The 5 o’clock mess: a mama’s version of mindfulness

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5 o’clock Monday evening. I look around the house. How is it possible it is such a disaster already? It was clean last night.

For a moment I reflect on how so many things are out of place and wonder at the series of actions that led them to their current place. A huge bowl of peppers knocked off the table by a climbing baby, bites taken, and seeds spread all over the floor mixed with cucumber peels the babe chucked from her highchair at lunch. So many toys. And I try to be a minimalist....ha, yeah right. I won’t even mention how gross the kitchen looks ….with all our canning and cooking and harvesting, it becomes a cyclone of food ends and dirty dishes.

“Ok, Aza. Time to clean up! Do you want to put away your books or collect up your toy food?” She chooses books so I scoop up the wood bananas, and apples, wondering why she needs play fruit when she has a bowl full of real peppers and apples and carrots from the garden to play with.

We have fun. Aza likes to put things in boxes and baskets so I have lots of boxes and baskets to hide her toys in. 20 minutes later the house is clean. Hmmm, not as bad as I thought. And then I had this realization.

Picking up the house is like an everyday thing.

For this non-routine living revolutionary….Mind blown.

I was unhappy about the cyclone I saw around me because I expected that it shouldn’t be that way….”because I had cleaned it yesterday”. I had checked it off the list…”house cleaned, check.” And because all those pretty homes on Pinterest that I look at never have a thing out of place or a crumb on the floor….much less pepper seeds scattered around the entire house.

If my expectation is that I clean up everyday, 20 minutes of playful clean up with my toddler is one of the many things I spend my time doing. It is simply the process of living.

But in today’s world we often find ourselves to busy for these “processes of living” …, cooking, growing food, self grooming…..The simple acts of caring for ourselves and our small space on the planet. Our expectation is that these type of maintenance tasks shouldn’t be taking up space from more important things. And with these expectations, these maintenance tasks become immediately unenjoyable….so we buy convenience foods, hire maids, and watch the dishes pile up because we did them yesterday!

I recognized that my expectations are actually misaligned with my values of simple, homestead, Diy living. In many homesteads cleaning and other “maintenance activities” is the majority of everyday living….. Taking care of yourself , your animals, and your land.

These things are not chores to be gotten through. They are LIVING.

And with that shift in expectation, alignment happened and my experience shifted.

I also reflected how in some areas of my house some of my systems worked really well to make it easy to clean up my house quickly so that this maintenance part of my life didn’t have to take up my whole day. I saw other areas where better systems would definitely prevent the mess from even getting this big to begin with. The biggest cause of mess is always too much stuff. When there are too many clothes in the drawer, the laundry starts piling up. When there is too much junk mail coming into the house, the entry table starts filling up with mail and then it gets ripped into tiny pieces and scattered around the house by little baby curious hands. If Aza had fewer toys, there would not be such a cyclone of toys when she pulls out everything she owns….which is everyday by the way.

And there are also some areas where I don’t want to have any systems because I want to let them be as messy as they want to be in the moment and then just clean them up afterwards. For example, I love Aza playing with all our produce in the harvesting baskets…I don’t want a system to prevent that. I want Aza to feel she has access to art supplies and other things that stimulate creativity. I am ok with the mess that ensues. Recognizing that there are some areas where I value the messiness, I decide that in the other areas where I don’t value the mess I’d like to get creative coming up with a system that creates neatness naturally ….starting with a cleanse of toys and clothes and mugs that don’t match so they can actually fit in the drawers and storage baskets I have available, and a home for all things so I don’t have to open all the drawers just to find a spatula or spend 20 minutes locating a hammer or pair of scissors, or buying yet another roll of tape because I can’t find the ones I bought last time.

It seems I often derive my biggest life lessons from the operations of my home, because I see how this whole process of thinking about the mess in my living room at 5oclock on a Monday, is actually a useful process for all areas of our life and business.

Where in your life are you noticing some repeated chaos? Take a moment to reflect on it’s source, it’s pattern, it’s journey from it’s peaceful state to the turmoil it is now creating. Check in on how your own beliefs or expectations are effecting your interpretation of this chaos. Get curious about if your expectations are in alignment with how you want to live your life and reflect your values? Ask yourself where do I value the messiness? And where is the messiness just getting in the way of me having time to enjoy other parts of my life? For these areas, what creative systems can you put in place that once they are set up then allow your desired feelings and outcomes to flow naturally just from you simply living?


From our family to yours,

Tessa Chittle

signature pic - Aza


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