clutter is not the worst thing that can happen

Not cleaning made my life better. BR_mess2 That makes me sound gross which is not entirely accurate. Clean bathrooms, clean kitchen—totally. I HATE crumbs and sticky food messes—they seriously gross me out. And nasty stuff in the kitchen sink drain totally freaks me out. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is your average, day-to-day crap pile. Mostly, this will be from the kids. If you don’t have kids, it will be from your husband. If you don’t have a husband, it will be from you. I haven’t really covered all the possible living-arrangement scenarios, and I strongly believe in being all-inclusive, so please simply insert your own configuration here, confident in the the knowledge that I embrace all of you.

That average, day-to-day crap pile used to make me raving nuts. Mean Mommy. Grouchy Wife. Seriously grumpy. I would reach the end of every single day and grudgingly, angrily, hostilely clean up that crap pile. Put everything back in its stinkin’ place, resenting every moment it took.

Then I chose not to do that anymore.

(You can do that, too, you know.)

messy_living_room Nothing bad will happen if you only clean that crap pile every 3 days or so. I swear—I totally ignore it most of the time. Trying to get the kids to help was more work than cleaning it myself. While I believe it’s important for kids to understand their responsibility to the home, I also believe that will naturally ripen as they develop. You live the behavior you want to nurture and you encourage them and you keep your expectations low when they are little, lest you find yourself wanting to toss them and their crap piles out the window.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is only so much you can achieve each day. And peace of mind and body should be one of those things. To give the best of ourselves to our kids we have to recharge. Better to ignore the crap pile and take some time to rejuvenate to ensure you have the best to give.

I did help myself out by cutting back on the clutter that I could—the knick-knacks, the amount of stuff out on the kitchen counter—and I seriously purged in general. I went rather cuckoo—stuff I didn’t really need or care about, duplicate items (do you really need 4,200 towels and 5,300 kitchen gadgets? No, you don’t), all that stuff you keep “just in case” (of what?)—GONE. And it worked—we have space and no more crammed closets and cabinets. That kind of simplifying makes day-to-day tidiness easier to maintain.

BR_mess1 And the crap pile? You clean that every few days. You let it go. Someday the kids won’t drop everything on the floor and throw their stuff around as a matter of course. They will outgrow this behavior. You can let this one go. I swear, you really can.

Easter_candy Speaking of cleaning up, please tell me what the hell I am going to do with this enormous bowl of sugar? Seriously. This is the Easter haul. That is a large-ass bowl pictured right there. There is no way my kids are going to consume all that. Any takers? I will mail it to you. I could stretch this pile out all the way through June—I am notoriously chintzy on doling out the sugar to my little ones. Their idea of a “treat” might shock some in its skimpiness. (But—ssshhhh—they have no idea I’m a cheapie.)

Keep the bar low—it’s how I roll.