Sunday, February 19, 2012

More to Life...

Ahhh, a clean house.  Most of the time, I feel like I'm dreaming "the impossible dream" like Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha....only in terms of the tidiness of my abode.

When I had little babies, I couldn't keep things clean because I was preoccupied with, well, my BABIES.  Diapers, feedings, nap schedule, colic, developmental milestones, reading to her, singing to him, praying over them...  If there were any moments in the day to myself, I was out like a light.  Zzzzzzzzz.....

And, honestly, it hasn't slowed down as the kids have grown.  Now, they just contribute to more messes and the undoing of all that is good and holy.  (Actually, maybe just what is clean.)  We teach them how to pick up toys and put them away, and we oversee periodic bouts of hurry-and-clean-up-the-house before company arrives, but for some reason, things are always a mess over here.

I have learned to overlook it because I just can't get to it all.  I target certain areas - like the kitchen - and feel SO accomplished when they are in order and disinfected.  (I do love me some Clorox wipes.)  But, once that part is done, I turn around to Tornado Alley in the rest of my house!  Honestly, it's extremely discouraging to this mama.

Here's the sticking point:  my sweet husband NEEDS things to be clean.  He can't rest in a mess.  And I don't blame him.  Cleaning the house has been a big issue in our relationship over the years because of his deep, foundational issue with clutter and junkiness making him psycho.  Sometimes we will stay up riDONKulously late at night to watch the show Hoarders on TLC.  Good God - it's amazing.  In a bad way.  But now, I'm thinking he might turn it on with ulterior motives.  Every time I see that show, I get the sudden urge to throw things out and bleach all non-porous surfaces.  I think I can see what's happening here...

There are days when I cook an amazing, gourmet meal and we really enjoy it.  But the house isn't clean.  There are days when I get all dolled up and look really good for my man.  But the house isn't clean.  And on days when I really try to clean the house, there is no dinner and I look like a hot mess.  I'm very tempted to ask him which of the three he wants, because he just can't have all of them.  (That's my sassiness talking.)

Well, here's where I am:  I want to make a comfortable, inviting home for my family.  I realize the importance of a clean house.  I understand that the responsibility falls to me, and if I don't do it, it will most likely not EVER get done.  I also know that the hours I spend meticulously deep-cleaning things can be wasted hours if I am chasing a mirage.  I need to be realistic with my expectations - my kids are KIDS and they are messy.  I am training them and working with them, but training is messy.  Kids "in training" are not perfect and cannot meet my lofty ideals of cleanliness.  How do I reconcile the pull from my husband's desires and the reality of my messy kids?  Really, how?  I'm asking you.  :)  No, I'm really not asking you....

I am taking it day by day, attuning myself to my husband.  If he's having a difficult day or string of days, I try very hard to have things in order.  I push harder to have the house clean when he comes home from work.  If I am having a difficult day, I don't sweat the clutter as much.  I know that striving for perfection will KILL - I have tried to achieve perfection for too many years of my life, and I'm just about done with it.  I make sure we have clean dishes, clean underwear and decently clean living areas, but kids' rooms, playroom, laundry, closets, office, etc. are done on an "as needed" basis.  That's just how it is right now.

The thing I am really trying to communicate to Mr. Clean is that I love him, I understand his desire for a clean house, and I am doing everything in my power to honor him in that way.  And maybe my overlooking things for the sake of reality has rubbed off on him a bit...

There really is more to life than a clean house.  Just don't tell that to a hoarder.


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  2. Crista, I love your honesty in this post! As a neat freak myself, i am the one pushing for tidiness constantly, and have learned a lot over the last 8 years of child rearing. Here are a few things that have worked for us (and my husband tends to be the opposite: he can live in a mess and it does not even register!)... We have to be clear with our kids when/where they can play, especially now that we have little babies crawling around where their lego's use to be strewn across the floor. They can play in their rooms, and bring out only large toys that pose no danger to babies. At the end of the day: put up all their stuff around the house/clean up their rooms. Once a week, a thorough straigtening. Closets get cleaned out whenever i can get to them, usually twice a year when we need to cycle the clothes!

    In order for us to even get all necessary chores done each week, the older two have lots of responsibility now. Laundry, some dishes, and making breakfast/lunch are theirs, along with watching babies at times, and dusting/cleaning their own rooms. I will do baby laundry between so they can get a break! I wipe down bathrooms between cleanings with clorox wipes b/c thoroughly cleaning them and the rest of the house each week just ain't happenin' right now! I bought a stic vac to catch floor messes between once a week thorough vacuuming, and dusting, well, whenever! Sometimes i even have to do one room at a time as i can. Eventually it all gets done. I just had to remove myself from the "it all has to be clean at the same time" mentality, and be realistic, like you said. I have found that if my living room stays clean, and the kitchen is clean in the morning, it is good enough for now. At least i have those spaces to rest in when the rest of the place is a mess. :)

    As for the office, the kids have to have their desks ready for school before we start, which translated means the office has to be neat/straight or i can't function! And as for the hubby's not having the same need for clean, i have learned to let him have certain messy areas, and i look the other way. His side of the closet, his car, his shelf in the bathroom, the shed, etc. And he has learned to help me keep the rest of our little world tidy. Anyway, maybe some of this will help!

  3. Crista,

    Thought of this, too, after replying... I am an extremely visual person, and I am assuming since your husband does photography, he might be, too. Here are things i have done that help me in my home:

    When i enter a room, my brain registers every little thing i see, and when the place is a mess, i feel like the brain is overloaded instantly. So i keep things grouped together: all books go together on the shelf or in stacked groups, all framed pics go together, all nick-nacky stuff goes together, etc. This way my brain registers less items (whole groups versus every little thing) and does not short circuit! :)Right now we have baby toys in the living room, but i keep them in a basket between play times. Everything else goes behind doors. All our tv/dvd stuff is contained in an armoir, all play-doh and puzzles are stashed in a buffet, all dvd/cd's are in drawers, cookbooks are stored in a bench in the kitchen, and games in a closet. that way i can close the doors and not see any of it! I can't tell you how much this helps. It makes the place easier to clean, too, since i don't have to vacuum/dust around a million little objects! In the kids' rooms, the same applies: we have stuff in bins under their beds, in shelves, or in their closets. Only a few things stay out all the time.

    Since we also have a small house, we have a policy for everyone: if there's not enough room, something has to go! Pass or toss! It helps us keep only the things we really want/need, and allows someone else to benefit from everything else. I dread Christmas and birthdays for this reason... i have to go through stuff and get rid of things, but if we didn't, our house would be a disaster!

    Hope this helps too! :)