Cleaning was never my thing. As an adolescent, I was always in trouble for not cleaning my room. In university, my roommates and I would fight over the mess on my side. My husband even has a video where he jokingly documents my messy apartment.
The first year of our marriage included some challenges largely due to our differences in cleaning styles (namely, he cleaned and I didn’t). For the first time, I felt real shame around having a messy house. But two children later, neither of us have time to focus on the clutter and mess anymore. We both suck at cleaning now.
Don’t get me wrong, I love clean homes. But through the years it’s become increasingly clear that I am NOT the one to do it.
I’m a portrait of your textbook creative person, and I maintain comfort despite the chaos. Sure, my story ideas, books, and clothes might be all over the floor. But guarantee I know where everything is!
However, the truth is, I can’t blame my lack of tidiness solely on my creative tendencies. The biggest reason my house is a mess is that I just don’t care.
Cleaning reminds me of the lectures and punishments I experiences as I child. Besides, who has time to pick up a broom with a toddler and a newborn?
Of course, that doesn’t mean I never clean things — I’d just prefer not to. Believe it or not, right before giving birth, I maintained a pretty regular schedule (and stress to go with it) trying to keep a clean house. I thought I wanted to change things for my daughter. It didn’t take long to see it just made me place more restrictions on my son. I wanted to be “more domestic” for my family — but it shouldn’t come at the cost of my sanity.
Three weeks post-birth, a friend came for a visit and I hadn’t had time to pick up anything. The trash pickup hadn’t run for weeks thanks to back-to-back holidays and the house was a literal pigsty. The timing of my friend’s visit changed suddenly, and I didn’t have enough time to mask the chaos. I was extremely embarrassed.
But my friend just laughed and said, “Don’t apologize. You just look like you live in a home that has a newborn and a toddler.”
And she was right. With newborn nights and toddler days, I was running on four hours of sleep on my best day. But I’d gotten so concerned with a clean house that I didn’t realize how unrealistic it could be through this period of transition.
Hell, most days I hardly have enough time to brush my teeth or shower. The last thing I have time for is stressing over a messy house.
Suddenly, it was obvious that no one was judging me near as much as I’d been judging myself — not even my husband. Instead of being criticized when I expressed my new decision to worry less about cleaning the house, I was met with support. We knew we’d need to readjust post-baby, but it was finally clear just how much.
As a mother of two, I’ve learned it’s unrealistic to use the sprinkle of free time I have on cleaning.
I’m not domestic; I’m a provider. I’m a mom and a wife. And it’s more important to me that we have fun and make memories than ensuring those memories are made in a pristine house.