Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better,
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come ’round again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not always kind.
And when you go and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.
From Inspiration Peak
* * *
I grew up under the despotic rule of cleanies. Everything was supposed to be pristine, tidy and clean 24 hours a day 7 days a week just in case a neighbour or a friend would come for a visit unexpectedly. There was no time or space left for life, smiles or laughter. Everything was completely cleaned out. Expected unexpected neighbours and visitors never came either…
The family I got married into turned out to be completely opposite. It was full of characters, as clearly reflected in their houses.
It did not take long for me to realise that the only way of keeping the house clean was by banning from entering the house anybody genetically related to that side of the family (including my own children). Hm, that was not a good solution, was it?
After a while we worked out the threshold of messiness that our family can tolerate with the whole family sharing efforts in keeping the house somewhere above that threshold. Our house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy, with lots of games, giggles and fun. 🙂
If you have some super neat freaks in your family, give them a hug and point out to them that:
- Alexander Fleming was teased by colleagues for his disorderly desk. He kept everything – notes, slides, test tubes – in case he had a new idea or noticed a change. He was clearing his desk in 1928 when a dot of mould in an old petri dish led to his discovery of penicillin. May be, your clutter will lead to a world-changing discovery too?
- a study by researchers at Columbia Business School found that people who kept a neat desk spent 36 per cent more time looking for things than people who kept a “fairly messy” desk. Filing and retrieving things from files takes precious time.
- Albert Einsteins’s untamed hair signified his attitude to neatness. “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” he declared.
But look at tidy people in history and who do you see? Dictators, secret policemen and oppressors. Hitler was known for his love of neatness and order; Mussolini kept an immaculately tidy desk. Saddam Hussein’s guards have told of the former Iraqi dictator’s obsession with cleanliness – he washed his hands after every handshake.
Besides, what if burglars break into your house? Surely, you would not want to make it too easy for them. 😉
A good obstacle course might also help your family to stay fit 😉
Last but not least, if your super-freaky-neat-in-laws come for a visit, reassure them that your house was super-freaky-neatly clean… last week. It is such a pity that they missed it 😉
If you are a neat freak living in a messy household, don’t despair. Ignoring the problem won’t work. You’ll need to face it honestly, but respectfully.
Instead of constantly nagging about everything that needs to be done, identify the chores that are most important to you. For example, if you are most concerned with the living room looking presentable, ask for your spouse’s help in keeping the room clear of shoes, clothes, junk mail, etc. Don’t forget to explain why 😉
Go easy on yourself and your family. Take an objective step back and ask if your average guest would really notice that the baseboards haven’t been dusted recently.
Don’t forget to enjoy life. Allow yourself to relax with your spouse or get out and do something fun. Looking back on their younger years, few people will say, “If only I had spent more time cleaning.” 😉
And don’t worry if you never have that amazing feeling when you got to bed knowing your entire house is super-clean. Neither do I 😉
- The Messy Myth: Is Being Organized Really Always Best?
- Relationship issues: “the neat vs. the messy”
- Neat Freaks vs. Clutter Bugs: What Does ‘Clean’ Mean?
- How to live with a messy person
- A Field Guide to the Neat Freak
- Messy? I’m an artist!