Confession time, folks.  Hands up if your house is messier than you’d like it to be.  Come on, get ’em up!  There’s a lot of things that contribute to why your house is always messy.  For one thing, it’s likely that in your house, both parents work, or you’re a single parent who has to work.  That right there means that you have a limited amount of time to be at home, making picking up a challenge.

There are challenges for stay at home moms, too, and they start right there in your job title.  Years ago there were no stay at home moms.  There were housewives.  Over the years focus has shifted from taking care of the house to actively raising children.  The hierarchy has flip-flipped; Children first, housework second.

But don’t worry.  You don’t have to be doomed to live in a mess forever!

Problem #1

You don’t pick up after yourself.  It sounds like common sense, but many of us (myself included) leave a trail of stuff behind us as we go throughout our day.  Let’s face it.  We’re busy people!  We generally don’t have enough time to do everything on our to-do list anyway, so to stop and pick up in the middle of that busyness… It just doesn’t happen.

What to do about it.  Unless you’re going to hire someone to follow you around and pick up after you, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it yourself.  There are really 3 ways to go about this:

  1. Make a conscious effort to pick up as you go.  This is the easiest way to manage mess, but often the hardest thing to do (especially with kids).
  2. Schedule cleaning times into your day.  Spend 15 minutes before lunch and 15 minutes before dinner picking up stuff that’s been left around since the last pick-up time.  Get the kids on this schedule and they’ll develop the good habit early!
  3. Do a big clean at the end of each day.  Waking up to a messy house sucks the energy right out of you.  (I should know.)  Make a rule that you don’t go to bed without picking up your stuff.

Problem #2

You have too much stuff.  There.  I said it.  It’s hard to argue with the fact that most of us have a lot more than we actually need.  All that clutter is often what gets left around, and makes it harder to put things away because all your storage space is filled with stuff!

What to do about it.  Let it go!  Honestly, how much of the stuff in your house is actually useful?  I don’t know if it’s left over from our caveman days, or learned from the Great Depression, but we have a tendency to hold on to things because we might use them… someday.  It may be time to say bye-bye to our “just in case” collections.

Want some help with this step?  Tune in for the upcoming summer series, Living with Less.  Every Monday I’ll share a post focusing on a new problem spot, helping you (and me) clear out the excess.  Subscribe below to get those, and other posts, sent straight to your inbox!

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Problem #3

You don’t care.  Some people really don’t mind having stuff all around.  Some even prefer it.  They say Einstein liked to work in a messy space.

What to do about it.  This is a tough one, because it’s hard to make yourself care about something.  You have to first decide that having a reasonably organized house is important.  Here are a few reasons to consider the value of picking up.

  • It’s important to your spouse.  A neat house is not an unreasonable request, and if it makes your partner happy, it’s worth the effort.
  • Your friends won’t come over anymore.  It might not be true, but many people associate a messy house with an unclean house. (i.e. “How can they possibly clean the counter with that much stuff on it?”)
  • You want to set your kids up with good habits.  Being neat is a valued skill at pretty much any job, and to future roommates and partners.  I know a business owner who insists on seeing each job candidate’s car before offering a position.  His point is that if they don’t keep their own things in neat order, how can he expect them to do it with his.

Of course you could also just embrace your mess and decide to be okay with it.  But with the tools above, you should be able to start moving towards a more organized life.