What Your Messy House REALLY Says About You

 

Instagram Revolution from Home

When did a messy house make us feel like we were inadequate? Weren’t cutting it as moms or wives or just normal, tidy humans in general? Here’s how an Instagram caption made me rethink what a messy house REALLY says about me.

Some time ago, I walked passed my younger daughters’ room, snapped the following photo and posted it on Instagram.

Its caption?

“I can’t keep up. Thankfully, I’ve made peace with this fact.”

Though my intention was to offer a bit of empathy and connection around a shared reality most of us face on the daily, something didn’t feel right about the message I’d chosen. While it’s true that I’ve made peace with my rarely-tidy-for-long home (following years of futility and frustration), it was that first sentence, “I can’t keep up” that got me thinking:

Keep up with what? Just what do I feel like I need to keep up with, and more? Why do I feel like I need to keep up with it?

This question led to several others:

  • Is it true that I can’t ‘keep up, or do I simply choose not to?
  • Who sets the standards for “keeping up,” and are they worthy of my strivings?
  • Who benefits when I attempt to “keep up” by an arbitrary set of measures?
  • Does “keeping up” empower me to be my most authentic self?

Pretty quickly, I was able to uncover the real reasons I was uncomfortable with the wording I’d chosen: It suggests inadequacy on my part (and the part of others whose homes are messy), it is subtlety self-critical and it fails to honor the life being lived in lieu of constant cleaning.

messy house

I tried for many years to adhere to the unspoken cultural (and countercultural) laws our society has so generously bestowed upon us. My house stayed clean, my closets organized and my girls’ rooms sweetly adorned. In the event that I couldn’t keep up (such as following the birth of yet another baby), I was hard on myself, lost sleep catching up and vowed to manage my time and resources better.

But because my motivation was based on what I felt I should be doing, instead of the authentic expression and honoring of who I really am and what I (and my family) needed to thrive, even when I was able to “keep up,” I still felt dissatisfied, disappointed and behind. Yes, even with things in order, the house ready for unexpected visitors at any time and me knowing the last time I did laundry and put it up–I was still not feeling fulfilled.

Don’t get me wrong; that may not be everyone. Society’s definition of ‘keeping up,’ and what that looks like may be just the cup of tea for a mama who finds peace and tranquility and achievement in doing so. And that’s great!

It just didn’t for me.

Until we’ve evaluated what we’re trying to keep up with, why, and how doing so benefits our lives, our efforts will only go so far toward the feelings and quality of life we’re after. 

So, what does your messy house say about YOU? Here are a few possibilities: 

  1. You don’t derive joy from the experience of constantly cleaning up after others. You find your joy elsewhere, and recognize that sharing your joy with your family is a greater gift than the gift of a tidy home.
  2. You have high tolerance for chaos and patience with people in process. Those around you most likely find that freeing and a gift you give to them.
  3. You see mess as evidence that your family had a fun, connected day.
  4. You recently had a baby (meaning less than four years ago).
  5. You’re exhausted and recognize adequate rest to be more important to your well-being (and thus, the well-being of others) than more cleaning. Hooray for you for knowing this and being brave enough to take the rest on, as you should.
  6. Your strengths are not being engaged. Spending the bulk of your time invested in things that do not make you feel strong and alive (my definition of strengths) leaves you uninspired and unmotivated. Going through motions doesn’t ever seem to benefit anyone’s inner soul.
  7. You’re more inspired outside than in. Life constantly indoors drains your energy and leaves you feeling anxious.
  8. You’re confident in yourself, and not particularly concerned with what others think about you or the state of your home. You know that home is the heart of the people who live in it, not what it looks like.
  9. You’re engaging the kids in the housework. More hands on deck does not necessarily mean your house is cleaner, but it does mean your kids are developing work ethics, which matters more to you than the house being spotless. And it shows you have incredible self-control–it takes that not to want to do the chores ‘right’ when little hands are just learning.
  10. You’re more concerned with making a difference than making beds.
  11. You work long hours (for money) in order to support the basic needs of your family and cleaning can’t trump sleep if you’re to stay sane. Something has to give, and you’ve decided it’s not sleep or sanity.
  12. You don’t have the support you need to thrive, which makes cleaning the least of your worries.
  13. Your aesthetic isn’t defined by consumer culture. You see beauty in people, interactions, nature and growth, and have little need organization in order to feel inspired.
  14. You’re in survival mode. You need all the energy you can scrape together to weather this challenging season. And the next one. Or you’re just recovering from the last one. If you’re not in a challenging season, you’ve come out of one or coming into one, guaranteed.
  15. You’ve never learned how to clean efficiently and effectively. (Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.) It can make a difference (if you want it to).
  16. You’re an artist. Mess inspires you. No, really. It may, and that’s okay. You’re able to see beauty in things others can’t believe is anything more than a colossal mess, and that makes you so creative.
  17. You don’t thrive in isolation, and would rather have more time with people than a tidy home.
  18. You love your (other) work. You’d rather invest your time where the work feels gratifying and meaningful. Cleaning a home may make some feel gratified and fulfilled, but if that’s not you, it’s okay–it doesn’t have to be and you’re still okay.
  19. You value your quality of life. Cleaning minimally allows you time to create a life you love. And that’s more important than what your life looks like.
  20. You’ve got your priorities straight. You’ve checked in with what matters most to you and are willing to go against the grain in order to protect these priorities. If a clean house is your priority, that is your right too, but don’t feel like it has to be unless you want it to be.

