What stops you from having a neat house? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you ever wonder what is the true reason people don't have neat/clean homes? If you get down to the heart of the situation. I know one of our mom's admit her depression literally stops her in her tracks of being able to function at times. Others grew up in a spotless, don't touch anything world and are rebelling. Others grew up in filth and don't know better. Others are simply lazy and don't do it. Others work long hours and can't get it all done.
I just don't buy into the "I have a baby and can't get anything done" unless you have a very ill child/high needs child. That is usually an excuse for an underlying problem.
Even when I was little and my mom had to work 2-3 jobs to keep us afloat she kept our house clean and picked up.
I am just curious of each of your "takes" on this. I guess I want a better understanding to develop more compassion for folks in the situation.
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#2 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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Being tired/exhausted.

And having a baby does = not getting anything done. No sleep at night makes mommy sleep whenever the baby does during the day.

Also those brand new baby days pass so quickly that I just want to hold the baby and soak in every minute. Thus nothing gets done in the house
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#3 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommaof3boz View Post
I just don't buy into the "I have a baby and can't get anything done" unless you have a very ill child/high needs child.
It didn't have that unlived in look but it was very neat!

When I had my first child things got messier. I had time to keep the clutter down but I never had time to clean the fridge out as often for example. I learned to live with a sticky fridge for longer than I used to.

Fast forward to 4 children and the house is presentable but again jobs like cleaning the layer of dust and grime off the ceiling vents isn't done regularly. We joke at the cobwebs that form!

I homeschool my children. Having children definately made my house messier. (For the record my firstborn is an Aspie and my fourth is HFA...) I am just too tired to clean as thoroughly as I used to because I have children. My DH is a CPA who works very long hours. My children do their share of helping to maintain the house.

Some people do a better job of keeping their homes clean.

My DH has a sister who is a slob who would get her house on tv it is so bad! Yet my DH is not a slob. Can't blame their mom for it!

Sincerely,
Debra, homeschooling mom of 4 ages 10, 9, 7, and 45mos
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#4 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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Oh, I think my 3 year old has SOMETHING to do with it!


Well, I can HAVE a clean/neat house, I just can't keep it that way for too long. Hee hee.
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#5 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:51 PM
 
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Let's see... for me it's mostly the decision-making process. I'm a "categorizer," and it's very hard for me to make decisions about where things should go and what "category" they should be in.

I think I read about this concept on a hoarding website somewhere: she'll take a book off the shelf and start reading it on the couch, and then get interrupted. Where does she put the book? Well, now it's in a new category of "partially-read books" and therefore doesn't belong with the others on the shelf anymore. So she just leaves it lying out on the couch. When you add this mindset to every single thing you get out, it's understandable how it could cause a mess!

I've had to re-train my thought processes, because mine is a very well-ordered, logical, and perfectionist nature. It used to really bother me when something from one mental category crossed over into another one -- like if my husband put my half-read book back on the shelf, for example -- but though it has been hard, I've been able to loosen up a bit.

Then there's the problem of not having enough storage space and not having the house laid out well. There's also the problem of my having a bad back and bad knees, and so can't bend over very easily to pick things up off the floor... which happens to be where much of our clutter lands.

Those are some of my reasons. I'm working on them, but it's a very slow process!

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#6 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:56 PM
 
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I think the fact that we are never home has alot to do with it!! We are always out of town for drs appointments or doing some sort of runing around/errands drs appointments, etc. We tend to walk in dump everything where ever we find a place and then dont bother with it again...lol
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#7 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:57 PM
 
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Well, the kids of course!

I was messy before kids though, I'm actually neater now, though the house may not be. I do more picking up, etc than I used to.

For me, its like the OP described. I have mood swings, I'd really consider them more energy swings. Sometimes I'm up and gungho and other times I just don't want to do anything. So, when I go into a slump, the house becomes a pit, because with kids it doesn't take long for that to happen.

Too much stuff is another factor - with too much stuff, its easier on that down slump to build up a bigger mess, making it harder for me to overcome on the upswing. It also impedes having a place for everything. With too much stuff, when I pick something up, I don't know where to put it, because where it really should go is probably something I never use. The stuff that is never used stays put, so its always the stuff you do use that you have no place for, and of course since you use it, its hard to conceive of getting rid of it.

