Those unmade beds and a sink full of dirty dishes didn’t mean I didn’t love my family or my home.
Shakespeare said, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I happen to think Dandelions are beautiful! From the first fistful I received from my toddler who had joyously picked a bunch for me (with one-inch stems) I’ve always regarded them with love.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my long life is that I am good and so is everyone.
I’m a reformed slob. I made the decision to get organized on June 16, 1977. I was 35. I learned a lot through that transformation. The most important of which was to understand that before I did one thing to organize my chaotic life, I was alright just the way I was. That backed-up laundry didn’t make me a bad person. Those unmade beds and a sink full of dirty dishes didn’t mean I didn’t love my family or my home. Having to re-inoculate the children because I couldn’t find their medical records when we moved to a new town didn’t mean I was a bad mother.
My challenge to change my ways came from a deep desire to have more fun and be able to do it guilt-free. I wanted to feel the freedom that a routine and habits give to mundane tasks. I wanted my household to run smoothly so my family and I could really enjoy this delicious thing called life. My motive to get organized was to have more free time to play.
I think being organized or disorganized is ultimately a choice but I also think we each have a natural proclivity to be either one. My mom was born organized. My dad was the donor of my disorganized gene. I had three children and two received my penchant for mess and one was washing her toys when she was 18 months old. Once I asked her if she wanted a doll house for Christmas and she replied, “Oh Mama, it’d be just one more thing to keep clean.”
You know where you fall on the scale of order: one is the person who washes and waxes her garage floor (yes, I know a person who does) and ten is the person you see on those hoarder shows, bless their little hoarding hearts.
I discovered a little organization goes a long way. My mom used a Girl Scout calendar that she looked at every day, a watch that she looked at every hour and a clean 8x11 inch sheet of paper for her daily “to do” list. Everything ran smoothly and I remember her saying, “If we get our chores done by 10:00 we can go play.” And play we did. Mom made being organized look so easy; which it was for her, because she never let anything pile up. She had a natural ethic that she didn’t get to have fun until her work was done. She let the “carrot” of fun hang over all of us.
My husband and I fought every day over the mess
As a young wife and mother I got overwhelmed and buried as the responsibilities of motherhood and a bad marriage sapped my energy. My husband (we divorced when I got organized) and I fought every day over the mess. I felt like a loser, a failure and an embarrassment to my family until it struck me that feeling like a failure was not the truth about me, and that until I turned that thought around I was stuck. I knew better, but in the chaos I had just forgotten. That was my turning point.
Don’t allow anyone to cause you to doubt your ability to succeed (including yourself). If you’ve made a decision to get organized keep it a secret so you don’t get negative feedback you don’t need.
Get to know your inner child for she is that part of you that needs your love and attention. She’s the part of you that wants to play and if you can set a rule that you don’t get to play until your work is done, you can get the cooperation of your inner child, and you’ll find that you’ll make progress at being organized. It really helps if you have young children in the house, because they can help you recognize the child in you. I came up with the House Fairy concept in the same year I got organized.
When we strive to have fun keeping our homes clean and cozy, we help our kids to grow up to have clean, cozy peaceful homes. But it all starts with you knowing you’re okay just the way you are.
Now go pick some dandelions.
P.S. My latest book, The Joy of Being Disorganized, has 88 secrets about finding peace and joy in your home.