We can’t get organized: When Maxim of Christian Living #20 seems impossible

Get organized

Ugh. Home organization. This post comes in February for a reason.

This has never been The Thing I’m Really Great At, and I suspect it will never be something that comes naturally. I usually cite special needs–like, I don’t have the space in my brain, people! Eat your canned peas and frosting and be grateful! But every six months or so, I stumble upon Fr. Thomas Hopko’s 55 Maxims of the Christian Life and my shoulders sink when I get to #20: Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.

Oh, Fr. Thomas.

But…but…special needs! I have a therapist in my home five days a week! I drive 10 hours a week to therapies! I homeschool! I have a toddler whose mission in life is to destroy my home and possibly himself!


So, after I go through the seven stages of grief, I try. Furiously.

And every time, I notice something. Almost everyone I have found who’s talking about building the skill of organization and minimization, whether it’s on Pinterest or a podcast, fits into one of two categories and it leaves a gaping hole for me.

You’ve got your Naturals, and you’ve got your GAHHHHs.

The Naturals range from “organizing is my favorite” to “I call myself OCD.” They love artsy printable calendars and have Post It stickies in all kinds of colors and shapes, but not too many, because that would be clutter. They have things like washi tape organizers, and their time is just as efficiently managed into blocks throughout the day, week, month, and year. They have meetings with their spouse to plan out the coming month. Their kitchens are always spotless, you can open all their doors, and they always know where the recipe is that you just asked for. I have at least three amazing friends who epitomize this, and I think they are absolutely the coolest people on the planet, and I want to be like them.

But unfortunately, I’m a GAHHHH.

My family gets dressed after they pick their outfit for today off the pile on the couch. We go shopping for cereal in the morning when we wake up and realize we don’t have any. And, I bet you could’ve guessed it, but my calendar is not cute. It looks like what my 3rd grade teacher had on her desk in 1989, and I spilled a cup of water on it the day I bought it.

So, here’s the gaping hole between those groups.

We don’t actually love living this way.

Really, we don’t. We don’t look around and go, you know what this room needs? A Cheerio spill.

Our problem isn’t a lack of convincing that we need to organize our life. Our problem is defeat.

So, here is what I propose, for all you GAHHHHs out there.

We’re going to start by changing our habits

I think we don’t need a home fix. I mean, we do, and we can fix our homes, but what we’re dealing with is bigger than that, and our homes are just going to go back to the way they were if we don’t have the right habits in place first. I think we need a lifestyle change and some assurance that this is something that can be conquered.

So, from my special needs to home to your home (whether autism lives there or not), I’m saying I believe this can be done. Let’s do it.

If you’re defeated, I know it sounds too big. And the pressure, especially when it has an Orthodox voice on it, can be tremendous. But I think we can do it because we’re going to start small. In this department–just as in prayer and faith–slow and steady is definitely the only way to win the race.

I love this part of the Akathist, Glory to God for All Things:

“Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of color; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. Praise and honor to God, who gives life, Who spreads forth the meadows like a flowering carpet, Who crowns the fields with golden ears of wheat and azure basilisks, and the soul–with contemplation. Let us rejoice and sing to Him–Alleluia.”–Kontakion 3

The beauty of the Great contained in what is small. Isn’t that wonderful and comforting? The writer here references nature, but is the beauty of the Great not reflected in first, small efforts?

Husband and I have huddled and set forth step #1: tell the kids that every day, we’re going to clean up our messes before lunch and before bed. Then, when that’s a habit, I will assess again and see how we can further spread order into our routine and our space.

But if you’re reading this and thinking you can handle a little more, I love what Sarah has done over at The Orthodox Mama. She has a fantastic 10-day series, working through each room in her home. If you’re feeling slightly more ambitious than I am right now, go check hers out and jump on board! Because I am totally going to do it…next year!

So whether you feel like you can tackle one side of your sink or the entire kitchen, I hope you’ll join me, or join Sarah, and I’d love to hear about it.

Are you amping up your organizational game this winter? Getting ready to minimize for Lent? What are your goals?


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin Downs says:

    I have 4 and I’ve been working on this. I’m a GAHHHHHH. But, I’m getting better. I started out with the things that cost me the most problems – shoes and socks. So, I came up with a solution. Sense of accomplishment from that. Now I’m doing laundry… came up with solution – have not gotten sense of accomplishment yet. My main motivator is that I dread passing on my bad habits to these people I’m responsible for. Good article. Keep going on this. I don’t need ideas as much as I need encouragement and direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mauraoprisko says:

      So true, Erin. I feel like 90% of the time I just need a high five. And I’m glad to hear what you’re doing. I’ll update this post a few times, I think. We all need some encouragement, right? 🙂


  2. Emmie says:

    I vacillate between gaaah and ocd. I feel horribly guilty because I am no longer working outside the home and my home should be organized, right?:) Also I only have one teen and one preschooler still living at home and there are families with mulitiple children who seem to do everything so well. This is my inner dialogue, anyway, not very helpful. Thanks so much for all you post. I love your writing.


    1. mauraoprisko says:

      Thanks for your kind words, and I hear that struggle. I read once that perfectionists often have a hard time keeping their houses organized and neat, because if you can’t take your efforts all the way to perfection, then what’s the point? That’s often where my dysfunction lives, so I’m working hard to be satisfied with the small efforts. It sounds like a complicated situation–using up all the mental/emotional capacity it takes to raise a teenager, and the physical efforts needed to chase a curious preschooler. I think it’d be super hard to keep up! I’m planning to update this post in a few weeks, so until then, *fistbump* Solidarity! 🙂


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