PAINTING THE FORTH BRIDGE

I’m a tidy person by nature. I like things to be straight. If a room isn’t as it should be then I can’t relax in it until it is. And of course, if I can’t then neither can my family because I will huff and puff and make a huge fuss until it’s all sorted.

It was the same when I had a busy job. To ensure that nothing got overlooked, I had tidy piles of paper dotted around my desk so that at any moment I could see what was still awaiting my attention. This was how I maintained the illusion of control for myself. My boss had a room that looked like a bomb had gone off in it. I used to hyper-ventilate just standing on its threshold. Paper was piled upon paper upon paper so that it was impossible to find a flat surface on which to work. And yet, if you asked him where anything was he could immediately lay his hand on it. He had control in his chaos – his brain was clearly bigger and with better wiring than mine.

Unfortunately, being anal about tidiness does not always sit happily in a house with four children. They fail to understand how important to my mental well being a tidy house is and I cannot comprehend how they can walk into an ordered room and destroy it in a matter of seconds without even a nod to its former pristine state. So it’s a bit of an unhappy mix and I have to bite my tongue and close my eyes to it to save myself from going mad.

I do have some understanding though. Don’t tell my kids but I wasn’t a tidy child. I too had drawers that were so crammed full of stuff that they wouldn’t close. The catchphrase ‘Don’t open that cupboard! Things fall out!’ could have been written for me. Too much stuff, not enough space and no interest in achieving more than the merest modicum of tidiness to get my mum off my back. That was me. And, it appears, is them.

Task for the summer – sort my eldest’s room. The others need attention but hers was the worst. We tackle it storage unit by storage unit. The desk, the bedside table, the vanity unit and finally the wardrobe. We do it together. She is good at throwing away and we fill bag after bag of clutter in a satisfyingly Cathartic manner. The result is impressive. A place for everything and everything in its place. There were even clear spaces waiting ready to be filled. It was great. I feel calm and she is pleased.

It lasted less than a day. Fresh ironing hidden rather than hung up. Toiletries left on the side rather than in their newly allocated spot. Bags, scarves, clothes, magazines all not where they were supposed to be. Previously this blatant disregard for my tidiness would have resulted in a minor explosion of anger but slowly I’m resigning myself to it.

I’m not giving in. I remain unchanged. If it’s not tidy I twitch. That’s just who I am. But I can’t make them who I am. They will learn to be tidy or they won’t. There is nothing that I can do about it. I hope they will have enough respect for me and their environment to make some sort of effort but if I want the house like a new pin then I’m afraid that that is going to have to be down to me. At least my square metre is straight!

What do you think? I'd love to know...