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Minimally Happier. Wednesday March 29, 2017

"If the two of you intend to catch a train," said the leader of the marriage preparation course my soon-to-be husband and I took many years ago, "Then one of you will arrive in time to catch the earlier train." He looked around the couples, noting the smug expressions on half the faces. "The other," he continued, "Prefers to give the train a sporting chance."

This has proved to be true in my own marriage. My husband is congenitally early for everything; I am on time – or at least, in time – most of the time. The train rarely gets away.

Tidiness is a similar matter. I love to be tidy. I should adore to be a minimalist. But – I am a hoarder. My hobby is papercraft and, like most crafters, I will confess to having a "stash" far bigger than I could use up in three lifetimes. And yes – of course - I am always buying more! I can tidy up, but within twenty-four hours or less, my study looks as if a hurricane has visited.

Not so the rest of my family. When I was a child my regular punishment was being told to, "Go and tidy your room." With my girls, it would be "Go and untidy your room!" We have a family joke that the bedroom of my eldest is so immaculate it could belong to a potential psychopath. My daughter, who considers "Assassin" to be a perfectly valid career choice, merely smiles like a shark whenever this is mentioned. It is she who said to me, "I know you can get therapy for OCD, but – honestly – why would you want to?" (With apologies to those of you who do suffer with OCD.)

Untidiness and clutter not only offends her, it distresses her. Last Saturday she snapped. "This kitchen is disgusting!" She announced. "It's cluttered, untidy and impossible to clean. I want to do something about it!"

I looked around; she had a point. So, as a loving mother I set to work with her to declutter, reorganise and clean.

Out went the sad begonia on the window sill. Out went the old-fashioned scales with weights I had bought on a whim and never used. Out went the cheap (and unscented) scented candles. We cleared the paper mountain on the side. We culled the mug collection. Everything that could be put away was put away. Then we deep-cleaned the whole room.

The feeling of pride, pleasure and satisfaction was enormous.

"Now," said my daughter, fixing me with a gimlet eye, "We keep it this way!"

And, do you know, this time, we have.

We have rules. All paperwork is to be dealt with each day. All washing up is to be done after every meal. All surfaces are to be clear before bedtime.

Rules and regulations are solace to my daughter's soul, and I enjoy my clean and tidy kitchen.

One room down, several more to go.

We'll leave my study to last.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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The woman whose feet don't touch th Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 6:28am

Funny, witty beautiful- it touched my heart and joy to my soul thank you

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:28pm

thank you.

Brum Mum Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 7:36am

Mary, can I borrow your daughter?? Xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:29pm

Only if you return her in good condition! Actually, most of the time she's a delight. She's away skiing next week and this evening she put her head on my shoulder and said "I'm going to miss you, Mummy!" So sweet.

Sally Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 7:41am

Lovely, interesting blog, super result , you & your daughter, Mary. I totally get the situation. I do like your pre marriage anecdote too. What a good & wise priest that was, and memorable advice too.
My daughter was like your daughter, it was uncanny the way you told the story! Though she is 34 now, & 4 days ago , gave birth to a Mothering Sunday baby girl! Joy unalloyed! So the story will go on.
Thank you, Mary. Well done both!!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:30pm

Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter. I hope she will bring you continuing joy.

Another Sally Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 8:52am

Hello Mary, that was a good blog. I feel a need to keep order in my home, but a lot of it defeats me. I realised how stressed I was a couple of years ago when I (almost obsessively) tried to keep the floats on the lane dividing ropes in our local swimming pool at the right distance apart. They would get bunched up and I went along each divider - not just my lane - putting them about 4feet apart.
Now it is just "stuff" that collects in my kitchen and dining room, but I can't seem to get the filing done, largely because the file needs to be decluttered and I'm afraid to start.
Stress is just building up again. One child has returned to the nest with a mental problem that needs some therapy and another child is unwell a road and will need to come home. My brain has frozen and I'm just taking little steps. Thankfully my other half is here and supportive.
Sorry if this is a downer, just needed to sound off. Feeling a bit wobbly at the moment. The leisure centre is closed so I can't even go and straighten the floats! ;-)
I love to read all the comments as they help me to remember that we all have good and bad stuff that happens.
Hugs to all who need them today.
Another Sally

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:31pm

Hello AS. I find I cannot do it alone, I need someone else with me. Often friends are happy to help you declutter, not least because it is so much easier to spot someone else's rubbish!

