“Tidy house, Tidy mind”…how tidy is yours??

Do you think this saying is true? Tidy house, tidy mind? I know that when my house is relatively tidy I “feel” a lot calmer and I know that the state of my house is usually a reflection of my state of mind so I guess in that sense there IS truth in the saying. I also know that when I visit people with tidy houses I feel ‘house envy’ and wonder to myself at length “how on earth do they do it!!?”

Right now, for instance, there are little pockets of clutter all over my house. Some on view, some stuffed in cupboards. I work REALLY hard to stay on top of everything but it’s not easy to maintain. A LOT happens in my house. There are 4 of us living here – myself, my partner and our two children, as well as our two furballs (our cats Lenny and Frankie), plus I work from home and my partner also has a lot of his paperwork here too. We have a myriad of musical instruments- used to varying degrees – we eat here, sleep here, work here, laugh here, love here, play here….it’s a busy busy house. On a good day the downstairs is tidy – I try to stay on top of the kitchen and the living and dining areas because these are communal spaces and were anyone to pop by unannounced (heaven forbid!!) these would at least be presentable – not always achieved mind you! So I guess this could represent the part of my mind that needs to keep on top of things – family life (in my house at least) only works well – i.e. without stress – when it runs like a well-oiled machine. When things don’t run so smoothly chaos reigns and the house invariably gets messier!

With regard to each individual room, however, well, that’s another story. Neither of my children spend any time clearing up, my partner is pretty much the same (sorry Marcel- but you know it’s true!), and my office, oh dear- best not mention that. You know what my daughter said to me the other day? I was finding it physically difficult to be in her room because of her mess – not because I couldn’t get in but because it was making me hyperventilate – (I should add that I DO tidy her room- she just messes it up again in no time at all) so I conveyed this observation to her in the nicest possible way, and do you know what she said? “Well, the rest of the house is messy!!” I mean, is that any excuse? :-) I was quite horrified though that she would make this remark because I try very hard to keep things tidy – it’s a full time job and I don’t have that much time to do it in – but I do genuinely try, I just have a LOT of other things to do too! **I should mention I’m referring to clutter not general cleanliness here – please don’t imagine us living in a pig sty!! ;-)** Plus we go out a lot as a family – we don’t stay in at weekends to tidy up – we like to take the children out into the fresh air whenever possible – so we don’t have those days when we stay home specifically to tidy up. I just fit it in around everything else that happens during the day or when work is quiet….

The problem also is that we have outgrown our house and do not have a loft space either (it was converted before we moved here into a fourth bedroom) and so the usual “dumping ground” of most houses is sadly lacking in ours. However, this has the positive effect of making me deal with ‘some’ of our clutter on a frequent basis (as I literally have nowhere to put it!) and so in that sense- as a reflection of the state of my mind – there is movement, albeit slow. I am CONSTANTLY giving things to charity, I recycle whatever can be recycled, give things away to family, school, toys to nursery, etc. but despite this active de-cluttering the piles of ‘stuff’ never seem to go down. Why IS that!? New things seem to be coming into the house quicker than the old things are leaving it. Birthdays and Christmas – particularly presents for the children – become this time of dread for me as I know I’ll have to find space for even MORE stuff!! (They LOVE it of course though!)

As you can see I have a lot of rooms to cover and obviously not enough time. I dream of the day when all the rooms are clutter-free (am I setting my aspirations too low here?) and when positive energy can flow freely around the house without getting stuck amongst the piles of mess :-) I pray that this day will come and at the same time bring with it a clutter-free mind too that won’t keep me awake at night *sigh*…When this miraculous day arrives- when my house is tidy and my mind too- what then? I came across another saying “Tidy House, Empty Mind” – is this empty as in nothing’s going on? Or empty as in blissfully clear- like in a state of meditation? Alas, in all honesty, considering the years of working towards this blissful state of a truly tidy house (no clutter hidden in boxes either), I’m not convinced this will ever apply to me. A girl can dream though, can’t she!?

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16 thoughts on ““Tidy house, Tidy mind”…how tidy is yours??

  1. Boy, do I know what you mean! I spent years living under the motto “A Clean House in a Misspent Life.” Not so. A clean house maximizes positive energy flows and reflects your state of mind, as you say. I get so overwhelmed though, that I’ve had to develop strategies to keep me on task and turning cleaning up into a game of sorts. Check out my blog post Feng Shui Fix Day to see how I’ve learned to make it a little more fun. You can find it at http://marthabrettschneider.com/2012/08/21/feng-shui-fix-day/

