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Making peace with chaos and clutter

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I hope this is the right place to post this--it seems a little against the grain. :)

 

I'm looking for support or advice on making peace with clutter and chaos in my home. I have a two year old (a very wild two year old, at that) plus I run a "playschool" a few days a week, so my house is constantly filled with toddlers and toys. My hubby is great about big cleaning projects (you should see that man with a mop!) but is pretty messy otherwise---throws dirty clothes on the floor, leaves dirty dishes around, etc. 

 

I'm not a neat freak by any means, but excessive clutter bothers me. When there are messes around me, I feel like I can't relax until they're all dealt with. So basically, I haven't felt relaxed in two years! I've tried all different systems, and had lots of talks with my DH, but basically, I don't think there's a practical solution to the messiness in our house. There will always be some toys laying about, dishes that need to be done, laundry that needs folding, etc. I'm now trying to focus on being able to feel relaxed and content in all the chaos!

 

Any advice---how do you deal with a constantly messy house? 

post #2 of 36

Just lie down and admire how clean and uncluttered the ceiling is;-)

 

One thing I did when my ds was about that age was to rotate out some of the toys so that the overall number of toys weren't too bothersome if they were ALL strewn all over the floor at the same time. Things like open shelving can help because you can set the item on the shelf just as easily as on the floor.

 

For things like clothes, maybe a hamper with no lid set right where dh leaves his clothes would help. That would be right next to the bed for me. But even if it's right next to the couch, you can just pick up the whole thing and cart it off if someone stops by. Just one of those pop up mesh hampers or something. If it's painfully easy, it just might work. 

post #3 of 36

Not sure I have much advice, but I'm in totally the same boat as you. I just can't get things neat and organized right now. And there are a few places in the house that are disaster areas (like I'd need at least a week of uninterrupted time to even begin to tackle the mess). And I have a DP whose tolerance for clutter is waaayyyy higher than mine.

 

My approaches (thus far):

Keep the worst of it to the basement and the 2nd floor. And then just try to only go upstairs and downstairs when absolutely necessary.

Keep a few key areas tidy, and then focus on those areas for now.

Fantasize a lot about taking a vacation where in a tasmanian-devil like furor, I go on a decluttering and cleaning rampage.

Fantasize a lot about living in a 8x10 minimalist tiny house. By myself. With 12 belongings.

Remind myself that death is very orderly, life is chaotic and crazy. Embrace life.

Take a lot of deep breaths.

 

Someday, I may finally get everything in order, and who knows, I might miss the chaos. shrug.gif

post #4 of 36
I try to convince myself to do the same. It's hard to find a balance because it's a slippery slope. Once I allow a little clutter, it seems to invite more. But I don't want to spend all day cleaning and saying, "I can't right now. I don't have time to ___." Frustrating. smile.gif
post #5 of 36

I have an almost 5 year old and almost 2 year old, there is no way to conquer the clutter... So what you can do, maybe designate a room in your home, like for example your bedroom to be clutter free and as minimalistic and as organized as you like. It could be your oasis and your happy place, where you can go to get away from all the clutter....

post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicmama View Post

I have an almost 5 year old and almost 2 year old, there is no way to conquer the clutter... So what you can do, maybe designate a room in your home, like for example your bedroom to be clutter free and as minimalistic and as organized as you like. It could be your oasis and your happy place, where you can go to get away from all the clutter....

I like this idea. A lot.
post #7 of 36

I'm like you too--I can not focus my mind unless the area around me is relatively clutter free.  There are ways to deal with the clutter, even in your busy, hectic life.  

 

What worked for me was to start with the laundry and dinner.  Get those two things under control and suddenly your life seems much more organized, and then you can gradually move on to other things.  Create a system to keep up with the laundry and to cook dinner.  This is the post that inspired me:  http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-your-new-years-resolutions-take.html

 

Good luck!

post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips and support everyone! We actually have a pretty good organizational system for all the toys--but we also have sooo many and my little one absolutely loves to dump out buckets and baskets full of toys. I think he probably knows it drives me crazy. I love the idea of rotating the toys 4evermom--I think that'll be my project next time DS and DH are out. 

 

I've been taking a lot of deep breaths and trying to focus on just being present with my family--and when that doesn't work, I either fantasize about going on an insane cleaning spree or spending a week at a minimalist resort (depending on my energy level, hehe.) I don't want to lose precious time with my son picking up and doing chores (I hear you mkksmom!) but I find it hard to just settle down and play when the house is a mess.

 

We'll be moving in September to a larger house, and I'm hoping to carve out my own clutter free room when we do. Right now, we live in a tiny apartment, so there are zero clutter-free zones (although I often escape to my tiny, but very organized, laundry room.) 

 

I'm trying to embrace the chaos and remember that these years are relatively short. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I still want to pull my hair out. :)

post #9 of 36
Instead of cleaning one night last week, I salvaged a piece of old barn wood and made a cute sign for our back door. "Please excuse the mess. The children are making memories." It's really for me, not for my guests.
post #10 of 36

 "Please excuse the mess. The children are making memories."