rp_messy-house-1.jpg
Maybe you see yourself in a more critical light. Perhaps you think of yourself as lazy, selfish, or a hoarder. Beneath all self-judgment, however, lies a truer story. “Lazy” might mean uninspired, lonely or deeply misunderstood. “Selfish” speaks of unmet core needs and a shaky sense of self-worth. Hoarding could be a sign that you see beauty and usefulness in just about anything. 

There are many good reasons your house may be messy. The confusion comes in when we believe the messages (and marketing) most culturally condoned: that we’re inadequate, that we’re doing something wrong, and that we need to adjust our priorities to meet cultural “norms.”

As if magazine covers represent what is normal.

As if Pinterest paints an accurate picture of what’s possible. 

As if the things we really long for can be bought at deep discounts. 

Rather than “keeping up” — with the Joneses, with other women and with the ever-changing definitions of beauty, value and importance promoted by popular culture — we can set kinder standards for ourselves, align our actions with our values, and focus on that which matters most on any given day. By doing so, we claim the right to be the authors of our lives, and open ourselves to whole new realms of joy. We can even redefine what a ‘messy house’ even is. No more of that, “Oh gracious, forgive how the house looks,” mess when you have company, even though you know you’ve just spent hours scrubbing it from top to bottom. When did we start to believe if you couldn’t eat off our floors there was something wrong?

Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” I would add that it is no measure of success to “keep up” with a culture whose values aren’t aligned with your own.

Particularly if you and your family are a-okay with your lifestyle, your values and your home. Isn’t that what matters anyway?

—–

Thanks to Beth Berry for this Guest Piece


57 thoughts on “What Your Messy House REALLY Says About You”

  1. Good words well spoken. However, there is a difference between being messy and being unsafe/unhealthy. I have worked with situations where parents excuse unsafe/unhealthy practices as “just being messy.” Won’t elaborate , just adding a little balance that seemed to be missing.

      1. I am not a parent but I don’t see how being dirty is unsafe. Unless you are sprinkling your counter-tops with Draino before you cook or something.

  2. It means a great deal to me for someone to understand me so well (eveb if I’ve never met that someone!)

    I can identify with every point on that list, with the exception of number 8. This I still struggle with.

    Thank you for your empathy and compassionate words. It’s validating to know that the struggles and inadequacy are experienced by others.

  3. Order can bring peace. It’s hard to have tranquil times in a home that doesn’t have any empty space to put a vase of flowers on.

  4. Are you F’ing kidding me???!!!!!! This is yet another failure as a parent to set an example to their children!!!! And as the cycle goes on to the next generation and so on and so on… As a parent, fulltime student, fulltime husband, and over all a responsible person. I will have our home and have my childrens home in the future not be spotless, but not a dump as this parent has shown… UNBELIEVABLE!!! Take some responsibility for yourself and your family. And for Gods sake for your our future as a society!!!!

    1. A dump? This looks to me like a home that is clean underneath, but the kids have temporarily made messy. These messes are easily cleaned up, and all homes with kids have messes like this sometimes, or else an obsessive parent who doesn’t let the kids play.

