I am a messy person by nature. I don’t notice mess but I do notice dirt. My husband is the opposite, which kind of balances us out I suppose. 

I am the kind of person who even when they tidy up ends up with a pile of things which they can’t quite sort out. I’m a believer in surface tidiness so looks can deceive, behind cupboard doors chaos reigns supreme. 

I’d quite like to be more organised than I am but I’ve reached a point, which works well enough for me (I think my husband Nick would like me to have achieved a tidier finishing point). 

When the kids were all little I was living surrounded in a detritus of food, toys, clothing, random piles of admin, shoes, and wellies. Too much stuff everywhere. It was not a relaxing environment. I had friends whose houses were immaculate like show homes but thankfully I also had friends whose homes resembled mine and I even had a few wonderful friends who seemed to survive and thrive in far more chaos than even I was attempting to. 

Somehow, I never really developed the skills of tidying a room and then maintaining that tidiness for more than a couple of days. As a teenager I had to abandon sleeping in my own room for a period of several months as I simply couldn’t get into my own bed and instead slept in a spare bed in my little brother’s room. It must have driven my mum mad!

One day when my four kids were all still small I decided something had to be done as I was getting stressed out living in a messy environment and I discovered a website that actually trains messy people like me how to become tidy people. I only implemented a ridiculously tiny fraction of the ideas suggested but even doing such a paltry amount made a big difference. 

If you are reading this and identifying with where I was then you'll probably be desperate to know that the website that helped me is still alive and kicking. It's called FlyLady. It's American and fairly prescriptive but if you can get past that it could help you get a handle on managing mess and disorder! The main changes I made were that I started keeping a box in the boot of my car. Every time I picked up an item that I didn't want or need I made myself either bin it, recycle it or put it in the box in the car. Once the box became full I would pull up outside my local charity shop and donate my stuff. It just became habitual to have a regular outflow of stuff leaving the house and less stuff = less to tidy. 

The other change, which has been hugely beneficial for the entire family is that I now have a specific place where I keep my keys. When I open the door, keys in hand, the first thing I do is put them in their designated place. Simple. This new habit has saved me lots of time and means my family no longer see me tearing around the house in the mornings exploding my frustration all over them as I desperately search every bag, pocket, surface as I frantically hunt down my keys.  

Another change that really helped when I had four young children was keeping a box of generic gifts so that if a birthday party invite arrived I didn't have to try and get out to the shops and buy a present at short notice – I could just wrap the most appropriate gift I had available. 

If you are a tidy organised person this post may seem like I've written about the most obvious things in the world but honestly for those of us who are the naturally fabulously messy ones having a website which teaches you how to be organised and tidy is like receiving the greatest pearls of wisdom. 

I owe FlyLady – she made our family life calmer. 

Lynne is a Speech and Language Therapist and a mother to 4 children. Her eldest son is on the Autistic Spectrum. Lynne has a blog full of funny tales of family life dotted with little nuggets of wisdom, that was recently nominated for a Bloody Awesome Parents Award (BAPS). Read more of Lynne's blogs here