Tidying and cleaning both provide satisfaction, but of different kinds. Cleaning is a physical accomplishment. You scrub things and they become clean. You feel like you’ve done your part for the health and welfare of the household. But of course the area you’ve scrubbed will become dirty again and you’ll have to clean it again — or, if you are meticulous, you will clean it on a schedule so that it doesn’t become dirty, and you can feel satisfaction at having won the fight against dirt.


Tidiness is different. My clothes closet is tidy, and as long as I put things back as I should, it will not become untidy.

My pantry is a little more complex, since it is not just a matter of putting the same things back, but of bringing in different things and using things up. Though the giant box of cereal I ordered by mistake may frankly never be used up.


I gave in to the mad desire to be like all the Pinterest girls and bought OXO canisters, and I really do like them. I may gradually switch over to them entirely, decanting things into them in the pantry and using my old fashioned round Triomphe jars in the kitchen.


Here’s a before for my silverware drawer:


An after with a lovely bamboo drawer divider I was sent for review. Not as tidy as it could be, but tidier than it was before. Less crowded and fewer random items, too.


Tidiness gives a sense of control and peace which, however illusory, makes us feel as though the world is tidy and our lives are serene.

Both cleaning and tidying make me feel as though I have accomplished things and improved the world very slightly, which in turn means that I can go spend the afternoon lolling about reading and knitting.