Messy Weekends ~ The freedom of letting go

Welcome to a week of winter inspiration! This post first published February 2013. Learning to let go has been a big life lesson for me, and the more I do it, the more freedom I experience.

On the weekend things get kind of loose around here. Especially, if don't go to the mountains on Sunday, which we haven't done now for a month. I don't always like the loose, but my family seems to.

Damien's knee was well enough to go skiing this weekend at the ski hill (yay!) and there was just enough snow (double yay!). But that's not the same as going out for the whole day. When we ski in our backyard we don't pack a lunch. When we're hungry we come home, eat and then leave.

We're not so good at cleaning up after ourselves during that lunch break. Which means the house is messy when we get home, tired after a day of skiing. But there are worse things, like not skiing at all.

I used to always tidy the house before I left it. I didn't like coming home to mess. Then I had kids.

I used to do and and care about a lot of things that weren't that important. Some of these I had to let go of when the kids were little, eg. my standards for cleanliness.

Some of these have had little to do with kids and more to do with control in general. There's a lot of books on the market these days to help women "let go of control", especially Christian women. I find that interesting. Christian women wresting for control. I think there's a huge commentary there but I am not going there in this post.

I had thought a little while ago I should read one of these control books since I recognize my desire to control circumstances to prevent inconvenience, loss and hardship (see Fear section in this post). If I can control a situation for my benefit, I do. And I don't mean nefarious benefit, I mean regular ol' managing-my-life-for-the-best-outcome kind of control.

But over the past few months I've been reminded just how far I've come in this, without a book. I'm not disparaging the books. I read lots of books, but not usually self help, that's my least favorite genre.

Life itself has forced me to let go of control in many areas. Control of finances and financial security. Control of my home - there are 5 of us living here all the time, my word is not the final say and sometimes I simply retreat to my bedroom if the space is bothering me. Control of my children - they grow and I don't get to tell them what to do as much. Not if I want to keep their hearts, that is.

You can either fight to remain in control of your life or you can relinquish. Sometimes we relinquish only when we have no choice (as is the case for me and financial security) and other times we choose to let go because we value a relationship or a value more than the "form". I.e. if my controlling the space, the schedule, or the plan stands between me and someone I love I need to let go of that control.

Our adventurous and creative living life choices, my children's growth, and my evolving relationship with Damien - all of these have naturally forced my hand in letting go of control.

I don't want to pat myself on the back here too much because I'm still very much a work in progress in this regard but letting go of control is something I'm much better at now than I was a few years ago.

And this is not to say I don't manage our home, I do. As chief home manager I make lots of the final decisions on matters of space, schedules, plans, and finances. But I have to be careful that the motivation behind these decisions is the overall well being of my family and the nurturing of relationships, not simply the desire to exert my will over others.

I still don't like a messy house and we have times in our week and days that I enforce a clean up. After years of training, my charges can do this with efficiency and without complaint. They don't want to live in a disaster zone either. They love a blank slate with which to create. But sometimes instead of enforcing a clean up I need to just leave the room. Because if the mess isn't bothering anyone else what right do I have to control the situation?

I am simply not the control freak that I was once (I've still got a ways to go, but don't we all). I can sit down in the middle of the messy living room to read a book. I can leave the house to go hiking or skiing and not feel the compulsive need to clean before I go. I can let my young adult daughter determine her own curriculum. I am comfortable with good enough.

We are embarking on a large-scale adventure next year that will stretch me even more in this direction. You think it's scary now that I wash only three loads of laundry a week (clean clothes are overrated). That adventure will have us in dirty clothes, almost always. I will have to let go of control in many areas to live that adventure.

Sometimes the only way to lose our controlling tendencies is to step outside our comfort zone. And then do it again. And again. And again.

I love the outdoors for this reason. You can't control nature. You learn your place real fast. And after you've been in nature for an extended period, say a few days or longer, you will start to see how your everyday patterns and quirks - maintaining a standard you thought was necessary - may not be so necessary after all.

And when you let go of controlling all these things, mentally and physically, you gift yourself and your family with more breathing room, more time, and more peace. You gift yourself with freedom.

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Winter Evenings ~ The power of words »
  • Melissa R

    Melissa R on Feb. 8, 2014, 3:06 p.m.

    Renee, I noticed that looks like a bucket of table scraps in one of the pictures.  Since you don't garden, and since you don't stay somewhere long enough to have a longterm compost pile going, I wonder what you are doing with them.  We don't garden but we just bought a large composting bin from the state dump.  We already recycle so much that our actual landfill trash is small but now it will be even smaller since we won't be adding compostable items to it.  So, just wondering what you do.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 8, 2014, 3:24 p.m.

      Melissa, I compost regardless of if I can garden. I just add the finished compost to the soil. We've been here 18 mos. that's a long time! 


      We have 2 compost heaps here. One in a big black composter and an overflow pile in the woods which helps feed the critters also. I was amazed at how well the woods pile did last winter. Our black bin froze and overflowed so we started a woods "dump". When spring thawed the bin we started dumping in there again and let the woods pile sit. By mid summer the woods pile was almost completely composted. I raked in leaves and needles and you'd never know that during the winter it was an unsightly pile of veggie scraps. 

      I love composting. I've composted for yrs, starting with a worm bin, about 9 yrs ago. I will miss composting on the trail. We'll have to pack out everything, but we won't be eating much fresh stuff on the trail anyway...

      I wrote a post about urban composting here. I love composting :)




  • Laina

    Laina on Feb. 8, 2014, 7:01 p.m.

    I love these posts you are doing lately- they really speak to me right now.  I love control, too, but my life has sent me a ton of change and loss of control (repeatedly, it seems).  The other day it came to mind that I just need to accept that this is "it" and enjoy it.  Yes I can work on routines and cleaning etc etc but really, accepting it helps me cope and find the joy that is lacking in the mundane things of life.  If that even makes any sense.


  • Mindy Wray

    Mindy Wray on Feb. 9, 2014, midnight

    I can't tell you what spectacular timing you had on this re-post! I'm still getting used to my (fairly) new role as a SAHM and all it entails. I've always been a bit overboard on keeping our house tidy (clean to a degree but more so tidy). And with this role, I've felt even stronger about that being a part of what I need to do and I know I've gone too far at times. I'm working on this very thing - letting go of control because my relationship with my husband and 4 year old is far more important. Thank you for your great timing!


  • Katie

    Katie on Feb. 10, 2014, 8:27 p.m.

    Ha! I am just sitting down after a morning of sorting and culling through piles of clutter, sweeping, getting rid of trash... I have also gotten a lot better over the years at letting go of the need to keep it all in order. I simply could not be married to my husband (whom I love dearly) if I continued to care in the way that I used to. Add two kids, two dogs and a string of doggie fosters. But I have days, maybe about once a month, where I just need to scoop all the clutter up into a pile and start restoring the order. The crazy thing is seeing how much of it is actually just trash that never made it to the trash can :)


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 10, 2014, 8:33 p.m.

      Katie, the only way "messy" days work for me is knowing that there are clean and orderly days. I crave order and routine in my days. And as home manager I do run a pretty tight ship (and I can't stand clutter), but then we let loose also because not everyone in the family cares quite as much as I do :)


  • Shelly

    Shelly on Feb. 19, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

    Boy does this speak to me. I often find myself on the brink of panicking when the house reaches a certain level of messiness, which, with twelve people, is quite often. I constantly have to remind myself to let go and enjoy my kids while they're still young.


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