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The myth of the organized house

by respaced on September 15, 2009

It’s been my experience that new mamas often feel pressure to keep their houses looking spiffy and neat once they take that leap to becoming stay-at-home moms. The reasoning goes, “Now that I’m home every day, I have time to keep up on the housework and have no reason to let clutter get out of control.” Another belief goes like this: “My new job is that of a stay-at-home mom. Keeping the house looking great is 50 percent of the job description (the other 50 percent is being a parent). Therefore, I should attack the clutter and housework with the same vigor and focus with which I attacked the tasks at my old job.”

I have fallen victim to these beliefs too, but here is what I have learned the hard way. Once you become a stay-at-home mom, you take on many jobs, not just the jobs of housekeeper and parent. In addition to those two very large jobs, you also usually become a chauffeur, a shopper/errand runner, a social secretary and your child’s first teacher. This is in addition to being a wife, friend, and possibly daughter/niece/sister, roles which also require time and energy. Finally, you absolutely must take time for yourself to recharge your batteries so you can play all these roles. And that takes time too.

So given that you have about 10 jobs now that you quit your previous job, it is completely understandable that you would feel overwhelmed, exhausted and inadequate. Inevitably, something has to give. And that something is usually the housework and clutter control. But in some ways this is good, because it is the least important job! Your relationship to your child, husband/partner, friends and yourself is far more crucial to maintain than your relationship to your house.

Sure, a certain amount of housework is essential. You have to have clean dishes to eat off of and clean clothes to wear. But don’t beat yourself up over neglecting to sweep the floors, clear the piles off the table or put each and every toy, article of clothing, book and magazine away each day. You have limited time and resources, which you’re choosing to spend on the people in your life (yourself included), rather than on keeping up appearances.

This is where my job as a professional organizer comes in. I help mamas create an organizational framework in their house so when it is time to clean up, it can be done quickly and efficiently. I want busy mamas to spend their precious time doing more enjoyable things than housework and clutter control. But first they must relinquish the vision of the perfectly maintained house. It’s just not realistic nor worth the time and energy it would take.

In the end, being a good domestic diva simply means having a house that is functional, relaxing and safe. Don’t let Martha Stewart and her wannabes tell you otherwise.

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