This article was originally published in Simplify Magazine’s June 2021 Edition – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story. Simplify Magazine is a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family.

My Facade 

Tidying Up My Life: My Facade

Life, like a tiny apartment, sometimes gets messier before it gets tidy. Three years ago, from the outside looking in, I appeared to have a very tidy life. Life was moving along exactly as I had planned it. I was checking off all the boxes I had created for myself and I was becoming “successful”. 

After college graduation, I married my high school sweetheart and settled into my first teaching job. I loved the creative process of teaching my students and it came naturally. In my second year of teaching I won my district’s “Teacher of the Year Award”. The next year, I applied to graduate school and was accepted to Columbia University. 

My wife and I moved to NYC and settled into our cozy one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens. I balanced teaching and attending graduate school in the evenings. 

2 years later I graduated with my Masters Degree in Comparative and International Education. After graduation we moved into a two-bedroom apartment, and the following year we celebrated the birth of our first daughter. When she was two months old, I accepted a promotion at my school as an administrator. Two years later we welcomed our second daughter.

I was living in my dream city with my high school sweetheart and our 2 daughters, had a degree from my dream school, and was advancing in my career. I had accomplished everything I thought I wanted. And yet I was miserable.

Untidy Dad

Tidying Up My Life: Untidy Dad

I found myself experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety. I had been miserable at work ever since I left teaching to take the promotion into school administration. I knew the new position would pay more and keep me advancing in my career. My father had been a teacher for many years before becoming a principal and then working at the school district level. He loved his job and I respected his career path. I thought my promotion would help me follow a similar successful trajectory, and I felt proud to have been offered the promotion so early into my career.

I desperately wanted to enjoy and feel in control of my work, but the majority of my responsibilities were reactive. Teachers and staff would look for me to be the “expert” when a situation occurred and they needed me to quickly solve problems. I was often responsible for cleaning up the “messes” that other people had created. I tried to proactively prepare for work, but each day was completely different. The process of anticipating when or where the next problem would occur left me in an anxious spiral, and mentally and emotionally drained. 

I attempted to manage these feelings by pouring more time into my job with the hopes of getting “better” at it. I often worked 12 – 14 hours per day. I thought the extra time would somehow help me gain control and a clear mind, get faster at solving problems, and demonstrate to others that I was competent. 

After each long day, I’d rush home to my family at the end of the day. The girls would squeal with delight when I walked through the door. I missed them while I was at work, and I desperately wanted to do well in my career so I could somehow prove that the excessive time away from them was worth it.

My Breakdown

Tidying Up My Life: My Breakdown

For three years, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of problems that I couldn’t fix. As soon as I started the new job, stress and anxiety from work followed me home. I blamed it on my inexperience, and thought that it would get better with time. It didn’t.

Most nights I walked into the apartment and expressed judgement to my wife. I pointed out all the things that she hadn’t accomplished. If she had cooked dinner while the girls were playing, I’d complain that the apartment wasn’t tidy. If the apartment was tidy, I’d complain that laundry wasn’t done. If laundry was done, I’d complain that dinner wasn’t ready. 

I desired our home to be a calm respite from the chaos that I experienced at school. My wife tried to be supportive, but she was juggling a toddler, a newborn, and a husband who was in a mental downward spiral. My actions began to negatively impact our relationship as my angry criticisms became a daily cycle. I blamed her for the chaos we were experiencing at home. 

One morning as I was walking to school, I reached my breaking point. Waiting for the crosswalk to indicate that it was safe to cross, I consciously thought, “It might be easier for me to just walk into traffic right now, and end it all.” I stood on the corner and broke down into tears.

Thankfully, I immediately reached out to my wife for help. She encouraged me to start seeing a therapist.

Addressing my Crisis  

Tidying Up My Life: Addressing My Crisis

When I started therapy, I learned that I was in the midst of a profound early-30s crisis. 

I discovered that I was bitter, resentful, and unable to process emotions in a healthy or productive way. I was desperately jealous of people who seemed happy. I suppressed many of my thoughts and feelings for the sake of not wanting to upset others. I sought out unhealthy ways to compensate and attempted to control aspects of my life that felt out of control. 

My therapist helped me to realize that since early adolescence, I had worked incredibly hard to mask the deep emotional trauma that I had experienced when my parents divorced. For years I had used my ambition, charm, and humor, to try to project a facade to the world that “everything was alright,” when I was actually crumbling inside.

When I became a dad, all of those strategies that I had once used to “maintain external tidiness” no longer worked. I learned that my unhealthy attachment to control and order was undermining my happiness. I learned that my feelings were okay, but that some of my actions were not. My unhealthy actions were often the result of unprocessed feelings. I practiced strategies for letting go of the need for control and order, and verbally processing my thoughts and feelings with my wife.

Three weeks into my therapy journey, I made the decision to take leave from my job. The goal was to take a break to recover mentally and emotionally, spend time with my wife and daughters, and figure out the next part of my story. 

I began the process of tidying up my life. But I was about to learn that things have to get messier before they get tidy.

Confronting the Mess

Tidying Up My Life: Confronting the Mess

I rested for two days. And then became restless. 

My anxious mind needed a project to dive into and help me feel like I had a purpose by being at home. I decided it would be genius to switch all the furniture from our larger bedroom with all the furniture in the smaller bedroom our girls shared, so they would have more floor space to play.

I was obviously still not in a healthy state when I impulsively started the process of moving furniture. It was a decent idea, but of course it wasn’t nearly as easy as I had initially imagined. I thought the project would take only a few hours. I had felt out of control at work, and now I was trying to find control at home. Instead, I unintentionally created chaos in our home, which took months to sort out.

The two bedrooms were different sizes and different shapes, and the furniture could not easily change locations. While our home had looked tidy to the outside observer’s eye, things were just hidden away behind closed cabinets and doors. I emptied every single item that was stored in every single furniture piece which revealed the ugly truth about how we’d been stuffing away items in both rooms, instead of dealing with them. 

Once everything was out in the open, my wife and I had to feel the weight of all the possessions that we’d stuffed away. We had piles and piles of things everywhere. It was raw and embarrassing.

Tidying Up Our Home

Tidying Up My Life: Tidying Up Our Home

Once all our possessions surfaced, we were forced to deal with the problem. Together my wife and I embarked on a months-long process to tidy our space. 

We used the book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo as our guide for how to approach the tidying process. We would read a section of the book together and then tidy that category in our home. We started by tidying the items in our new smaller bedroom. We realized early on that we needed to get our own things tidy first, before moving on to the items that belonged to our girls.

We sorted items, made decisions, and together tried to organize a space that would meet our needs. As a result of our work, I was able to get rid of the huge bulky wardrobe that had once housed my clothing and move all of my clothes into a closet that measures 14 inches wide. 

We found tidying items that belonged to our girls to be a bit more complicated. Unlike us, our daughters are constantly growing and their needs, interests and developmental stages are frequently changing. We had to sort and categorize all of their items into smaller categories, and then choose storage solutions. We methodically sorted toys, clothing, and books and talked about what a “just enough” mentality might look like for our family. 

Throughout that process, we honed our decision-making abilities, learned how to set boundaries, and developed skills to tackle harder organizing dilemmas. I learned how to share with my wife the very specific reasons why I wanted to keep something. I learned what items had true sentimental value for me, and why. I also learned how to say goodbye to items that had served their purpose, but that I no longer needed to take into my future.

Tidying Up My Life

Tidying Up My Life: Tidying Up My Life

Tidying our physical space was the start of a radical transformation process that would have a lasting impact far beyond the organization and aesthetics of our apartment. I unconsciously triggered a project that would invite us to confront all of the material possessions in our home and also examine all the ways in which we were living. 

Organizing is the process of putting things in order. It became clear to me that this process doesn’t only apply to the physical space in a home. It can also apply to our habits, routines, mental health, emotional wellness, and careers. 

I was able to apply the tidying principles that I’d learned from tidying our physical possessions to my professional life. I examined my motivations for pursuing positional power at work, my motivations for staying in a job that left me miserable, and considered what was getting in the way of my goal of spending more time with my children. I realized that climbing the career ladder to pursue positional power and external affirmation was actually undermining my happiness.

I determined that my job promotion had served its purpose, but I no longer wanted to take it into my future. I admitted to friends and colleagues that my life was far from tidy. I had to process the anxiety, stress, and trauma that I’d experienced and then let go. 

I said goodbye, stepped down from my position, took a pay cut, and returned to classroom teaching at the same school where I’d been an administrator. This experience taught me that sometimes you have to step back before being able to move forward.

Tidy Dad 

Tidying Up My Life: Tidy Dad

I am still very much in the process of tidying up my life. I am confronting my personal mess and my physical mess, and realizing that the more I tidy, the more space I create for the things that are really important.

By tidying our home, we created organizational systems that can adjust to the needs of our growing family. Last spring, we welcomed our third daughter into our little space. We now have 5 people, living in 750 sq feet and actively work to maintain the systems that we put into place during our epic tidying marathon. 

By returning to teaching, I gained more hours at home each week with the girls, more time off during school breaks, and a much healthier relationship with work and self-identity. I genuinely look forward to going to school each day and am excited to teach my 7th grade students. I also started the instagram account @tidydad and the website thetidydad.com to share my personal journey of processing the messes of life.

Tidy Tips 

Tidying Up My Life: Tidy Tips

I want other people who may be in a similar situation to recognize that messes often get worse before they get better. If you find yourself in the midst of a mess, either a personal mess or a physical mess, there are a few action steps I would suggest. 

  1. Focus on yourself first.

I couldn’t improve my relationship with my wife until I first recognized the impact of my own actions on our relationship. I couldn’t tidy the shared spaces in our home or the items that belonged to our daughters until I first confronted the impact of the mess of my own items within our home. 

  1. Bring everything into the open.

I brought my personal mess to light through marriage therapy and individual therapy. At home, we emptied every drawer, cabinet, closet, and dresser and took stock of all of our possessions. 

  1. Sit with the mess.

It’s important to take time to process what caused the mess before making a plan for how to tidy it up. Share your intentions and think about what is getting in the way of that. When I named what I wanted from my work, home, and life, it became clear what was getting in the way, and also what action steps I needed to take to tidy up the mess. 

I am simply a dad who is on a journey to tidy up my life. I want to provide well for my family, but I am learning to live with just enough. Just enough is a powerful way to live. 

I am continuing to rewrite my personal journey, one tidy project at a time.

Thanks for reading! This article was originally published in Simplify Magazine’s June 2021 Edition – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story. Simplify Magazine is a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family.

Thanks for pinning – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story

You may also like:

Expectant Fatherhood
Early Fatherhood
Living with "Just Enough"

I'm Tyler Moore 

My wife and I live with our three young girls in a 700-square-foot apartment in New York City. I started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


January 12, 2022

Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story

This article was originally published in Simplify Magazine’s June 2021 Edition – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story. Simplify Magazine is a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family.

My Facade 

Tidying Up My Life: My Facade

Life, like a tiny apartment, sometimes gets messier before it gets tidy. Three years ago, from the outside looking in, I appeared to have a very tidy life. Life was moving along exactly as I had planned it. I was checking off all the boxes I had created for myself and I was becoming “successful”. 

After college graduation, I married my high school sweetheart and settled into my first teaching job. I loved the creative process of teaching my students and it came naturally. In my second year of teaching I won my district’s “Teacher of the Year Award”. The next year, I applied to graduate school and was accepted to Columbia University. 

My wife and I moved to NYC and settled into our cozy one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens. I balanced teaching and attending graduate school in the evenings. 

2 years later I graduated with my Masters Degree in Comparative and International Education. After graduation we moved into a two-bedroom apartment, and the following year we celebrated the birth of our first daughter. When she was two months old, I accepted a promotion at my school as an administrator. Two years later we welcomed our second daughter.

I was living in my dream city with my high school sweetheart and our 2 daughters, had a degree from my dream school, and was advancing in my career. I had accomplished everything I thought I wanted. And yet I was miserable.

Untidy Dad

Tidying Up My Life: Untidy Dad

I found myself experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety. I had been miserable at work ever since I left teaching to take the promotion into school administration. I knew the new position would pay more and keep me advancing in my career. My father had been a teacher for many years before becoming a principal and then working at the school district level. He loved his job and I respected his career path. I thought my promotion would help me follow a similar successful trajectory, and I felt proud to have been offered the promotion so early into my career.

I desperately wanted to enjoy and feel in control of my work, but the majority of my responsibilities were reactive. Teachers and staff would look for me to be the “expert” when a situation occurred and they needed me to quickly solve problems. I was often responsible for cleaning up the “messes” that other people had created. I tried to proactively prepare for work, but each day was completely different. The process of anticipating when or where the next problem would occur left me in an anxious spiral, and mentally and emotionally drained. 

I attempted to manage these feelings by pouring more time into my job with the hopes of getting “better” at it. I often worked 12 – 14 hours per day. I thought the extra time would somehow help me gain control and a clear mind, get faster at solving problems, and demonstrate to others that I was competent. 

