Almost three years ago, when I had just given birth to my second son, one of the most accomplished and loving friends I had offered me some advice. She had two boys, and was one of the few people I knew that truly had that life balance we are all striving for. I was completely overwhelmed and never thought I would learn to manage two small boys and anything else at all. She said “Erin, my secret is that I have really messy closets.” I was really confused by this. For one, I am a neat freak and the thought of messy closets or clutter of any sort gives me anxiety. Secondly, Michelle was the last person I would assume would have messy closets. What did that even mean?
As we talked more, I discovered she meant that everybody has to let something go if they have a desire to make space for the things that matter. In our case, our children. For her, in order to get the family/ meaningful career balance she desired, spending time organizing her closet and shopping for clothes had to go. She accepted that she could close the door on the mess and not let it drive her crazy. She also hired a stylist that shopped for a simple capsule collection of clothing for her to wear so she didn’t have to think about putting outfits together for her various teaching and speaking engagements. Done. No more time spent shopping and organizing. More time for her boys, completely undistracted.
I thought long and hard about what my messy closet was going to be. I was running myself ragged trying to work from home, cook, clean, nurse a new baby and care for a toddler AND husband. My messy closet is always changing but back then it was discontinuing a clean sweep of the house twice a day and letting go of a few friendships that just weren’t fulfilling anymore. I still cleaned up the house once a day, but in the time I would have spent doing it again, I would sit( no phone in hand) and read to my big boy while nursing my little. That little moment each day was the beginning of years of reading together and I’m so grateful for Michelle’s advice. I also got Alex to pitch in a bit more in that department! I still don’t have a literal messy closet but now that I have added yet another kid to the mix I have had to go through this process once again. What’s my messy closet now? The thing I’ve let go of lately so I can be a present mom is my wellness business. This was a big one and I thought long and hard about it. Will I go back to it someday? Maybe. For now, I ‘m doing my best to truly be at home with my small children and mother them and myself.
A great book along the lines of this same subject is called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. No time to read? I listened to it while driving on Audible.
What is your messy closet? I would love to hear how other mother’s have shifted their life around to accommodate a family and career.