Motherhood and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
Wondering what motherhood has to do with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
This law says that heat doesn't go from a colder body to a warmer body – it can only flow in one direction, and that natural process is irreversible. The rest of the law states that all natural things move toward increasing entropy. What does that mean? It means that according to the law all ordered things move towards disorder and disbursement naturally.
What does this have to do with you? A lot. Because it's true. You go and clean the house every day. And every day it naturally gets messy again. You clean the kitchen and 8 hours later it's in chaos. You scrub the kid and 20 minutes later you'd mistake him for mud puddle. Everything in our lives as mothers moves from order to disorder.
The only thing that changes the natural law is for you to step in and intervene. And oh the interventions you must make. In fact, there are many days when I want to look at my kitchen, or our hectic schedule, and give up. Let chaos reign while I put my feet up! Those are the days I'm particularly glad I have a dishwasher to help at least somewhat.
But the real way to deal with the irreversible nature of your household is to implement and oversee a plan. Humans are intelligent and many, many great women before me have realized this. Go to your library and you'll find any number of books on organizing, ordering, and tackling your life (there are some books by men that will help you a lot too, they just tend to write on personal and professional effectiveness, not household management). Check out the rest of this site for other ideas.
But a big thing is to realize that things can and will get overwhelming at times. And those are times that you need to find and implement a plan. Intelligently tackle the problem.
I think (as you're well aware 😉 ) that organizing your home is a great first step (setting up a schedule is another good place to start). But as I've moved through organizing rooms in the house I've realized it's just that – a first step. I need a plan or it's going to go back to the same disorganized state really, really quickly.
So you identify the issue – for me it's that everyone (including myself) is going to leave “stuff” lying all around everywhere until it all builds back up again. So what's my solution? First I'm training myself to put things away when I'm done with them. My mother really should have taken more time to hammer this into me as a kiddo because it's a harder habit to develop now :p But I've been working with the kids on it. I've at least gotten more regular about having them straighten up.
Another strategy is to have an “inbox area” where paperwork and the like goes until I can go through it. This is done regularly (every Friday for me, when I update our family's ledger and track bill paying and such). I'll write more about managing this area in another post.
And yet another aspect has been identifying a place for things that makes sense as I organize. I.E. I need to store things near where they're used – so I can get to them and put them away easily.
Diligence is of course an important component too. I have to keep at it. It's a continual thing. My house is always going to move towards chaos and if I don't keep on top of it relatively well it's going to overrun me again.
After awhile plans like these can get turned into habits – as you train yourself (and also teach your children so they don't have to battle to create the habit in their adult life).
Of course some things, like those muddy kids, are going to go to chaos before you get a chance to blink, regardless of your well-laid plans. In that case just plop them in the tub and rest assured that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is alive and well in your world today :p