Having too much stuff also impedes me from really organizing, taking the time to figure out what the best place for each thing is (cuz of course it has to have *a* place first, then you can figure out where the best place is!) - the best place for a thing is very close to the place where it would naturally end up if you weren't being mindful, so its easy and little effort to put away.

Oh, and MDC is the real root cause, cuz I could overcome all the rest if I didn't spend all my time here!


ETA - I think I was so messy as a kid and earlier life because I was rebeling against my mom who was always yelling at us to clean our rooms, blaming all the mess in the house on us (despite the fact that we are all gone now and her house still gets plenty messy...). She failed to realize that a lot of the mess was created by the excessive clutter (and she was a big part of creating that) - and that as kids we were incapable of getting past the overwhelming stuff that filled our rooms. We didn't know how to get rid of anything, and there was too much to keep neat. My room would literally be so messy you saw no floor, and the place was a foot deep in toys and stuff. I felt so overwhelmed by it, I didn't know where to start, the task was so daunting I gave up, and was essentially punished for that. This is a big part of why my kids rooms are kept very empty. I ask my daughter to pick her room up every day, but there is so little in there, its never a hard task, never takes her more than 5 minutes at its messiest.

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#8 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 05:59 PM
 
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We have a clean house.
But, it would be less cluttered if I did not put emotions on objects.
Like I need to sell my sons toddler bed, he never slept in it but I have a hard time getting rid of it.. why, I dont know?!: And then stuff like his old clothing, toys and all that kind of stuff I dont want to get rid of because I have memories with each thing..
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#9 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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Right now, it's because I have a compressed nerve root, so I can't physically do much without being incredibly sorry the next day (or a few hours later). I want to save very single ounce of lifting/moving ability I have for my babes. I can function just fine, but when I start to get a flare-up, I have to drop everything absolutely unnecessary in order to not be flat on my back. If you saw me out around town, though, and then saw my house during my flare-up/messy house times, you wouldn't have a clue that I was in chronic pain and would wonder why the hell I'm so lazy. I cover it very well.

Also, there are moments when I do let the work slide on days when it's out of control in general. If Henry is being three-in-your-face and Benton is teething and extra fussy, I remember that cutey poem about how the dust bunnies can wait, because the babies can't.

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#10 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 06:06 PM
 
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My reason is this. I need time to myself to do things that I enjoy. I also work at home. So when dd is sleeping I go on the computer, read, have a bath, work outside, have a nap,eat, do my bookkeeping, or at night watch T.V. I also have the excuse that we live in a small home and putting toys away or cleaning the kitchen may wake up the sleeping child.

We also have a small home so 3 things on the floor has the house looking messy. Three things on floor takes 3 seconds!!!

I also find that I keep the house cleaner when dh is working. I hate having him sit around while I clean the house. He dislikes a messy house more than me but his actions wouldn't tell you that. He is helpful though with cleaning the kitchen.

Well on that note. I am off to have a rest I will pick up a few things on the way but won't pick up the whole house

Mama to two beautiful children. 

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#11 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 06:10 PM
 
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The simple answer: I hate cleaning/straightening up. There are so many things I would rather be doing and then the task becomes overwhelming. A museum quality house is just not important to me. It would be nice but it does not rate high enough on the scale for me to 100% change the habits of a lifetime.

I do feel overwhelmed with clutter and I have been trying to downsize our stuff. I have had some small successes and I am clinging to them desperately with the hope that I will be able to maintain them for the long term. If I can just keep that spot on my dresser clear for longer then a week then I will feel up to tackling another spot.

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#12 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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My first answer was that I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old and therefore no time to get anything done. Then I read the whole OP, and I guess I'd say that, yes, I COULD have a clean house if that was my biggest priority. If my whole day basically revolved around keeping the house clean, I could probably do it. But that's not my biggest priority. There are a lot of things I find more fun and interesting than housework - working in the vegetable garden, taking the kids hiking or berry picking or wading in the river, reading, cooking - well, basically everything else in the whole world. I'd rather have an interesting life than a clean house. Ideally, I'd have both, but you've got to admit taking care of a baby or young child does take some time. I find it takes enough time that I have to give up other things.
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#13 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 06:28 PM
 
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Well, i could blame it on the kids (4 and 2 and one on the way), and they so definitely contribute to the mess, but the real reason is that I never really learned how to keep things organized and clean. My mom kept the house REALLY clean when we were little, but some of that slid as we got bigger, and I fell into some of the same habits -- like piling papers and things and having a 'junk room'. These habits die hard, but I'm trying.

