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#1 of 52 Old 08-18-2008, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you have children, do you automatically have a messy house?

I'm not talking about toys-on-the-floor-that-we-were-just-playing-with messy. I'm talking about wondering to myself as I sit in friends' living room, "if I lived here, and my mom told me to clean up, would I be able to? Do mom and dad put away their toys, so that I can see how it's done? Is there somewhere to *put* these toys?"

I love an orderly house, and try to keep it that way with my little one (9 m.o.). But I mentioned recently to my SIL that DD seemed to be growing bored with some of her toys and SIL said "That's why kids need a lot of toys." She also makes remarks about how my house isn't going to stay tidy.

(Don't worry, all of these friends and relations with "messy" houses are lovely people with lovely children. I just wouldn't want to live there.)
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#2 of 52 Old 08-18-2008, 08:46 PM
 
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i have a 2 and a 5 yo, and our house is almost always messy. Its' for several reasons.
One, my dh and i are not good at putting alway our own things, so our kids are not nec. inclined to put away. we're working on that.
Two, we lack storage.
Three, I barely get more than 15 min. to clean at a time. My guys are spirited and want me around them, i need to sort out a conflict, etc...
Four, when i do get 15 min., i often dont' want to clean. i want to check my email, take a shower, make a healthy meal for myself, breathe, etc...

other factors cycle in... holidays, bags and luggage to put away after traveling, etc... But on the whole, my house would be much, much neater if we were childless.

it would also be boring.

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#3 of 52 Old 08-18-2008, 08:59 PM
 
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I think you definitly need to relax your standards once kids join the family, but it doesn't have to be a disaster area just because you have kids. Your own personality comes into play A LOT.

I bet your friends will someday sit in your living room and wonder if your kids are getting neurotic because the house is too clean.

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#4 of 52 Old 08-18-2008, 10:36 PM
 
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Varies with the age and stage.

Most two year olds like to strew stuff from one end of the house to the other. My three year old is having a "but that NEEDS to be there!!!!" stage. This is a child who will leave a store neater than when we entered it, and has been jokingly offered a job doing merchandising several times.

I think it's never going to be as minimalist/beautifully decorated as without kids. They love their stuff and get very attached to it and don't have the same aesthetic sense that we do.
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#5 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 12:51 AM
 
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Just wait until that baby is a toddler or preschooler. You might rethink "clean."

Come spend an afternoon with my two and you'd really understand.

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#6 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 01:14 AM
 
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Most nights my 4.5 year old has more energy than me at the end of the day. The mess wins.

Occasionally she'll conk out early or I drink to much caffeine and I outlast her. I go to bed with a relatively clean house.

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#7 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 01:19 AM
 
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Dh and I were messy before the kids, and we still are. Not gross messy, but not super tidy. There are a couple of families with kids in the neighborhood whose houses look like they came out of a magazine (one of those family magazine with the articles 'make your child's room into a imaginative playplace!). I don't know how they do it! (And yes, I am very jelous!)
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#8 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 01:47 AM
 
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I've noticed that not so much the strewn-about mess that is greater (well, it is, but doesn't bother me so much) but the gunk. There is so much gunk now! Highchair gunk, marker gunk, dog-got-the-diaper gunk. I wash the floors now wayyyyyyy more than before dd. I wash me more. I wash the table more. I wash dishes more. I wash the tub more. I even wash the doorbell. sheesh. The goo that comes with toddlers. eek. And yes, it does get on the strewn-about toys and then I have to wash THEM. That is what I wonder about in other people's houses. Where's their gunk?
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#9 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 02:36 AM
 
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My house is much cleaner since having children. I don't think children = messy house at all (but am not judging people with messy houses). It completely depends on the children and the parents.

Speaking of neurotic, I did get a wake-up call when my DD was straightening the movies in our entertainment center at 19 months old. Not putting them in there, they were already in there and lined up alphabetically, just not perfectly enough I guess : I lightened up a bit after that.

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#10 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 03:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ElsieLC View Post
If you have children, do you automatically have a messy house?
No, but if you choose to have a clean and tidy home, it can be like pushing water uphill. I have a 2 yo and a 4 yo and it's incredible how messy they are! But it's not just the mess that they make. It that the parents don't have as much time to do basic daily maintenance activities. Most days I spend 2 hours after the kids go to bed, just dealing with dirty dishes, vacuuming the incredibly dirty floor, picking up toys, wiping up toothpaste splatter and pee in the bathrooms, and folding laundry. We're not talking detailed cleaning here. If my kids were less "lively", I would do that stuff while they were awake, but I just don't get much done while looking after them -- there is always something to attend to even if I am not actively playing with them. Also, as kids get added to a home, the parents' activities and roles and how they use the home changes. If the parents don't have enough time or focus to rearrange the home and organize it for the new realities, clutter and mess are likely to follow. When we didn't have 2 kids, it wasn't really a problem having some clutter and disorganization in our 1000 sf apartment. But with 2 extra people in the home, you can bet it's become a crisis! Also, if the parents never had good cleaning-up-every-day habits to begin with (letting things get into a mess then cleaning it up all at once), things can get out of hand with kids in the picture.

