I try not to be anal about neatness. For one thing, it feels exceptionally futile in a house populated by 6 humans and a dog and a cat. I am not into tilting at windmills. However, my spirit, I have discovered does require a certain level of order. I should have figured that out since my bedroom is a spare and asian themed room that always feels tranquil to me. The rest of the house---uh not so much, not so often. I would try and help (or perhaps get!) the kids to clean up the living room at night after a day of play and it would be torture. I began doing it myself thinking that was better than things thrown in a heap or screams of discontent. That made me annoyed so even if it did look decent I wasnt' feeling tranquil.
Then I hit upon my post holiday genious of taking pictures of what went where and posting them on the cubbies and containers that things went in. It was a miracle! Like magic, clean up became easier. My kids were not by nature slobs. They just have short term memories and didn't know (or care all that much!) where the stuff went! But when they experienced how much quicker clean up was, how much FUN it was to have a neat space with no tears, I could not believe the buy in. I think there has been one teeeny tiny complaint since 12/26. Pretty long stretch considering that the two youngest are 3 and 5.
Today I was gifted a treasure trove of used books from a coworker. I brought them home and the kids were thrilled. But the book nook (a small space under our stairs with a bookcase and tiny chair) was very untidy. I suggested to the kids that there were too many books there and that perhaps we should pack some away in the attic and rotate them. They really got into it and helped sort the books. 2 boxes went to the attic. We have agreed to look at them in the spring and see if we still want them or if they will become part of our yard sale. The new books were all neatly stored and the fact that there are fewer on the shelves will I think (hope, pray . . .) mean that the nook stays clean(er).
We will see how it goes. Perhaps if my tax refund is hefty this year I will design a closet system for our front hall. Another area of perpetual clutter and this I know is no ones fault, there just isn't enough storage for the plethora of coats, boots and winter wear that we have. But for now, I'll just go sit in the book nook!