Because I’m not a great house keeper (read: basically the worst) my house is chaotic (read: like a tornado hit it. Scrach that – several tornadoes). I know everyone says they're the worst house keeper, but I actually am. I keep up with the dishes and the laundry, and that’s about it. There are pockets of trouble everywhere – corners filled with stacks of unhung photo frames and utility bills, exercise equipment gathering dust behind the gas heater, unread magazines and books piled up on top of each other, broken blinds that I need Chris to open for me if I want to experience sunshine in my cavernous living room, burnt-out light fittings that have needed replacing for months, and DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THE MISCELLANEOUS CABLES THAT ARE EVERYWHERE. We could open a cable shop. Well, we actually couldn’t because we wouldn’t be able to tell you what all the cables belong to and what they do. I swear those things freaking breed.
A lot of the time, these trouble pockets fade into the background. They are invisible to me, quietly keeping to themselves, right up until the moment when we have guests coming over and they’re 20 minutes from arriving and I suddenly get the pressing need to attack ALL THE THINGS and try to find a place to put them. Amazingly, that never goes very well. Plus when you move the things, they unleash terrific clouds of dust and dog hair and then nobody should be entering the premises without a hazmat suit and a breathing mask.
Every now and then, I’ll be minding my own business, with no impending guests on the horizon, and something will catch my eye, and I will feel crazy. Crawling out of my skin crazy. Maybe it’s because I’m a stay-at-home Mum now and trapped inside it all more often than not, but it hurts my soul. It doesn’t matter that for a solid two weeks I have been perfectly satisfied with my not-so-beautiful mess. Suddenly the chaos of it all has hit me and I can literally feel my brain creasing under the pressure of it all.
Last week it was dirty formula bottles, and the meltdown was epic. We have a bottle sterilizer and I am pretty stellar at keeping on top of this particular chore (because #hungrybaby) – we use four bottles, I wash them, then I sterilize them. Voila, clean bottles. But something happened last week and I think there were six bottles on my bench in various stages of unclean. Logically, I could just wash them, sterilize four of them, then load the other two up in the sterilizer. But I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I shut down. I just stared at them, my heart hammering, and thought “HOW CAN I LIVE LIKE THIS.” Of course I wasn’t just freaking out over the bottles. My eyes were fixed on them, but as I stared, every cable, every magazine, every dust bunny was popping up in my peripheral vision. I wandered around my house, avoiding the bottles, my brain exploding. I don’t think I’ve felt quite so highly strung since about a week before I found out I was pregnant with Jackson and the smell of a toasted sandwich in the office kitchen hit me so hard in the face that I cried and had to go hide in the bathroom (I wish there was more to that story to make it seem more normal but that is literally how it happened. Thanks hormones).
So it’s fair to say, the chaos got me that day. But I’m not known to be a negative person. I don’t like to dwell on difficulties. I seek out peacefulness and simple joy like they’re precious diamonds. So I didn’t just ignore the chaos and wait for it to hit me again. I also didn’t resolve to immediately fix everything because past experience has taught me that won’t work. For me, small and gradual changes are the only way that I can tackle big things. I started by setting myself two goals for this new month – I planned to make our bed every day (unheard of in my house!) and making sure the kitchen is clean and wiped down before bedtime each night. These are probably things that pretty much every adult human is already doing, but I wasn’t and I needed a very basic starting point if I was going to start feeling in control of my chaos. Now it doesn’t matter so much to me that there are piles of clothes on the bedroom floor and teetering towers of junk on the bedside tables – because our bed is cozy and inviting and peaceful. The scrapbooking supplies strewn across the dining room table, and the boxes of yet-to-be-used laminate floorboards against the meals area wall hurt a little less, because my white kitchen bench is clear and hygienic, and although we have ants they are just wandering around aimlessly now because there isn’t so much as a speck or a crumb for them to go to town on.
Like I said, they’re small changes, but they’re working for me and it’s a starting point. Next month, on top of these tasks, perhaps I will wipe down the bathroom every Sunday, or get into the habit of daily tidying. And maybe next time the chaos catches up with me, it won’t seem quite so insurmountable as it did last week.
Small changes. Easy and life changing. We all have some form of chaos, whether it’s in our homes, our workplaces, our relationships, our habits, our finances… What small changes can you make to ease your chaos?