I have always been what my husband calls a “neat freak”. Everything in my home has a place and if it doesn’t have a place it can’t stay in my home. I am also somewhat of a minimalist; I would go through my house a few times a year and if I hadn’t used an object for its intended purpose I would consider whether I truly needed it. Usually I did not and it would be sold or donated. I also held a very regimented cleaning schedule and stuck to it each week, I function best in a clean and organized setting. I find chaos and clutter quite stressful and my brain can’t focus on anything but the cleaning that needs to be done.
My husband on the other hand has always been a bit of a collector he enjoys finding what he calls treasures, even though I would consider most of it someone else’s trash. My husband is more laid back and easygoing than I am when it comes to cleaning and clutter. Honestly, he’s more laid back and easy going than I am in general but it’s like his brain is programmed to overlook the little messes that stand out and call to me. The only affect his treasures have on me is they start my eye twitch. I will admit there have been a few instances where he has acquired something new and I gave him a hard time about it but then ending up needing it as part of a project. But don’t tell him that, he would consider this written approval to bring home all the treasures he sees.
When we were starting our family he asked me what I was planning on doing once we had a child and I remember asking what he meant. Supposedly children are messy and have a lot of stuff and he was concerned my twitchy eye would get worse. I can clean it after the baby goes to bed I told him, it would be fine I told him.
Turns out babies aren’t messy… but toddlers are a combination of a tornado and a earthquake. I can spend two hours while my son naps cleaning the house, he wakes up and it’s like the Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoon is twirling through my house and I’m back at square one. He literally walks from his bedroom to the kitchen after a nap and the entire way is pulling pillows and blankets off couches and throwing toys out of his toy box on his way through. I can barely keep up. I will mop the floors while he naps and then when he has his snack it’s like he’s forgotten the food goes in his mouth and there is food all over my clean floors. I now spend my days constantly wondering what the sticky spot on the floor could be. I call my son my little rabbit because he leaves little droppings everywhere; thank goodness they are toy and blanket droppings and not actual droppings.
Also, people you know who have children see this as an opportunity to declutter their homes. They do this by bringing all their unwanted items to your home. I have a couple of friends who bring something every time they come for a play date, I appreciate they think of my son when looking to rid themselves of toddler clutter but my home is full. I should mention at this point my son has a bedroom, a living room and a yard filled with toys yet the snow shovel and a laundry basket are his toys of choice. I now tell them when they come to visit if they bring something they must take something home with them… they bring much less.
With working full time and having a toddler my perception of clean and organized has shifted slightly. My once sparkling clean house is now more of an organized chaos and my twitchy eye has calmed herself. My eye twitch does still appear when I step in a sticky spot on the floor or walk through crumbs. So I clean as we go and tidy when I can. But I have had a cleaning epiphany; I will always function better in a clean and organized environment but my family functions very well in the organized toddler chaos we have become.
Christina Komives is sales manager for The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.