I’ve done it again. I called your house messy and I’ve never even seen it! Well, let’s face it. If your house was spotless, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, right? You’d be too busy color coding your daughter’s crayons and hair clips. (True story. Remember the one about organizing her snow?)
Now notice that I said “messy”, not dirty. There’s a difference. I think I mentioned recently that I had a neighbor whose kids used to play with mine. Our homes were never neat as a pin, unless we had a big event planned, like a graduation party.
Between us, we had seven kids, and we agreed that as long as it was clean underneath the mess, we were OK. I once threatened to redecorate our living room in pink and purple because of the Barbie explosions that used to happen there on a regular basis.
Everyone’s home get messy now and then; there’s life happening there. A messy house is often the most fun place to be. (By the way, right now you’re probably thinking about all of the things that you can get done during this enforced time at home. Don’t expect too much of yourself. We’re all a little shell shocked and stressed out. A few very small projects are good; don’t expect to redo the whole house.
What’s the Problem?
Again, right now everyone is home, and of course it’s going to be messy. An after dinner clean up where everyone pitches in will help immensely. You can get your family used to this new routine (that will hopefully continue when life goes back to normal), and it will make everyone feel a bit better to have a neater space to hang out in.
But if you can, try and take a look at the bigger picture. Get a piece of paper, or better yet – your planner – and start making a list. Because one of the biggest reasons that your house is messy is because you have things that have no home. We all do.
Did you ever buy something just because you loved it, without any idea of what you were going to do with it? A shirt you just had to have, or a pair of shoes, or a piece of art for your home. What were you going to wear the shirt or shoes with? Where were you going to hang the art? You didn’t know, but it was so wonderful you just had to have it.
When you get them home, the shoes and the shirt can go in the closet, but what about the art? Maybe it will go in the closet too, for now, but then you’re going to have a messy closet.
So anyway, take your planner or notebook and go around the house looking for “orphans”. Poor little (or big) things that don’t have a home of their own. You can’t very well tell someone to put it away, because no one knows where it goes!
Put Your Detective Hat On
After you make note of all of the homeless items in your house (you should probably note where they tend to end up), you need to go through again and take a good look at your rooms. Pay special attention to storage areas. (This can be a big job, so feel free to space it out as much as you need, as long as you don’t give up on it entirely!)
What you are looking for is point of use, and whether you’re doing a good job of that. Point of use is just storing the glasses near the sink, in case you want a drink of water. Maybe putting a bookcase near your favorite chair, or storing towels and toiletries near the bathroom.
Start with one of your items (or set of items) that needs a home. (A good part of what makes my home messy are all the notebooks and pens I insist on having despite not having a home for them.)
Next think about it’s point of use. Here’s where I get tripped up and things get messy. Some notebooks are used in the living room near where I sit, some at the desk, and still others in my bedroom. If you have things like that, it’s OK. We’ll just end up finding several homes rather than one.
And as you’re looking around, keep point of use in mind in terms of your current storage. Are you making the best of it, or could you do better? For instance, the shoes I wear most, a few coats, and my purse all are stored in the closet nearest the garage door. That makes sense. But what about the bin of craft supplies?
I do most of my crafting in the kitchen because there’s light, electricity, and plenty of space. And water. But most of my supplies are in the basement. Shouldn’t this smaller bit go down there too, so that I could use the space for something else?
Chances are, after you do your bit of detective work, you’re going to find that you have more stuff than you have storage or homes for. Thus, the messy house.
Now what do you do?
Well you have a few options:
- Go through what you have and weed some things out. This could be either things you have in a storage spot, or some of your orphans. I know you don’t want to get rid of any of it, but that’s sort of what got you where you are, isn’t it?
- If you have the space, you may need to purchase something to store the items in. In the case of my notebooks, I could buy a basket or clear out a drawer for them. That piece of art that we imagined you bought? It needs to be hung on a wall; otherwise it’s just taking up space.
- The third option is to store things you rarely use in a sort of long term storage area in your home. My craft supplies are sort of packed away and stored in the basement because my husband says I “make a mess” with them. It’s not convenient for me (which is why I keep some in the closet), but you may need to consider a similar solution yourself. DO NOT rent a storage unit! Doing so crosses you over into hoarder territory and you don’t want to go there!
- Finally, consider adopting the “one in, one out” rule. Every time you bring something new into the house, you have to get rid of something you already own. No fair throwing out your husband’s golf clubs to make room for your stuff! And also consider where you’re going to store it before you buy it.
A Few Tips
- If you’re unsure about something, put it in a box, tape it up, and then put it out of reach for a few months. If you haven’t dug it out by then, throw it away. (My husband and I owned our first home for about five years. When we got ready to move, there were boxes in the attic that hadn’t been opened that entire time! We threw them away without even looking to see what was inside!
- Not your circus, not your clowns. (Don’t you just love that saying?) If it’s not yours, the responsibility for finding it a home goes to the owner. And that home is not “just anywhere” in the house.
- Don’t expect to conquer this overnight, and don’t expect this to be a “one and done” thing. There will always be messy houses and sometimes yours will be one of them. Mine, too. But if you have storage spots for what you keep in your home, “messy’ can turn into “neat” quickly and easily.
So come on and share! What’s the messiest spot in your house?