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#11 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 09:49 AM
 
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i know plenty of families with children whose homes are basically tidy (within reason, i mean, their children area allowed to play!) and always clean, as in, floors and surfaces are clean, dishes aren't piled up, trash is always taken out, etc. these aren't homes i enter only on special occasions where the house has been cleaned for "guests" either. it's my sil, my aunt, and of course i had friends with neat and clean houses when i was a child.

my house is messy, and i'd love to use kids as an excuse, but it was messy before i had kids. in fact, i think it's probably better with kids because there's so much i have to keep out of reach, and because i caught the decluttering itch during pregnancy #2.

so, imo, kids don't need a lot of toys and you can keep house with kids underfoot. you can. i apparently can't . . . or choose not to!
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#12 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 10:30 AM
 
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I was raised in a spotless home, and unfortunately I'm sort of that way too. I keep the house pretty clean, but there are "hot spots" that really need more attention. I'd say my house is cleaner than most other people I know-but it's a daily challenge to keep it that way. I'm too OCD to let stuff go.
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#13 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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I don't think that kids=a messy house. Yes, kids have toys and then tend to like to spread them out! But, if you start early by having your child (or you when they're too young) put one toy away before getting out another, then you wont' have a big issue with that part. And if you have a typical cleaning "routine" then your home can still be relatively clean at any given time.

I have a cleaning routine that involves doing a little bit in the morning, a little in the afternoon and a little in the evening and my house is 'clean' most all the time. There are exceptions when our schedule is whacked out for odd reasons, but for the most part, it is tidy and in order at all times. And I have two kids...5 and 8 years old. Of course, I am an organizational freak, and strongly believe in that old saying "A place for everything and everything in it's place" so maybe that's part of it!

I also have a brother & sister in law who are both neat freaks. I used to think "I wonder if their house will stay this clean when they have children?" Well, they did have a child, he is now 4 and their house is STILL spotless. And I mean spotless. They are even worse than me!

So, if you WANT to have a neat and tidy house, yes, it IS possible, even with kids. You just have to train them...and the husband!
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#14 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ksenia View Post
No, but if you choose to have a clean and tidy home, it can be like pushing water uphill. I have a 2 yo and a 4 yo and it's incredible how messy they are! But it's not just the mess that they make.... If my kids were less "lively", I would do that stuff while they were awake, but I just don't get much done while looking after them -- there is always something to attend to even if I am not actively playing with them.
My 2 and 4-year olds are CRAZY at how fast they can make a mess. I turn around, my boy has colored the wall with purple and blue crayons. My girl has pulled out 500 papers to put her stickers and markers on them. Both have dumped a box of blocks out, they've searched for their favorite dress up clothes, milk gets spilled, the sink gets played in, poop gets played with and then BAM, you've got a formerly clean house.

Add to that my trying to work out, the fact that I'm a freelance writer who WORKS FROM HOME, having friends, going to the library/pools/parks, getting involved in school activities, cooking from scratch...and well, sometimes it is hard.

Some people are naturally more organized and cleaner and then there's those of us who need extra help.

And to all the cleanies, I can promise you, we "messies" already know how bad it is and feel ashamed enough so have a bit of compassion on our poor little selves!

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#15 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 03:33 PM
 
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I feel like I'm CONSTANTLY picking up the same things over and over again. Toys, clothes, shoes, dishes. A big part of the problem is that we have a small house and not a lot of storage. I keep getting rid of stuff, but somehow it all creeps back in again.

I am not a very neat person, with or without kids. But now that I have two of them, I look back on past-me and think, "Why the heck couldn't I keep my house neat back then?" At least when you live alone the mess stays away until you bring it back in!
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#16 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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Oh, I hope I didn't offend anyone by my post! I didn't mean it that way at all! I'm really sorry if it came across the wrong way!
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#17 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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Training everyone to pick up is key. But I have 3 kids, and the house is quite clean. And yes, I am a neat freak, so I work really hard at keeping it that way. It is very possible to have a clean and neat house with children, but it will eat into your time.
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#18 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 04:00 PM
 
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I really think it depends. If you like order and are an organized person you'll probably find a way. Tidiness isn't all that important to me all the time, but it is some of the time, if that makes sense. I can go for a few days in chaos and then I have to restore some semblance of order in our home. Like the op mentioned, storage is an issue for us. My dp is also a paper pack rat, so there are often piles of papers that he has yet to sort and file.

