Seriously, it’s a big deal
Claiming that anything is “life changing” is pretty cliche, I know. It’s the sort of statement we throw around, but it doesn’t really mean anything…
So I should really call this post something else, but I’m struggling to come up with anything less cliche that could actually convey just HOW MUCH this simple change in my habits has improved my life at home.
I’ve stopped being messy. I do this thing where I put stuff away now.
It’s not like this is something I stumbled upon that no one has ever thought of before, in fact, it’s something that naturally tidy people come by… naturally. But I am not naturally tidy.
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
UPDATE: Someone asked me if my house is still clean now that I have multiple kids. It was a struggle, but yes, my house is still clean. So I wrote about that too: How to keep your house clean when you have little kids.
My messy struggle with messy
A while ago, I set aside a few hours on my day off (Monday) to really clean the house. Just like every other Monday. But before I could start vacuuming and scrubbing, I had to spend half of my entire Monday off putting stuff away. (Um, just like every other Monday).
All stuff that wasn’t where it belonged.
- Recycling that was sitting by the front door
- Baby bottle (from last night’s feeding) on the coffee table
- coats that were over the back of a chair
- dishes that were clean but hadn’t been put away
- tea cups on the coffee table
- my husbands work stuff all over the dining room
- receipts from our last shopping trip
- unopened mail sitting on the counter
- hair stuff and make up on the bathroom vanity
- piles of screws/connectors that come out of G’s pockets
- random travel things from our last trip (over 3 weeks ago)
- tiny person clothes in the kitchen (why? why are the tiny people’s clothes in the kitchen?)
Stuff was EVERYWHERE. And this happened every week. Every Monday I had to spend hours “putting away” just so I could clean. It’s not like I’ve never tried to keep it tidy before. Every week I tidied the house, it looked amazing, and I’d think to myself “That’s it. Now I’m gonna keep it this way”.
But every week I’d give up. Life is busy and we rush in and out and set stuff down and eventually the house looked just like it did last Monday morning. For a while I thought my main problem was too much stuff (and part of it was) but I have really reduced clutter in my home and I was still losing the battle, week after week. The truth is that even when you have less stuff, that stuff still doesn’t put itself away.
I believed I wasn’t capable of actually keeping the house tidy, since I had tried so many times and failed over and over and over.
But then I realized my problem was me…My house was messy because I was messy. Anything beyond that was an excuse. I finish feeding the baby, and instead of taking the bottle to the sink, I leave it on the coffee table.
I come inside, and instead of hanging my coat up, I put in on the chair. And then I feel sad, because my house is just so…. messy.
I determined that I wasn’t going to live in defeat. Not just because I don’t want to be a big nasty hypocrite, (I’m always saying that I believe change is possible if you’re willing to put in the effort), but because I hate it when my house is messy.
It seriously weighs me down. I feel overwhelmed by the mess. Why am I allowing something I hate so much to continue?
Related: How to Clean When You Feel Paralyzed by THE MESS
So I decided to stop it. Cold turkey yes, but still one thing at a time, I stopped. Stopped putting my coat on the back of the chair, stopped leaving the mail on the counter. Stopped “soaking” the dishes over night and stopped going to bed without clearing my tea cup from the living room.
I stopped leaving make-up out in the bathroom, I stopped leaving my clothes on the bathroom floor. ( ← RIGHT HERE, this is where it all fell apart every week. As soon as those clothes are on the floor, I lose the battle.)
Every night before bed I take a two minute walk through the house and put away anything I missed. I pick up the toys scattered across the floor, and I load the dishwasher. But as time goes by, there is less and less that I’ve missed.
I’ve stopped being messy. I don’t let myself think of the chores I don’t want to do as mundane or time consuming. I think of them as a means to an end, a way to improve my life. It’s a lot easier to wanna wash dishes if you think of it as improving your life.
Now I can relax in my home. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I don’t feel guilty. I enjoy being here. I CAN FIND STUFF. Mornings aren’t a rush to get organized, because everything is where it’s supposed to be. The “cleaning” on Monday mornings is drastically reduced, since I can wipe the (empty) counters and sinks everyday. And then I have Monday free to do whatever I want.
