Confessions of a (terrible) housekeeper

It has been said that “confession is good for the soul”.  There is a strong and encouraging movement in our society to stop pretending, to stop faking it, and to just be ourselves.

We see it in national advertising campaigns like Dove® – showcasing real beauty and “loving the skin you’re in”.

We see it in blogs all over the place (like my friend Lauren over at Oh Honestly!).

We’re also seeing it change the messages in movies marketed to our children (think about the movie Frozen by Walt Disney©).

It is so refreshing and inspiring!

Which leads me to the point of this post.  A secret that I’ve been keeping.  It’s confession time…

Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer.  I feel stronger for confession.  - Mahatma Gandhi

I’m sure you guessed my confession from the title of this post but here goes: I AM A TERRIBLE HOUSEKEEPER.

AHH.  There.  I said it.  Do I feel better?  I guess time will tell.

Here’s the deal – I am one of those people that perceives my failures and shortcomings based on what I don’t get to on my “to do list”.  I’m also terrible about comparing myself to others (especially when it comes to being a mother) and for worrying that I’m letting my family down by being less than perfect.

I’m finally starting to realize that I am way too hard on myself.

My “to do list” at work fluctuates and changes as deadlines approach and depart and projects develop and change.  Sometimes I nail it – sometimes I fall short.  I do my best with the talents that I have.  I can roll with work demands.  It is what I do and for the most part I get it right the majority of the time.

Home is a different story entirely.  These projects and tasks never end.  There is always laundry that needs to be washed.  And folded. And put away.  There is always someone hungry that needs to be fed.  Then dishes that need to be washed.  And put away.  There are always crumbs and dirt on the floors that need to be cleaned, mopped, vaccumed, and/or swept.  There is a constant stream of clothes that need to be mended or ironed.  Stains that need to be removed. Then there are the clothes that have been outgrown before they were worn out.  And then there is the small army of toys that just keeps growing…  Oh, and bathrooms.  Ugh bathrooms.

I am often defeated.  And overwhelmed. And occasionally grossed out.

I am terrified of having someone stop by unannounced.

Fearing judgement. Disgust. Disappointment.

We have people over from time to time but it isn’t as often as I would like because of the never-ending cycle mentioned above.

When I do have folks over it serves as a stimulus for deep cleaning.  And for a day or so after said company the house is live-able and appealing.  And then it returns to being lived-in.

Is one’s ability to keep a clean house genetic?  Some would say yes, it is how we are raised.  I beg to differ.  I come from a long line of both good and not so great housekeepers as does my husband.  I think one’s ability to be a good housekeeper has everything to do with just how much mess one is willing to tolerate.  And how much energy one has do to something about it.

This is where I am now that I am confessing my dirty secret to you: My housekeeping sucks.  In my eyes.  To some, my house may seem ultra clean.  To others, eww.  Everyone has varying degrees of cleanliness and tolerance of what I call “lived-in”.  I think my main problem is clutter.  Paperwork, mail, the trail of projects and artwork and homework and keepsakes and toys and clothes of my children.

We live here.  This is our home.  This is our sanctuary from the world.  Memories are made. Boo-boos are kissed.  Tears are shed.  Hugs given.   We laugh.  We are silly.  We always share our meals around the table whenever we possibly can.

We live in our home.

This is HOME.

My husband and I work hard to provide for our children.  To make their rooms comfortable.  To give them space.  And grace.  And I know that we are doing that well.  We are doing our best to equip and raise our children to be responsible adults one day.  To be able to manage their own lives.  To be problem solvers and deep thinkers and contributors to society rather than depending on society to provide for them.

This weekend I began to see a little defeat in my daughter’s spirit when I asked her to clean her room.  I saw myself in her eyes.  I heard my own voice in hers.  She didn’t know where to start.  Often, neither do I.

So I gave her a single task – to put her books away.  Her stacks and stacks of books away.  She did.  Then I gave her another task.  And when she was finished, another.  No, her room is not perfect.  Yes, she was mad when my husband came in and pushed everything out from under her bed…  but she took care of her own space.  And I am proud of her for her effort.

No, I’m not a great housekeeper.  BUT… I did realize something this month when I was out of town for several days: my meager day-to-day efforts at keeping things tidy do matter.  That my husband and I work well together as a team.  When one team member is down, things just don’t come together as well as they do when we are of one mind and one effort.

We are’t great housekeepers.  But we do make a great home for our family.  

And that matters more than anything to me.

 

What are your thoughts on what makes a good housekeeper?  Do you have some tips and tricks for me?  Resources?  Hop on over to the Graceful Mess Facebook page and share your thoughts… 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

About Jennifer Collins (GracefulMess)

Jennifer is a mom with a day job and she likes to write about her victories and messes along the way. She is living an adventurous life as a Georgia transplant learning to thrive in Maine, with a strong Southern accent that screams that she is "from away" and a new-found love for lobster rolls and timely snow plows. Jennifer's writing has been featured on BlogHer, iVillage Australia, Daddy Doin' Work, and Mamapedia.