Any question that starts with how is probably a good one. How questions indicate a desire to learn, grow, achieve, accomplish, conquer, etc.
My last post was on not being afraid to share your mess. But then, one of my readers asked, “How do I let it go?” Easy-peasy for me to tell you all to get over your piles of laundry and dust bunnies, but if changing were as simple as making up our minds to do so, most of us would have done so already.
Considering there are entire books written on the subject, I can’t answer this question in its entirety, but I will share a couple of my own strategies that you might find helpful. Remember, I am a work in progress. These are tips and tools that help me when I use them. Having the discipline to follow through is not always easy!
1) Lower your expectations, and then maybe lower them again. It’s a little painful at first, but then you get used to it. Perfection isn’t a healthy standard.
2) Eliminate distractions. Maybe your house is messy because you spend too much time on social media or watching TV. Find the triggers that waste your time and start to control them.
3) Don’t keep a neat house simply to please others at the expense of your sanity. Some people will never be pleased. I spent all day cleaning my house one time before I had people over. I was neurotic about everything being just so. When the group came over, one of the ladies pointed out some cobwebs in a corner, then proceeded to chastise me and demonstrate how to get rid of them. I felt mortified. That moment was eye-opening, though. I realized I could never clean things up enough to pass the test of the most watchful eye. Instead of trying harder, I learned to be more reasonable in my cleaning efforts and prepared myself to shrug off any future criticism. (I think this one is most freeing for me).
4) Ruthlessly rid your house of things that might clutter it up right away. This is a battle I find myself waging again and again. I have made progress, but still need to improve more in this particular area. Having a system for dealing with junk mail, kids’ homework papers, etc. helps in this category.
5) Identify your core values. What do you value most? If you value relationships, then sacrificing your pride in order to have people into your home is worth it. I wonder whoever said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness?” Because that ain’t in the Good Book for sure.
6) Read and discover. I believe nearly every problem can be solved by reading the right book. There are tons of home organization books out there, and also books about learning to set healthy boundaries…whichever beast you decide to tackle. The Hands Free Mama book I recommended in another post gives you strategies for letting go of perfection. Crystal Paine, the Money Saving Mom, just published a book called Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Only read this if you are extremely type A, though. I found it a bit overwhelming, but there are many practical strategies included. A writer acquaintance of mine, Angie Ryg, wrote a book called Clutter Free Simplicity. I’ve read about half of it so far, and it gives step by step instructions on how to tackle clutter. Angie is witty, honest, and real! It’s available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend, is one of my favorite books on learning to let go of guilt. It is a must read!
7) Remember, mess does make some people truly uncomfortable, especially if they have to live in it. My husband feels anxious if things get too terribly cluttered. Work toward compromise in this area if necessary, and make it a team effort. If you stay at home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are responsible for picking up all of the messes.
8) Delegate jobs. Even the tiniest people can help out. This is another area where my family is a work in progress. I start one system, the boys adapt, and I have to move on to another. Often the clean-up is just easier to do myself, but I know I’m robbing them of the opportunity to practice responsibility and am enabling them to dictate the mess.
The point of my last post was to help you learn the importance of giving yourself grace. I just think if the people who walk into your home get all “judgy” on you instead of accepting your home for what it is (provided you’re not living in unsanitary conditions), then they aren’t someone worth calling a friend. If the mess bothers them, they should offer a helping hand. I know friends who have helped other friends organize their homes better. That’s community in action.
I’ll end with some advice from Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived:
“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.”
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 The Message
Enjoy the now. It’s all you have!
If you didn’t read part one of this post you can read it here.
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