to the naked eye… because I’d probably just stuffed everything in a closet somewhere.)
But then I had a child. And being messy was just no longer an option for so many reasons. Now, there were 90 million bottles and bottle brushes and bottle parts and formula cans to add to my stuff. Now there were bouncers and swings and walkers and boppies on the floor. Now there was a baby crawling on a rug that may or may not be covered in pup hair. JK – I became OCD with the floors one III started crawling… but you catch my drift.
(Disclaimer: I have help with the housekeeping. Between working and parenting and general adulting, it’s just something I need. But sometimes I found that she was just having to clean around my clutter.)
So the time came and I had to do it. I had to become a more organized and tidy person. I had to take control of my procrastination and my lazy tendencies and hunker down. And I’m so, so grateful I did.
- I did some research. This may sound silly to many of you who pick up and put away and organize with ease. But, for me, I really needed to learn how to create and maintain these new habits. And I’m a nerd. So I wanted to research how to set my neat and tidy priorities and then tackle them. (This so reminds me of how Gidget decided to learn to surf by reading a book thus winning the heart of Moondoggy. If you have no idea, what I’m talking about… that should accurately illustrate my nerdiness.). My favorite resource for this was Allie Casazza. While I will never be a minimalist, her tips still proved to be invaluable.
- I evaluated my time. This is a huge thing that Allie focuses on in her blog. I always blamed ignoring a lot of household chores on not having time but – in reality – that was a LIE. I literally plotted out my typical day. What I spent my time on. And while there wasn’t a lot of “white space” on my daily calendar between baby and work, there was enough. And there were inefficiencies I could tighten up.
- I tackled a few big things first. Before I really started implementing this stuff in my every day life, I tackled a few big projects. One was my closet. I have a huge closet. Bigger than I’d like to admit. Full of clothes that I love… and full of clothes that I hate. I took an entire Sunday (put G on daddy duty) and went through every single thing. I purged, then organized. I cannot even describe the sense of relief I felt after. And, I can’t life. I freaking love walking into that closet now.
- I let the big stuff trickle down. Once my closet was organized, I took on the laundry room. A smaller task but still one that needed a lot of attention. I figured out what I spend the most time laundering and why. I made that more efficient. I organized our hampers. I got smaller hampers so it would be impossible to let things back up because they’d have nowhere to go.
- I fit it in my every day. Allie talks a lot about something she calls rhythms. Basically creating certain habits throughout the day, every day. I’m not quite there yet (and may not ever be) but I’ve found myself doing some of these things unknowingly. I take 2 minutes in the morning after getting ready to throw in one load of laundry. And heading upstairs right when I get home to toss it in the dryer. That may be the only productive household thing I need to do that day and I just made it a part of my routine that I hardly even think about. And pretty soon, without even thinking about it, I just starting putting things away when I was done with them. Some days, I would even shock myself.
- It was an underlying stresser. Remember earlier I said I didn’t think any of this bothered me? Well, apparently it did. It just added so much unnecessary stress. And once, the mess or clutter started to disappear, I started to notice how much happier of a person I was. I recently forgot we were having overnight guests for a weekend and my husband reminded me the night before. My reaction… “Oh yeah…ok.” No panic to pick up, no stress about the condition of the upstairs of the house. That was NOT the me I knew even just a few months ago.
- My environment was affecting me. Take my closet, for example. It was such a messy disaster full of so many things that I didn’t wear. I ended up where the same 7-8 things repeatedly. And I just wasn’t into. That is NOT like me. I LOVE clothes. I love fashion and design and it’s always been a major way of expressing myself. But that was fading. Since I took control of my closet, I’m actually wearing things I love again. Putting things together that make me feel great… some of which I forgot I even owned. When my closet was a mess, I was beginning to look like a mess. And if I didn’t like my outfit, I was putting less effort into my hair and makeup. I was becoming my environment. Now, that’s a good thing.
- I have time for the things I want to do. My spending my time more efficiently when it came to keeping up the house, I discovered I could actually spend more than an hour doing what I wanted during the weeknight. I could spend time with III and G. I could watch TV, read a book, go to the gym. It was liberating. And I now no longer have to spend long chunks of time on the weekends mass-cleaning my house. Some days, I even have to come up with something to do!
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure why I’m sharing all of this here. I guess I’m just really proud of myself. I decided that, instead of a resolution for 2017, I would just pick a word and try to live by that word for the year in anything I did. I picked the word “improve” because I could use a little of that in so many aspects of my life. I want to improve my health, my household, my mind. I want to improve as a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister and a friend. And by implementing the things I’ve talked about here, I’m able to focus my time and energy on those things. And that’s something worth being proud of.
(Another disclaimer: I’m still not and may never be a completely tidy person. My office at work is a disaster. My email inbox would make some of you cringe. But, hey, one thing at a time, right?)