Making Peace With the Mess

My home has never been what I’d call pristine.

This was my kitchen before I DIY’d it:

Kitchen before refacing
My kitchen was a pink prison.

This is after:

Kitchen after refacing
I painted everything a few years ago, including the counters, and added a backsplash. Watch enough HGTV and DIY Network and you can do ANYTHING.

The “after” is the cleanest it ever was and probably ever will be.

This is now:

My kitchen

You might be thinking that it looks fine and I need to shut my face, but the crap on my counters and dishes in my sink are driving me crazy.

I’m struggling to accept the state of my home, but no matter how much I clean it never seems to improve. It’s not dirty — there’s no bugs, no dirt piles — it’s messy, and the messiness is muddling my mind.

Unfortunately, the kitchen isn’t the only problem. Here’s the living room:

My living room
I’d put all these toys away 2 minutes before this photo was taken. Baby Bird has mastered making a mess in minutes.

And this is the nursery:

She pulls books out like she’s working on a dissertation.

There’s cleaning to be done every day and at every turn. I can’t stand it. I have to do something about it.

So I’ve devised a preliminary plan to manage our mess. If your mess is anything like mine, my methods could work for you, too.

  • Tackle bits and pieces. I won’t try to clean everything at once. If I set small, daily goals, I’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Think like a minimalist. Baby Bird’s toys and books are all staying, but I’m fine with tossing other stuff. I’ll shred and recycle the junk mail accumulating by the door. I’ll pack up and donate the clothes the kid’s outgrown, as well as the stuff Mr. T and I are hoarding. I’ll continue to use up the Stage 2 baby food. I think my house — and my mind — will feel cleaner and clearer without all the unneeded stuff.
  • Never leave a room without a toy, cup, or shoe. If I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll grab and drop off whatever dolls, building blocks, or onesies need to be put in the nursery.
  • Add storage solutions. I’m considering keeping a toy box (or bag or tote) in every room.
  • Make it fun. Vacuuming, Swiffering, and squeegeeing might not seem quite as awful if I’m doing it to Beyoncé.
  • Wipe down the bathroom daily. OK, I’ll probably only clean the sink and counter, but I think that’s better than nothing. If I add something like Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaner Drop Ins to the mix, I’ll have most of the room tackled.
  • Think about the big picture. As long as there are no tripping hazards, dirty clothes, or crusty food bits on the floor, I’m not going to flip my lid.
    I don’t have the time or energy to sweat the small stuff.

Six Steps to Keep Your House (Mostly) Clean with a Toddler in Tow

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