Motivation is another barrier. When the kids are asleep (no naps here anymore ), I am tired and not up for doing much besides watching tv or surfing the net. Luckily, Dh and I are both ready to kick the clutter out with a new babe coming and him going back to school in the fall, and we are using his week off to do it!

At least in my house, it is amazing how fast a room acan go from looking really good to looking like a disaster area. SOmetimes the kids go through and scatter things like a tornado, but it also happens in the kitchen, and that isn't them. It is discouraging to see all the hard work you did to get it looking nice to be undone so quickly.

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#14 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 11:13 PM
 
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After 8 years I can actually say that I'm doing pretty darn well with keeping the house picked up!!

The reasons why my house used to be messy (and I still struggle with these things sometimes):

*My mom was/is a hoarder and her house is a disaster. I never learned how to clean and organize.
* Too much stuff. I've been doing a LOT of de-cluttering over the past year and it really makes a difference on how clean I can keep the house.
*Attitude. I have found (for me) that keeping the house clean requires a LOT less effort than letting it go to heck and then having to spend hours cleaning it up. I really try to keep on top of things now and I honestly spend a lot less time on housework.
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#15 of 119 Old 03-02-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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there are certainly varying degrees of clean and neat! I know when I go to my friend's house (who by all terms has a CLEAN and NEAT house) I am slightly uncomfortable. I really really enjoy having the type of house that nobody is going to worry about messing up, leaving tracks on, leaving rings on the furniture, etc. It has all been set up to avoid these types of issues. Spills, "whatever", footprints "whatever", dog hair gets swept up, but not every day. I would say most people would walk into my house and say, hah, you can be messy here and it's okay, but nobody would say, ewwwww, doesn't she ever clean up? There's relatively no clutter because I hate to dust, so nothing to dust, and everything has a home, but sometimes it's not in its home. The furniture and floors are all washable (leather and wood), so puke, spill, track, mess away and I will not freak out, and I might not even clean it up (well, depending on substance) right away. If it's snowing or rainy outside, I never wash the floor since the dog will bring in more when I finish, etc.
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#16 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 12:01 AM
 
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My house is often neat and clean... until ds wakes up or starts playing or eating. Food falls, toys are being played with. If I wasn't home the house would be spotless. I am pretty clean and organized, but my house can be trashed in a matter of an hour. :
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#17 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 12:01 AM
 
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Lack of motivation.

I know that I can keep my house clean. Sometimes I do a very good job at this. At other times, I allow other things to take priority over my home. For me, most often the other things are spending time on the computer or working on household/craft projects.

It's all about priorities.

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#18 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't get me wrong I am not saying the right after having a new baby you should have a neat/clean house. NO WAY. Trust me, I went WOHM 5 weeks after 1st child, and 6 weeks after second (and a csection to boot) and 6 weeks after third. I felt like getting myself out of bed and to work after being up at night was a feat in itself. I am talking more like once they are sleeping at night, napping during the day. I am not talking about pristine, museum houses, with no toys etc to be seen. I am talking about dirty floors, tubs needing scrubbing, piles of laundry. That sort of thing. How long does it really take to mop a floor? Or scrub a tub? Not long. If those basic things aren't getting done it would seem there is an underlying problem.
Sometimes I spend time online I should be throwing in a load of laundry or sweeping the floor. Yes this is important to me, but after taking the poll on how long you spend online a day 2 hours seem HUGE. That was more what I was getting at. Is it because of poor time management? Is it lack of concern? Family history? My house is actually clean and mostly neat. The typical toys, afghans on couch, socks on the floor to me are normal. Just interested in your thoughts. This is not a judgemental thing AT ALL!!!
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#19 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 03:58 AM
 
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Good question:

For me it is: too much stuff, too many kids and too much time on the computer.

Seriously, I am ferociously decluttering becasue the more we have the more we have, the more time and effort it takes to keep the house looking decent.

I am also learning that having 4 kids, my house will never be as neat as my house growing up since I was an only child.

