What to do when your House is out of control

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

You may be familiar with this scene: the living room is messy. There are toys on the floor. Shoes and dirty socks. The beautiful accent pillows are mounted behind the couch where the kids had been playing. I see it but I have no energy to do anything about it.
Come Friday, the best I can do is to collapse in the couch. I’m lucky if I can find a throw to cover my tired feet. They traveled quite a bit during that week: two schools, work, gym, grocery store, Bible Study, church, bank and Starbucks (cause I’m God’s daughter too).

Something in me does not want to become too familiar with a messy house. What I want is the cover of Martha Stewart Living, what I get is the front cover of Reality. I have fought this mental battle for many years. I have found that the space between what I want and what I get is filled with possibilities.

While it’s impossible for me to hire half of Downton Abbey’s staff, I can be smart about my approach to housekeeping. What works for me is to tackle Food and Laundry when everything is in disarray. Why food and laundry? Because life is worth living when there’s food on the table and clean clothes to wear.

Monday was such day. I swear I cleaned the night before because we had guests over. Still, there was a mountain of dishes, laundry and kids’ art projects everywhere. I was going to freak out but I chose to bake instead. There is something about baking that is calming. Doing something I’m proud of, helps my self-esteem and everyone around me benefits. Baking feels the house with an awesome smells. Everyone gets in a better mood and there are plenty of snacks for the rest of the week. I remembered the ground turkey in the refrigerator needed to be cooked, so I did. I remembered I needed to make a fresh batch of black beans. I put a whole chicken in the slowcooker so that we had at least 3 days of meals. Those 40 minutes saved my week and improved my self-esteem.

My kids are big enough to gather their own laundry so their help meant everything. It took me two days but we had clean clothes. Hallelujah!

I often wonder why my house isn’t clean and spotless all the time. My number one reason is, I’m not here enough. I have  a job which requires me to be out of my house 30 hours per week. When I am here, I do the best I can with what I have. Some of “the best I can” includes exercise. I have learned that running is non-negotiable. The house might not be spotless but I will keep my health as pristine as I know how. There are other barriers to having a magazine cover ready home at all times. I now wonder if I really want to. People live here so it’s natural that the place looks inhabited.

I am aware that this “Laundry and Food” idea is not for everyone. I know people who have way more on their plate and the magazine cover type of home. I celebrate you where you are. I am also aware of people who are struggling just to do the basic things that mothers do. I encourage you where you are. We are not in the same place in life but we can sure offer each other encouragement. So, you can afford a housekeeper? I rejoice with you. If like me, you daydream of a squeaky clean home but what you have is oatmeal stuck on the floor (that’s what I have most of the time), don’t feel bad. Go for food and laundry as a priority. Find a supportive friend who can affirm you where you are and love you in your motherhood journey.

Thought of the Day: Doing something you're proud of elevates your self-esteem. What's that one thing for me?