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#19 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ElsieLC View Post
If you have children, do you automatically have a messy house?

I'm not talking about toys-on-the-floor-that-we-were-just-playing-with messy. I'm talking about wondering to myself as I sit in friends' living room, "if I lived here, and my mom told me to clean up, would I be able to? Do mom and dad put away their toys, so that I can see how it's done? Is there somewhere to *put* these toys?"

I love an orderly house, and try to keep it that way with my little one (9 m.o.). But I mentioned recently to my SIL that DD seemed to be growing bored with some of her toys and SIL said "That's why kids need a lot of toys." She also makes remarks about how my house isn't going to stay tidy.

(Don't worry, all of these friends and relations with "messy" houses are lovely people with lovely children. I just wouldn't want to live there.)
No, children absolutely don't mean that you have to have a messy house. I have a toddler and am 8 months pregnant with a husband who likes to leave yogurt containers out on the counter...and our house is still very tidy. Laundry is done, bed is made, counters are cleared and wiped off, mantle and TV stand are relatively dust free, carpet is vacuumed etc etc. First let me say that I am NOT a neat person. Before I met my husband, and even into the marriage, I was messy and very unorganized. I'm still not organized all *that* well, but our house is clean. When I first had my son and my house was a disaster area I would always say, "I think it's more important to spend quality time with my children than to clean." Well, I've had time to dwell on that now and I now realize you can absolutely have both. I have a routine (didn't come up with it, just happened to fall into one) that includes picking up as we go and because of that, all I have to do is a quick pickup and wipe down during my son's nap and tada...clean
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#20 of 52 Old 08-19-2008, 11:50 PM
 
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I think it definitely doesn't have to be messy with a lot of kiddos around...but I have to admit the vast majority of my friends with multiple children...actually all of them have at least 3, most with 4, have pretty messy or cluttered homes.

I was doing really well with two kiddos, then three came. Three was tougher time wise, then add a pregnancy and first trimester puking and nausea to it and yes you get a little relaxed with your standards in some respects.

Though I'm decluttering again now that there's a new baby on the way.

It's flippin amazing how many loads of dishes I can do a day, and how much laundry...

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#21 of 52 Old 08-20-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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I think the key would be getting the child into a habit young of putting away a toy after he/she plays with it. I didn't mess with that for many reasons and I don't regret it. We do have places for stuff and can clean up quickly. But when they are playing (a few hours into the day) the playroom is messy if you count having lots of toys out as messy. Today they had their toy cars out, their animal figures out, their legos out, books out, and their musical instruments out, and had a floor puzzle worked on the floor when I walked into the room to get them going for lunch. It probably took 10 minutes to pick up but the chaos would probably have been too much for some--it's personality! As I said, I don't really mind kid clutter during play and normally clutter bugs me. We had an internet repair person stop by unexpectedly and the computer is in the play room. I wasn't embarrassed.

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#22 of 52 Old 08-20-2008, 12:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ksenia View Post
No, but if you choose to have a clean and tidy home, it can be like pushing water uphill.

Or like sweeping in front of an open door on a windy day. I need to adopt a clean while they sleep plan. Or while one naps, because when they're together, my house is just a mess.

However, since DS1 was 6 mos old, we've moved almost once every 6 months, and I'm pretty sure that has added to our problems, disorganization, etc. We're constantly unpacking, until finally it's time to move again and we never finished unpacking in the first place.
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#23 of 52 Old 08-20-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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I think you definitly need to relax your standards once kids join the family, but it doesn't have to be a disaster area just because you have kids. Your own personality comes into play A LOT.

I bet your friends will someday sit in your living room and wonder if your kids are getting neurotic because the house is too clean.
I agree. I hate clutter. So I try to keep limit the number of toys and keep them corralled in baskets and designated play areas. I refuse to be stepping on toys just to get across the living room. DS has his train table in the living room. I also keep wicker baskets under the couch for blocks and wooden trucks. Ds has his own book case in the dining room for books, play food, crayons, and playdough. He has another shelf for big books and puzzles in our "reading nook", which is a small room off the living room. I pick things up a lot, but I also strictly enforce the rule: one toy must be put away before getting out another. We also always take the time to pick up toys before meals and before we leave the house...so things never get out of hand. I try to make it a game and always lead by example...because, let's face it, it can be a challenge some times to get a 2 yo to pick up toys. It can also be a challenge to get DH to pick up his things, so the same "messy house" scenario can be said for getting married . So I don't think that children always = messy house. If you raise your kids to be conscientious and you are mindful about how to store/corral toys, then you don't have to life with lots of mess. That's my 2 cents.
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#24 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement and the reality check. It sounds like a tidy and clean (within reason) home is possible, depending on these factors:
- whether parents were neat before children
- number of kids
- personality/energy level of kids
- trainability of kids and spouse
- time available for parents to spend cleaning

