My Uncurated Home: It’s Not Clutter, It’s Proof of Life

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A woman cleaning a living room. When I realized we’d be living in our current home for a while, I wanted to make it picture-perfect. Without realizing it, I got drawn into the highly published story (look at any Real Simple magazine, Pinterest post, organizing blog, TikTok reel) that if only my home was perfectly organized and clutter-free, our whole family would run like a well-oiled machine.

For a long time, I bought the stories. A curated home would be a peaceful home. An organized pantry would mean healthy, happy kids. Capsule wardrobes would mean calm and easy mornings. Organized closets meant that we’d all know where everything was. Less stuff would mean less time being stressed and more time enjoying life.

In general, if our house looked like nobody actually lived in it, we would all be so much happier!

The problem was all the pictures I envied weren’t real life! All the external parts of our lives could be organized, and guess what? Life would still be crazy!

My kids would constantly be growing, so there could be no capsule wardrobe for them. No time to pause and not constantly be emptying closets of outgrown clothes and passing down items to the next child.

Our kids’ tastes and interests would always change, so no amount of organizing would battle the constant influx of new favorite snacks, sports gear, crafting items, or library books.

Our schedules would always change every few weeks as activities ended and started anew, so it felt like no calendar system could ever keep up.

I made myself miserable each season trying to hide, throw out, and organize our stuff. I tried between the craziness of real life to make our home look like all the pictures that filled my social media feeds. I drove myself mad trying to make it look like a house with four kids did not have anyone living, eating, or playing. Constantly fighting the clutter that came with our life was making me MORE miserable, not more peaceful.

I haven’t given up on keeping our house clean and organized. I think it’s important for everyone’s state of mind that our home feels peaceful, that we have some systems that keep chaos at bay, and that we work together to put items away.

But I’ve come to accept that our house will always look like people live in it. It won’t be a highlight reel for more than five seconds. We have six people living here. Their artwork “clutters” our fridge, their books “clutter” our coffee table and couch, their homework and projects “clutter” our table, and their coats and shoes and backpacks “clutter” our closets.

It’s not only okay, but it’s also amazing. We should be celebrating the lives that live in our homes, not trying to hide them. We should be enjoying this time when life (and our closets and calendars) are full to bursting. We shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed that our homes don’t look like staged hotel lobbies. We can feel joyful that our house is full, even if it isn’t perfect.

Let’s stop beating ourselves up for homes that don’t look like Instagram. Let’s hide our social media feeds instead of hiding real life. Let’s stop apologizing for “the mess” when someone stops by. Let’s learn to live with a little clutter and feel happy about it.

Let’s enjoy and celebrate our imperfect lives.

How can you celebrate a life and a home that’s less than perfect?

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Kate S. is a mom at home in Fairfield with her 4 kids (2 girls and 2 boys) and one puppy. Kate's sister introduced her to Chris, whom she married in 2010. They welcomed their first daughter in 2012, a son in 2014, another daughter in 2016, another boy in 2018, and finally a puppy in 2021. Kate and Chris's parenting motto would probably be, "Just take them with you." As a family, they continue to enjoy activities like skiing, kayaking, and hiking by taking turns to teach the older kids or strapping babies into backpacks. Kate can be found out and about exploring with her kids, volunteering at their schools, or laughing with other moms at the beautiful chaos of life with children.

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