  5. I love a clean house. I take issue with this article and the 100 that came before it talking about why folks have a dirty/unkept home. Every article normally boils it down to: I like to spend more time with my family -I’m a more engaged parent. I call bullshit. My home is very clean and I am super engaged with my children. I never see people post blogs about why keeping a clean house is better for kids. You know why? Because we are not trying to shove a lifestyle down anyone’s throat. #13 above really hit a nerve with me. It is very judging of folks that keep a clean home. By listing all the reasons that a home could be dirty and how great of a person that makes you…it says the opposite of folks with clean homes.

    1. My thoughts exactly. I raised 4 children while working 40 hrs a week and my house never looked like that. How can you enjoy anything with chaos all around you? When the kids come home from school and have to do homework, well where would that happen? On top of which mess? It all sounds like a great excuse not to have to clean your home

      1. And I don’t think the author is saying it is not necessary to clean! This is simply written to help those who are basing their self-worth on their ability (or lack of ability) to keep a perfect house. Not everyone finds that easy, and people who struggle to get it all done need support. Don’t be one more harsh voice in a harsh, judging world.

      1. The intention may not have been to judge others but it comes across that way. I see this every time I read one of these articles about why it is okay to not clean your house. Every single time is about how messy people have their priorities straight, love their families more, and in this article–are not defined by consumerism and find beauty in people and nature. What this is implying is that anyone who DOES keep a tidy home is opposite. The implication is that if I keep a tidy home that means my priorities are out of whack, I don’t love my family as much and, apparently, I’m a slave to consumerism and don’t find beauty in people and nature.

        If you don’t keep a tidy home. Fine. Great. As my late grandfather used to say, “Whatever trips your trigger, Hoppy.” I, personally, do not care how other people keep their own homes. But why does everyone who keeps an untidy home work so dang hard to justify why? And why are they so passively aggressive in their justification? Because when you read between the lines the message is, “I don’t keep a tidy home and it is because I’m better than those who do.” I guess if that helps you sleep at night, keep thinking it.

        But, I am a tidy person. I clean on a regular basis. We have very minimal clutter. When we’re done with something we put it away. Dishes are done right after a meal. Beds are made in the morning.Laundry does not pile up–it is done every weekend and put away. And, amazingly, we still somehow have time to be a family. We still find time to play board games, build forts in the living room, create art in our studio, explore the city we live in, go on day trips away from the city, cuddle up and watch movies, bake cookies together, spend time with friends. I must be magical, because according to this article, and so many like it, I shouldn’t have time to do any of that since, ya know, I’m always cleaning.

  6. I am so tired of these stories equating personal mess and disorder with “creativity” and with a supposedly closer, more connected relationship with one’s children. If you feel a need to come up with all sorts of ways to rationalize your behavior this way, go ahead, but please know that children require a certain amount of order in their lives to feel secure, no matter how well-adjusted and attached they may appear. I’m not talking about a perfectly spotless house and I agree that the opposite extreme is equally problematic. It’s a matter of balance. The pictures above do not show balance.

    1. I agree with you– it’s all about balance. But what is not balanced about the above pictures? I see a house that is clean (not dirty) but has gotten temporarily messy. The living room picture with all the clothes? Looks to me like the laundry was done and set in the living room, and then some children came through, pushed the wash aside, and built a blanket fort with the sheets. This is the aftermath. Or some other scenario. This doesn’t mean that the living room always looks like that! It means that the children are allowed to be creative and to play. Maybe there were other important things to focus on that day besides the living room. Probably it will get cleaned up soon.

  7. Can’t we stop judging each other? I don’t care if you have a messy home, but don’t rationalize it by pointing out all the awful things you think my tidy home says about me. We’re all doing our best.

  8. Creative chaos is good. Messy is not always creative chaos.
    If you can find all of your stuff, then being creative becomes so much easier. If all of your stuff has a home, it is easy to put it away, returning your house or room to its’ resting state. It is also easier to teach your kids to return their things to their resting state, a.k.a. a reasonably neat room.

    The reason so many people struggle and, to quote “keep up” with “constant[ly] cleaning” is a misunderstanding that one can just do this without ever learning how. If you need to constantly clean to maintain a mostly ordered house, it is not because of being inadequate, it is because nobody ever explained how to achieve this.

    For our family, we have seen a tremendous difference. The standard state is now calm and ordered. We could have unexpected company whenever, and with 15 minutes of picking up some stuff, we could have anyone over, including mother-in-laws 🙂

    The kids love that their rooms are calmer, and that they can find everything. They help pick up, in fact often do it by themself (well, we still have to tell them but the action is done by them.)