Computer - well, I do need time to "reboot" myself, so I plan to read some every day and get on the computer. However, I find myself staying on too long and not getting anything else done.

Lately, I have been focusing on achieving balance in my life.
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#20 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 05:07 AM
 
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I get the baby/toddler excuse. I'm often very tired from caring for my son. He loves to take things out of containers and spread them out. Some days I pick up the bookshelf 3 or 4 times. I can feel overwhelmed with that and just let it go.

My biggest problem though is probably having too much stuff.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#21 of 119 Old 03-03-2007, 11:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
It's all about priorities.
I don't understand why cleaning is such a priority when there are interesting things to do with ds. Something will always need cleaning, but ds will only be this age once. I like things to be functional and not scanky, but other people's standards seem to be much higher than mine.

With dh, ds, and my mom all being packrats, I try to keep things in perspective. There is nothing wrong or immoral about mess. And I don't have enough energy to combat it .

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#22 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 02:54 AM
 
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Well, for me, it's two things; One, I have a toddler home with me all day, and two girls who seem to make it very hard to get on a roll (know what I mean?) When I didn't have kids I worked straight through and finished everything quickly. Now, due to constant interruptions, I have trouble finishing tasks in a decent amount of time. For example, it took me all day just to declutter and clean my girls room! My 23 month old Son, and Autistic 11 yr old must be watched at all times. It's so much harder now. I remember when my home used to be spotless, now I am lucky if one room is clean! Inside, I really am a neat person! HA!

Secondly, I am guilty of not having a cleaning schedule. I am trying to fix that though. I think I would do much better if I stuck to a routine. I'm reading flylady right now and am very inspired!

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Joanne
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#23 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Joanne That is exactly what I am talking about. You have very legitimate reasons not to be able to get things cleaned. I worked in a Peds clinic for 2 yrs as a nurse. Autistic children's parents have my TOTAL respect for being able to face each day with and find joy with their children.
There truely are reasons folks can't keep up. I think someone mentioned a physical injury.
I guess the reason behind OP was to get a vision of true valid reasons vs. the I just don't want to. Sometimes I think folks just have to forget cleaning and organizing basically just get through the hand of life dealt to them. Sometimes I just think folks need to "get er done". It is so interesting to me.
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#24 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 03:14 AM
 
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I don't understand why cleaning is such a priority when there are interesting things to do with ds. Something will always need cleaning, but ds will only be this age once. I like things to be functional and not scanky, but other people's standards seem to be much higher than mine.

With dh, ds, and my mom all being packrats, I try to keep things in perspective. There is nothing wrong or immoral about mess. And I don't have enough energy to combat it .

This is me. Yes, we do have too much stuff. But, to me, I would rather go out to lunch with my grandmother(who won't be here forever), go play outside with dc, spend time at dc schoo helping out, etc. Cleaning is such a task to me because it is NEVER done. The things that you are spending so much precious time doing will be just as bad a day/week/month from now and you'll be doing them all over again. Like a pp wrote...some people's standards are way higher than mine. I don't mind crumbs on the counter or even a needs-to-be-mopped kitchen floor, if that means that I get to spend more time with the kids.

There is also the fact that I spend so much time on 'mom' mode...picking up, cleaning, etc. that I need time to decompress. The very time that I could get so much done(at night after dc are sleeping) is the time when I feel like I can actually 'leave work' for a moment and take time for me.

Other reasons why my hosue looks less than stellar...we spend the majority of the time in the car...going from school to home...so for this reasonI think it is just easier to stay closer to the school until its the end of the day....so I spend less time at home. Thes is good because Its not getting messed up more but, bad because i'm not here to clean it in the first place.

I just feel generally overwhelmed at the situation. The family is not really any help. Dh watches me clean or complains about it which in and of itself makes me want to strike...so that they could see what the house would really liike like if I STOPPED cleaning. The kids will do a little bit...but it usually ends up sa a screaming/crying match(me crying because I am overwhelmed) and nothing getting done. Or the kids will clean up one small thing and them drag out 80 billion others so it really didn;t make a difference, what they did/did not pick up because now it looks 100 times worse.

