I have this crazy, weird, sometimes annoying thing about me that I have to tidy. I tidy twice a day, right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. And I love it.
I think I learned it from my dear, sweet mother. The word “tidy” was said as frequently as the word “please” in my house growing up. My brothers and I all knew she meant business when mom said she was going to tidy up the living room or that we needed to tidy up the mess on the stairs. She was the tidy queen and she made us into her little tidy helpers (which she really had no choice but to force us into doing – there were four of us and one of her…she was outnumbered).
All of the time spent tidying as a kid and always living in a home that felt “picked up” is what makes me a lover of all things neat and tidy. It never seemed like a burden to my mom (maybe it was though, four kids, I’m sure she had her moments) and she was always able to keep the house in a mostly-presentable state all the time. So I continued to use my tidying skills as I grew up and moved into my own places.
A friend asked me one time, “How is your house always so clean?” Now, dear friends, there is a difference between clean and tidy. Let’s just get that out of the way. At any given minute you can find toothpaste stains on my bathroom mirrors and dusty bookshelves galore. But tidy, yes. I will say that 95% of the time, my house is tidy.
How is it that I manage to keep my home tidy? Well first of all, I have no kids and my home sizes have ranged from 750-square-feet to 1800-square-feet. I’m picking up after two people, two dogs, in a pretty manageable-sized space. And even so, I’ve recruited my husband so I am not flying solo in my tidying endeavors. He knows I get grumpy when he leaves nine pairs of shoes by the front door. So he helps a lot.
The why I keep my home tidy, that’s the kicker.
Because it just feels better to live in a tidy space.
Everyone has read those articles about people who try to sleep in a room that’s messy every night vs. people who sleep in a room that’s picked up and tidy every night, right? You sleep better in a tidy room and I believe that you live better in a tidy house. Plus, there are tons of books on “How to Tidy,” and “The Art of Tidying” so it must be a legit thing if there’s a book about it (bless the person who calls tidying an art…I will now refer to myself as an artist).
I feel happier when my house is put together. This is purely a personal thing. But even if you’re skeptical that having a tidy home will really change your mood, I challenge you to start with one room and try it. Report back 🙂
Because you never know when you might have company.
This is a huge motivator for me and another lesson I learned from mommy-dearest. Growing up and living in the south (especially in a residential neighborhood in the south) you might have visitors drop by your place with zero warning. No calling ahead, no scheduling a play date or coffee date. They’ll just pop on in on their way home from the gym just to say howdy neighbor!
You never know when someone might stop by, and if you live by the tidy rule your home will almost always be in a somewhat presentable state. I realize that good friends really don’t care what your home looks like and that they just want to spend time with you. But let’s be honest, we want our homes to be welcoming and a reflection of ourselves.
I think I have my stuff pretty well put together most days so I’d like my house to really show that too. If you tidy up, you’ll never be feel embarrassed when your parents, friends or neighbors swing by to say hello.
Because if I start now, it will become a habit.
Yes, I have days where I go to bed with dog toy stuffing in every room in the house and
dishes still in the sink blankets thrown around on the couches. But for the most part I stick to my tidying routine. Even though right now tidying takes all of about 3 minutes because our space is so small and we are a family of two (plus two dogs), I hope it won’t be that way forever.
As our family size and our square footage continue to grow, I want to continue keeping my house tidy. The only way I’ll be able to accomplish that as my stages in life change is to make it a habit now. I’m not crazy, I know some things will definitely have to change and I won’t be able to keep up with active toddlers running around while trying to cook dinner and tidy. I am not superwoman and I don’t ever want to be. But getting in the habit of picking up my home is something I want to stick to. I do it now so that I’ll continue doing it in the future.
Because it helps keep me from living with excess stuff.
Want to curb your shopping habit? Do you feel like you’re constantly fumbling over dog toys, kid toys, shoes, soccer balls, jackets, blankets…just stuff? If you tidy up every day, you will quickly learn what you have way too much of.
When you have to put everything away, in a home, in its place, you become very aware of just how many pairs of shoes or chewed up dog toys you own. When I put things away, I think about two things: 1) when it’s time to throw things away, and 2) when it’s time to stop buying things.
When I tidy, I look at the condition of things. Is it old or dirty? Is it broken or unusable? Then I need to toss it. I don’t want to put away any more things than I have to so if it’s not serving a purpose, it needs to go. This is probably another factor in how quickly you can tidy a room. The less stuff you have, the quicker it goes! Pay attention to the condition of the things you’re putting away and decide if you need to keep it or toss it.
Real life example: My husband has so many hats. SO MANY HATS. We decided he probably had enough and until he got rid of a few he wasn’t going to buy any more. Why? Because he was tired of always picking up his hats. If you have too much of something trust me, you’ll get tired of tidying up that same thing real quick. Tidying is a great motivator in curbing your shopping habit.
Jump on the tidy train!
The best way to get in the habit of tidying is just to start. Just try it out in one room. Or two. It’s a labor of love so you might not fall in love with it (or maybe you will, you can join my band of crazy), but you’ll feel better. Do not do it alone.
Tidying should not fall on the shoulders of one person. You can’t do it all. Get your kids, spouse, or roommate involved. You should all share in the joy of creating a space to live in that is free of clutter and where everything is put away.
Take pride in where you live and don’t be afraid of unexpected visitors! Make it a welcoming environment for everyone – including you! You’ll be surprised how much more at-home and relaxed you feel living in a tidy house.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out this post on 5 things I do in the morning to tidy up. Sometimes we just need a little nudge in the right direction to get things going!