I grew up in a house that was always tidy. All the families we spent time with seemed to have clean homes as well. I thought that’s just how it went; I figured everyone grew up in a house like this.
Once I started babysitting, I realized that not every parent kept a clean house. My naïve, teenage self promised that I would never let my house be messy. Surely if I taught my children how to clean up for themselves, we could keep our house clean. I would just train them, much like the parents I babysat for sleep trained, but instead of sleep, I would train my kids to do chores.
HA! So here I am now. Two kids. Messy house. Messy house all the time. It NEVER seems to get completely clean.
And to be honest, it is a great source of anxiety for me. I WANT to have a clean house. I want my kitchen to sparkle and the beds to be made each morning. I want my floors swept and shelves dusted. However, I also love being a present mommy to my kids. I live in a constant state of “should I be cleaning or should I play and snuggle?” Usually play and snuggle wins out, I play with my kids but am distracted by the guilt of chores left undone. My kitchen stays messy and my laundry piles up. Laundry, so much laundry everywhere. I don’t know how four humans can produce so much laundry.
I try to look at the mess and thank God that we are able to have clothes. Or thank God we have food and therefore dishes. But the guilt still seeps in. My family deserves a house that looks nice. I should do better. My house should be clean. Why can’t I keep it clean?
There are just not enough hours in the day. Especially considering whenever I do straighten up, it takes about 30 minutes for the house to look trashed again.
I’m guessing I am not the only woman to feel this way. Do you sometimes find your worth in your home? Do you measure the success of your day by the number of completed loads of laundry? Do you go to bed feeling disappointed in what you didn’t get done?
Today, I have decided it’s time to stop feeling guilty. I am done letting my house rule me. Yes, it’s important to have a nice home. Yes, when I have some free time I will work on chores. But I need to enjoy my time with my kids and my kids need to feel like my priority. They will not feel like a priority if mommy is always multitasking while spending time with them.
We are more than our housekeeping skills. Instead of measuring our success by the chores completed, let’s evaluate how we treat our family. Rather than count how many loads of laundry we folded, let’s count how many times we hugged our children. Instead of giving our children part of us while we try to get work done, let’s set aside time just for our little ones. Let’s allow ourselves to savor this time.
Someday we will be caught up on laundry. The carpet will show clean vacuum lines for more than 2 minutes. The dishes will be washed and the counters clear.
Our children are only little for so long. I don’t want to look back in twenty years and wish that I would have spent more quality time with them.
Tonight, when I go to bed, I’ll let myself reflect on the joy of time with my children and I’ll give myself grace on all that was not accomplished.
And tired, weary mama, I hope you can do the same. You are more than the tidiness of your home.