Domestic Responsibilities, Minimalism

The Importance of Why

Maintaining the house … the yard … and their contents … has been a battle for me since … forever … over the years, “home” has been associated with “work” … 

Again and again, feelings of complete overwhelm would strike as I looked around to see a mess (or not even a mess … just stuff we own and use and love) … 

I became obsessed with decluttering …  minimizing … organizing … aiming to improve things in our home, so things would be more functional … less stressful … less overwhelming … 

But despite ALL of my efforts, things would just pile up again … and everywhere I looked, there would be another pile to deal with … or another mess to clean … I felt tearful that all of my efforts weren’t producing the results that I wanted … a clean and tidy home … 

Despite my (many) feeble attempts to have a daily cleaning schedule over the years … I often had trouble following through with the commitments I had set out  … I’d set goals, and I’d fail again and again and again …

I’ve also had people come regularly to clean my house, but even THAT was stressful at times, because a last-minute mad dash around the house was inevitable … shoving crap out of sight so the cleaning lady could do her job … 

Inviting friends over? Well, that DEFINITELY meant having to do a whole lot of cleaning beforehand in order for the house to be “GUEST READY.” And truthfully, it tainted the whole experience of having people come over … 

In May, I took a little online course called Feng Shui in May (courtesy of Jill Ethier) … mostly to get a little bit more familiar with the “energy” in our home and to learn some tips and tricks to get the energy flowing … of course, the course started with decluttering … and while I pride myself with regularly decluttering, when I looked around my house, I still constantly felt overwhelmed with the little messes everywhere … 

And then I heard it, “The state of your home reflects the state of your life.” 

What??? When I looked around my home, I DID NOT like what I saw … I did NOT like what was being reflected back as “the state of [my] life.” This wasn’t (isn’t) “the state” I wanted my life to be in. 

Sure, we’re a busy bunch around here … we work from home and we learn from home. We play here … a lot … we create here … and we eat here … a lot … those categories alone make for a lot of stuff … but I still didn’t like “the state.” 

There had to be a better way … 

A master organizer to some extent already, a lot of the “systems” required to make a house run smoothly already existed here … 

I definitely have “a place for everything” and I could probably tell you where just about anything in my house is located. I could also probably picture any shelf, cupboard, drawer, nook or cranny in my house and tell you EXACTLY what is located there. I have an eye for detail and a very strong visual memory. 

However, the issues come when even I wasn’t putting things away in their rightful place right when we were done with them (of course, I wanted to blame my kids for a lot of this too … and no doubt, they were responsible too, but without a mother to guide them, there’s no way they’re going to put things away where and when they need to be put away) … I’d pile it on a counter or in a bucket or on a shelf … and before long the piles and the stuff were out of control … and I was OVERWHELMED …

Overwhelmed Leanne is ugly Leanne … 

I don’t like overwhelmed Leanne. 

After a ridiculously long cleaning session that started on Friday night and continued well into the next day in early May, I bawled like a little baby at how OVERWHELMING it all was to care for a household … and this was not the first time I’d felt overwhelmed by dishes, floors, recycling, laundry, toilets, dusting, vacuuming, and the like … the list goes on and on and on … there had to be a way to ensure these horrible, sick feelings of overwhelm were gone forever … at least when it came to the state of the house … 

Then came my next lesson from the Feng Shui in May course … pick up EVERYTHING at the end of the night and put it in it’s rightful spot. This meant that EVERY night before I went to bed, EVERYTHING had to be put away … the house would be tidy before my head hit the pillow. 

I decided to give it a try, especially since I had got the ENTIRE HOUSE cleaned during my recent marathon cleaning session … maintaining it now shouldn’t be that hard, right?

