Saying Goobye To My Clean House

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How I Learned To Let Go

Before having children my husband thought I had some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder, he was probably right. I would sit at work with a ball of anxiety about whether or not my toilet at home needed to be scrubbed. Now I wasn’t a germ-phobic or anything, but I was obsessed with having a clean house, for appearance reasons I suppose, because underneath it all, my closets were a mess and I had clothes stuffed under my bed. I remember my husband sighing deeply every time I would whisk his dinner plate from his hands as he was still trying to hold on to it and eat his last bite of dinner.


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Kids Change Everything

Then I had children. My first child was easy, she was a great sleeper and we had a lot of time to ourselves during the day, in which I spent most of it cleaning, but she was a trooper and my house looked ready for company most of the day. It was my second child that changed things…..drastically.

I Tried to Keep Up

I started out just very tired, he didn’t sleep well and I still had a toddler to take care of. Laundry started to pile up and dishes filled the dishwasher and my husband’s dinner plates sat in numerous places around the house. My son was a needier child than my daughter was, he wanted to be carried everywhere and nursed almost 24 hours a day. I started to get tons of anxiety about my messy house, but as hard as I tried I always felt like I couldn’t keep up. It was a good friend who told me “you will have many years to have a perfectly clean house once your kids are grown, but they are only little once.” This helped me more than she will ever know. I cling to my friend’s words of wisdom when I have laundry pilling in doorways or my dishes seem never ending and when my children are asking me to read them a book or dance to their favorite song.


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Letting Go of My Expectations

I had to learn to let go. I decided that dancing and reading with my kids was more important than cleaning their rooms. I wanted to watch a movie with my husband instead of doing the dishes and spend time with my family instead of scrubbing windows. Yes my house looks lived in, not filthy but lived in, but now I’m proud of that. It’s our home and if you happen to show up unannounced I can’t guarantee that it will be clean but you will feel welcome and perhaps a little less stressed about your own house.

There were a couple ways that helped me to let go and of course having an easy going husband was a plus, but I did find that including my kids was the key to keeping the house from completely falling apart.

My kids love doing the dishes. They really get a kick out of the running water and soap…so we do them together most days and they don’t even realize it’s a chore.

When I vacuum we make a game of it too. I can’t tell you how excited my two year old gets when he sees the vacuum in the living room, they call it the ‘vacuum monster’ and I pretend to chase them around the room as I vacuum. This has also become one of their favorite activities.

Laundry usually turns into a sock fight which is more of a mess than help, but it’s always fun.

However, the number one thing I’ve learned was that I will have many years to keep a perfectly clean house. I will not always have these years with my children. I have to remind myself that a home is to be lived in and my family does that well.


Your house is a complete mess and your friend tells you they are going to stop by in 10 minutes what do you do?

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Comments 40 comments

Tim Blackstone profile image

Tim Blackstone 6 years ago

A happy lived in home is a much better place to live than an immaculate home where nobody dares do anything for fear of spoiling the look.

Good hub.


Courtni 6 years ago

Oh so true!! You know how bad my anxiety is about my house but making games out of it with the kids helps SO much...they love it!! : )


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 6 years ago from California Author

Thank you! I appreciate the feedback. I have so many times struggled with my need to keep the perfect house....letting go of that feels pretty great. Plus, I think with two young children running around it is nearly impossible :)!!


Jamie 6 years ago

Mandee, you are a great mom. Just another reason to love you!


Nicolle Barnes 5 years ago

Mandee this is great and I think any parent can completely relate. It is hard to let go and I struggle with it myself. You are an awesome Momma!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I agree having a clean house with kids is impossible. And it doesn't mean you are a bad mom that's for sure. I loved the way you made cleaning fun for the kids. That is a wonderful way to go about it. That teaches them not to hate cleaning I am sure. :)

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Check it out right here: http://bit.ly/hv3VHi


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Nice job. Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Welcome to hubpages-I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. You've got some great hub topics.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Jamie, Nicolle, ripplemaker and Denis,

Thank you so much for the support and feedback! And of course thanks for reading.