I think I need to enlarge my circle of friends so I can visit some of these tidy families in person!
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#25 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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If you have children, do you automatically have a messy house?
Nope!
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#26 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 02:01 AM
 
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I don't think its necessarily a automatic thing but its certainly harder when you have kids. Before DD both DH and myself were Marines (he still is, I have since gotten out). As you can imagine we were both quite clean people from our training in the Corps. I look around my house now and thing "Im sure glad I don't have to pass an inspection). In fact right now, I have books from one end of my front room to the other and I have loads of laundry stacked up to be put away. When DD was a young infant (before she started walking at a little before 8 months) our house was clean, floors were mopped/vaccuumed, dishes done, surfaces dusted. Then she started to walk and get into everything and I have had to relax my standards. I still dont' have dirty dishes stacked up or things like that but I definetly don't have as clean a house as I want to. DD is very high needs at times, she wants me to be with her 24/7 and Im not about to clean while I should be sleeping so her needs/wants overrule my desire to have a super clean house.

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#27 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 02:31 AM
 
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I think the mess changes once you have children. DH and I have never liked to clean. . .we've always been somewhat messy, and now with children we still are but in a different way. Like before children, we didn't have food all over the floors or toys everyplace. . .but we still had dirty dishes in the sink, didn't dust unless we had company coming, etc. . . At least now with children we have something to blame our messiness on

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#28 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 06:12 PM
 
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Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement and the reality check. It sounds like a tidy and clean (within reason) home is possible, depending on these factors:
- whether parents were neat before children
- number of kids
- personality/energy level of kids
- trainability of kids and spouse
- time available for parents to spend cleaning

I think I need to enlarge my circle of friends so I can visit some of these tidy families in pers
True. I wasn't neat before kids, in fact i'm cleaner now. My house is messy right now but i pick up and clean every day. I have 2 young kids. Its easiest to just wait until they go to bed to really clean up, otherwise i have a 1.5 year old splashing in the toilet when i'm trying to scrub the tub. My oldest is very energetic . Trainability of my kids and spouse - ha ha, like trying to get them to put their laundry in the hamper, and their toys in the buckets....we're working on it
time is the biggest factor here. I"m in school full time, my husband is in school full time, ds is in preschool five days a week, dh works nights. Cleaning the bathrooms, and laundry getting done is low on a very long to-do list. I'm sure once the littlest gets older we will have more time...or just more money and then we will hire someone.
I think if you truly want a cleaner house with kids it is possible. For myself it is not. I just do not care enough about it.

E Veg*n Mom to ds 6 : dd 3
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#29 of 52 Old 08-21-2008, 11:12 PM
 
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I think the more people you have the more clutter you have. It depends on the ages and stages of the kids also. My 2yr old and 7 yr old are messy, and have toys, my 11 yr old hates to clean her room, my 13 yr old has no toys, but leaves her book and iPod wherever she feels like it.

I am also to OCD to have the house super messy it drives me crazy, and makes me totally stressed. I have decluttered A LOT though, and make everyone tidy up for 15 minutes each day. I also makes sure the routine stuff is done each day, and I have to have a clean kitchen, that drives me crazy!

Vicki- Homeschooling Mama to 4 girls
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#30 of 52 Old 08-22-2008, 12:51 AM
 
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I also want to pipe up with an opinion that I realize may not be shared by some. I believe that children are best served by growing up in a clean, orderly, and attractive home. I'm not talking about parents driving themselves crazy and spending lotsa dough trying to make the home Martha Stewart perfect...but IMO it's really worth parents taking the time to declutter, organize, and beautify their dwelling. Once that is done, daily cleaning and tidying is not nearly as time-consuming or frustrating. Our home is a work in progress so I am not "there", but I'm making it more of a priority because I realize that our home environment is where my kids spend a lot of time (we are homeschoolers) and I can see that they respond well when it is looking nice and orderly. And I'm also realizing that having mess and clutter around me has been draining my energy and that it's actually easier to just deal with it. Some people are messy and have a higher tolerance for disorder...but let's face it, very few people like other people's clutter and mess. That's why clutter and mess don't work very well in a family setting even if individuals might prefer being able to trash their nest. I know of what I speak because, unlike most of my friends, I grew up in a messy home -- it really didn't work for me . It's amazing how easy it is for me to fall into re-creating the family home of my childhood, but that's not what I want.

sharing life with | 10 yo ds | 8 yo dd | dh (since 2012)
"I am not what happened to me...I am what I choose to become." ~ Carl Jung
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