And yes, did I say I was overwhelmed? Organizational things are definitely my strong point but its about not having enough time/space/money etc. to get it done right. I mean, we have 2 closets in our whole house...like 2500 sqft. The kids things have to go in plastic bins under their beds....where do I get money for that? If I can;t do it right, I think I would rather not do it at all. Its just too stressful for me to think about doing it any more than an extremely little bit at a time. By the time I get around to having it look like I did something substantial, the place where I started looks like a wreck/is all dirty again.

Oh my. That turned into a major rant didn't it? As per the 'why do people apologise for long threads' thread in TAO, I won't apologise for it.

Mama to 14yo, 9yo, 7yo, and babe born 9/2012
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#25 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 03:38 AM
 
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well there's organized, and then there's un-dirty

my mom is GREAT at germ-phobic un-dirtiness--in fact she's completely OCD about it in my opinion--but she's terrible about leaving stuff out and is a huge packrat.

by contrast my house is very minimalistic. Partly this is due to a rebellion of my mom's pack-rattiness and partly this is due to not having much money to buy stuff either way it makes for a pretty easy-to-CLEAN house. less stuff means there's less of it to keep clean and put away.

the days when my house is in shambles are those days where I just don't have the mental/emotional energy to do much of anything, and what I do have, I'd rather spend enjoying my kiddos than cleaning

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#26 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 03:43 AM
 
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What gets in the way of me having a clean house? Living in it!
We homeschool and we make things and we are always doing some activity. There is a great Anne Lamott quote about how when she's eighty she's not going to wish she'd spent more time cleaning her house. That's how I feel.

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#27 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 03:53 AM
 
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My house is clean. I've perfected my routine.
I deep clean once a week, and pick up every day- multiple times a day.
If my house isn't clean I don't feel comfortable.
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#28 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since I started this discussion I will add "my take". My grandmothers both had very neat, clean homes and were minimalist. My mother has lots of antiques and stuff but her house is neat and clean. I used to be in a complete frenzy when we were first married to keep things spotless. Then came baby 1, then baby 2, then baby 3 in a 5 yr time span. So for a long time things were superfically cleaned but the closets, basement and drawers were a disaster. I was into "stuff". You know knicky knacky junk. Wall decor. Foo-foo. Then it was like a light switch can on one day. I thought this is insane. This stuff is adding to my unablity to keep things neat and clean!! So out it started going. Probably close to 700 items out!! Now we have toys of course but half as much. Pick up is easy. The kids are older and homeschooled. Cleaning and cooking are part of our education. Now I have no reason not to keep things clean. And I have figured out it is easier to wipe down the sinks when I'm done brushing my teeth. Easier to make the bed when I get out of it. Just a little here and there, but frequently. Anyway that's just me.
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#29 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 04:10 PM
 
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I saw this thread title and immediatly sad aloud..."My Brain"

But I think for me- it's more my priorities (as other people said), and I make a TON of excuses.

I've really just got to grow up.
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#30 of 119 Old 03-04-2007, 05:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conteuse View Post
Let's see... for me it's mostly the decision-making process. I'm a "categorizer," and it's very hard for me to make decisions about where things should go and what "category" they should be in.

I think I read about this concept on a hoarding website somewhere: she'll take a book off the shelf and start reading it on the couch, and then get interrupted. Where does she put the book? Well, now it's in a new category of "partially-read books" and therefore doesn't belong with the others on the shelf anymore. So she just leaves it lying out on the couch. When you add this mindset to every single thing you get out, it's understandable how it could cause a mess!

I've had to re-train my thought processes, because mine is a very well-ordered, logical, and perfectionist nature. It used to really bother me when something from one mental category crossed over into another one -- like if my husband put my half-read book back on the shelf, for example -- but though it has been hard, I've been able to loosen up a bit.

Then there's the problem of not having enough storage space and not having the house laid out well. There's also the problem of my having a bad back and bad knees, and so can't bend over very easily to pick things up off the floor... which happens to be where much of our clutter lands.

Those are some of my reasons. I'm working on them, but it's a very slow process!

Wow I loved your post. I didn't realize it but this is me too.

I wouldn''t say my house is messy. It's just less organized than I'd like it. Can we find things?--Yes. I truely look at like this. What is more important to me at this moment in time--a clean house or enjoying my children? More often than not it's enjoying my children. 20 yrs from now I won't be saying "geez i wish I would've kept the house cleaner"

Lola , loving my DH, Mama to & we &
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