I am the opposite of a clean freak. I wouldn’t say I’m a hoarder, but I am certainly not a tidy person. I have more than 1 junk drawer….I might have 7. I am as bad as the kids at kicking off my shoes right where I am standing, and there they stay until I can’t find them later that day. Breakfast dishes are often in the sink until after dinner and my husband’s side of the closet is definitely more “tidy” than mine, by a long-shot! There are always pieces of a pillow fort, train station, dollhouse or farmstead in my floor. I am forever saying to people, “pardon the mess.” But I don’t mind the mess! Truthfully, I rarely even see it.
But sometimes this messy-girl side of me is insanely frustrating. Picking up our house seems like a never ending chore. There are always more interesting things to see or do or say. There are books to be read and baths to be done and Walking Dead Episodes to be seen. My house is so naggy. It just fusses at me all the time with it’s socks and dishes and toys and books. Our mess is the constant visual sign of my inner chaos. It’s like all the ADD in my head has spilled out onto my floor. I have struggled with my “mess” for my entire adult life. Having company over is daunting, not because they care (they rarely do) but because I do!
I am in awe of my clean friends. The ones who naturally see something out of place and put it where it belongs without even thinking about it. Those friends who are always ready for company, not because they neglect their children and obsess over housework, but because it’s comforting to them and their families to have things in order. I buzz from one thing to the next without even a thought to what chaos I left in my wake until bedtime, where the quiet rules and I’m exhausted. I look around at my house and think, “Seriously, I was a part of this.” Then I shake my head, have some pillow time, (aka: bury my head under the pillow and pretend that I live in a tidy little house) and go to sleep. There’s always tomorrow, right?!
In my youth ministry years, my husband would frequently call himself my “pooper scooper.” I would fly from one activity to the next and from one valuable conversation into the very next one. I would leave a pile of permission forms, playground balls, pencils, and CD’s (yes before ipods) like a trail of breadcrumbs. He would calmly and lovingly pick up all my crazy and put it back in its place. In fact, it was YEARS before I even noticed he was doing it!!
His response is always: “Every circus elephant needs a pooper scooper.”
But you see, now I have 3 little circus elephants and I have no idea how to be a pooper scooper! I have one child who is very much like his dad. He puts his things away (most of the time) and easily remembers where he left his watch, backpack and shoes. My second child, she’s just like her momma.
This is her room
It has been like this her entire young life. It is exhausting and overwhelming. (And It probably looks just like mine did when I was 8!) I began by forcing her to pick it up every day. It was an exercise in futility and ultimately I would “help” just to get her into bed before midnight. Then I started putting it on her weekend chore list. She would disappear for hours on Sunday afternoon into the depths of her mess. She always came out overwhelmed and the room was barely neater than when she started. The thing is, I GET IT!! I get her. I know exactly how much more fun Barbies, coloring, dance parties, note writing, and clothes designing is, when compared to organizing. Organizing is NOT fun and you can never convince me otherwise.
I wish for her to not struggle for order every waking minute. She might never see the need for organization and neatness, but I want her to know it’s value. She might never put things where they go, but she’ll know where they belong.
So we came up with a new plan: Every single day she is in charge of putting 1 type of thing away in her room. It looks like this:
This list is short, the goal is clear, and it should not ever be more than she can handle. There is so much value in being your own pooper scooper. Take it from me!
Someday I know the mess will be over and the gentle quiet will reign and I will long for a few lost socks and a toy horse or two in my living room. Until then, pardon the mess. We are ALL a work in progress!
*this post was originally written for AlmaBlog at Almadiem.com/blog. check out all my “Making it to Monday” posts as well as a bunch of other talented ladies!