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Embrace the Chaos
My house is messy. It's not just messy, it's an ode to mess. It's mess poetry, mess pageantry, mess wizardry on a par with the knots in Dumbledore's beard. My house is no less than an eight stage messtival to which I will happily sell you a ticket.
Twas not always so. Well, the mess was always so - and has been much enhanced by my receipt-hoarding husband, (one of the reasons we are such a good match...) and our two children. But a couple of years ago, I would never have sold tickets.
Our first child tipped us from mussed-up into complete chaos. I struggled so much with my house being a tip that I would simply avoid inviting people round. And when I did, I would waste valuable cake-eating time apologising for the fact that we lived in such a pigsty.
I'm still a bit embarrassed when new friends visit for the first time and I would never hold a work meeting in my front room. But since having a second child and approaching 40, I've become much more sanguine about the whole experience. It's the house or the kids. And I choose the kids every time. I even encourage them to make more mess.
A good friend gave me a fridge magnet that says 'dull women have immaculate houses'. She knows me well and I take that as a wonderful compliment. I have never aspired to immaculate deception, and I am trying my messy best to live a full and honest life. That life involves family, friends, creative work for fun, and creative work for money - currently in that order.
Tidying the house comes at the bottom of the list. We're not rich enough for a cleaner (nor do I have the time to do a pre-cleaner-clean, which would definitely be required...) my husband's too busy, the kids too small, and I don't want to do it, so... It stays messy.
I manage the speediest washing up, hanging out of washing, wiping of surfaces, floor-brushing and hoovering possible to avoid the spread of germs. I've taught myself to work comfortably in a room full of chaos. Time spent on tidying is time not spent on life. And the kids will only get it all out again later.
(I am however following a simple decluttering calendar which is brilliant. It means I spend 10 minutes a day on tasks that I would never in a million years think of doing otherwise - like throwing away old recipes I've never attempted, giving away potions I never use (furniture polish for example) and turning frayed towels into flannels. These tiny ridiculous activities leave little cleared spaces in the house that bring a smile to my face. They also serve as handy distractions for visiting guests...)
On twitter this week, there's been a lot of chat about mess, prompted by Photograph Your Chaos, our story of mum activity that encourages mums to share photos of their house at its worst. Here, you can browse pictures of other mums' mess that will make you feel better about your own. And if you're ready to share the love, you can share a picture of your very own clutter.
I for one would love to see photographic proof of your balanced busy life, time spent with your kids and on things that really matter to you. Indisputable evidence that you are anything but dull. Mums everywhere, embrace the chaos, before it embraces you. Join in.
To spur you on, here's a storify of some of the tweets I've shared this week about mums' mess: