From Tami: Messy House

Children's toys and items of clothing strewn on floor near open cupboard door in bedroom
There are many blessings to be found in a messy house. For example, the small people who mess it up all day long.

That said, I am not a fan of living in a messy house, no matter how much I love the mess-makers.

In addition to being unpleasant to live in, I find that my messy house presents me with conundrums fairly frequently. How do I prioritize my time? I don’t want to be cleaning constantly, so how much do I do on a daily basis? Do I do upstairs one day and downstairs the next? Do I accept the mess and just work on keeping the toys out from underfoot and my kitchen clean?

How much should the kids be helping? Obviously they need to take some responsibility, especially as they get older. But sometimes I find their help to be more of a hindrance than a help, and I expend more energy getting them to clean (and then cleaning it myself anyway, half the time) than I would had I just cleaned it myself in the first place. Of course, then I run into the issue of teaching; how will they grow up to be neat, clean, responsible people if they are never required to step up to the plate?

Honestly, I am somewhat lacking in this department. I often don’t have the strength and energy to make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of the cleaning, which means that I often end up doing most of the cleaning and then being grumpy about it. It isn’t a very flattering thing to admit, but it’s true. Guilt, guilt, guilt—my kids are not nearly as neat as they should be, my house is not as tidy as it should be, and I let it all get to me more than I should. Triple guilt whammy.

Last conundrum brought on by the messy house? The how-we-split-the-housework debate. My husband is wonderful. He works so hard, and tries to help around the house as much as he can. He does all of the yardwork, and helps me motivate the children to help around the house as well. But it can’t be helped—I notice the mess more than he does, and it bothers me more than it bothers him. I am also home more often than he is, even though I work as well. So at the end of the day, I do more of the childcare and more of the housework. It’s not the end of the world, but I do sometimes wish that, when he’s home, he would notice more of the mess around the house.

At the end of the day, this too comes down to the balancing act. We balance our children, our partners, and our housework along with our wants, needs, hobbies, and jobs. I feel good when my house is clean, but I remind myself that clutter ranks pretty low in importance compared to the other things I’m balancing. When I get to it, great! When I don’t? I was probably doing something more important in the long run.

I try to live by Erma Bombeck’s words. When she was asked what she would do if she could live her life over again, she wrote a lovely piece to answer it. It included the lines: “I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.”

So let’s make a dual commitment. Let’s commit to doing our best, while never getting too hung up on things. It’s the great balancing act.

But I know you’ve got it covered.

That’s why you’re a SuperMom.


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