There are times I go to bed with rooms in my house a total mess. I have those days just like everyone else.
Here is an example. A few weeks ago, on a Thursday afternoon while my preschooler napped and my kids were at school, my living room was clean and tidy enough that I took pictures of it for the blog tour I showed last week. But then my kids came home and it was a crazy day. My husband coaches my 10 year old twins’ Lego Robotics team and their State Competition was that Friday/Saturday. The twins pulled out all the posters and robots and were putting last minute touches on everything all afternoon. Meanwhile I’m doing kid’s laundry (one basket at a time) and I get a terrible headache and slow down in productivity before any of it gets folded. Somewhere in there I made tacos, cookies, and helped the 8 year old get her costume ready for the wax museum at school on Friday. While my husband was with my twins at Robotics practice in the evening, my little man was being adorably reluctant to go to bed, so it was after 9 pm when the kids were down to bed. Then I tried to respond to some emails, cram in a little bit of writing, support people doing the Declutter Challenge in our Facebook group … still with a headache.
So I left the Living Room a mess. Leaving any room a mess overnight is not normal for me, but it does happen. Life happens to us all, but perspective changes how we react to it.
When I woke up on Friday morning to a messy Living Room, I did not feel like a failure. I can relate this to what a healthy person probably feels like the day they wake up after eating an indulgent desert. They probably don’t think “Darn. Now I’ve gained half a pound and failed and I’ll never be healthy. I give up on being healthy.” Hopefully when I say it like that it shows how crazy it sounds to me when I hear things like – “My kids have been sick this week and the rooms I’ve decluttered look messy again. I’m a failure.” I want to say WHAT?!?!
The reason a healthy person doesn’t feel like a failure because of that one indulgent desert is because they know that they are going to go back to the habits that keep them healthy. That one desert will be a small enjoyable moment in their health journey.
The reason I don’t feel like a failure when I wake up to a disaster living room is because I know that the mess is temporary. I know the Robotics Team stuff will get cleaned up over the weekend, I know the laundry will get folded, I know the pillows and blankets will make their way back onto the couch and all the other things that are laying about have a place to go and will be put away.
But I do understand why the feeling of failure is so present on some of your minds. Organizing has not been your strength in the past. You don’t feel secure that everything will come back together when things get messy (and real life has lots of messes). Confidence in organizing comes from consistent good organizing habits. Give yourself time to get there. Giving up is the only guarantee of failure.
If you can commit to focusing on DECLUTTERING and going through this process with everything you’ve got, and not get caught up in organizing or decorating projects while you are in this phase, but focus yourself on truly ridding your home of the excess stuff that doesn’t belong there, you are paving the way for your future success.
Because if your home is decluttered, you will be able to find a place for everything that you keep. And so when that one day in the future comes again and your bad day leaves you with a big mess, you’ll wake up the next day knowing that you can get it cleared up quickly.
Wherever you are, start there.
Probably you shouldn’t expect the house to stay perfectly clean while you focus on decluttering, especially if you’ve never built good organizing/ maintaining habits in the past that would keep it that way. This is when you just have to trust the process, and realize that before you can learn how to run, you have to clear a path to walk. Or in other words, before you’re going to be able to maintain a tidy home, you’re going to have to get rid of the clutter that is getting in the way of being organized.