    • Thanks for your comment. A wonderful blog post Martha! We have an unbelievable amount of crossovers in our lives – I lived every feeling you mentioned in your post with you – overwhelming is the EXACT word for it! I saw an old friend the other day who I hadn’t seen in years and our house randomly came up in conversation and her husband said he imagined my office to be beautifully “feng-shui-ed” and calming! I was horrified at how far from the truth this was and how the state of my house does not reflect my inner feelings, what I believe in or what I live by. I seek everyday to let my external surroundings reflect who I am but I struggle. I used to have a wonderful book on Feng Shui and tried to live by its rules, however, I must admit that having children turned everything on its head and I (or rather my house) have never quite recovered. I love the mention of de-cluttering Shocko :-) I feel the same way about our cats at times but they too are a fixture. Thanks again for your comment – I must bookmark your blog- you write so wonderfully xxx

      • Did you also see the link to the “Bowl of Rooms” post? I’ve been using that system for years to help me feel like it’s just a series of very small tasks that need to be completed. And yes, we do have an incredible array of overlaps in our lives, even on different continents — love that! (Are you signed up for email notifications when I post?)

  2. I just checked out your Bowl of Rooms idea and it’s great! I left a comment on your site although when I posted it seemed to disappear so I’m not sure if I did sth wrong. In any case this would have helped me greatly today as I have had an opportunity to do some sorting but had no idea where to start! I will have to divide into subsections though because I have little pockets of clutter in most rooms and to tackle a whole room (particularly kids’ bedrooms) at once would seem an insurmountable task ;-) I subscribed to your notifications xx

    • The good thing about the Bowl of Rooms system is that you’ll have unlimited opportunities to use it in the future. It seems like a silly game, but it really does help someone like me, who’s ADD and would rather be doing 100 other things than cleaning up my house. Glad the idea resonated with you. (Oh — and when my kids were younger, I used to let them pick the slips of paper out of the bowl!) Good luck!

  3. This was a good read and a great reminder! Sometimes I feel like not cleaning/organizing and relaxing instead will help me feel calm, but for me, when I put in the effort to get everything done, I’m so much more relaxed afterwards. Funny how mental/emotional something like cleaning can be.

    • It’s so tough- it’s like a vicious circle…I do find I have to be in the right frame of mind to get things sorted. It gets to the point sometimes that I no longer even notice the piles of clutter as I’ve got so used to them ;-) but I do feel soooo much clearer and positive once things are tidied. Nice to have you back by the way xx

  4. Pingback: Doing Battle with Chaos | afternoonstorm

  5. Same here. My strategy is to rest, next day I clean or push toys away with foot to make way. :D I’ve given up on a dream called “clean house”, until they grow up. It’s pointless stress. When I see another place that needs to be cleaned I remind myself, Rome was not built in one day and make a cup of tea. I recommend! Great post!

    • Yes, I love your attitude :-) I too like the push the toys away with foot strategy – I do that and then hoover in the middle :-) I have made a little progress in the last few weeks as we have had 2 guests round on separate occasions which helped spur on the surface tidying at least. Although – on account of having quite a quiet week on the work front – I did manage to devote 2 whole days last week to sorting out my daughter’s mess – it felt wonderful afterwards but I know it won’t last long (and still a long way to go in terms of all the clutter tucked away in various boxes :-D). Time for that cup of tea I think…

  6. Great post! I grew up in a very very very tidy house, and now I have my own slightly less tidy house but I still aspire to my mum’s high standards. I also find myself stressed by clutter and I feel it’s easier to clean up and feel the inner peace than to sit in the middle of it stressed. I think it’s what you can cope with (lucky people who don’t mind the mess are probably much calmer than me) – Like Emma I need my communal spaces to be pretty tidy – but I can close the door on the spare room and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I clean once a week and it’s shiny and tidy and lovely and then over the weekend it slowly gets worse and worse until I would be mortified if anyone popped it and then cleaning day rolls around again… lather rinse repeat =0) oh and re-children and mess my son knows that what is on the floor will be vacuumed up… just test them once – warm them… then put it ALL in a black bag and they will never ignore that warning ever again. There is also a website called the Flylady which gives great tips on getting started.

    • Thanks Lou :-) I’ll check out that website you mentioned! Well, I grew up in a clean but cluttered/busy house- with 6 of us living under one roof it’s no surprise really is it – I can barely cope with the mess of 2 children let alone the 4 that my mum had to cope with!!
      I have been making a little progress (little being the operative word)- I am breaking down the task into bitesize pockets, also helped along by the fact that I had friends over 2 weeks in a row so I had a good surface tidy up everywhere before the 1st guest and then tried my utmost to keep it tidy for the 2nd :-) I also spent two whole days sorting out my daughter’s room (work was dead!) and have been tackling little areas within different rooms, so I’m getting there (a LONG way to go though!). We just have too much “stuff”- that’s half the problem really, knowing what to do with everything and with Xmas looming…….lots of small presents this year hopefully :-D xxx

  7. All very helpful and interesting and so true!I would like to read about A Bowl of Rooms how do I do that as I am new to the website.thankyou

    • Hi Adele, thanks for reading. The Bowl of Rooms article is on Martha’s blog. If you scroll up you should be able to find a link to the blog via her comment. Hope this helps :-)

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