SENSATIONAL!!!!

post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post

Thanks for the tips and support everyone! We actually have a pretty good organizational system for all the toys--but we also have sooo many and my little one absolutely loves to dump out buckets and baskets full of toys. I think he probably knows it drives me crazy. I love the idea of rotating the toys 4evermom--I think that'll be my project next time DS and DH are out.

Yes, anything that just gets dumped but not actually played with gets packed away, temporarily. I don't mind having a little something to dump since that's probably filling a developmental thing. And I'd go get anything ds asked for that I might have packed away not realizing it was a current favorite. But the more you have, the more that gets dumped, and the more needs to eventually get picked up when they are in that dumping stage. The side benefit is kids tend to play better with something they haven't seen in a while. It's a great boredom buster on a rainy day or when you need dc to be occupied if you bring out a bin of something he hasn't seen in a while. Or you can set something out for dc to discover when he wakes up, buying you a little coffee drinking time.

 

Bins tend to be a bad storage system because they seem to naturally invite dumping. A child HAS to dump them to even see what's there. I loved using a low dresser for toy storage. If the drawers cannot be easily pulled all the way out, they can't be dumped. The child has to pick out each piece which takes longer. And he might decide to actually play with something before he is done emptying the drawer!

 

If you can't manage a clean clutter free oasis of a room, I find it helps to just have a tidy surface here or there. Someplace to rest my eyes.

post #12 of 36

I used to keep a very clean house, but now with my high-needs baby it's virtually impossible. There are messes everywhere and it does drive me crazy.

 

Ways I've found to cope:

1) Take time to organize one spot every few days--whether it be a corner in the laundry room or the closet floor. You'll feel accomplished.

2) Like PP, try to keep one spot clean. For me that is the front room (the first thing people see at the door). I walk around and straighten it up when DS is in bed for the night. It takes five minutes and it gives me peace of mind. I hate inviting people into a messy home.

3) Ask DH to help with ONE daily task (if he isn't helping now). For me, that is the dishes. I can't mentally put together a meal with dishes in the sink (a bit OCD I know!). So he helps me with that. I also keep a hamper in strategic locations for his dropping clothes :)

4) Do you cloth diaper? For some reason, doing diaper laundry always makes me feel good. It's a priority, so it gets done. And it's so easy to fold and put away (prefolds and cloth wipes). Find joy in the simple accomplishments!

 

The suggestion about having a clean bedroom is fantastic and one I'm dying to do. Right now, our bedroom is a mess. DS sleeps with us and isn't on the move yet, but we've got to get it straight before he is. Our bed is on the floor and there is junk everywhere! If that were clean, it would be much easier.

 

Love the suggestion about looking at the ceiling! ROTFLMAO.gif

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by makaleka87 View Post

I used to keep a very clean house, but now with my high-needs baby it's virtually impossible. There are messes everywhere and it does drive me crazy.

 

Ways I've found to cope:

1) Take time to organize one spot every few days--whether it be a corner in the laundry room or the closet floor. You'll feel accomplished.

2) Like PP, try to keep one spot clean. For me that is the front room (the first thing people see at the door). I walk around and straighten it up when DS is in bed for the night. It takes five minutes and it gives me peace of mind. I hate inviting people into a messy home.

3) Ask DH to help with ONE daily task (if he isn't helping now). For me, that is the dishes. I can't mentally put together a meal with dishes in the sink (a bit OCD I know!). So he helps me with that. I also keep a hamper in strategic locations for his dropping clothes :)

4) Do you cloth diaper? For some reason, doing diaper laundry always makes me feel good. It's a priority, so it gets done. And it's so easy to fold and put away (prefolds and cloth wipes). Find joy in the simple accomplishments!

 

The suggestion about having a clean bedroom is fantastic and one I'm dying to do. Right now, our bedroom is a mess. DS sleeps with us and isn't on the move yet, but we've got to get it straight before he is. Our bed is on the floor and there is junk everywhere! If that were clean, it would be much easier.

 

Love the suggestion about looking at the ceiling! ROTFLMAO.gif

 

re: bolded...I am totally the same way (and I don't have OCD...at least I think I don't!). Dirty dishes piled everywhere drive me crazy, and I can't start a meal until I've cleaned up the kitchen! And a clean kitchen counter goes a long way towards helping me not be as crazy about clutter in other areas.

 

Another thing for me...I am a bit obsessive about making the bed every day. It's such a large surface area. I can just look at the smooth quilt and neat pillows. Nice.

post #14 of 36

Ditto on the sink and the bed.  DH and I split chores;  he does dishes and the bathroom.  He often slacks on the bathroom, and I pick up the slack, but I cannot abide slacking on the dishes.  It brings out the naggy-hag-wife in me.

