Want to Get Organized? Set Realistic Expectations in Your Home.
You might feel that your house is always “messy.” This might be true, especially if you need to de-clutter, and there might be actions you can take to remedy the situation.
BUT! Many of us are living in houses that are not really “messy,” they’re just “lived-in.” If you have kids, there’s a good chance your home falls into this category.
I used to be an impeccable and efficient housekeeper. Then we had kids. I will never forget the first time I cleaned our bathroom after our oldest was born. It took me TWO HOURS. I shudder at the thought even now. How on earth was I supposed to keep a child alive (then two, then three), in addition to keeping my house looking perfect? A friend with multiples told me that she once counted ten interruptions during the two minutes it took her to beat cake batter.
What to do? You clean up regularly, but it never stays that way for more than a few hours. (Case in point. Today I vacuumed and a couple hours later someone decided to do a poor job of emptying their pencil sharpener. Oh well!) You try to train your kids to clean up after themselves and feel like you’re constantly nagging.
There are no easy answers, sorry. I want more out of life than a picture-perfect home and as a parent of active children, I have come to the conclusion that the only option I have is to lower my expectations to a place where we are living in a clean, comfortable home, but we are still allowed to LIVE in it. I’m not suggesting that you live in a hovel. Nor am I saying that you shouldn’t enforce tidiness with your children. But, if your expectations are too high, then everyone in your home, including yourself, will be frustrated.
As a kid, I had a friend whose house belonged in Better Homes & Gardens. It was no fun to be there, though, because we weren’t really allowed to PLAY. I still remember her room. Everything, even the CD player, fit within the color scheme. A stuffed mouse wearing a dress that complemented the comforter sat between two pillows. This mouse was not to play with, it was a decoration. The toys we could use were behind closed doors because they didn’t match the décor. As an adult, I understand the sense of calm and order my friend’s mom was trying to achieve, but I think it created disorder in relationships, and that seems like a poor trade.
Here are some examples of unrealistic expectations and their more realistic revisions:
My floor will never look dirty. Revision: I will vacuum twice (or once!) a week.
My kids’ plates and cups are in color-coded stacks. Revision: My kids’ dishes are in the neat-ish stacks constructed by my three-year old.
Never a dish sitting in the sink! Revision: Ideally, we put dishes in the dishwasher after use, but we realize a busy day may throw us off.
I clean my house whenever it needs it! Revision: I clean bathrooms weekly, showers monthly, etc., even if it means leaving water spots on the mirror for a few days.
I clean my kitchen every day. Revision: I clean my kitchen every day. Sorry, can’t bend on this one, myself!
I create areas of beauty everywhere there’s space. Revision: I decorate my mantle, but let the coffee table and nightstand be used for practical items.
What have you done in your life to create realistic, maintainable expectations?