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.

15 thoughts on “Levels of Neatness and the Efficiency of Disarray

  1. Honey, if you ever have four, (and you homeschool and they are home all day) a whole new level will be created for you. It’s called the, ” Just be glad there is toilet paper in the house today.” Level.

    You have aways to go though. Rejoice in your Neatish level. I long for the Neatish level. Sigh…

  2. Ha! Nope girl, you are definitely NOT alone! Mama Hen is right, I like her additional level for us homeschooling moms! My boys started out in public school and we started homeschooling when Jeremy was going into 3rd grade, and Damon was going into 2nd grade. My house was ALOT cleaner before I started homeschooling…through very little effort of my own.
    I love your defining “levels”! I can relate very well to them all!

  3. Yikes. . . y’all are so right. I plan on homeschooling, and all the books. . .and papers. . . and maps. . .and lesson plans.

    I remember them in my house growing up, being that I’m a 12 year homeschool alumni myself.

    They’re going to take over my house, aren’t they?


  4. I would NEVER allow a pic of my butt to be flashed on the internet! That can NEVER be good. Do I get the Level II cleanliness?

  5. i’m with you on this. sounds just like me. although i do get to a point where it drives me crazy and i have to scrub. of course it takes a bit to get there. i’m no where near neurotic about it.

  6. If your Level 1 describes your everyday, then my everyday would equate to about a negative 6 :). I try to keep the living room, kitchen and dining room somewhat presentable in the event that I have a random visitor(although there are definitely almost always toys on the floor and dishes in the sink unless the visitors are planned), but our bedrooms and office?….. Yikes. The doors to those rooms stay closed at all times. It’s shameful, I know… But, I am thankful that J.C. and I have the same messiness threshold. We may both be slobs, but at least we don’t argue about it like many mismatched couples do.

  7. THANK YOU!! I am so glad to hear someone else say, “why clean it up when they’re going to get it right back out in 5 min?” That is my philosophy too. My mom does not agree…

  8. I am one of those “neat freaks” but living on the road in an rv has cured me of that. My excuse is, “as soon as we hit a bump, everything is gonna fall anyways, so why try to put it up.”

    I have 2 levels (we have unexpected visitors quite often) of neatness…

    Level 1: “I’ll just step outside and close the door so you can’t see anything.”

    Level 2: “I’ll stand in the doorway and talk to you, but try to block your view as much as possible!”

  9. LOL! Don’t forget the level that is reserved for the pest control man–beds made, books and newspapers all over the counter–but in stacks, toilet lids closed if scrubbing wasn’t done, folded clothes in baskets in closets–but not on hangers.

    p.s. I totally don’t make up my bed unless someone is going to see it. Don’t tell my mom.

  10. Lianne, I must know from a non-bed-making-Mom who has older kids (i.e. not in a crib), do you make your kids make their bed? Because I always thought that was a rite of passage – all moms made all kids make their bed regardless.

    Also – good point on the pest control guy. The last thing you want to hear is him muttering “I can see WHY they have bugs. . . “

  11. I’m hosting a shower at my house in June which is further encouraging me to get all those projects on my list completed. There is no way I will ever get them done but maybe I’ll have a few more done when June rolls around.

    Your levels of neatness are very true. It is almost impossible and very inefficient to stay at that peak level of neatness. I agree.

  12. I personally hope my visiting is on the everyday level of neatness. You know I have to make my bed everyday but that is because the cats will be sleeping and playing on it all day and I do not want to sleep in their hair. I had a party yesterday for 30 and was SO glad I did not scrub all these tile floors. It was a mess last night. I have decided never serve mixed nuts at a party, they end up all over. Anyway, you know our home, you get it as is. LYB

  13. Totally agree with the theory and with the levels of neatness. We don’t make our beds either except for company.

  14. *Sigh*

    I don’t make my kids make up their beds. I am creating a new generation of bed-maker-slackers.

    If I know company (or the pest control man) is coming, I do make them do it. Our mornings are so completely hectic and rushed that I cannot imagine giving them one more thing to accomplish before we sprint out the door.

    Is someone coming to take my “Mom of the Year” Award away?

  15. Lol…I’m raising a couple of bed-maker slackers too! I used to make the boys do it…and clean their rooms once a week…etc. etc. Now that they’re teenagers all I expect is that they keep their rooms clean enough that there are no critters hiding out in there and nothing’s growing on anything, lol. They are both actually really good about keeping their rooms presentable on their own. Their beds are NEVER made though, lol. BUT, they alternate doing dishes each evening so I’m not raising total slackers, huh?

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