    So, how did this happen? We have tried many de-cluttering and cleaning “systems”, but the one that worked is the KonMari method. It is not at all about constant cleaning, or getting rid of everything you own. It is all about making sure you have things you love around you, and let me tell you again – it just works. Come on over to the FB group KonMari Adventures, or find the book or audiobook. I can promise that you will not regret it.

    You do NOT have to clean constantly to have a clean house. In fact, if you learn how, you will spend very LITTLE time cleaning.

    1. Note that the article mentions the book in point 15, or .5 as it is shown in my browser. She could have emphasized this better. It is *that* good 🙂

      F O

    2. Thank you for a balanced, reasonable comment! 🙂 You have a very good point and it was well said. I have read the book, and it has been life-changing! I would add one caveat, though. Saying you do not have to constantly clean to keep things up is painting with a broad brush. It depends on your circumstances. For example, if you have a husband who drops every single thing he uses right where he used it, and won’t help with the children, you will be constantly picking things up, no matter how little you have. I know a situation like this. Also, if someone works long hours, they will probably be spending a lot of their time at home cleaning/picking up.

  9. I wasn’t going to comment until I saw some of the rudeness on here, so I felt it was my duty to try and even it out. I love this. We are not clean people. We are sanitary, safe people. But we are not tidy. And I’m sure there are 18,000 different ways we could try harder, but we just don’t want to! It doesn’t matter to us. There is a point where the mess gets too much, and then we clean it! It’s magical! It’s like I have my own internal sense of how I like to live and can follow that instead of someone else’s arbitrary standards! Bravo, this was excellent and such a great reminder that we are happy and healthiest when we are in tune with our own needs instead of trying to meet someone else’s.

  10. Honestly I have felt more judged having a clean house then I ever feel when I go into a house that’s unkept. I have had to depend myself, my parenting and motives etc. I’ve flat out dealt with rude comments regarding my house many times! My husband and I and even my children prefer to clean things up. It makes the house in general look more clean. It’s not that they don’t play, we just pick up after. It’s not that we don’t do art, we pick up after & so on. It doesn’t mean I am scrubbing floors and sinks and toilets all day and missing my children’s first steps! It means I feel better and more sane that way and I don’t judge anybody’s worth or parenting skills on a clean or dirty house. I’ve even had friends say, “I’ve decided the more clean your house is the better parent you are.” Oh wow, ok. Well I never feel the need to say what a wonderful mother I am because my house is clean. I’m kinda sick of hearing about the messy houses. Have a dirty house if that works best for you and I’ll have mine clean. Doesn’t matter AT ALL.

  11. Oh and it doesn’t mean I have my priorities out of whack. I’ve heard that many times too. Don’t use your coming to terms with your messy house as a way to try to bring me down for having a clean one. Unbelievable.

  12. Why be so critical about this mom/writer who has 4 kids? I can tell the mess in the pictures are caused by her kids. Kids could make a mess within minutes after you’ve organized your home, & you can’t control every one of their actions to make them stop making a mess or to clean up after themselves. Parents esp. those with young children have so many responsibilities, such as cooking, laundry, buying grocery, spending quality time with the kids, reading to the kids, researching for good schools, planning the weekend, going to work, etc. So cleaning up a messy room that would be in a mess again within minutes might be such a parent’s last priority on certain days. Please be more understanding.

    1. Thank you! That comment was needed. I can’t believe how many people are shocked that the house would get messy when you have children. That’s exactly why I am afraid to have someone stop in if the house is not perfect!

  13. I don’t see any positives out of my mess. I have struggled with organization all my life. I would describe the feelings and side effects of my disorganization as chaos, out of control, lazy, overwhelmed, unsure what to do with it all, unhealthy, unnatural attachment to useless stuff, germaphobic, lost. My husband and I are finally making a real push to become minimalist. We have donated and thrown out a ton and are not bring much back in. Being too ashamed to answer the door or have people over is not a healthy way to be. My Grandparents generation was not so commercialized. Stuff was not such a draw. Experiences and family were important. My Grandma who was like a mother to me was taught how to run a household, an art that is disappearing and lost for many people. She spent a ton of time with me, had a spotless house, was a successful painter and an amazing cook. We can have it all, I think we have to let go of stuff to get there and be willing to have a place for everything. I think it is important that we teach the next generation so they don’t end up overwhelmed in a world of chaos like so many of us live.