After each long day, I’d rush home to my family at the end of the day. The girls would squeal with delight when I walked through the door. I missed them while I was at work, and I desperately wanted to do well in my career so I could somehow prove that the excessive time away from them was worth it.

My Breakdown

Tidying Up My Life: My Breakdown

For three years, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of problems that I couldn’t fix. As soon as I started the new job, stress and anxiety from work followed me home. I blamed it on my inexperience, and thought that it would get better with time. It didn’t.

Most nights I walked into the apartment and expressed judgement to my wife. I pointed out all the things that she hadn’t accomplished. If she had cooked dinner while the girls were playing, I’d complain that the apartment wasn’t tidy. If the apartment was tidy, I’d complain that laundry wasn’t done. If laundry was done, I’d complain that dinner wasn’t ready. 

I desired our home to be a calm respite from the chaos that I experienced at school. My wife tried to be supportive, but she was juggling a toddler, a newborn, and a husband who was in a mental downward spiral. My actions began to negatively impact our relationship as my angry criticisms became a daily cycle. I blamed her for the chaos we were experiencing at home. 

One morning as I was walking to school, I reached my breaking point. Waiting for the crosswalk to indicate that it was safe to cross, I consciously thought, “It might be easier for me to just walk into traffic right now, and end it all.” I stood on the corner and broke down into tears.

Thankfully, I immediately reached out to my wife for help. She encouraged me to start seeing a therapist.

Addressing my Crisis  

Tidying Up My Life: Addressing My Crisis

When I started therapy, I learned that I was in the midst of a profound early-30s crisis. 

I discovered that I was bitter, resentful, and unable to process emotions in a healthy or productive way. I was desperately jealous of people who seemed happy. I suppressed many of my thoughts and feelings for the sake of not wanting to upset others. I sought out unhealthy ways to compensate and attempted to control aspects of my life that felt out of control. 

My therapist helped me to realize that since early adolescence, I had worked incredibly hard to mask the deep emotional trauma that I had experienced when my parents divorced. For years I had used my ambition, charm, and humor, to try to project a facade to the world that “everything was alright,” when I was actually crumbling inside.

When I became a dad, all of those strategies that I had once used to “maintain external tidiness” no longer worked. I learned that my unhealthy attachment to control and order was undermining my happiness. I learned that my feelings were okay, but that some of my actions were not. My unhealthy actions were often the result of unprocessed feelings. I practiced strategies for letting go of the need for control and order, and verbally processing my thoughts and feelings with my wife.

Three weeks into my therapy journey, I made the decision to take leave from my job. The goal was to take a break to recover mentally and emotionally, spend time with my wife and daughters, and figure out the next part of my story. 

I began the process of tidying up my life. But I was about to learn that things have to get messier before they get tidy.

Confronting the Mess

Tidying Up My Life: Confronting the Mess

I rested for two days. And then became restless. 

My anxious mind needed a project to dive into and help me feel like I had a purpose by being at home. I decided it would be genius to switch all the furniture from our larger bedroom with all the furniture in the smaller bedroom our girls shared, so they would have more floor space to play.

I was obviously still not in a healthy state when I impulsively started the process of moving furniture. It was a decent idea, but of course it wasn’t nearly as easy as I had initially imagined. I thought the project would take only a few hours. I had felt out of control at work, and now I was trying to find control at home. Instead, I unintentionally created chaos in our home, which took months to sort out.

The two bedrooms were different sizes and different shapes, and the furniture could not easily change locations. While our home had looked tidy to the outside observer’s eye, things were just hidden away behind closed cabinets and doors. I emptied every single item that was stored in every single furniture piece which revealed the ugly truth about how we’d been stuffing away items in both rooms, instead of dealing with them. 

Once everything was out in the open, my wife and I had to feel the weight of all the possessions that we’d stuffed away. We had piles and piles of things everywhere. It was raw and embarrassing.

Tidying Up Our Home

Tidying Up My Life: Tidying Up Our Home

Once all our possessions surfaced, we were forced to deal with the problem. Together my wife and I embarked on a months-long process to tidy our space. 

We used the book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo as our guide for how to approach the tidying process. We would read a section of the book together and then tidy that category in our home. We started by tidying the items in our new smaller bedroom. We realized early on that we needed to get our own things tidy first, before moving on to the items that belonged to our girls.

We sorted items, made decisions, and together tried to organize a space that would meet our needs. As a result of our work, I was able to get rid of the huge bulky wardrobe that had once housed my clothing and move all of my clothes into a closet that measures 14 inches wide. 

