Truth: I own a cleaning company, but my house looks like Pippi Longstocking has taken over and is having a field day.
There are books and toys and drawings all over the place. Artwork abounds, and I don’t mean on the walls. There are piles of sketches and love notes from my 5-year-old on pretty much every horizontal surface in my home.
There are toys and games left out from last night and books piled high. Dolls are left sleeping wherever their little mommy tucked them in — often behind a couch pillow!
I used to drive myself crazy trying to keep everything clean and organized, but after a life-altering summer, I have a different perspective. I lost my son, just shy of his 9th birthday, after a 13 day battle with E. coli.
Joshua appreciated things neat and organized, but he contributed as much as anyone to the daily mess of the house. Socks and toys and a million origami creations were left wherever he happened to abandon them.
I wish I could go back and trade the time I spent nagging him to pick up for more playtime with him. More laughing, more stories. I wish I could trade the energy spent scolding him for not putting things away for more memories of magic tricks, silly pranks and endless questions.
But I’ve learned from my regret. I refuse to make the tidiness of my house my focus anymore.
Instead of nagging my little girl to clean up her toys before bed, I’d rather spend the extra 10 minutes reading with her. That time spent together, as she snuggles close, is much better than seeing a spotless floor in her bedroom. I’d rather catch up with my 16-year-old, cozy on the couch, and watch a good show. I’d rather spend 20 minutes baking a batch of cookies or muffins to share with friends.
I know that my daughters will remember and cherish the snuggles and time together. Will they really remember if the room was pristine at the time? I don’t think so.
Of course there are still times when I am hit by a wave of “OMG, this place is a mess!” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t let dishes sit around with food stuck on them, growing mold and getting smelly. But for the most part, if it’s not dirty, I don’t mind the clutter.
If a stack of dishes or a few pots soak in the sink for a little longer so my husband and I can watch a movie, play a game, read a book, talk, or snuggle with our girls, I’m more than OK with that.
Maybe the playroom wasn’t fully picked up after our last play date, but I’m not going to hang out in there and it’s just going to get messy the next time friends are here to play, so why stress? Why get upset with my sweet little lady when we could try a new recipe or art project together?
It took some effort to force myself to stop the harried, 15 minute cleaning spree when people were stopping by, but so far, nobody has noticed. If they have, they certainly don’t seem to care. I think it actually takes some pressure off for other moms to see my house this way.
This goes for all of us — you don’t have to wait for something earth-shattering to happen to stop stressing yourself out and start enjoying the moments that really matter. Think of it this way, if your house is too clean and organized, you might hesitate to have fun for fear of messing it up, and no mom wants that.