I've Changed My Definition Of A 'Company-Ready' Home (And Everyone Is Happier)

by Annie Reneau
Take Photo / Shutterstock

I absolutely love a clean, tidy, well-kept home. If I had my druthers, my house would look like a Fixer Upper reveal at all times.

However, it is neither in my personality nor in our family’s chosen lifestyle to have a show-ready house at all times. Or even a mostly presentable house some of the time, really.

I have three kids, you see. Three creative, energetic, not-particularly-neat children who don’t seem to even see mess when it’s right in front of them. We’re a homeschooling family as well, so much of the time those three kids are actively engaged in some kind of not-particularly-neat activity in our home. They also have friends who are constantly pouring in and out of our front door, partaking in the not-so-tidy doings of our children, adding to the never-ending pile of dishes, and otherwise using our house the same way we do.

My husband and I also both work from home. We’re lucky to have the flexible lifestyle we have, but it means that our home gets used a lot. If I were to try to stay on top of the mess, I’d lose my ever-lovin’ mind. And if I waited until we’d gotten on top of the mess before inviting friends to come over, we’d never have anyone over.

Not having friends come over is not acceptable to me.

So “company-ready” means something different in my house than it might in others. It doesn’t mean that the coffee table is cleared off or that the dining room floor is spotless or that there are no dirty dishes on the counter. It doesn’t mean that a there are no visible laundry baskets or strewn shoes. It doesn’t mean that the bookshelves are dusted or that the throw pillows are fluffed.

If I thought my home needed to be spotless — or even basically clean and tidy — to have people over, I’d be living a lonely existence. As much I’d love to invite people into a perfectly kept home, I am not about to stress myself out and pour forth enormous amounts of energy to have one. And I’m not putting my life on hold, or putting undue stress on myself, because my house is lived in.

So I’ve simply changed what a company-ready home means. To me, it means ready for company — and I’m ready for company whenever a friend wants to stop by, regardless of the state of the house. I do neaten up as much as I can out of basic courtesy if I know someone’s coming over, but I don’t freak out if people see our mess.

This is our reality. This is our authentic, uncropped, unfiltered life. If you want to see me, if you want to know me, if you’re interested in our family, this is us. This is our home. It’s welcoming and warm, but it’s constantly being used by people who are totally oblivious to my HGTV-reveal aesthetic preferences.

It’s a place where kids get caught up in imaginative play and forget to pick up as they go. It’s a place where mom has deadlines and sometimes neglects the dishes for half the day. It’s a place where 10 people might be eating snacks and a meal and not every crumb or wrapper gets picked up immediately.

It’s also a place where other kids know they can make themselves at home. It’s a place where other moms come over and say, “Oh, thank god it’s not just my house that looks like this sometimes.” It’s a place where we celebrate life in all of its glorious imperfection and messy awesomeness.

While neat and tidy and spotless is a worthy goal (seriously, more power to those who have managed to achieve it while raising kids), it’s simply not going to happen in this phase of our family life. Not without a significant amount of angst and exhaustion, which I’m not willing to expend. There are enough things to worry about as it is.

Maybe someday my idea of company-ready will look more like the perfectly decorated, clutter-free, crumb-free homes I see on TV. But in the meantime, I’ll be over here stepping over a pile of Legos and a random flip-flop to put out the welcome mat.

And I mean it. You are welcome. Come on over to our slightly disheveled abode. We’re ready for your company — anytime.