You’ll find the same thing – if you would like to enjoy your day off and drink wine and watch TV, then GO for it. If you want to sit around in your pajamas and kill some time by taking online surveys for pocket money without feeling guilty about it, ( I recommend Survey Junkie) then GO for it. If the mess in your house isn’t weighing you down, you can enjoy yourself.
This is how life is meant to be lived.
If you’re like previous me, thinking it’s impossible…
Well, it is then. Until you tell yourself it’s possible. You can not change old ingrained habits if you tell yourself you can’t (really, you mean you won’t).
And yes, it’s a bit much sometimes, especially if you have little people. But the picking up still only takes a few minutes – and they’re watching you and learning to pick up themselves. Major bonus!
It’s totally overwhelming to look at a busy, messy house and tell yourself you’re gonna be “tidy”. But If you start with a clean house and think of every single thing you touch as a new (and not overwhelming, since it’s just one thing) opportunity to change your bad habits you can totally do it.
And if you miss something in the day, just do it before bed. When you wake up to a clean house in the morning, you’ll be so encouraged that you’ll do it again today.
You might be able to enlist the help of the other people who live there… I said to my husband (when I started this, that Monday) “Please let’s try and keep the house clean this time. Please help me.” I have to admit that 80% of the mess (at least) is my fault, so it really hasn’t been much work for him to “help me”.
Get your kids on board with rewards (or bribes, whatever) if they’re big enough. Mine isn’t – but someday he will be!
If you are the one that runs the house, it might come down to you just deciding you’ll do it, with their help or not. I want to blog, and I want my house clean. I’ve pretty much given up watching TV during the week so these things can happen. I have prioritized them. (And actually, I’m finding the whole “keep the house clean thing” isn’t even taking any REAL amount of time. 10 or 15 minutes here there. It might take you half hour a day if you kids are really small and really messy. But it’ll be worth it).
Whatever it takes for you to make the change, just do it.
If “forgetting” that you want to create a new habit is your problem, put a post it note on all the problem areas – bathroom counter, kitchen sink, coffee table. Or enlist a friend to text you every night and check to see if you’ve picked up the house. Tell them a guilt trip is what you need.
If you have no idea where to start – or if you need a major overhaul on your home making skills – there’s help!
I found an amazing (and cheap) step-by-step online course that will help you get yourself decluttered and organized in no time: It’s called The Organized Home by Hilary from Pulling Curls. It is created just for people like us, who need to be given bite-sized tips & lessons on organization so we know where stuff is, save time & feel more peace at home. (Because we do ACTUALLY deserve to feel at peace in our homes!)
This is the perfect course for you if:
- You always need hours of notice before having guests because you’re embarrassed about the state of your home.
- You’re always worried you misplaced an important document or won’t be able to find things when you need them.
- You’ve ever wondered why can’t YOU enjoy peaceful time on the couch or enjoying your family instead of always stressing out about the state of your home?
If you need someone to TEACH you how to get organized, Hilary is your girl, and you can get 10% off the course here with the code MOP10.
Being intentional about being tidy (or about anything) isn’t always easy. But it’s worth it. Now that my house isn’t messy, I am happier. (Which seems crazy, I don’t even really know how that works. Maybe because cleaning my house on Monday takes me 2 hours now instead of 4, or maybe it’s because I don’t feel the weight of the mess whenever I’m home). I’m happy in my house. And I feel really, really proud of myself, which is always sort of nice.
More from Mommy on Purpose:
How I Conquer Clutter When it’s Emotionally Difficult
4 Clean Kitchen Habits You Can Adopt Today
Where to Start When You Are Drowning in CLUTTER
58 thoughts on “I Stopped Being Messy and it Changed My Life”
I seriously need to do this. I’m very slowly getting better. You’re right that waking up to a mess is so stressful. My biggest issue is that I put the three kids to bed and then sit down “for just a minute,” and all the sudden, I want to go to bed. If I would just do it the first 15-20 minutes, I could do it.