  14. My house is never dirty, but gets a little messy with toys strewn around sometimes. Which we (my children and I) pick up everyday. I have four children and there have been times when I was too tired to deal with the mess, but my brain won’t let me leave it for long. I don’t like clutter, so I always tidy up. I understand the message in this article to a point, but not entirely. If every room in your house is a disaster all the time, you’re just lazy. If it’s a little strewn at times, then you’re probably busy doing other important things, but there is never reason enough not to pick up at some point each day. I do stay at home, so I have more time than if I worked outside my home, but I still have a busy day everyday. I keep my house ‘clean’ and picked up regularly even though I drive my 2 older children back and forth to school, homeschool my 2 younger children, extracurricular activities with all 4, prepare meals, clean up, and even engage in my own hobbies- reading, knitting, and playing violin. It’s called having a routine, (and believe me I don’t conform to what other people think is normal or best) I do it all the way I enjoy doing it, when I want to do it, and how I want to do it. But it all gets done in a manner that is comfortable to me. But with all that said, I’ll admit that my bedroom suffers the most, as I rarely have time to deal with it. But I don’t care, and neither does my husband. No one else sees it anyway, haha!

  15. I love this. I didn’t read it as judging those who are neat and tidy, but as supportive for those of us who are not. My house is often a work-in-progress. It’s messier than I would like at the moment, but with two parents who work full time and a kiddo who all have hobbies and “stuff”, completely clean only happens a few times a year. I often can’t find things, but that has been true my whole life, I often joke that putting something “someplace safe” is a kiss of death, it’s so safe even I can’t find where I put it. We’re constantly trying to make homes for things and purge stuff and pick up and clean, and all of us suffer when that’s all we do. Last night we decided to just watch a movie as a family, and it was fabulous. The mess is still here for me to work on more today, but I thank you for this article, because it’s nice to not be the only one who doesn’t have a magazine cover house.

  16. In 2008 I had a 7 week old and a 4 year old when my MIL took me to task because my kitchen valences were dusty and I didn’t know when I had last swept under my son’s bed. I also like a clean house but that comment was completely heartbreaking and insensitive. She also didn’t make the same comment to my husband. This cleaning stuff remains gendered. I think a take-away with this piece is to consider someone’s current reality before judging their house or them. Geez!

  17. In the hard work of keeping up a home, I’ve always been a bit on the short end and I made my peace with that early on. But I had an interesting moment when we hosted a holiday around the time my daughter was 4. My husband and I were up until the wee hours dusting and clearing and organizing and vacuuming and putting things away. The next morning, as she came downstairs, my daughter literally stopped halfway down and looked around and said, “Can we always have our house be like this?” It blew my mind that she noticed a difference at such a young age, and that it gave her such a good feeling about her home. So it changed my thinking from “I’m not buying into the insane, sanitized Martha Stewart standard (which was just beginning to hit its stride when I was in my 20s) that sucks up all your spare time ” to “We all feel better when the house is in basic order and I’m not always running late because I can’t find things.” Over time, my family evolved to all work together on this. At one point, I remembered something from my own childhood. There were 5 kids, and while our home wasn’t pristine, there was always order, never chaos. We each had a Saturday morning chore we had to do before we could go out. How had I forgotten that? Mine was to dust, polish and sweep the living room. No one’s chore took more than 30 minutes, but it all had to be done.

  18. #21. You have too much stuff.

    A cluttered house is going to look messy no matter how much cleaning you do. As FlyLady says, you can’t organize clutter. She breaks decluttering down into 15 minute tasks. If you don’t love it or use it, get rid of it. The first time we did this was in 2005, and it took a year to get the layers of clutter down to where we were comfortable.

    Twice, we inherited houses and contents from hoarders. The first was hard because of emotions. It took a year & a half and $20,000 to clean out. The second one was easier. It took me 2 months and about $800.

    Now, our house is up for sale, and we’re doing it again. Had the first yard sale today, and some big, bulky, items sold. I’m going to the flea market on Wednesday with a van full of tools.

    Bottom line: It can be done. Get the kids involved. Let them make decisions about their own stuff. And I wish you all the best.

  19. I agree with this to a point. Mess is different from filth. It’s also important to think about the family as a while. If my kids are embarrassed to invite friends over, then there is a problem. If the mess means we can’t find things and therfore waste money buying things to replace the ones we can’t find, that is also having an impact. My house seems to always be a mess. I have had to lower my standards in recent years. I’m a single parent of 4 under 10, and work full time, just recently finished going back to school. I have to prioritize because there is not enough time in the day. When my house is too messy though, I feel scrambled and am less productive. It’s nice to realize that mess doesn’t mean you are a bad person though. We shouldn’t judge each other because of our mess. Offering support to someone who seems not to be coping would be better than judging them.

