I have spent countless January 1sts making resolutions to be more organized. I’d go out shopping and spend an obscene amount at the container store, envisioning how life-changing those clear pantry containers would be for my family and me. I’d spend a few weeks purging, organizing, and cleaning only to feel defeated in February when I couldn’t keep up with it. And like almost every other person who makes a new year’s resolution, I’d beat myself up for not being able to stick to a promise I made for the new year.
I didn’t realize until maybe a year ago that I was stuck in a shame cycle with cleaning and organizing. For so long, I did not realize that I carried around an underlying belief that being organized was good and being disorganized was bad. If I delved even deeper, I had a belief that being organized was the ultimate feminine quality and was inherently part of being a good wife, a good mother, and a good woman. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a group of moms that talk about their “OCD” with cleaning and organizing, and without fail, almost every mom chimes in and states they are the same way. For years I’d go quiet in these conversations and say to myself, “You need to be like that. You can do it if you just try harder to make it a priority.”
And truth be told, I LOVE a clean house and a clean office. I feel like I work better and feel calmer without clutter or when I know where things are. However, I have come to understand that executive function is something I struggle with and will always be a challenge for me. No tip, cleaning method, or storage system will change this, and I have to embrace it. I have learned workarounds as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve made peace that my standard of clean is lower than what most moms would consider clean. Truth be told, there are some blessings in functioning this way! For example, I can enjoy a family game night or playing with my kids, knowing there is clutter on the kitchen island or toys strung out throughout the hallways. I can relax at the end of the day without cleaning my house for hours.
I follow a blogger that consistently preaches no morality to cleanliness and organization. And for some reason, that was an “aha moment for me.” I didn’t realize who pervasive my thoughts were about cleanliness or organization. The dirty dishes in my sink or the crumbs on my floor do not make me less than a mom who has an immaculate house. And if you feel that your sparkling clean house does give you a sense of superiority, I would beg you to examine that further. Could a person with a messy house struggle with depression? Adult ADHD? Chronic pain? Neurodivergence? Stress? Postpartum Mood Disorder? Just literally having children live in your house? Etc.
So, stop beating yourself up, put down those damn clear containers, and repeat after me, “There is no morality in being messy. There is no morality in being organized.” Repeat that every time you have a thought or belief system that triggers shame around cleaning. It won’t shift overnight, but I guarantee you will feel a sense of freedom with time.