Hi Veronica! YES! You do need to do this – it is amazing. I was so worried I would fall back into old habits after having a baby, but if anything it has just made me MORE dilligent. Sometimes the tidying gets done in the morning or afternoon now instead of the evening before bed… but at least once a day I get my house back to “tidy” which keeps the mess from building up. Totally worth the sacrifice of the few minutes I don’t get to spend sitting down 🙂
oh my word. i just spent ALL AFTERNOON cleaning my office and bedroom with my boyfriend and it is SO FRUSTRATING. i just have so much stuff. my friend says time = money, and stuff = time, so the more stuff you have the more money you lose because you A. can’t find things B. don’t even FEEL the new thing you buy and C. you spend so much freaking time dealing with it that YOU CANNOT DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE THAT MIGHT MAKE YOU EARN A LITTLE CASH HERE OR THERE (like surveys or blog or etc). i needed this post. thank you for it!
Hi Stephanie! Yep – I hear you – stuff is a huge time / money / energy suck, and everywhere we look we are bombarded by the message “BUY MORE STUFF”! Once you realize you don’t have to say yes to that message – SO MUCH FREEDOM!!
I have read your article several times in the last couple of days. I am in the process of trying to reorganize our house and I recently realized a couple of things. I think that the messiness and dirtiness are making me depressed, so I really related to your comments of the mess weighing you down and how tidying improves your life – for myself, I think I could say that it is an anti-depressant. The other thing I have realized is how true the old adage A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place is. I am finding that if something is difficult for me to store, it is because it doesn’t have an adequate storage space and as soon as I create that space, the item practically stores itself. Thanks for your encouraging article.
Hi Dianne – I’m so glad you found this post encouraging! IT is absolutely true for that the mess makes depressed as well! I am really trying to stay on top of the mess now that I have a baby… it’s priority one after him!
I am going to try the 2-minute tidy before bed. My “aha” moment” came when I started looking at my walk-in-the-door-routine. I put everything down to hang up my coat (or drape it on a chair), then quit! Now I walk to the kitchen and set my lunch bag on the counter, put my laptop by my chair, hang my bag in the bedroom, THEN hang up my coat. Honestly, it all takes less than a minute, and it is all where it belongs…where has this been all my life?
Thanks for the encouragement to believe I can do it!
MaryBeth, I believe you can do it too 🙂
This is SO me, my house, my car, my desk at work! When I take the time to clean it I feel amazing and think “I can keep it this way” But it never happens. I’m really hoping to get my butt in gear before our family welcomes baby # 2. I love this article ! Thanks ?
Thanks for reading Rochelle – and congrats on baby number 2!! That will be a while new learning curve when it comes to messes I’m sure, but you can do it!
I feel like a fairly clean person but my house seem to always be such a wreck! FYI I have 4 kids. This mom’s vid describes my daily life perfectly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDhY28Z5iyo&list=PLZzU83QWO5fNR9vuauv4594xMCuGtvhNk
My big takeaway from your article is that it is the small and simple things that make a big difference. I think I might just go spruce up a bit right now, haha!
lol yes! No time like the present!
Thank you for this post- I related to everything you said so so much which is encouraging in itself!!
So glad you enjoyed it!
Thankyou OMG it felt like me writing this. Only all the things u mentioned that you leave out I never ever. I always put these things away right away. But my house is always messy and I’m constantly constantly decluttering tidying and organising. It never ends. Also I always had the habit of tidying and making my house spotless before bed. Until my second born arrived and for the last 2 years we had bedtime shenanigans every night and usually bedtime takes all my time from 7pm till 11.30 by then I’m exhausted. Anyway I think tomorrow I will go around with a pen and paper and Write down all the things which are misplaced that way I can notice them whilst missplacing them and put them where they belong. One thing I have started to tell my self is “why not now?” If there is a little job to do or something small to put away. To be honest though it’s constantly taking over and I’m always always tidying up but my house never seems to be tidy.
Hello! My sink is full of dishes. There is a large pile of laundry to be de-wrinkled, folded and put away, clothes all over the bedroom, etc. telling myself that I don’t care is how I truly feel…sometimes. Now it’s all way to overwhelming. This pattern goes on and on, and on, and on. “I don’t care”, is a dangerous statement on so many levels. Anyway, thank you for your article! There are people out there like me! I will begin today, one object at a time. Thanks so very much!
Oh no! Sorry for the grammatical typos! I am a stickler about that!