:)


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

I had to adjust my expectations when I had kids too, and even now that I have 12 grandchildren, it can get even messier, so prepare yourself now. I try to sweep around them and vacuum, but find it is best to wait until they have all left and then make my husband help me. Good hub. Congrats on your nomination.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Elayne001,

I feel so honored to be nominated and thank you for reading :)! I agree I'm just preparing for the grandkids that they will bless me with later on!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

How refreshing to read that you let your kids help with the dishes. I know mothers who are so particular their teenagers don't know how to do the dishes. Congratulations on your nomination. This is a great hub.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 5 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Great hub. As my children were growing, eight of them, my house was always messy. Now I'm down to three and it stays pretty neat most of the time. They are finally old enough to manage their own space, so that's a plus.

Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.

Namaste.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Karanda and Deborah,

Thank you for reading and thanks for the congrats. I was excited to get the nomination :). I am glad things do get easier as the kids get older, I look forward to be a little more organized someday, but for now I'm gonna enjoy this time :)!


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Karanda and Deborah,

Thank you for reading and thanks for the congrats. I was excited to get the nomination :). I am glad things do get easier as the kids get older, I look forward to be a little more organized someday, but for now I'm gonna enjoy this time :)!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Congratulations on your win. This is about how I changed from an obsessive cleaner to one who cleans only when it really needs cleaning. Good hub.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago

I had exactly the same experience! My first was a great sleeper, I spent naptime cleaning, and took him out to the park a lot when he was awake. Yeah, then i had the second one, who never heard of naptime & was very clingy...I've let go too, and i'm the better off for it.


poojabrahmi profile image

poojabrahmi 5 years ago

I know what exactly you are talking about!!

After being a mom I realized how demanding "motherhood" is and my son is very very very naughty. His sleeping habits are disturbed all the time; due to which I also find it hard to catch a sleep and take out time to clean the house. Though I also want a cleaned house "24/7" but over a period of time I realized - that it's almost "impossible" to keep your house clean all the time when my 1 year son is around.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Pamela99, Graceomalley and poojabrahmi,

Thank you all so much for reading and it is so nice to know I am not alone. Day's with a 2 year old and a 5 year old get crazy and not to mention very messy....better to have fun with it then stress too much :)!

Graceomalley, that is exactly how my second child is.

Poojabrahmi, My little boy is the same way, his sleeping is always interupted which of course wakes me too. I wish I could tell you he outgrew it, but he's 2 1/2 and no luck yet....I hear it gets better though so hang in there.


poojabrahmi profile image

poojabrahmi 5 years ago

hehe I have been hearing it since the time he was 3 months old "it will be fine wait for a few days or months"

Your boy is 2 1/2 and you are still struggling!!!!!

Good job and yes I am hanging in there.

It reminds me of one funny incident, one fine day he slept at 10.30a.m and I was like how can I sleep so early.


sweetmummy profile image

sweetmummy 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

I'm STILL learning this lesson, and my kiddos are 11, 10 and almost 9 yrs old! Thanks for this hub. It was probably just the reminder I needed again today!!!


lisakleinweber profile image

lisakleinweber 5 years ago

yep, my son helped me with this too :)


crochet48 profile image

crochet48 5 years ago from Southern New Mexico

My apartment in Germany was clean! (Competing with the local nationals.) Now, there's days my dishes stay soaking in the sink until I finish working for the day.

My kids are grown, but I remember the days of toys strewn from one end of the house to the other, and me trying not to trip over them.

Thank you!


Shawn Scarborough profile image

Shawn Scarborough 5 years ago from The Lone Star State

This is a great hub. I am always amazed at how quickly my children can turn my clean house into a total mess. Congrats on being a HubNugget winner!


Lea 5 years ago

What a fun read! This is a topic that has come to my attention quite a bit recently. Most of my 8 kids are grownup but I do have a grand baby living with me part time. As I told one young mom: Children change the interior landscape of our homes (even the exterior).

There was a saying when I was raising mine "Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling the walk while snow is still snowing"


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

I love this hub, it reminds me of my younger days. And I too had to give up my compulsion for a time. Now that my children are gone, I can indulge myself again in keeping a clean house.


Rastamermaid profile image

Rastamermaid 5 years ago from Universe

Awesome hub,so many of us can relate to.

My son will soon be 13 and he helps quite a lot outside of keeping his room clean.

He's now asking for more chores to earn money.

I think now I'll finally get my tidy home back,no more tiny toys all around the house,juice bottles or sippy cups tucked in the sofa.

Thanks for sharing!


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Many mothers (and Dads) would relate to this hub, well done and congratulations on winning the hubnugget.

