If you haven’t heard about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by now, then it might be a good indication that you are living under a rock. It’s all the rage amongst my friends and I totally get it, because what mom couldn’t use a little life-changing magic in her days when she’s raising tiny, chaotic people? I have yet to read it myself, but it’s been on my list for months now because organization is totally my jam. Nothing delights my soul quite like an organized home, but recently I’ve begun to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s another way?
You see, I am a tidier. A clean house makes my heart feel free and relieves my mind of chaos. My brain is always going a million miles a minute. Having a tidy environment is a way of giving myself a dose of calm in the storm. Even when I can’t control anything else going on around me (i.e. my children, my schedule, etc.), I can control the cleanliness of my home.
Or rather, I can control it until my kids wake up.
Having children is like living with a tornado — which is especially stressful when you’re someone who loves order. They just seem to thrive on creating mess. If they are leaving a sense of confusion and disorder in their wake, then they are doing childhood right. Despite the fact that my children are on the neater side as far as children go, it doesn’t mean that they are anywhere near the level that I appreciate for myself and my environment. Thus, I find myself constantly shadowing behind them, recreating order from their destruction. At the end of the day, I have usually achieved my goal of restoring the normal state of things, although over time it’s started to feel less calming and more compulsive.
As you can imagine, constantly cleaning up after other people is exhausting and anxiety-inducing at times. Of course I have gone through and purged a great many things from our home to cut down on the clutter, and I have become more conscientious with my buying habits, but the fact remains that my kids will always find ways to make a mess. On the one hand, while I do still believe that a tidy home can bring a sense of calm to one’s life, I started to feel like it was turning me into a miserable person to be around. Despite the mounting evidence, I clung to my penchant for keeping things picked up and put away.
Until I got pregnant.
I am currently 11 weeks pregnant with our third child and weeks 6-10 threw me for a serious loop. I was so nauseous and suffered from debilitating migraines. As a result, many of my daily tasks fell by the wayside. My formally empty sink was piled high with dishes, toys were strewn about and laundry baskets were overflowing. I felt miserable, but toward the end of the sickness I realized that letting go of all of my to-dos was actually really freeing. I couldn’t keep up with my impulse for tidiness, so I just had to let things go. I cozied up on the couch to read books with my kids and I didn’t harass them to pick up their toys immediately. Instead of doing dishes right away in the evening, I sat down next to my husband to catch up on our shows. I felt like I had more free time, I felt less stressed out, and it was pretty great (minus the nausea and headaches).
Now I’m not saying that I want to live in a house that is in a constant state of squalor or anything, but what I am saying is that maybe letting go of tidiness is actually where the life-changing magic lies for some people. I hadn’t realized that my tidying had slowly and quietly been taking away some of the joy in my life. Letting it go (at least a little) has really relieved a burden that I didn’t even realize was there.
If you need a little more tidy in your lives then I have no doubts that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up can bring some order to your life — I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews and will probably still read it myself. But if tidy is already your jam? Well, I’m learning that not tidying can be pretty magical too.