There was a time when my house was so clean and I was obsessed with keeping it that way. My husband actually said “PLEASE let it look lived in for crying out loud!”
Then we had kids and he got his wish 1,000 times over. It doesn’t just look lived in. It looks lived in by a Toys R Us... if Toys R Us was hit by a tornado... and that tornado dropped a laundromat, Dorothy-style, on the Toys R Us... and then a giant vacuum cleaner showed up and accidentally blew instead of sucked.
It’s a disaster.
I did not give up cleaning my house cold turkey. It was a weaning process. When I went back to work after the second one came along, I cut down to just weekends and maybe a weeknight here and there. That was soon reduced to weekends only. Once I started grad school it basically became a game of “move the mess” if company was coming. That turned out to be an ineffective strategy, as the kids would just show our guests the mess! “Hi, do you want to see a secret room? It’s name is off-limits and Mommy found a moldy grilled cheese sandwich in there.”
What I’m about to reveal was the rock bottom moment that made me stop cleaning all together. It’s what used to be my “fancy room.” It was the formal living room. The only room in the house that was decorated. I refused to let my husband wire it for cable. It was meant to be my sanctuary, not another TV room. Once upon a time I could relax there, reading or just drinking tea, silently admiring my $700 rug.
But, just like every other room in our house, they took it over. It’s now littered with stuffed animals, art supplies and Pop Tart crumbs. Even if my rug was visible under all of that, I would just see juice stains.
I tried. I honestly tried. I would spend hours cleaning. When I was done, I would make a cup a tea and head off to my fancy room for some R&R. But what would I find. Yes, my friends, my children are the fastest re-messers this side of the Mississippi! You could never tell I cleaned. So... I just stopped.
Look... it’s not my proudest moment, but there it is. I rarely clean. Many will wonder why I don’t just hire a cleaning service. Besides the fact that it is not in our budget, I could never get this house clean enough for a maid! Sure, I would love to have some lady vacuum my floors twice a month, but who’s going to find them? I needed to knock something off my to-do list anyway. Why not cleaning? I never really enjoyed it. When things start to get really bad, I just decide to throw a party. This forces me to force my husband to clean the house!