There are a few memories of my childhood that really stick with me...and one of them is every now and then my mother would get off the phone and shout out "Marilyn's coming over!" We all knew what this meant... That statement would immediately trigger a flurry of activity. Things were picked up off the floor, all the flat surfaces that had collected miscellaneous items would be cleared off, a quick sweep and perhaps some dusting. Marilyn didn't live very far away, so there was only so much we could do... And then her visits were always followed by a few days of not being able to find things because they had been so hurriedly stashed...
Why are we so affected by other people's standards? Why do we put ourselves through so much agony? I admit that I have inherited, if you will, a certain degree of this same attribute. I want my house to be more tidy... and I'm not able to always keep it that way and usually for good reason... yet, I'm thrown into a slight panic each time I hear that we may have guests arriving.
What are the solutions? I think they're relatively simple:
- First, less stuff...easier said than done for some?! I like to give the children each a box before gift giving seasons and have them fill it with things they don't use anymore to give/throw away... that way, each time they get new things it doesn't just add to the pile. Dad is a little more challenging...
- Second, a place for things. The older children in my house are to keep their things in their rooms (The one year old is exempt for the time being...) This way, the main living area is not cluttered with things. There are hooks near the front door for the school backpacks and jackets...so not being able to reach the closet hangers in no excuse... and there is a boot box to store the off season items. I rotate the baby's toys and store the extras in the Ottomon that has storage inside. We also put up some extra cupboards in the laundry room which helps provide a place for other miscellaneous items like phone chargers, lunch bags when not in use, empty paper towel rolls being saved for crafts etc. Having all of these things out of the way makes it so much easier to keep the house tidy enough to not be mortified ;)
- Third, get the family to help. This goes without saying...Mom, working or otherwise, shouldn't be doing everything. You don't do any favours to your children to allow them to contribute to a mess and not help clean it up. I have explained to my children on several occasions... the more we work together, the more time mom with have to do things with them.
- Finally, lower your standards! I recently had to come to the conclusion that if I was waiting for my house to be perfect to invite guest over, I was going to wait a long time... I can't be perfect and my friends will just have to understand that I value other things like spending time with my kids over keeping the house perfect