Have you ever wondered why you cannot seem to EVER get your house completely clean? Does trying to keep your house clean and tidy seem like a losing battle? You are not alone! I have the same problem (unfortunately, being an organizing blogger does not exempt me from the problem).
Not only do I personally struggle with this, but I know for a fact that lots of my readers have the same issue. I’ve received literally HUNDREDS (and probably thousands) of e-mails that go something like this: “I have a bunch of kids, I work full time, go to school part time, volunteer a lot, my kids are involved in a lot of activities, and I just can’t seem to find the time to keep my house clean and organized. Can you help?
Yes, I can help! However, my advice probably isn’t quite what you are expecting to hear (especially from someone who is supposed to tell you how to be organized). I could tell you to work harder, get up earlier, set up more efficient systems, streamline everything, get your family on board, etc, but you already know those things.
First, let me share a story. Last Sunday my day was going great! My 3 month old had slept blissfully well the night before, woke up happy, and I was able to get a lot done. In fact, I got so much done that I had enough time to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store before church. Not only that, but my husband wasn’t too busy and could stay home with the baby, so I could go by myself. To top it off, it was nearly perfect weather. I should have been happy, right?
Instead, I was highly annoyed for the entire trip. I got in my car and noticed that it was dirty. It hadn’t been vacuumed out or dusted in a quite a while! Plus there was some trash (a couple loose papers, a straw wrapper, an empty Gatorade bottle) in the back floorboard. Although I’ve put “clean inside of car” on my to do list for the last several weeks, I haven’t accomplished it. It just keeps getting moved to the next week. I certainly didn’t have time to give it the thorough 30 min cleaning that I thought it needed, so instead I just let it bother me during the whole trip to the store and back. Not only that, but I didn’t even take the 20 seconds that I did have to quickly throw away the trash in the floorboards (just because I didn’t have the time to do the thorough cleaning)!
However, despite my annoyance, the car did just what it needed to do. It safely and comfortably got me to the grocery store and back. The extra dirt on the floor didn’t harm anyone or anything. I would have had a pleasant trip if I had just shrugged off the dirty car rather than worrying about it. Also, if I had taken a few seconds to take care of the most prevalent problem (the trash on the floorboard), it would dramatically help the car look much better.
This is just one small example of how I’m constantly annoyed about how dirty things are, including my house. It’s just never clean enough, and I really hate that I can’t seem to get it quite where I want it to be. Instead of doing what I can about it or just shrugging it off, I allow it to ruin my otherwise pleasant days. I analyze what I need to be able to keep the house just right – is it time, energy, the right tools, enough space, the right cleaning plan – maybe I just plain lack the self discipline or willpower to follow through with my great intentions? Not only do those thoughts really make me feel fantastic about myself (note sarcasm), but heaping on the guilt does absolutely nothing to actually help improve my attitude or the state of my house.
However, even though my kitchen does look like the above picture on a great many occasions and my baseboards are almost never dusted, that’s not the whole story. Every single day (and throughout the night) my daughter is well fed, well clothed in completely clean clothes and diapers, gets plenty of one on one time with mom, and is as happy as we can make her. She has a safe clean crib to sleep in every night. We sit down together for a meal most evenings (even if that meal is take out pizza instead of a home cooked from scratch roast with a side of veggies and rolls). The dishes are washed most days. All the orders from my Etsy shop are sent out on time without fail. I’m able to put up an encouraging blog post every single week (and sometimes more). I keep my business running smoothly which in turn encourages so many of you and brings in valuable income for my family.
Those dusty baseboards and messy floorboards don’t keep the important things from getting done. They don’t keep me from spending quality time with family and friends. Really, they don’t even keep the house from running smoothly 95% of the time. All they do is keep me feeling guilty for not figuring out a way to be a full time mom, run a full time business, be a good wife and friend, and keep a spotless home all at the same time.
I think we might have the wrong goal. I’ve given up my goal of keeping my house clean. My new goal is to keep my house clean enough. I want to keep it clean enough to allow it to run smoothly, but not so clean that I feel guilty when I spend my time making my house a home instead of making it look like no one lives there.
Don’t get me wrong. I do think great organizational systems and plans can be an amazing tool to help our lives run smoothly! I think there’s a time and place to improve ourselves, and I don’t think completely ignoring the state of our homes helps anyone or anything, but we shouldn’t forget that all those things are just tools help us do what matters most. Therefore, if you feel like you just can’t quite get it all done, my advice is to let go of the guilt and make sure you’re doing the important things. If you are busy caring for your kids and/or managing a full or part time job, going to school, doing volunteer work, kid’s activities, etc, then you are already doing the important things. Your “not-as-clean-as-you’d-like-it-to-be” house is just a sign that your family is busy doing the most important things.
Definitely don’t use the fact that you don’t have time or energy to execute a Martha Stewart like cleaning schedule keep you from improving where you can by starting small and focusing on the things you do have time for. Once you’ve decided to let go of the guilt (and maybe even ask for help from your husband, family, or friends), I think you’re ready to take my free “Get Organized Once and For All” course that will help show you where to start in small, manageable ways with no guilt!