mess ‘fess

messy bookcaseConfession time.

I’ve been on a total freak-out about messes.  Like, I really struggle with this.  Really.

The usual angst has snowballed after too many Sundays where it took all day to simply put things (hundreds of little things) back where they belong.

I fall prey to the impulse to lecture before, during, and after every clean up session.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently.

I thought that maybe I could give up Cleaning Lectures for Lent.  Ha, what a joke!

Please note :

(a) You can’t get rid of a bad habit without replacing it with a good habit

(b) tongue biting generally only results in a sore tongue

For once, decluttering isn’t the answer.  (boo)

Okay, so the problem is me.

First thoughts :

(a) Allow more mess.  Raise that Mess Threshold.

(b) Spend more time cleaning.  (“But I don’t want to spend another entire Sunday putting away minutiae,” she sobs.)


(c) Therapy?

(d) Hypnosis?

I tried to imagine myself showing up in my counselor’s office for the sole purpose of discussing the mess my children make.  Why can’t they just leave the toothpaste in the drawerrrrr?

I’m feeling my way towards an answer, towards something good to drive out the bad.

Name the gifts.

Not surprising.  One of the techniques I used during labor with Lia was to listen to the sounds close to me, the sounds farther away, the sounds beyond the window.  It kept me calm and grounded.  Noticing and naming the things around me seems to work in the same way.  I can’t maintain the anxiety and the noticing at the same time.

Embrace the mess.

So far this has meant acknowledging that there are six people here, living out their lives. Anything times six is fairly significant.  Just remember that.

On the whimsical side, I’m thinking that we should believe that our homes (as are our bodies) are beautiful as is.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious (and freeing) if we all posted photos of our houses as they usually look?  Even funnier if we took care to take a really good photograph – as though we had carefully staged everything?  Quick, take a picture right now!


2 thoughts on “mess ‘fess

  1. IDEA! Let’s teach the kids the Dewey Decimal system of organizing their books. I think your Mom is sending me my simplified stuff from Guam. I’ll share with you. Then have a sharing of favorites, or any ‘fun game’ or organizing some of the books. (Lets find all the books that are your favorite animal stories. There is a number classification for dogs, cats, etc. Number those books I used little about 1/2 inch colored dots on the spine and re-inforced iwith a strip of Scotch Tape. You could get really creative and use a different color for each of the 9 –oops, maybe 10–different basic numbers.) If I remember, your Bible stories are in the 200’s. It’s a game. Then when you put them away – put all of the similar number in one place. Later when someone finds a a book miss shelved give a small prize. It won’t happen all at once, but as it does, (hopefully) it will help with the mess. The kids are learning the most used elementary method of libraries. (They can learn Library of Congress when they go to College. Later you could play ‘library’. with card and pockets – check in, check out. You will need a place for the ‘odd size’. Make a chart for each child of the books read. Could be a string with cards for their favorites. Be creative – and the kids will have creative ideas. Remember – it’s a game!

  2. Grandma, I love the idea of the library cards – they’d love to play with them. I’ll have to wait until another season for Dewey. For now, everyone (even the non-readers) can shelve by color…when they shelve them. 🙂

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