I wish I was more comfortable with mess, as my seven year old daughter makes a lot of it and to be honest and so do I.  

I make a massive mess when I cook. I get creative when I get inspired and just seem to be a bit chaotic with how I do it. At least the meals taste good. I’d rather it that way round than a neat and tidy kitchen and boring meals; although my kids would prefer it if I stuck to their favourites!  

A few years ago we started to pay someone to come once a week for a couple of hours and clean our flat. The feeling of gratitude and calm that I get when she has been is joyous. Every week I walk in, take a breath in and sigh a long relaxing sigh of inner calm if my kids aren’t yet home, or just plain relief if they are. The flat seems happier and I certainly am. Of course, it doesn’t take long at all for everything to get back to being a dusty mess, but for a couple of days the mess is controllable. I’m able to put things away in their place (to be honest not everything has a place, but I’m working on that) and continue the sense of order. What usually happens is I have a creative explosion in the kitchen by day three and things are on a downward trajectory there after, until the cleaner comes again the following week.  

My partner says the flat is tidier when I’m not here. He’s probably right, but I think I carry more of the mental load of organising the home and running our lives. My partner is fantastically engaged with the kids and is actually quite clean and tidy, but his approach to tidying the mess often involves piling things up and leaving them. This freaks me out, as I find stacks of papers that need actioning and it’s often me who takes the action and sees things through to the end - dealing with the mess.  

I bought some file boxes and labeled them so I can at least have a sense of order to what feels like endless life admin. It does help my sanity to have a place for things.  We moved flats last year and in the run up to moving I did a massive space clearing, getting rid of tonnes and tonnes of paperwork, clothing, CDs, books, kitchen stuff, electrical goods, beauty products, a bit of everything. My clear out inspired my partner to do the same and the feeling is absolutely fantastic. I followed a house clearing method from a well known book on the art of tidying.  I found it very helpful to have a method. I’ve stuck to a lot of the advice the author gives in the book and enjoy the things that we have more, because we have less stuff.  Now that we are settling into our new home, and spring isn’t too far away, I think we may be ready for another clear out. The important thing is not to keep bringing more things into the home. Less really is more.  

Jemima - London