Friday, March 16, 2012

Playin' house

'Cause I saw on Martha Stewart how we're all doing everything wrong. 
Kenneth, 30 Rock

I had planned to do a write-up of my notes on the YA panel from last night, but I've got something else on my mind so the review will have to wait until next week.

Yesterday my April copy of Real Simple came in the mail. I was in the middle of doing a million chores when I decided I just needed a break. So I sat down to read it. Let me set the scene for you. This is where I was reading:

That is the remains of two weeks’ worth of laundry on my couch that I had just ironed/folded. On the piano is a dusting mitt from earlier in the week when I had attempted to dust all of our blinds but was somehow distracted. On the wall you can see four different paint strips. (I think I've finally decided to go with the second one from the left.) Painting the inside of our house has been on my to do list for months.

I just cleared away the laundry and opened my Real Simple. And what was the main article about? Cleaning and organizing and time management for women. As if my messy house wasn't reminder enough, Real Simple had to steal my time set aside for relaxing and make me think about chores. 

I should've thrown the magazine in the trash and taken a nap, but I didn't. It was interesting to hear how many women feel like their lives are being taken over by household chores. The problem with the article was that, like pretty much all magazine articles, it left me in need of a solution. I understand the problem all too clearly, but how do I fix it?

Because even if I schedule time to relax, it is plagued with guilt that I should be doing more. And when I do make a valiant effort, I feel like I'm doing it the wrong way. (I’ve tried everything and I can’t get my towels fluffy like in the commercials.)  

Am I the only one whose house is a complete disaster at least once a week? I’m not a perfectionist. I’m not talking about a dish in the sink or a misplaced sofa pillow. And this isn't one of those "Look! My life isn't perfect" posts. I need to know, how do you all do it? Day after day and week after week. I mean, I know how to clean. I do a pretty good job when I actually do it. But the thing about cleaning is you do it one day and then you have to do it again the next day or, at the very least, the next week. It's never ending. There is no sense of accomplishment or even time to enjoy what you have done. I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day.

I've always liked the philosophy: "A house should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy." I feel like our house is clean just messy. I am good about cleaning the kitchen counter tops and the bathroom and all. I guess maybe I let things pile up? I'm really not sure.

I don't think it's about laziness or apathy. I want my home to be a place where I can relax and enjoy myself. I am willing to work hard, I just don't think it should take over my life. Really, I think it comes down to a mental hurdle. If I timed myself, I probably don't spend that much time actually doing the cleaning. (In the time I wrote this post, I probably could've finished most of my chores for the day.) But it's the list making and the guilt and the time it takes to get up the motivation to do it. Do any of you have solutions for that? Does it just come down to discipline? Do you ever feel finished? If not, how are you able to accept the feeling of not being finished? Is anyone at just as much of a loss as me? (Oh, and please no comments that start out, "Just wait until you have kids..." I'm taking things one step at a time around here.)


jbroclayto said...

I can sympathize 110%. I don't even know how it gets so messy sometimes, Olivia can't even make disasters yet. But Oh well. I used to try and clean up a ton right before people came over, but then I would end up shoving things in places they didn't belong. And then I decided, you know why am I putting on a show for these people, they love me for who I am and a little bit of messy is understandable. I want them to feel like they can come over anytime, not just when I have time to clean-so that's my rule now: keep it just clean enough that you wouldn't be embarassed if someone dropped in. It's not perfect, and there are still 100 things on the todo list but we manage. Sometimes I just have to let go.
Also, I'm glad there is an understanding of messy verses dirty. And I love that philosophy. Mind if I adopt it?

Alisha Erin said...

I think there are few houses that aren't a disaster once a week. Mine is--and I'm pretty obsessive about cleaning and picking up. I partly solve it by assigning chores to days and just worrying about those chores that day, instead of everything. And a lot of discipline.

And I don't ever really feel finished. But when I have been disciplined all week and finally have the whole house picked up on Friday and then I dust and vacuum and almost everything feels pristine...that is a feeling I LOVE. I work for it all week long. The house is usually destroyed again on Saturday--sigh--but I really love that clean Friday feeling.

But I think another big part of it is having organization systems that facilitate cleanliness. If it's EASY to put things away, it happens way more often.

Unknown said...

Oh man M.C. I just put the kids down for a nap and I was thinking, I am just going to relax and check up on the computer. But after reading this, I feel like I really should get up and get something done. So yeah, no solutions for you, but thanks for the motivation to get my chores done instead of sit at the computer!

Margaret said...

I know you are writing this post to motivate yourself to clean, but your mess is so...NICE! Look at those cute throw pillows! Do you really live there with four different yellows you are trying to choose from? (Remember the quote, "You're right, honey. That green should be more of a mint. I'll repaint it"?)

I write this from our hand-me-down couch that has more tortilla chip crumbs than fabric at this point. Our place has the opposite problem. It's organized in the sense that everything has a place (even if it doesn't make sense), but it is dirty as in unsanitized. We are going to die from hand, foot, and mouth soon. Just ask Tony.

TeaButterfly said...

hi there!

I've been bad at keeping house for years... until I found my lack of energy was due to emotional stress. Now I use Dr Bach's flower remedies - and it works! This should help you deal with your overwhelming guilt.

I tried many cleaning & organizing methods, including some stated by the Real simple mag. My fave to do now? Put some up beat music and clean or organize for 15-20 minutes a day. You get a lot done that way. For a detailed list of what to do in 20 minutes a day, see

Also of note: you don't have to iron anymore! ;-) Simply learn to hang your clothes so as they get a minimum of wrinkling... no ironing needed!
And for those linen shirts your husband might need to wear for work? Well, teach him how to iron! He sould be doing his fare share of house clening, and you shouldn't feel so giulty, IMHO.


tricia said...

well if it makes you feel any better, every time I have been to your house it has been very nice and clean. And I'm pretty sure every time you have been to my house it has been a complete disaster.

Brenda said...

I find I go in cycles, sometimes I am super motivated, sometimes - not so much. Some things will get easier after you've been doing them longer, you kind of develop a pretty much unconscious system, but there will always be things you realize you probably should be doing around the house, but still don't want to. (BTW, I gave up ironing years ago - but you are a way better dresser than me)

Ty, Steph, Bris, Big T said...

This has been my inner struggle all week!!! And it's only Tuesday! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who's house isn't perfect at every moment. I read somewhere that a dirty house means a happy family. I totally disagree. A dirty house means unhealthy, a somewhat cluttered house means a happy and comfortable family. No one will remember in years to come the piles of laundry on the couch (I put mine on our bed...then it has to be folded before I go to sleep), or the dust mit on the piano. They will remember the happiness that YOU bring to the home by making it a home! I love thinking of it that way. And believe you me, I am totally done with picking up toys after toys and dirty socks. *sigh*

On a much lighter note...Activity Days! Love them! Totally game for swapping ideas! We just barely made conference journals. The girls loved them!