  20. All the heavily judgmental comments on here are the whole reason this woman WROTE it. You people who keep your homes like model homes? You’re crazy. I LIVE here. I don’t have my home tangled up with my self-worth, and my home is a place for me to escape from the crap and judgment of the world.

    I don’t need to have my home look like a magazine cover. Yes, there’s dust. I have pets who are more important to me than the stains they leave on my carpets. I have my carpets professionally cleaned when I can afford it, but most of the time my priorities are: CLEAN bathroom (toilet and sinks especially – sanitized a couple of times every week), clean kitchen sink and counters. Basically, the areas that might lead to people getting sick in some way if they aren’t kept clean.

    I do NOT worry about a stack of mail lying about. I do NOT worry about a scattering of pet toys (or kid toys, when my daughter was young). I have plants that drop leaves, but I’m not obsessively picking up every leaf the moment it falls. Sometimes a dry leaf turns into a cat toy for a day or two, and you know what? The world does NOT come to an end!!!!

    I have a sister whose home looks like a model home all the time. She spends her Saturdays scrubbing her house (that’s already clean). She spends her evenings scrubbing her house (that’s already clean). Her whole life revolves around her house being immaculate all the time.

    While she’s busy cleaning her already clean house, I’m out with friends enjoying a meal, or playing with my grand kids, or even just sitting on my front porch (that I haven’t swept in 2 weeks – shocker!) and enjoying the sounds of birds singing, my wind chimes and the sparkle of the sun on the leaves of the trees.

    Guess which one of us describes our life as being “happy” and which one feels “stressed” all the time. Yup. I enjoy my life, she’s so busy judging herself by how clean her home is that she rarely enjoys it. Sad.

    1. Bravo Mary! That is exactly how I feel. I was once an obsessive clean freak. If everything wasn’t in order and clean before bed…I stayed up and finished it. Needless to say I lost a great deal of sleep in my younger years. My children did not benefit from my obsessive need for order and cleanliness, in fact they were harmed by the lack of time I had to spend just hanging out with them. I don’t see this article as negating those who clean, but as a message that it is okay if your home isn’t perfectly clean and organized at all times, and that time with your family is more important than being sure every speck of dirt and clutter is disposed of. As for the photos…come on, those are just kids being kids. Yes it could be more clean and organized, but I think it was used to make a point. It isn’t exactly dirty and disgusting.

  21. I’ve never commented on a blog article before, but I felt the need to do so this morning. Those of you that have expressed the sentiment that you are tired of defending your clean house, or who have lauded the absolute necessity of having a tidy house, have missed the point of this article. The author in no way condemns the individuals who have the ability to maintain an orderly house and spend lots of time with their children and families. Kudos to you for being able to achieve such a balanced state! The author is simply stating that for those of us who struggle daily with maintaining that balance, inadequacy is not the reason. Many of you said “you’re just lazy!” and left it at that. The author even addresses the “lazy” aspect, noting that laziness often comes from an emptiness or lack of inspiration – that is a bigger issue. All this article is trying to say is that each of us should handle ourselves with compassion, work at understanding why we do the things we do (including failing to maintain our houses as we “should”), and live our lives. That being said, I admire you all who are able to maintain your homes and invest in your families. It’s something I struggle with mightily, as I do see the beauty in keeping a clean home.

  22. you people that have clean houses, did you think that maybe this article wasn’t written to you, if you have a clean house then you don’t need this, This maybe for the ones that have trouble or just don’t see that keeping a clean house is that big of a deal. I have trouble with this, yes we did chores, but no one stressed to us how important it was to have a clean house. and if you were in my mom’s house you would see that she doesn’t seem to know either. I have tried to not be my mom, so far doing pretty good, but I still have some messes around, do I like it no I don’t but sometimes when I think I have made up my mind to get things straightened up, I look at that mess and get overwhelmed. I know there are people that can’t understand that, but it really is a problem for some of us.

  23. Yes, I feel I can’t keep up… but I forget to ask myself the second question. Keep up with what??? And most of the list of things you mentioned about why my house is messy… answered it for me. Exactly how I feel… But it’s hard to let it go.. let loose… and just spend good quality and happy times with my kids. I haven’t made peace with a messy uncleaned home yet. I feel I have failed.. and way behind my schedule of what suppose to be done in terms of household chores. I haven’t reduce a lot of the cleaning, but I feel the guilt and incompetent. Please share how you made peace with it… did you just accepted it? was it a gradual process?

