Before I had kids I made a vow to myself: I will never, under any circumstances yell at my kids. Ever.
I broke that vow.
Way more than I hope they remember.
Looking back, most of my mad had to do with messes.
Our big home on the hill overflowed with messes every day. Every. Single. Day.
Four kids + two cats + two dogs+ two horses + a spontaneously fun husband = MESSY!
I am a woman who craves order. I make my bed every day. Hang my towels perfectly even. Organize my spice drawer alphabetically. The only thing I don’t like about traveling is that it feels messy.
I get a rush from walking into a perfectly clean kitchen, from opening the garage door and seeing matching boxes perfectly labeled, lined up evenly on orderly shelves.
For me, neatness is like a drug, a high. It makes me happy, frees my mind to think.
It has taken me years— decades— to learn these few must-do’s that make my often-messy life a little more realistic. These are things I wish I’d known during all those messy summers when my kids were home. Summers I cannot relive.
1. Nothing of value gets done without making some messes. People who get a lot done— people who invent and learn and try new things, inevitably have to wade through some messiness. Okay, a lot of messiness.
2. Neatness is nice. Everyone functions better when their space is tidy. Teaching my children how to put their things in order could have been fun if I had allowed it to be my gift to them instead of being so uptight about it.
3. There is a vast difference between neat enough and perfect. To indulge in my propensity for perfectionism will make me weird. And crabby. And mad at a world that cannot ever be perfect.
4. Consumerism is the enemy of neat. I have spent hundreds of hard earned dollars on plastic containers. What a waste! When I finally learned to keep only a few things in my cupboards, my few things stayed naturally neat. It’s better to have less stuff than to organize more stuff.
5. Slow down to order your life. More than anything else, I have found that my pace of life perfectly parallels my sense of order. By adding in one more meeting, one more adventure, one more trip to the store, one more project, one more item on my to-do list… I create a world in which messes reign.
I cannot do it all.
Living now in this cottage in the woods, I relish a degree of neatness that simply wasn’t possible with kids at home. When the Grands come to visit, their messes don’t worry me at all. My whole world stops and I delight in their creativity. I see a bigger picture now and that picture is filled with beauty. How I wish I’d know, all those messy years ago, that…
God creates beauty out of messiness.
From my heart,
P.S. Can you give us your best, most workable tips for keeping your place neat? Any mamas want to tell us how you teach your kids to be tidy?