It’s not often that I can think of a chore that gives me time back. One that increases my calm by tenfold and allows me to cuddle up on the couch and crack open a good book or swipe open my Kindle. But, readers rejoice – here’s something that takes 15-20 minutes a day (max) and I can read guilt-free for hours in return.
How many times have you heard me say that the external chaos affects my internal calm? It’s what sparked last year’s Word of the Year – Abundance. That was my effort to get a handle on all of the clutter and crap surrounding me. I was somewhat successful, but of course, I still have a long way to go.
Maybe all of the clutter and mess is driving you up the wall too? We all want to be more present with our families and more content with the way our lives are right now. I can just see myself in big, fluffy socks with a mug of hazelnut instant coffee – trust me, it’s delicious and cozy – and curling up on the couch with my boys and a good book. But it’s kinda hard to relax on the couch when I look around the room and see all of the work waiting for me… I can’t be the only one!
I’ve tried so many things to keep my housekeeping on track. Checklists get abandoned after a few days and never seem to address the root of the problem. Nagging only makes me bitter. And there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re constantly cleaning and then sliding across the room on top of an etch-a-sketch.
But over the last couple of months I’ve discovered that there’s one crucial task that’s helped me keep calm and carry on. I’ve found the one piece of the puzzle that – when it’s in the right place – keeps me relatively happy.
Every night, I pick up the floors and vacuum.
My pre-kid self would have found this to be completely unreasonable and ridiculous. Don’t listen to the person you were before kids! She doesn’t know how maddening it can be to trip over books and duplos and stupid little doo-dads all of the time! But if I spend 15-20 minutes on the floors, then the next morning I feel like I have everything in control.
There’s something about a clear floor. What is it? No tripping hazards, so it helps keep your bones all pinned together. Shiny in the places where there’s no carpet. Fluffy in the carpeted places. Seeing a long stretch of clean floor just helps me breathe. And most importantly, I can relax. Even when there’s still a pile of dishes in the sink or a basket of laundry begging for attention – the floors are clean. Let’s just take a great big sigh and appreciate that!
Of course, there’s one thing that helps with this — constantly culling toys. Be ruthless. Be a shark. If your kids are young enough, they’re not going to notice when one or two fewer stacking toys aren’t around. And if there’s a particular toy that I always find myself picking up but never see the boys actually playing with? I put that baby straight in the trash can. That means they’re just throwing it out of the way of the toys they actually play with.
Most of the toys I’m tripping over are gifts from family members. I make an effort to let them know that gifts are welcome and wonderful, and we prefer clothes and books for gifts. We’re the only limb of the family with kiddos so we’re surrounded by people who don’t quite understand the struggle of keeping the house semi-clean and who want to shower our children with their love! I get it and I appreciate it. And I want their gifts to be used and worthwhile, which is why I think it’s okay to let people know what will be the most appreciated – books and clothes!
I get so tired of feeling like there’s never any time for the things that fill my own bucket. I keep saying that I don’t need a house that’s ready to be photographed for a catalog, but I just want to be able to walk through my house and not feel like a horrible mother because of the mess. Truly – just keeping the floors clean has helped me spend more time with a book in my hand and at my writing table with peace of mind.
Is there one crucial chore that you make sure you do everyday? Any advice for this mama of three who’d like a little more time to be cozy and crack open a book or three? Please share!