  24. I clean houses for a living and I always tell people that the main reasons for cleaning is health and safety. And of course, you want to be able to find the things you need. When you have a young family, anything beyond those criteria is a bonus
    I saw some safety issues in these pictures.
    Some of the difficulties come from having too much stuff. Looks like the children have too many toys
    I had three children close together and a chronically unemployed husband (read a fourth child) and managed better than that. But then, back in those days, we didn’t have blogs to enrich the world with

  25. If you have a clean house and don’t need this article, why are you reading this and commenting do harshly our defending your clean home? I don’t believe this article was meant to knock you rather comfort those who are currently in a season of not being able to have a pristine home or choosing other things over that. For some reasons as mothers, or even human beings, we somehow feel that if someone is defending or explaining their choice to do something, they are somehow judging our choice to do the opposite. So if I defend my being a SAHM, I’m somehow judging you for working or of I homeschool, I judge you for not homeschooling. If I defend my reasons for having 10 children, I’m judging you for having less.
    We have to be able to talk about our choices without judging others’ choices and be able to hear someone else’s convictions for themselves without automatically feeling judged or thinking the conversations merits us explaining my opposing decision. God made each of us unique for a reason.

  26. And thank you for writing this Beth. I hate that my home is not as tidy add if like but numbers 4 (x 3) and 14 resonate with me because they are so true for me this season.

  27. I come from a different country where cleaning was a regular practice you could not subtract yourself from. Saturdays mornings the vacuum was on, windows open, mop ready and so on. It taught me to respect not only the items that surrounded me earned by my parents with hard work and struggle, but also to respect myself and my community. It gave me a sense a peace and balance and now that I am on my mother’s shoes I can only but appreciate the discipline she taught me. I am not suggesting that cleaning tirelessly is healthy, balance is. Whenever my husband and I share chores I feel more connected with him and we both end up appreciating our home and ourselves a little better. I do practice feng shui (not always, not 100%) but it is a good way to look at your home as your mind and push yourself to practice self-love and self-respect. The undone bed doesn’t bother me but the constant mess only speaks to me as chaos and less as freedom.

  28. As I read these comments it irritates me. All the judgemental things we say about each other. Neither side of the argument needs to do this to the other. I was raised in a home where housekeeping was not the priority and I do feel there are some things that I missed learning that are not working in my favor now. However, I have met others on the other extreme where the cleanliness of the house was such a priority that it hurt relationships. I strive to improve both the state of my home and the quality of relationships. I also strive to make sure I get adequate rest as well. Some days I do better than others. I do have someone in my life who is judgemental and feels that she should show up at any time of any day no matter what is going on and my house should be meet the expectations that she feels she has the right to set for me (she doesn’t have that right). There are certain times of day when my house is not tidy. 3:30 in the afternoon for example. My children do better being homeschooled because of some disabilities and we are finished around then. Since we do a lot of hands on things as part of our curriculum that time of day is usually when we start to tidy up from school. If someone comes at 3:30 they will see a different house then at 4:30. One of my children has autism. When he is having a bad day then likely there will be things that don’t get done in my home. Last week we were all sick and while I was miserable myself I chose rest and comforting children as priorities. Since I do have special needs children we have extra Doctor appointments, therapy appointments, etc. There are times when laundry piles up. I fall in bed exhausted, but every day I am giving it my best shot to have balanced healthy living. I do remember a time when my husband was sick and unable to hold down a job nor be much help. I had an infant and a toddler (both with special needs). I was also working 95 hours a week. I could not keep up with my home. I was judged for this. That was rediculous. How about instead of judging each other we accept one another. May be if you see someone struggle and if you are in a position to help ask how you can help instead of judging and criticizing. Back when my husband was sick I did not receive the help I needed even when I asked. Let’s have common sense in our approach to cleanliness of the home and balance of family life. Let’s be reasonable with ourselves and each other. Honestly if you come to my house and the previous week we had appointments that took us in a different direction every single day then my washing machine and dryer did run, but folding did not happen. I might be in the middle of folding 6 loads of laundry. So yes, there might be clothes all over my couch, but not because I am lazy. No because I am working hard doing my job.

