Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Keeping Order in My House

I like a clean house, not that I remember mine ever being clean. I aspire to be that mom that has it all together. The one with a spotless kitchen that smells of freshly baked cookies and features clean-faced children sitting nicely at a table.

Um. Yeah. That’s not my life.

My kitchen is the one with flour on the floor, a half eaten banana laying on the table, and four kids running in and out.

It’s not what imagined my house would look like. It is nothing like the pictures featured in my favorite magazines.

Right now, my basement is such a wreck it’s hard to walk though. The only reason the main rooms are not a mess is that I’ve gone all “mean momma” and make everyone clean up after themselves all the time. Please tell me this gets easier.

I do think it’s important to keep a neat house. It’s good for everyone’s sanity. It’s good for kids to learn the self-discipline of cleaning up the toys, too.

It’s so hard to teach that kind of discipline when it isn’t something that comes easily for me. I don’t really like cleaning, especially when it must be done while chasing a two year old through the house to keep him from undoing whatever I just finished. If I must clean, at least let it be done and over with in one marathon of super-mom-strength cleaning power. All these stops and starts really undermine whatever ambition I might have summoned to get the job done.

Fact is, I’d rather do almost anything other than cleaning the house. Give me some fabric and a sewing machine. Give me the sun on my back and some weeds to pull. Give me a cake to bake. Give me a hike in the woods with my littles. Give me a can of paint and a blank wall or porch swing that needs a fresh coat.

Thing is, I like having people come over to visit and I’d rather not cringe when they ask where the bathroom is. I don’t want to have to rediscover my kitchen every time I need to fix a meal. It would be so nice to be able to check on the kids at night without stepping on toys.

So what’s a mom to do?

Right now, I’m going though everything to purge and/or put away anything that isn’t being used. I’m storing some toys away for rotating later. I’m setting some achievable goals and trying not to let the little accomplishments slip away too quickly.

I’m also taking breaks to write, craft, take warm bubble baths, and traipse through the woods with my darlings.

So if you come for a visit, I hope you won’t ask to use the bathroom. Sam’s potty training and it just isn’t pretty. If you are brave enough to go in there, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I would suggest staying out of the basement, too. Just so you know.

My house is a bit messy. My kids’ shirts are sometimes stained. Sometimes it really eats at me and makes me question my worth as a mother and wife. I’m trying to figure out how to balance my desire for a clean house and my understanding that some things are just more important.

So how do you do it? Do you keep a clean house with spotless floors? Do you let a few things slide? How do you balance the wants and needs and constant work that is required to keep up your home? Can’t wait to hear from you.


  1. If I lived on the same side of the world as you I'd love to come visit! We'd have so much to talk about - you could show me what you've been sewing, I'd admire your garden, our children would play beautifully together, and I promise I wouldn't judge you on your bathroom (because your life sounds a bit like mine!)

  2. Clean bathroom???? What is that??? And I most certainly don't usually chase a 2 year old or cook the way you do! You do a fantastic job! Tell everyone to just close their eyes when they need to borrow your bathroom....or grab a rag and clean it while they are there!

  3. I struggle with this same thing everyday. I like a clean house (and I actually like cleaning when I'm not prying a 2 yr old off my leg). But I also don't want to miss out on doing things with my kids just to have a clean house. But I feel very stressed and out of control when my house is a disaster so I try to find a balance. I highly recommend the website It breaks things down into manageable tasks and when I stick with it, it really works. I'm also the queen of containers and have containers for everything, so we can just throw things into a basket and as least it's off the floor and hidden. I try to make Monday morning my "cleaning" time when I do vacuuming and bathrooms. That way it's done for the week and I can work on other things the rest of the week. I usually do a load or 2 of laundry a day so it doesn't get behind. I probably should be taking advice from you though, because you seem to get much more done in a day than I do:)

  4. One other thing I've been trying the last several days is having a "clean up" time with the kids 3 times a day. Before lunch, before dinner, and before bed I make them stop what they are doing and I turn on some music and set the timer for 5 min and everyone cleans up the toys, etc that's laying around. I'm trying to find a way that the mess doesn't accumulate all day so we have a ton to clean at night, plus trying to get the kids to take more responsibility in helping to keep the house clean.

  5. Oh my, I don't do it, as you know. :)

    Flylady looks really good. I get their emails... If you decide to try them, let me know, and I'll try with you. :)

  6. @Sarah, Oh, how I wish our sides of the world were closer!
    @Dianna, you're too sweet to me!
    @Shannon, I've heard you talk about flylady before, so I'm checking it out. It looks very interesting.
    @EllaJac, I may just take you up on doing this Flylady thing. :) Looks pretty neat and it sure would be more fun to cheer each other along.

  7. Ok, let's do it. I don't see an email address for you anywhere; I think my blog has one for me if you want to connect that way and give this a try... *gulp* :]

  8. ok, I fixed my email link! :) I'll look for you on fb too.


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