My Home Is Chaos & That’s Totally Normal

My Home Is Chaos & That’s Totally Normal

My kitchen table is overflowing with artwork from daycare. In my line of sight are seven wine glasses, just in case I decide to have an impromptu dinner party (I won’t). The number of cookbooks I own absolutely does not justify how many times I’ve consulted them. And yet, I’m OK with it.

Maybe OK isn’t the right word. I don’t love it. At this point, it’s more about acceptance. Acceptance that this is real life, and real life comes with stuff.

I get why people are so obsessed with decluttering; I understand the appeal of minimalism. I’ve tried to embrace it myself, and found there’s a peace and calm that comes with saying goodbye to one’s stuff. But it’s short-lived.

Constantly decluttering and minimizing my home is like a doomed game of Tetris. The bricks come falling so fast that they all just land on top of each other in a messy pile of concrete. There’s always something else that can be “tidied.” A junk drawer. A medicine cabinet. A toy chest. There’s no end to this game. Which is why I’ve just stopped playing.

“Clutter” has such a negative connotation. And I get it. It implies mess, disorder, stuff everywhere. But there’s another way to look at all the odds and ends that surround us.

Recently, I’ve stumbled across something called “Cluttercore.” It’s the aesthetic I was going for without even realizing I was going for it. Basically, it just means that you don’t hide all your stuff. You keep it out for the world to see, because that way the world sees you. I’ve decided to embrace the idea that my stuff serves a purpose, even if it is just to make me feel like I’m at home. I’ll leave the sterility to my doctor’s waiting room, thanks very much.

We’re often figuratively encouraged to “take up space,” to make our voices heard and our feelings known. But when it comes to our lives at home, the opposite mentality seems to rule: We don’t want our stuff taking up space. We want to glide across each room like the dancers in La La Land, never once bumping up against an errant crayon or a stuffed toy that squeaks.

But where’s the life in that? I don’t want to minimize my life. Quite the opposite. I want to show off my kid’s scribbles and fill the shelves with family photos. I want you to come over and see our lives playing out in front of you. Just please watch your step, there are Magna-Tiles everywhere.

I’m not saying our place isn’t clean. You bet if I see a Kit-Kat wrapper on the floor it’s going right in the trash. But beyond that, I hope you don’t expect much. In a world of perfectly curated living rooms on Instagram, I’m living in the “before” picture, and really, it’s not so bad over here. It’s actually pretty freeing. I can spend time living my life instead of categorizing it.

And when I go to your place, I want to see your life too! I want to ask you about the book on your coffee table and tell you that I have the same diaper bag. I want to know you, and one way to do that is to see what’s important enough to be out in the open for everyone. It’s real life, and it makes for such better conversation than the weather.

This lifestyle doesn’t come naturally to me. But as a newly minted card-carrying member of the Cluttercore brigade, I’m learning to embrace the controlled chaos. Maybe I’ll pick up a “Bless This Mess” sign at HomeGoods next.

When she is not practicing drums or folding sweatpants, Meredith Begley likes to read and write about health. Find her on Instagram @meredithbegley.

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