How to Eliminate the Mess at Home
I have been doing more of the Kon-Mari Method in my home this summer. One of the things I decided to focus on was perfecting spaces in my home. I recently did a post about perfecting your home, bit in this post I want to talk about the effect of perfecting, and how perfecting your spaces helps eliminate the mess even when you have kids at home.
That's right. I think you can eliminate the mess at home even when you have kids. I know most of you want to say it's impossible, or that it's pointless. But let me tell you something.
Having a clean house is not about making your home 'perfect' and having to sit on the edge of the sofa and not letting kids play or mess anything up. You don't want to live in a show house. You want to live in your house. But you also want to love your house.
Think about what it's like when you get something new. A new piece of furniture or a shelf or something like that. You want to keep it nice and shiny. You love looking at it. You arrange the room so it fits in with everything else. Maybe you have some decor on display and you dust it every week but only it doesn't feel like you’re dusting because you really love how it makes you feel when you're in the room. You want to keep it clean and pretty. It brings you joy. This item you bought is adding value to your life and you are valuing it with your love.
But how long does that last? Here's the thing with our brains. They like shiny new things. New things give us that exciting dopamine that makes us feel happy for a moment. But as soon as our brain registers that this isn't a new thing anymore because we have been seeing it everyday, the dopamine stops. Then perhaps, the clutter begins.
Then we start noticing that we have a new hot spot to clear off when it's cleaning time. We get annoyed that everyone else keeps putting things on our pretty shelf and making it look a mess.
What I'm saying is that I think we can avoid the hot spot if we really strive for perfection. And I also think it's easier to maintain than it might sound.
I think we can eliminate the mess at home if we keep perfecting our spaces.
clear the clutter
The first step is always to clear away the clutter. You have to discard things to make room for life. If you choose to keep it, it needs a place. If you want it to be put away when it's done being used, it needs a home.
One valuable tip from Marie Kondo is that it doesn't matter what your nature is. You can still clean out your home following her method. If you do it fully and completely, you will not have what she calls a rebound.
A rebound is when people clean and organize a room and it stays tidy for a time, and then it becomes messy again. Soon they have to clean again. If you only have what you need and you always put everything away when you're done with it, the only cleaning you will be doing is the dusting and such.
How it works with kids: It needs to be super easy to put things away so they get put away. When you notice they have grown out of things or no longer play with things, get rid of them. Stop bringing in more than what's going out.
You will find yourself in a new mindset when you start cleaning out. There comes a point when you realize exactly how much of everything you need. Some people like more of certain things than others. Only you know what you need, what brings you joy.
When you are happy to put away your things and happy to take them out and use them because they bring you joy, you feel, well, happy. You create new habits and naturally have a cleaner space. It's easy to keep it perfect because it's easy to put things away and you like how it looks when things are put back in their place.
When you invest in more expensive items, you take better care of them. For one, they cost more money, so you want to make sure you get what you paid for. For another, there is something about handling your items and love that go hand in hand.
In her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo talks about this. She says the Japanese word for healing is te-ate. It literally means "to apply hands". When you touch your things, your energy flows into them. Touching is an act of caring, of appreciating, of love.
We like touching our new things. What if we continued to touch and love our things always? When you notice you don't touch your things, it's time to let them go. If you are done appreciating them, they will stop appreciating in value. It's okay to stop liking something. Just discard or donate it when you notice there's no more joy.
How it works with kids: When they are young, it's important to teach by your example. Tell them why you love washing your favorite cup by hand. Show them how pretty your spaces are. Teach them how to pick up their toys when they are finished playing.
the broken window effect
You always have to start with your own space first. But as a mom, you get to continue moving your way through the house, clearing clutter and creating more spaces of joy.
Do not do your husband's things. Let him have control over his own space. The same goes for your kids. I think you can do basic cleaning out of clothes and toys for young children, but leave the older kids to clean out on their own.
When you start living in clean spaces that you love, and you always put things away, others are going to notice. When your kids have toys out to play with, when they are done playing, you are going to be more apt to make sure they pick them up and put them away.
When they see less clutter and more space, things will catch on for them. When you never have to clean your room, when you never have to organize your desk, they will notice and they will want to live like that. This is the broken window effect.
Essentially, the broken window effect says that if a house has a broken window it is more likely to be broken in to. The opposite is also true. The cleaner a space is, the easier it is to keep it clean.
How it works with kids: the more adamant you are on the living room being clean before they brush their teeth at night, the more they are going to expect that to be the normal. Of course they need to clean up before bed. You can point out how you value cleanliness and it's more fun to play when there isn't a mess. Toys can come out again tomorrow, but they must be picked up before bed.
You have to commit
If you want to get to the point where you don't have the rebound effect, you need to commit to clearing the clutter in your entire house in a short time. Preferably less than six months, but it depends on the size of your house. I say shoot for three months or less.
If you are really committed, you will get through it, and you will blow your mind. You will love your spaces, you will love your home. You will love your things. You will feel like a different person. I promise you.