Dose of Humor – Levels of Neatness and the Efficiency of Disarray

5 Minutes for Parenting’s weekly column, A Dose of Humor, is here to remind you to take your humor pill regularly as the best medicine to treat the side effects of parenting! It features a different blogger every week and is hosted by Rachel at Grasping for Objectivity in My Subjective Life.

It’s me, Rachel, this week. It seems that, along with the economy, the contributions that I’ve been getting to this column have also dried up!! If you would like to see “A Dose of Humor” continue, and would like to be featured and get some attention in the meantime, then please, by all means, email me at [email protected] !!!

Levels of Neatness and the Efficiency of Disarray

So getting ready for the baby shower, of course, entailed a lot of cleaning, straightening, fixing things, and in-general maintenance that we had been putting off.

The thing is, there are definitive levels of neatness that we operate in.

Level I: There’s everyday neatness. This MAY mean that there are toys in mid-play, dishes in the sink, mail on the counter, and colors and paper on the dining room table. And (I’m ashamed to say) a never-made bed. We try to stay neat, but we aren’t always the neatest people in the world.

Because here’s the deal: I am all about efficiency. And sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to be over-neat. I will name this theory “The Efficiency of Disarray” and come back to it in a bit. Of course, the downside of living in everyday neatness is the allowance for instances such as blowoutfits to happen. Ew.

Level II: Then there’s “Family is coming over” neatness. We peel back a couple of layers of disarray, try to remove toys from pathways so as not to trip anyone, and maybe put the dishes in the dishwasher. But there may still be piles of toys on the shelves and a newspaper on the table.

Level III: Another layer gets peeled back when we have to resort to “Friends are coming over” neatness. At that point, we usually declutter, make sure the floors are clean (and the bathrooms, although I DO try to remember to do that for family too), and make sure that Oreo hasn’t left behind a whole fur coat on the furniture to turn some unsuspecting friend’s butt into a furry-white rear (although this did happen to Amanda the other day, and I found it highly amusing. Too bad I didn’t photograph it for illustrative purposes).

Level IV: Then the ultimate layers get peeled back for “I’m throwing a Tea or Shower” Neatness. At this point, I will have multiple post-it note lists of all of the stuff that needs scrubbing, swiffering, decluttering, and in general cleaned. The chairs get vacuumed to remove ALL strands of cat hair. The rooms get scrutinized for clutter that my eyes have quit seeing due to the burn-in of seeing it all the time. I MIGHT even clean the windows. At least the ones with grimy, sticky fingerprints from many a day of watching for Daddy to get home.

Having to go to the Level IV at least once a year is good. It’s kind of like my Dad always told me that you need to drive your car on a long trip every now and then to blow all the gook out of it’s systems. The same goes for a house. It’s good to be forced to clean up all the nooks and crannies – it gives a whole new freshness to being at home.

I do hope I’m not the only one with these layers. If you live every day at Level IV, then you are a better person than I. But only if you have a toddler and STILL live every day at Level IV.

Now, back to my theory on The Efficiency of Disarray.

Sometimes it’s just not worth the time and effort to put things away.

Who is going to see my unmade bed? If someone will see it, I will make it.

Of course, now that I have blogged my unmade bed, I all of a sudden feel very vulnerable like every one of you have seen it. (blush)

Another example. Ali coloring on the dining room table. We typically eat at the Kitchen table except on Sundays, so if I pick up all of her crayons and paper every time she colors, I just have to get it all out again an hour later when she asks to color again. And I certainly wasn’t going to use the dining room table during that hour, so why bother picking it up?

Sure, maybe it’s an excuse. But it’s just not always the most efficient lifestyle to be completely neat. I am a busy woman! I have things to do besides putting up and pulling out my juicer twice a day from cabinet space that I don’t have!

Don’t worry – we’re not total cavepeople. We employ a day-long toy rule. We make Ali clean up her toys at the end of each day, but not usually throughout the day (unless we need to climb to another level of neatness). She’s two! She’s going to pull them all out again! So why do that to ourselves? It’s just not efficient, and if I’m not being efficient, I’m not being prudent. And I’m sticking to that.

My only fear of this theory, though, is that we’re going to turn Ali into a slob.

But at least she’ll be an efficient slob.
This post was originally published on April 19, 2009 at Grasping for Objectivity in my Subjective LifePlease email your submissions to [email protected]!

5 Responses to Dose of Humor – Levels of Neatness and the Efficiency of Disarray
  1. Leslie
    October 11, 2009 | 1:25 am

    Thanks for clarifying what I’ve been thinking and feeling for a while now. I have 3 young boys of my own (6, 4, and 2). Growing up I was the neat freak, however, I’ve had to learn to accept different standards for sanity sake.

  2. ShellyM
    October 12, 2009 | 8:42 am

    I totally agree with your theory, The Efficiency of Disarray. I GET it. But, my husband doesn’t…so…we clean up all throughout the day just so we can get it out again.

  3. Carrie
    October 14, 2009 | 2:30 pm

    Love your theory & categories – I have a toddler & a baby on the way & I have about those same levels. 🙂 Except I don’t think my house has EVER been on #4. 🙂 I tell people this: “I do clean my house – I clean a couple parts of it each day. It’s just never ALL clean on the SAME day.” 🙂 Also, yeah, we only pick up toys once a day – my 22 month old would just get them all out again, so what’s the point? Before bath & bed, we pick up. 🙂

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