  29. Since buying a house I had to adjust my ideal home image to fit my reality. While I believe that a home should always be sanitary (this is a must!) it is unrealistic for me to have a completely tidy home and….I really don’t give a s#%@ what anyone thinks simply because everyone is different and not everyone has the same priorities, organisational skills and stamina. This article is great as it highlights this FACT.

    It is such a shame that all the haters took the time to write nasty comments, then again that is quite common…if you go to a Vegetarian blog you find meat eaters hating on articles and vice versa, whereever there is an opinion those opposing come running in a furry. I really don’t understand that though because if you are content and at peace with a certain opinion, or way of life, and live that way because it makes YOU happy there should be no reason to put others down as you would understand that there are different reasonings behind everyones beliefs. While it is not psychologically normal to have a dirty, grimmy home or to be a hoarder there is nothing wrong with having a home that varies in level of tidyness and shame on anyone who judges.

    In conclusion cheers to those who have that magasine cover looking home, I admire you and cheers to those who don’t, I’m right there struggling with you!

    “When ou stop caring what other people think you become dangerously close to Freedom”

    1. You are calling me not normal so therefore its wrong to be like me? Just because I am not like everyone else it’s bad? I’ve never gotten hurt in my filthy house or sick. Not once. So what’s your problem(s) with me? Because I am not like you? Last night I didn’t clean because I wanted to enjoy my life and yesterday was my only time to get some reading and movie watching in. That was my choice and a “normal” person would have forgone that enjoyment in order to clean a house only they lived in? Then I don’t want to be normal. Anyway I have a kick ass immune system my dentist says. Know why? Maybe because I don’t keep myself in some kind of bleached out germ free bubble. Generally it’s just hard to be different because you are not normal and therefore something is WRONG with you. Bullshit though. Bullshit on you for even implying it.

      But freedom…oh hell yeah I am free. You have no idea. Not free enough though because apparently the normal peoples judgement still hurt me. In behalf or all filthy horders out there I’d like to say FUCK YOU and your opinions. Keep them to yourself or I will personally call Russia to drop the bomb on all your evil petty selves. For godsakes who the hell cares the way someone keeps their home with all the Evil clowns about.

      1. Catherine you had my support right up to the point where you said you would call the russians to drop the bomb on us. Do you have Vladimir’s telephone number? How will those pilots know which are clean houses – the ones that should be bombed? I certainly don’t want anyone mistaking my house for a clean one – it hasnt been yet. Nobody has gotten lost in the mess nor contracted an illness from my nonlysoled floors. Tolerance people. Please dont judge and think i am a bad person if i have clutter and dusty furniture. If you find it unacceptable your the one rejecting me because i dont meet your standard. Hopefully this whole notion that cleanliness is next to godliness doesn’t condemn those of us with other lifestyles to continue to be viewed as ungodly i.e.bad

  30. I believe there is a difference between messy and lived in. Your home is a mess! I know you love your child but you are setting a bad example. Try turning cleaning into a game. You can set a timer and see who could clean their room before it goes off. Have a race to see who can make their bed first, fold 5 towels, match the most socks (personally I use sock cops I hate matching socks). Also, you could just put things back in there place instead of just dropping it wherever it falls.
    You can donate unused items and simply de clutter. I hate cleaning but I do it because I’m an adult and when my home is tidy my spirit feels better. When my children and I use to clean a room together we would talk and we have the best relationship.
    Stop glorifying your mess and making excuses but instead find an hour a day to clean.

  31. If you came to the comments section to write about how sloppy and lazy we all are you’ve missed the entire point of the article. Maybe we are lazy but.., y’all some bitches

  32. Messiness is part of life with kids. No need for shame on either side. We are all trying our best. Grateful to have help from a husband when he returns home from work. It’s all in learning to put things away after using. And all pitching in. However, a cluttered home is anything but peaceful. Maybe it’s time to minimalize the amount of stuff. Let go! Purge! I like a clean house that feels lived in and before we retire for the night, we all pitch in to clean it up. My daughters house is a disaster. Never ever clean. Kids don’t help out. Dirty dishes are a constant. I adore my grandkids and love to see them but prefer it at my house.

  33. Unbelievable how weak most of these people and responses are. 1) it’s ok to not want or be good at something- because in most scenarios it’s all about choice. An obese person chooses to be. It’s a fact. Diabetes can reversed. It’s a fact. Dirty people just don’t care about being clean.

    It’s very basic, it’s all choices and not some ridiculous psychological garbage.

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