The Gardener Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:23am

Oh Mary! Travelling! Mr G and my b-in-law would start anxiety symptoms days before travelling - would insist on going far too early - then would grouse at having to wait - and as they were awful on airports arriving too early then delayed planes prolonged the agony. My 'Englishness' of presuming the invitation time was the time meant causes problems - I turn up on time and the French are never ready! Please could I use this space to thank everybody for yesterdays kindness. Eventually I came up with 'Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt me'. Not true. ALL I have to do is withstand the torrent of schoolboy abuse from a sick man, and, more difficult, swallow my pride when he treats others likewise.Mary, you may have a tidy-minded daughter - enjoy - won't last - and the lass is probably unique!

The Gardener Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 1:04pm

Me again. Just picked up Mary's 'stashing'. Crowd in this morning, kitchen flooded, drills drilling - we repaired to sitting area - balm after last night. One of them's ma-in-law died last December. They thought she was 'with it'. But she had opened no post for 2 years - and, every visit to town, she must have bought wool, and needles. I've got the lot! And another two suitcases to come. But hoarding is haunting me - Mr G kept everything, and I am longing to sell the first house and dreading clearing it - skip and dump will probably be the solution

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:34pm

Ski[p and dump good solutions. Also just not looking at anything first. If you have never seen it and don't want it - it's far easier to bin the lot. Once you've seen it there is emotional attachment. I still like the Marie Kondo idea: everything should bring you joy. I have just thrown out a whole load of greyed underwear and bought myself all new matching bras and panties on this basis. The new undies bring me so much more joy!

Lacey Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 6:04pm

WEll done Mary for your inspired tidying helped by your daughter.
My husband is super,super tidy,has an OCD about it but is also a hoarder.
Good thing is he works away most of the year so I'm not bothered by it.
Bad thing is he is coming home in four weeks and the house is far from tidy and I can't muster up the strength to do anything about it.
So I leave it and turn a blind eye to the mounting paperwork in the study etc knowing that the time is getting shorter and, if it's not to his liking, he will be very annoyed.
So,your words have given me hope that I can buckle down and complete the tasks I have set myself before he turns up....
Stressing me out though just the thought of having to do it.
Hey ho, I'm going to stop moaning now and just do it...after all,I created the muddle.
Hugs from Herts

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:36pm

Lacey my dear - I do know how you feel. When my husband used to work away from home I would obsessively clean the house and do lots of tasks in order to prove I had been productive while he was away. Actually, he just wanted a happy and welcoming wife when he came home and not an exhausted and stressed one. But - as I said above, if you can call on the services of a friend to help you, the work goes so much more easily.

The Gardener Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 8:20pm

I seem to have the place to myself! Tidying is an art and a discipline. Eldest grandson and I would stare at his room - he admitted he liked it tidy - only answer, literally dive in. 20 tea/coffee mugs with mould on. Sweet papers. Dirty underwear. Once we had achieved a piece of clear carpet enthusiasm set in. my office a shambles, a worrying one, there's important stuff down there. I hate doing the kitchen. I start in one corner and work round until disturbed (washing-up machines hide a lot of course) then we have complicated re-cycling - does the whole of the container go in? My bedroom is my haven - get's done if nothing else does. I've written before about garden discipline - open Wednesday morning, immaculate Tuesday night - in fact, it became a joy to do. A prize if somebody could find a bit of bindweed. Tidying should never become obsessive, soul-destroying - sounds horribly 'preachy' but Lacey, the tidy house seems more important than the husband's return. I'd feel like a series of 'Post-its' - 'Done', 'too late', 'can't be bothered' 'bailiffs due tomorrow', could be fun. Life has left me neurotic or fey, please forgive.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:38pm

Arghhh! I once had a boyfriend like your grandson. His car was littered with discarded fast food wrappers, many of them with decaying food still in.... Not a co-incidence that I threw him over for my husband, who cleaned and vacuumed his car every time before he picked me up to go on a date!

Leah Wed, Mar 29th 2017 @ 9:54pm

TG I love the post it idea. Think you could be onto a winner!! Started thi, sorted this but.., drank wine instead!! I can see an new post it generation!! Fey- my mm used to say that, haven't heard it for years. To me life has let you with a sense of humour and with some of the best stories! Hugs and take care xx Mary I am slow. Took me a few minutes to get the minimally happy as at first I thought it was about your moods!!!

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