 

We have a relatively small house (1000 sq. ft.)  most of our friends have semi-sprawling places, and reguarly comment on how difficult it must be to keep the mess at bay with our 3 kids under 5.  However, I see our small space as our secret weapon;  if something is out of place, it probably goes within an arms reach of where ever it is, or just a few steps.  Clean up happens pretty quickly.

 

We also do open shelving for toys in bedrooms, with small canvas bins to sort toys.  In frantic days, they may not get sorted correctly, but they are out of site.  Making beds:  for kids, my standards are low; as long as the top blanket is smooth, I don't care about the messy secrets underneath  (I also refuse to fold sheets... what a pain).

 

I keep a small somewhat pretty basket near the fireplace in the living room to toss toys/kids things that are still in the living/dining space after kids go to bed.  Once in a while, we do a purge and put the things that have accumulated away.  If people come over, it is easy to stash the stuff.

 

Pre-kid (in our tiny apartment), DH and I had a routine called the 10 Minute Hate. (from 1984)  We set a timer for 10 minutes, and went to town on the apartment, focusing on the stuff that was making us crazy.  At the end we stopped.  Generally, the place was tidy.  In our house, with the kids, sometimes it is a 15-20 Minute Hate.

Mostly, though, I keep in mind that our house is exciting because there is always something happening;  most of the clutter is related to projects going on in the house.  This is a side-effect of having busy, active, creative lives.  Then, when I look at the stuff, I get a little excited, and sad for anyone who would judge us for it.

post #15 of 36

Things have gotten much easier since those days, though harder in some.  We can "keep up" on  the dishes, laundry, etc., but the girls ability to make messes is colossal, and some of their games so inventive, and I just don't have the energy to keep after them.

 

I'm not going to suggest another way of keeping up on it, because frankly the best thing I've ever done is, as you suggested in your title, making peace with it.  Stop the fantasizing about the cleaning sprees, that only makes it worse for me.  I just ("just"--ha!) have to let go of the need to have things in order so I can get dinner on etc.  

 

So, just as I've stopped dreaming about my next break from the kids, I've mostly let go of the clutter and the chaos.  It seems like it's half the battle.  That doesn't mean I let things get messy (or.... um....messier orngtongue.gif) it's just that I try just to keep on doing what needs to be done and try not to sweat it when it doesn't.  That's just daily life.  It's getting easier, really, and pretty soon I'll have a house just as neat and orderly as my grandmother's.  A lovely, sparkly, organized (childless and lonely) house just like hers.  Nope, I think I'll take the chaos and clutter.

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post
  It's getting easier, really, and pretty soon I'll have a house just as neat and orderly as my grandmother's.  A lovely, sparkly, organized (childless and lonely) house just like hers.  Nope, I think I'll take the chaos and clutter.

truedat.gif

 

That's the main sentiment that helps me re-frame things. If I really look at what it would take to have an orderly, organized, clutter-free life...it would take not having my partner and our child. Hmmm. I'd rather be OK with chaos & clutter!

post #17 of 36

I found that the only way I came to peace with my clutter was when I saw it leaving my house! I have a 3 yo and a 2 yo and I found that if I don't want them to make clutter, I have to have a very empty/minimalistic house. They can't make a huge mess if they only have 10 toys and they can't throw stuff everywhere if there is nothing to throw!

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, I could never find peace WITH my clutter, only WITHOUT it. But it is worth it to find the time to create a minimalist environment instead of just dreaming about it thumb.gif

post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

re: bolded...I am totally the same way (and I don't have OCD...at least I think I don't!). Dirty dishes piled everywhere drive me crazy, and I can't start a meal until I've cleaned up the kitchen! And a clean kitchen counter goes a long way towards helping me not be as crazy about clutter in other areas.

 

Another thing for me...I am a bit obsessive about making the bed every day. It's such a large surface area. I can just look at the smooth quilt and neat pillows. Nice.

Yes! The sink, counters, and bed make such a huge difference in how I feel. I also can't make dinner unless the sink is empty and the counters clean. I generally feel really productive after doing a load or two of laundry (my son is out of diapers but we did use cloth). Maybe if I focus on those few tasks, I would feel better about the general state of the house. 

 

I also think I just really need to re-frame things and work on embracing the chaos, not just putting up with it. It helps to hear from other mamas about their own chaotic houses and remember that most houses with young kids probably look a lot like mine. I would personally love to have a minimalist house, but my DH is really into his "stuff". And since I run a playschool, I feel like I need to keep a variety of toys around for the kiddos. 

post #19 of 36

I think you are in a different situation than a lot of mothers of little ones, having a preschool in the home.  You can't just let something go when faced with a crisis or a sunny day, not to the same extent anyhow.  i like your distinction between embracing the chaos and putting up with it.  Though it seems like just semantics, it really does seem like a big difference.

post #20 of 36

So I've been watching a lot of videos on you tube of really messy houses and that definitely makes any normal clutter instantly look cleaner! Might want to check those out :)

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