Miserable Tidiness Vs. Happy Messiness

Photo Credit: Juliet James from http://www.sxc.hu

Want to be a true idle parent? Embrace the messiness and shun the soul-sapping focus on a tidy home. At least that’s what Tom Hodgkinson says in his book on Idle Parenting.

And trust me, we’ve tried. I try to force myself not to worry about the thin layer of dust accumulating in the living room. I let myself leave dishes on the counter when my mother-in-law visits. I tell myself over and over that an exceptionally tidy home is one that discourages children to be comfortable and play where they please. I’ve let the stuffed animals sit on the stairs for days at a time. I’ve ignored the heap of plastic dishes in the bathroom sink where kids have been playing. We’ve avoided tearing down the tower of blocks or the train track at the end of the day.

But alas, MJ and I cannot completely turn off the neat-freak sides of our personalities. Both of us enjoy having everything put away. For us, happiness is simply not messiness; it is a home that allows you pass through the rooms without falling over a fort or putting your hand in something sticky. I can hear MJ in my head right now, “Everything in its place and a place for everything.” Groan.

There has to be a compromise somewhere. Is it possible to be more relaxed about the house while the adults remain happy, and well, sane?

I think I’ve figured it out. It’s kind of obvious, but it didn’t really occur to me until this month. As I’ve waged war on our ‘stuff’ this month, I’ve been throwing out, giving away, or selling things. It started with the small things – the Kinderegg toys, the seasonal erasers (seriously, why do we even have Valentine’s Day themed school supplies?), the bouncy balls that you get out of a machine with a quarter. And I’ve moved on to bigger things – I got rid of 15 stuffed animals the other day and several pairs of shoes from the front door. With less things around, the less of a mess there is, and the easier it is to clean up.

This might be a no-brainer to some of you, but it has really made an impact on me. Consider having eight crayons in the house versus the usual 80 or so children’s writing and colouring tools. Eight will always be easier to clean up than the 80 items that always seem to get dumped out of the storage box.

Less stuff. Less mess. Happier parents.

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7 Responses to “Miserable Tidiness Vs. Happy Messiness”


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  5. 6 sharon May 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I agree! I just moved to a new home with my daycare. Before the move I enjoyed getting rid of stuff but still alot of boxes came with us. Most of my daycare toys have remained in boxes and cleaning up when the day is done is so fast…maybe I should purge some more 🙂

    Sharon


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