Mental Edge Monday: Embrace the Mess
Mental Edge Monday
Topic #15: Embrace the Mess
Happy Memorial Day to everyone! I hope this weekend finds you with friends and family and some time to relax.
Today I wanted to talk about another personal battle that I've had over the years. It has to do with a messy house.
In general, I'm a neat type of guy. I'm not OCD about it or completely out of my mind, but neatness and order have been a part of my life for a long time. To some degree, neatness and organization have been a key factor in whatever success I've had to date.
The battle to keep things tidy in our home came just about the time we had our twin boys 8 years ago - and it hasn't stopped since. For anyone who has kids, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir. The amount of stuff that sits around and accumulates is insane. We're on our 4th son now and the hits keep coming.
The energy and time needed to keep our home clean is seemingly infinite. Even if we had Brad and Angelina money, I'm not sure we could keep things as orderly as I would want. I'm not talking about scrubbing floors or tooth brushing the grout in the shower - I'm talking about keeping the dishes from toppling out of the sink.
My wife and I tried for a few years to keep a handle on the mess. We thought a messy house was a direct reflection of our ineptitude as parents. We spent a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and trying to keep things in order. Unfortunately, our work was inevitably undone within hours (sometimes minutes) and we were back to square one.
Is it worth it?
No, is the short answer. I started thinking about how much time we spent cleaning, ordering, and reordering. Couldn't the 15 minutes spent buffing out the kitchen after dinner be better spent reading to the kids? Or playing chess with them? Or making a craft? Or shooting a ball?
Yes, but all of those "kid activities" are tiring - brutally tiring. It's so much easier to get lost in the monotony of wiping down the range and countertops. The countertops don't talk back to you, or spill glitter, or wiggle away from you, or give you an attitude.
Yes, cleaning the house is easier than quality child rearing. It's the difference between parenting and great parenting. Parents make sure their kids are fed, clothed, and sheltered. Great parents try their best to enrich their kids with productive activities.
So, what does this have to do with keeping the mental edge? In my case, it takes significant mental fortitude to live in a house with clutter, mess, and stuff everywhere. It's not part of my makeup.
It also takes great mental discipline to blow off cleaning and instead choose to deal with four kids who all demand energy, attention, and enrichment. Hand me the mop, already! It's so much easier.
My kids will be gone in a few short years. When that time comes, I will finally be able to walk into my garage and organize my tools. I will no longer find the tape measure in the utensil drawer, or the hammer in the tub, or the cordless drill in the oven.
Oh, won't that be great? Well, not really. All the mess will be gone, but so will the activity, the buzz, the hum, the wonder, the learning, and the roughhousing, too. Our house will be quiet. Neat, but quiet. Somehow I can see myself in the future yearning for one more day with a messy house.
For now, I am trying to embrace the mess. I am trying to live with disorder as the norm. I am trying to deal with the clutter. For when the mess is gone, a lot of our family's lifeblood is gone, too.
Now excuse me while I step over the pile of legos, ignore the broken screen that needs replacement, and look beyond the pile of wet towels on the bathroom floor - I have some reading to do with my 6-yr old!
Have any of you found a better solution?
Until next week, Keep the Edge.
Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)