Day-after-day-after-day in May, I cleaned up as I went along … I finished one thing before starting another … I put things away as soon as we were done with them WHERE they belonged (even if that meant running down to the basement office or to the back bedroom) … when we came home from somewhere, I put everything back away where it belonged right away, THEN I started the next thing … and before I went to bed at night, I made sure things were tidied up … slowly, the feelings of overwhelm about the state of the house started to fade … and I caught myself being able to just hang out with my kids or my husband or read my book for a few minutes or write in my journal … 

I came to realize that I could finish one thing before starting the next and nothing would happen … the world didn’t implode … no meltdown occurred … and the kids could adapt … years of caring for small children, meant constant interruptions and not being ABLE to finish one thing before the next … someone was hungry NOW … or someone needed their butt wiped NOW … I am not in that stage or season anymore … my kids are growing up … no crisis occurred if I took a minute to finish something up … 

Of course, not having any social or extra-curricular commitments in May made this easier as well … because having somewhere to be at a certain time with the right “materials” can add to our stress sometimes too and mean we have to leave a couple of things “undone” in order to get somewhere on time … (though looking forward, I think I could plan far enough ahead to ensure things aren’t left “undone”) … 

Slowly, I’ve been getting the kids to clean up as they go too or at least a couple of times a day (before “the next thing”) … they’re catching on … in fact, recently, my oldest daughter and I did a complete wipe out of her room … we took everything out and everything off the walls, putting back ONLY the things she REALLY wanted back in her room right now … 

I KNOW the “stuff” in our life impacts us in an incredible way … it makes ME feel overwhelmed … especially if it’s not “in order” or where it belongs … perhaps it affects my daughter in the same way …

As I get a little older and a little wiser along the way here … I’ve really come to realize the importance of figuring out THE WHY behind the things I do (or have to do) … if I don’t have a good reason WHY, I quit, I stop, I “fail” … 

In September 2018 (at the ripe old age of 35), I finally figured out WHY I need to exercise every day … for ENERGY … and I have stuck with it ever since …

In May 2020 (at the ripe old age of 36), having struggled FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS to stay on top of things in my house, I feel like I have finally figured out WHY this is so important to me ….

 

  • The state of my home reflects the state of my life.

 

    • I don’t want a “messy” life; messy is stressful for me … I want things to be orderly … easy to find … I’m DONE with “hot mess Mama” … 
    • I want my home to be a place where we can
      • learn
      • live
      • and play comfortably … easily “resetting” at the end of the day.
    • I want my home to be a place of peace …
      • welcoming
      • “normal,” not perfect (this is where grace comes in)
  1. A little bit every day and maybe a few extras once in a while (like bigger decluttering jobs) will make things manageable … I DO NOT WANT to have to spend BIG CHUNKS OF TIME cleaning THE ENTIRE house at once … 
  2. Legacy … modelling how to manage a home and teaching my children to put things back in their rightful spot WHEN they’re done with them … means being able to find something the next time we need it and things are not getting ruined by a two-year-old … this means way less frustration and way less overwhelm … if I can start to teach my children this NOW, maybe they won’t be still trying to figure it out when they’re 36 years old and three kids deep (like me) … what a gift that will be for them (even though I’m quite sure they don’t appreciate these lessons now … judging by the grumbling that occurs every time I ask them to clean something up). 

Figuring out the WHY for maintaining the house has been a powerful revelation … I ACTUALLY think I could go back to those daily, weekly, and monthly lists I created so long ago and implement them now with SUCCESS … but ONLY because I have figured out my WHY first …

Yesterday, we hosted a birthday party … and it wasn’t stressful for me, because the house was in pretty good order overall beforehand … hosting, in the past, has meant an entire day of cleaning first AND preparing food AND decorating AND trying to make sure the birthday girl feels special … yesterday, I had time for a morning walk with a friend and an afternoon e-bike ride with my oldest daughter … that’s over two hours of free time I would have never had in the past … 

When I look back, I guess I’m grateful that it only took eight or so hours to get my house in order that day in early May 2020 (I guess the YEARS and YEARS of work I’ve done paid off a little bit at least), but I STILL never want to have to put a shift in like that again … 

My advice? Figure out how you want your home to be (your why), then work tirelessly and relentlessly to get things the way you want them. Finally, do everything in your power day-by-day to KEEP them that way!!! 

 

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