Working Mother

Messy house = messy mind

Before I get into any more details, I want to be VERY clear here. I will NEVER win the award for the cleanest house on the block. I will NEVER be featured in a design magazine. And I will NEVER pass the white glove test.

When I was much younger, my mother had an “a-ha” moment that brought so much peace to our house. When all five of us children were finally in school, my mother went back to school (and got all straight A’s I might add.) Shortly after this, she went back to work full-time outside of the house.

Before working outside of the house, she did full-time day care. While this is still work, it also involved keeping a clean house and cooking for everyone. When she was working outside the house, she still tried to keep a clean house, cook meals every night, and maintain that same house routine.

As a result, the first few months of her working outside the home were stressful on all of us. Tears and yelling were common when it came to the evenings. Mom was trying to stay on top of it all and usually was exhausted as a result.

I’m not sure what caused the “a-ha” moment, but there came a time when my mom accepted that our house would look “lived in” and not perfectly clean. We still didn’t eat out much, but we certainly ate chili three nights in a row because she had time to cook a big pot on the weekend. And all five of us learned how to cook and do our own laundry.

Thanks to my mom, I have learned that my children will be just fine if there is dust on the book shelf and the floor hasn’t been washed in 4 months. And chili actually tastes BETTER the next day.

Now, here is the lesson I learned on my own. Even though my house is not winning awards for being spotless, I do find that as things get more and more cluttered, my mind also feels more and more cluttered.

When the piles of school art work get bigger than the box I put them in, and the sports equipment is overflowing it’s bin, and the winter gloves are trying to find the missing socks, I start to get anxious.

When I find myself losing focus or getting stressed, I schedule a day to purge my house.

I’m not talking about anything complicated. There is no Martha Stewart thought or Konmari Method applied here. I literally shove all the stuff that is clogging up our house into a couple of large bins and put them in the basement. At that point, it’s just about getting things out of our immediate sight.

For the next few months, if there is something the kids and I need out of those bins, we will go retrieve them. However, when I actually get motivated to sort through those boxes, if it is still in there, it can be donated or tossed. DONE!

There is no grand thought process to this. No itemized list with cross referencing. No seasonal sorting boxes. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” (Or at least I don’t!)

After about an hour of just putting things in the bins and carrying them to the basement, I feel so much better and less anxious about the state of disarray in my house and life.

Even if I won’t win cleaning awards, I can at least function with more focus.


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