Finding Peace in the Clutter, a.k.a. How to Avoid Screaming Expletives at Your Family When You See the State of the Living Room

Steven and I agree that the thing we dislike the most about our home is the clutter. With two working parents and two fun-loving, toy-loving children, it is difficult to corral all the stuff.

We have the messy living room,

the kitchen counter that always gets junked up,

the dining room-turned-Steven’s-workspace,

the ever-present basket of laundry waiting to be taken upstairs,

and the can’t-seem-to-stay-clean dresser top.

There are a few organized spaces in the house:

But then you have the chaos of the kids’ closets:

Here’s the thing: I truly believe that your home has a psychological effect on you. When I get home at the end of the day, a cluttered house multiplies the stress of the day and makes me feel irritated, not peaceful. But when I enter a tidy home, I feel much more relaxed and calm.

So I decided to poll my family to see what parts of our home make them feel peaceful. The boys said silly stuff like “the toilet” and “my jacket.” So we ignored them and my ever-willing Madeleine helped me find some peaceful places around the house.

The kids’ altars:

The breakfast nook, where we eat breakfast and supper together:

For me, the kitchen. While I admit it annoys me to see a stack of dirty dishes in the sink, the ritual of cooking supper each night has a calming, centering effect on me. Somehow it anchors me to the earthy, the ordinary, a task that needs to be done day in and day out, but done out of love for my family (and an enjoyment of cooking).

Madeleine surprised me when she said that what brought her the most peace was three icons on the wall at the top of the stairs. She can see them from her bed and looks at them every night to help her go to sleep.
The icon to the left is of the mothers of 3 Orthodox hierarchs (one of which is my saint, Saint Nonna). In the center is an icon of the Nativity, and on the right is the icon of the Conception of Mary, which shows Anna and Joachim hugging (that’s as risque as it gets).

Madeleine also wanted to get her blankie, dolls, and Elephie (stuffed elephant/favorite toy) on the list of peaceful items, and she offered to pose with them.

Steven and I decided that we will start giving each child one dollar of allowance a week. To earn it, they have to clean up their toys/stuff each night and clean their room once a week. Every night before bed, we have clean up time. We all pretty much hate it, but our house has been better. Eventually we will purchase some items to help us organize more (and we will put some paint on the walls at some point!), but for now, the clutter is subsiding somewhat.

All that said, I never want to make a perfect house more important that the things of true value in life. Sometimes a chore needs to be left undone . . .

. . . . in order to play hide and seek!


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One comment

  1. wherewander says:

    I agree with you, coming back from work and finding a place that it´s all messy ads to the stress of the day. But it´s a live place !!!

    One thing you can try is to compromise with all the members of your family and find a corner, the peaceful corner, that place always has to be tidy. So you know it´s there for you.

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