I’m not one who is naturally a neat, tidy, organized person. I’m clean. Clean bathroom. Clean sheets. But I’m not neat. Clothes hanging over a chair, or a few chairs, is fine with me.
I used to think this was just my personality. I said I didn’t like living in a neat, tidy space; and truly, I couldn’t really relax in a place that was so perfect that nothing could ever be out of place.
However, over time I’ve come to slowly realize I appreciate things being tidy. It actually helps me to savor an abundant life.
I would have argued against that last sentence in years past, but one day, after another amazingly renewing and refreshing weekend at my cousins house, it occurred to me that maybe one reason my time there left me so refreshed, besides her amazing conversational abilities, was the comfort of her very neat and tidy house.
I grew up in a home that valued cleanliness, but not neatness, and certainly didn’t care about appearances. People were always welcome at our home, even if there were piles of books or papers on many surfaces and kids toys all around. It wasn’t dirty. The bathrooms, floors, and kitchens were all scrubbed daily and it was always decorated impeccably. But you could leave your book or your papers on a table, or the cabinet doors open, and no one was bothered. It was comfortable and felt like home.
But now I’m married to a man who finds it agitating when cabinet doors are left open and really appreciates things being in order. And when I’m honest, I’m starting to appreciate it too. I’m not ready to say everyone finds tidiness more relaxing. It may just be a blessing that God is causing me to enjoy things in the same state of order that my husband enjoys. But for me, now, I love the feeling I get when I look around and everything is in its place.
Now I’ve always thought the ability to be neat was an inherent part of someone’s personality. You either had it or you didn’t. But since my style so closely mirrors the pattern I was taught, though admittedly in my younger years I took the messiness to extremes, I’m starting to think neatness can be taught and more importantly it can be learned. (And for some of you who think it came naturally, maybe you owe your parents a debt of gratitude for teaching you. I rather appreciate that I am able to be comfortable in any situation, but since my husband craves tidiness, it’s something I need to learn.)
I’m an audio book addict. My subscription to Audiblehas been a mainstay of my life. My audio library currently has 298 books. So while I was on maternity leave I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
This book basically encourages you to make your home permanently tidy by first going through your house object category by object category and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring your joy, and then finding a place for everything you have left.
I’ve only finished my clothes so far, but I’d like to finish the rest of the list sometime, because I’ve completely enjoyed my clothes being tidy for the last month.
My next learning tool is actually an app. It is an app called MoMo, short for Motivated Moms that gives you a to-do list each day for mostly cleaning, but also for quiet time and time with children if you want. I downloaded it, again while on maternity leave, to help me use my time at home more wisely. I think it was a random free app that popped up in my google suggestions.
I don’t do everything it suggests, but I like to look at it and find little projects I can do to make things more comfortable in the house. You might ask how a to-do list is teaching me. Well, on today’s list one of the tasks was cleaning the top of the washer and dryer. I have to admit, it had never even occurred to me that that was something I should clean. But I did. And I love it. My bathroom looks so much brighter now and it’s made me smile every time I’ve walked past them today. It took all of 2 minutes to do. Sure, all of you who are naturally neat or were trained to be neat can laugh, but for me I’m having to learn and I’m loving it.