We found tidying items that belonged to our girls to be a bit more complicated. Unlike us, our daughters are constantly growing and their needs, interests and developmental stages are frequently changing. We had to sort and categorize all of their items into smaller categories, and then choose storage solutions. We methodically sorted toys, clothing, and books and talked about what a “just enough” mentality might look like for our family. 

Throughout that process, we honed our decision-making abilities, learned how to set boundaries, and developed skills to tackle harder organizing dilemmas. I learned how to share with my wife the very specific reasons why I wanted to keep something. I learned what items had true sentimental value for me, and why. I also learned how to say goodbye to items that had served their purpose, but that I no longer needed to take into my future.

Tidying Up My Life

Tidying Up My Life: Tidying Up My Life

Tidying our physical space was the start of a radical transformation process that would have a lasting impact far beyond the organization and aesthetics of our apartment. I unconsciously triggered a project that would invite us to confront all of the material possessions in our home and also examine all the ways in which we were living. 

Organizing is the process of putting things in order. It became clear to me that this process doesn’t only apply to the physical space in a home. It can also apply to our habits, routines, mental health, emotional wellness, and careers. 

I was able to apply the tidying principles that I’d learned from tidying our physical possessions to my professional life. I examined my motivations for pursuing positional power at work, my motivations for staying in a job that left me miserable, and considered what was getting in the way of my goal of spending more time with my children. I realized that climbing the career ladder to pursue positional power and external affirmation was actually undermining my happiness.

I determined that my job promotion had served its purpose, but I no longer wanted to take it into my future. I admitted to friends and colleagues that my life was far from tidy. I had to process the anxiety, stress, and trauma that I’d experienced and then let go. 

I said goodbye, stepped down from my position, took a pay cut, and returned to classroom teaching at the same school where I’d been an administrator. This experience taught me that sometimes you have to step back before being able to move forward.

Tidy Dad 

Tidying Up My Life: Tidy Dad

I am still very much in the process of tidying up my life. I am confronting my personal mess and my physical mess, and realizing that the more I tidy, the more space I create for the things that are really important.

By tidying our home, we created organizational systems that can adjust to the needs of our growing family. Last spring, we welcomed our third daughter into our little space. We now have 5 people, living in 750 sq feet and actively work to maintain the systems that we put into place during our epic tidying marathon. 

By returning to teaching, I gained more hours at home each week with the girls, more time off during school breaks, and a much healthier relationship with work and self-identity. I genuinely look forward to going to school each day and am excited to teach my 7th grade students. I also started the instagram account @tidydad and the website thetidydad.com to share my personal journey of processing the messes of life.

Tidy Tips 

Tidying Up My Life: Tidy Tips

I want other people who may be in a similar situation to recognize that messes often get worse before they get better. If you find yourself in the midst of a mess, either a personal mess or a physical mess, there are a few action steps I would suggest. 

  1. Focus on yourself first.

I couldn’t improve my relationship with my wife until I first recognized the impact of my own actions on our relationship. I couldn’t tidy the shared spaces in our home or the items that belonged to our daughters until I first confronted the impact of the mess of my own items within our home. 

  1. Bring everything into the open.

I brought my personal mess to light through marriage therapy and individual therapy. At home, we emptied every drawer, cabinet, closet, and dresser and took stock of all of our possessions. 

  1. Sit with the mess.

It’s important to take time to process what caused the mess before making a plan for how to tidy it up. Share your intentions and think about what is getting in the way of that. When I named what I wanted from my work, home, and life, it became clear what was getting in the way, and also what action steps I needed to take to tidy up the mess. 

I am simply a dad who is on a journey to tidy up my life. I want to provide well for my family, but I am learning to live with just enough. Just enough is a powerful way to live. 

I am continuing to rewrite my personal journey, one tidy project at a time.

Thanks for reading! This article was originally published in Simplify Magazine’s June 2021 Edition – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story. Simplify Magazine is a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family.

Thanks for pinning – Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story

You may also like:

Expectant Fatherhood
Early Fatherhood
Living with "Just Enough"

January 12, 2022

Tidying Up My Life: A Father’s Story

About me

Hi, my name is Tyler Moore. My wife and I live with our three young daughters in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I began my tidying journey when an early-30’s crisis invited me to reflect upon, challenge, and change my patterns of daily living. I quit my job as a school administrator, returned to teaching, and started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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