In my house, even the saints are losing their heads.
But it wasn’t always like that. When I was first married I had a very clean house. I vacuumed so much I nearly broke my vacuum. Laundry was a very meticulous event. I would sit in the middle of the pile of dirty clothes and sort each piece, turning everything right-side out, treating each stain with remover, and then folding and ironing the clean items. When my first daughter was born, I scoured the carpet with a foaming spray every couple days to ensure she crawled on the cleanest floor. I used to cry at the thought of my kids playing on a tiled floor that had not been mopped. Beds were made, windows washed, and kitchen counters scrubbed.
Oh yeah.... KIDS!
Now, I know there are some of you out there who actually like to clean. You may find it therapeutic in a way. If that is the case, then you can stop reading right now because you will not be able to relate to the rest of this blog or the other 99.9% of us.
I have made many excuses in the course of my messy years for the state of my house. “There are too many kids messing up what I am cleaning.” “I don’t have time to clean with all of the extracurricular activities I have to deal with.” “I’m an outside kind of person. I would rather bike than clean.”
All of these excuses are true, especially the biking one. But the fact is, it hasn’t been easy letting go of the high standard I used to hold. I still cringe at the state of my kitchen floor. I still get stressed when laundry piles up or a search-and-rescue is necessary in order to find the dining room table.
(This can happen in my house after a kid cleans their room or we return from a trip. It doesn't take much.)
I WANT a clean house. But more importantly, I NEED sanity.
So I have come to a new level of acceptability. I have had to accept a lower standard of “clean” or else I was going to lose my mind. By lowering my standards I allowed myself to accept help from less experienced hands. My kids have to help out. We do “ten minute tidies”. They clean their own rooms with my help sometimes. Especially when it looks like this. I rarely empty the dishwasher. Even though I have to hunt for dishes because they were put back in the wrong place, I like it that way. It frees me up to do the chores that require my expertise.
I have made more chore charts in my life than I can count. (I do love lists!) Everyone has FAILED. I can’t explain it, but no matter how great I plan and organize the list and then create, color and decorate the chart, it never works. It’s a miracle if we make it a whole week following the chart. Life is just too irregular in my house for a real structured plan. I have finally relented and given up on finding the ideal chore plan. The Padgett family tends to use the “OMGosh COMPANY IS COMING. WE NEED TO CLEAN THE WHOLE HOUSE RIGHT NOW” approach. But it works.
Eventually I know my house will get clean and stay clean. It will eventually be quiet and lonely too. But for now, I have to accept this as my standard of a clean coat rack.
For now, I have to over look the hand prints on the wall and the smudges on the glass.
As long as I can make it from the front door to my kitchen without a need for medical attention, I consider that a success. But the real success is in the fact that I have found a way to remain sane despite the chaos in which I live. I have learned to over look the mess and find joy in just being with my family. Life is too short to stress about the state of my house. My kids will be gone too quickly and my opportunity to celebrate life with them will dwindle. Why should it matter that I stick to my seat sometimes or there is handwriting all over the walls? It won’t always be that way. But for now, it is what it is. I have found my new level of acceptability... and I am at peace.
Update: Here are the two crazy boys with a "clean" room. This was their work. It made it possible for me to get in there and really get it cleaned.