I Want You To Love Your Messy, Chaotic, Normal Home
TikTok Mom Emily Feret wants to normalize being normal.
Here I was with a moment to myself. Both my young children were asleep (next to me), slightly snoring, the youngest with formula still dripping out of his mouth. I was paralyzed with indecision about what to do with my free time. So naturally, I reached for my phone and started scrolling.
It was 2020, and TikTok was still new to me, and I enjoyed watching funny dog videos, cute dances, and recipes I would save and probably never cook. But then came the house tours. I distinctly remember the moment when I first compared my own home to what I was seeing on TikTok. I was transfixed, staring at the images of perfectly aesthetic rooms; beautiful, clean, freshly restocked pantries and fridges; and mothers baking cookies with their children. I sighed.
Glancing around me, the differences were almost comical. I looked at my small house: paint chipping. Blinds broken. The washer was running, the load inside was being washed for the third time because I forgot, and the clothes had started to smell. I could not remember the last time my sink had been dish free. As for my fridge, well, my idea of restocking was tossing a bag of shredded cheese into a drawer and closing it with whatever limb was free at the time. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally.
I suddenly felt, well, bad. Why could I not have a house that looked like that? I want that. That is the definition of success, right? I must be failing. Those people have their lives together, and I do not.
I wanted to bake cookies in my kitchen with my kids, laughing and dancing in slow motion, all of us in matching outfits and not a hair out of place. But there I was, spit up on a robe I had not changed out of in three days, tossing Oreos into the mouth of my two-year-old as she ran by me — wearing a diaper on her head.
And so I paused, and I thought, well, this is the best I can do, right? And if I am trying my best, how can it be bad? How is that failing?
I started looking around at everything I loved about our small house. Toys on the living room floor meant my toddler had fun playing that day. Dishes in the sink meant we had all been fed. Though messy and by no means aesthetically pleasing, my fridge was full of food. Laundry piled high meant we had clothes to wear. I decided the chipped paint gave the house character a sign it had weathered many storms and stood firm. A house full of clutter, laundry piles, chipping paint, uneven floors, and, most importantly, love.
How can that be defined as anything but success?
As a joke, I made a TikTok about my normal life. I toured my chaotic, messy house. I proudly showed the apple my daughter had taken two bites of and hidden it on the book shelf. I laughed at the crib, which my children had never slept in, now serving as a laundry basket. I showed my “normal home.”
And something magic happened: Turns out lots of other people wanted to hear it. I got thousands of comments like, “This makes me feel so much better about my home!” and “ Finally, someone is showing a normal house!” and “Me too!”
And so I continued, well, I’ve never stopped. Today I love showing off my “normal.” I think it’s essential to show the unfiltered side of life on social media to let people know it's ok to find it beautiful too. I still love to watch a good restock video now and again (seriously, can I just come over and eat all those snacks?), I no longer compare those houses to my own. Just because it looks different does not mean it is better or worse.
I have young children, and we are home a lot. We exist in this space, and there is mess and chaos, and I find it quite beautiful. So bring on the mess. People keep telling me I will miss it one day when it is gone.
And know that if you are looking around at those dishes in your sink, paint chipping by your window, and the suspicious puddle on your kitchen floor, that you are far from a failing friend, and your house, nay, your home, is beautiful.
Beautiful and “normal.”
Emily Feret is a content creator living near Chicago with her husband and her two children. She loves to share her “normal” filter-free life online. Across multiple platforms she celebrates the messy, chaotic, and average, by touring her imperfect house, celebrating her stretch marks and wrinkles, and sharing her struggles in motherhood. Her work has been featured in multiple publications New York Times, parents.com, motherly.com, Pop Sugar and more. You can find Emily on TikTok @Emilyjeanne333, Instagram @emilyjeanneferet, and YouTube @emilyjeanne333.