Real talk: I struggle with keeping order in my house. There’s a pretty constant layer of clutter, in the form of glasses in our sink, mail on our front table, and shoes kicked off just inside our front door. Some may even go as far as saying I’m “messy.” Even though I know I fit all the signs you're a messy person, I’m a little resistant to adopting this label myself. It just kinda feels like I’m too busy living my best life to stop and clean. And by "living my best life," I mean chasing after a naked, running toddler with a diaper in my hand, losing count of the amount of coffee I’ve needed in a particular day, or staying up suuuuuper late to make a deadline and trudging around like a zombie the next morning. I’m almost positive that’s what Oprah had in mind when she coined the term. But still, it feels unnecessary and wrong for that to mean I have a wear a label that is so often associated with being lazy, or ineffectual. I'm neither, and I know that, so I shy away from self-identifying as messy, although, hey, the randomly tossed aside shoe fits.
I guess my identity as a "messy" person goes even deeper: I’m not a naturally clean person. In the past, I’ve had roommates that were tidy as hell, and while we butted heads at the time (shout out to Briana, Katie, Jane, Melissa, Marci, and Laura — sorry for all the towels) I’m not-so-secretly jealous of people who can move through their day without leaving a trail behind them. For the record, I’m not talking hoarders-level clutter issues. That's clearly a whole other set of problems. This is more about a steady state of manageable clutter in our household that, frankly, I'm starting to doubt will ever go away.
While I’m working on my housekeeping abilities (as I will be until the day I drop dead), I’ve stopped beating myself up over this fault. And, like the former camp counselor I'll always be, I harbor an ability to see the bright side in things, so allow me to share the good parts about being messy, and being a parent:
1. You Still Know Where Things Are
The baby’s hat is stuffed into his toy bin, his favorite book is in between the couch cushions, and his shoes are under the couch. BOOM. Don't ever forget that this isn't just a mess — it's my mess. I own this sh*t.
2. You Watch Your Kid Like a Hawk Around Clutter
Wait, so you’re telling me that I could put away these craft supplies, and then I wouldn’t have to spend any time wondering if he’ll get into them? That sounds too simple. Is this some kind of joke?
3. You Enjoy Play Time With Your Kids Instead Of Constantly Cleaning Up After Them
I mean, I could spend play time tidying up around my son, or I could lay on the floor next to him and try to trick him into snuggling me in between ball throws. This seems like a no-brainer.
4. “Good Thing It’s Bath Day!”
It’s always bath day in the Ogden household. Not so much because our son needs a bath everyday, but because… wait, yes, he does need a bath everyday. What am I talking about? Kids are gross. And they just get grosser as they get older. I feel like an unfair assumption about messy people is that we're also dirty — there's such a huge difference. Just because it takes me forever to fold laundry, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to bathe my kid.
5. Your Kid Might Still Actually Like To Clean
I swear I’m not making this up: If I hand my kiddo a paper towel or wash cloth of some kind, he will swipe it over whatever surface happens to be nearest to him, then look up proudly at me. If the broom is within reach (we keep our stashed in between the washing machine and the wall), he will help himself to it and drag it around the laundry room like so. I don’t know where it came from, but we aren’t complaining. Apparently messiness is not genetic. As long as my kid doesn't grow up to become a clutter-shamer, I have no problem with him choosing a tidier life journey than mine.
6. The Time I Spend Not Cleaning Most Often Goes Toward Other Family Things
I mean, as tempting as it is to mop the floor right now, it’s not as enticing as reading to my kiddo and singing itsy-bitsy spider to him, or planning a weekend trip for all of us, or cooking an amazing dinner. Floors can wait.
7. Extra Clutter Can Make For Good Toys
I can’t tell you how many times my little has started to get feisty, and I’ve been able to hand him... uhhh... *scans nearby area*... THIS STRAW! OMG AMAZING, LOOK, SON! or... THE OVERSIZED CAP TO THE SUNSCREEN WOW LOOK AT THIS COOL NEW TREASURE! A cluttered house is a ~sensory engagement~ field day.