Organising Craze: Why We Might (At Times) Be Too Hard on Ourselves
Organising is easy...
At least I'd agree to that statement in pretty much every other area of my life. You see, I'm not adverse to spreadsheets to sort my finances, meal planning and even shopping out. Like millions of other mums I wake up running through a list of things my family will need to do so we get out of the door on time and usually, we drop our son off and start our day on time.
However, there is this other area of my life. It's big, it's always there and more often than not it frustrates me. Of course I am talking about my home.
Like so many people world-wide, I would love the idea of every single room looking neat at all times. I'd love to walk into our storage room finding everything exactly where I'd expect it to be, or to come into the kitchen in the morning not having to search for my little one's lunch box which just seems to migrate.
What's preventing me from achieving this level of organisation? I guess, it's just life...
Coming home to a tidy, pulled-together space will help everything in your life feel the same way.— Bobby Berk
Organising is also hard...
I have been online and I know how, in theory, I can turn my home into this amazingly organised place where it'll be enough to just dance around with a duster once a day and the whole place looks put together again.
You, too, will have heard the following gospel one million times already.
- Declutter and get rid of stuff you don't use all the time!
- Throw out stuff that is broken (and cannot be fixed)!
- Clear surfaces around the house make rooms look tidier!
- Always return something to its place when you leave the room!
- Whatever task can be completed in less than three minutes should be done straightaway!
- Whenever a task cannot be completed in less than three minutes, break it done into ten minute units and you will eventually get it done!
I could go on and there are probably a thousand other tips out there that you have come across, too. And although my head shouts "yes, this is so common-sense and so doable", my successes in this area are not consistent.
But the thing is, a totally streamlined organised household can only be achieved (and I truly believe that) when every member of the family has the same standards that they are trying to achieve.
Communication as to how things are supposed to look is key, of course, like in pretty much every area of life. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how we want our shared spaces to look. It's a tough job at times but like all aspects of bringing up children, we don't really get around it.
But the problem that always seems to get in my way is, and I'm pretty ashamed to hold my hands up here, that my partner and me don't share the same ideas as to what constitutes tidy.
I really cannot complain because really he is amazing and contributes to the chores unprompted. Especially during my pregnancy where a lot of the time I was too unwell to do my share, he did stuff without ever complaining about having to do more than usual.
However, this doesn't mean that I would do things in the same way. The influences in my life were, as far as the household was concerned, very black and white. I had influences growing up where everything was always neat and clean and I had influences in my life where scheduling in chores was no priority whatsoever.
Now, I strive towards neat and clean but sadly, I am such a perfectionist that a lot of the time a task will take me far too long to accomplish. Let's take laundry as an example: putting away a load of laundry for three, soon four, people definitely always takes me longer than the three minutes some bloggers claim it takes. And as life goes, my little one might need attention half-way through and it doesn't get finished leaving half a laundry basket sitting around...
My significant other, on the other hand, considers a task done as long as items have been sort of returned to their places. He will see that half-empty laundry basket and put things away quickly. But they are not always folded as neatly as my folding and sometimes things are in the wrong drawers because in his haste to complete a task, he doesn't pay attention to where he puts them.
So as you can see: We are both trying hard to organise our household, but our tidying up personalities being so different, one of us is bound to get frustrated.
Let me give you another example: the surfaces in our living and dining room, for example, are fairly in line with minimalist standards. They are clear most of the time with minimal decorative clutter that would require cleaning. As it goes, the toys that hang around on the floor really don't bother me when the surfaces look so good and to be honest, a few toys on the floor wouldn't be an embarassment for me when people come over unexpectedly (my partner, on the other hand, frantically starts hiding toys when people turn up).
Does that mean this room is perfectly streamlined? No, it doesn't. Our bookcases, for instance, are protected by doors. The upper half is glass, the lower half is wood. The lower half of the bookcases was intended to house books and craft supplies for the toddler to access.
While I am careful to put his books in so that there spines face the front and re-arrange the craft supplies so they can be picked out with relative ease, my partner takes a totally different approach. He gets frustrated when the craft sets aren't complete so he just moves them higher and higher if the toddler has been a bit careless with them. He will also just pile books up behind the door because as long as they are packed away, who cares?
Coming into the living room, you might not consider the place a mess but I know that there are things amiss (a massive bottle of glue currently sitting in plain sight on my camera shelf, for example - yuck).
My head was full of tidying tips, and I had complete, albeit misguided, confidence that I could tidy any place.— Marie Kondo
Is organisation possible in our household?
Who knows! Being a couple that believes in sharing chores, I think we have to accept that the household is a part of our relationship. In order to keep a relationship going, you need to put so much work in even if, at times, it is frustrating.
So here is a radical idea: maybe our house isn't even the problem. Could it just be that comparing us to people we have never actually met might be what is getting me down?
People blogging about their beautiful homes and putting up lots of picture evidence are complete strangers. I'm never actually going to get to see how the people living in these spaces work together to achieve that look.
Over the years and since becoming a mum, I have managed to let go of my perfectionism little bit by little bit. At the same time, my partner has learned that I appreciate clear surfaces and has managed to contain his collectibles where I don't have to see them all the time.
An organised home and the relaxation coming from that is not something that can be achieved over night and even ruthless decluttering wouldn't fix our somewhat mismatched definitions of tidy.
I speak from experience here because previous decluttering efforts haven't really fixed the circumstances that are unique to us as a couple. And whenever we decluttered and it didn't change anything, it has made me feel more frustrated.
But who knows, if we become more and more mindful of each other's preferences over the next couple of years, we might find the equilibrium that will allow us to reach the same level of organisation those bloggers have achieved already. But turning your home into Shangri-La isn't a race. As far as I'm concerned, I will try to ignore the urge for perfection for a while and see where a more relaxed approach takes us...
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© 2018 Sarah