My children are now in their teens but we had a game of 'how many toys can you throw in the toybox' when they were young. We had a hoot tidying up before Daddy came home.

I'd love to say they still help out but that only happens with a lot of coaxing.


beth811 profile image

beth811 5 years ago from Philippines

I like it when you said you have many years to keep a perfectly clean house but you will not always have these years with your children.

This message inspires me. I'm a cleanaholic and it's time to change now from being so. I should spend much time now with my 3 year old son instead of cleaning forever :)

Thanks for sharing.


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

A house that is always perfectly clean doesn't have people living in it! I love a neat clean house. Doesn't everybody? But I love my family and my dogs more. So, I do my best. Learn and use strategies. But I find peace in knowing it'll never look like a magazine cover... not for more than a day! If it does, we must all be out of town!


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

poojabrahmi, well I hope you have better luck than me and your little guy starts sleeping like a champ in the really near future :)!

sweetmummy, you are very welcome for the reminder. Thanks for reading.

lisakleinweber, I seem to see that sons are usually the ones to teach us this lesson :).

crochet48, thanks for reading and yes I often find myself avoiding tripping over toys awwww the fun we have. :)

Shawn Scarborough, thanks for the congrats and thanks for reading. Yes I think children are very talented mess makers. Mine especially!

Lea, I absolutely love that saying. Thanks for reading!

fastfreta, thank you for reading, I always have to remind myself that someday I will have that clean house again....someday :)!

Rastamermaid, oh I just found a sippy cup in the couch cushion today :)...it was not pretty...full of milk...yuck. Thanks for reading.

MPG Narratives , this made me laugh because we play this game every night...my daughter insists that she wins, and she picks up a ton of toys. I love it.

beth811, I'm glad it inspired you :), if anything at least to not be so hard on yourself.

Sinea Pies, you are right the only time my house it spotless is when we are gone and my mother comes over a cleans it for a treat :). I do enjoy it for about 5 minutes and then the mess making begins :)!


Kaye McCulloch profile image

Kaye McCulloch 5 years ago from Australia

When my third child (who is now nearly one) was on the way a friend told me that the word to embrace, especially during the first year, was "surrender". I have found that to be true, that I've needed to surrender some of my expectations of myself, my house and even my older children.

Although in other ways I've expected more of my older children, expecting more help with the housework, but then if a plate gets broken on the way to the cupboard, or the clean clothes are put away more scrunched than folded, then - so be it.

Anyway, lovely hub, is what I really wanted to say.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Kaye,

thank you so much for reading and I agree.."surrender" is a great word for it. :)


DonnaWallace profile image

DonnaWallace 5 years ago from North Carolina

You have beautifully expressed the joys and messiness of parenthood. It's worth every moment, though! Wonderful children are worth the sacrifice of a clean house. Thank you for the great hub.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

One other person also mentioned the pets. We don't have children but find that pets can also keep one from having an immaculate house. Much as we vacuum and brush off the furniture, there always seems to be cat and dog hair that is just WAITING to happily attach itself to people's clothing. Oh well! We love our pets!

You have the right attitude regarding your children. They won't be young for long and before you know it, they will be gone from your home. So enjoy each day as it comes. Congratulations on your hubnugget win!


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Donna,

Thank you for the kind words, and for reading. I agree, very very worth it.

Peggy,

It is very true, I have a neighbor who has the most amazing dog 'Molly' and she can create a mess just as quickly as my kids...but she is very loved and very very worth it :)!


Duchess OBlunt 5 years ago

Very nicely done. I enjoyed reading how you made cleaning up fun for the kids.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

LOL. I related so much to your hub. I was never obbessive about cleaning but was definitely much more so before having children. My daughter was the same exact way, first born and slept through the night from week one. My son, oh my son. Nine months after my daughter was born, we found out that he was on the way. That was definitely a game changer for us. Like your son, mine was a nursing fool who never slept. He was also MUCH more demanding from the sense that he also wanted to be held all of the time and was much more emotional than my daughter. He is now 2 1/2 and it is much easier now. Both of my children like to help clean and it is part of our routine. However, like you, my focus is on my children when I am not working. I learned from my mother the lesson that your friend taught you. Value the time with your children because you do not get those days back. Thanks for the reminder of the important things in life. Great hub.


Shawneepaints 5 years ago

I remember those days about being an obsessive housekeeper. Like you, I kept it up until my second child was born. She was the child who liked to go from one end of the house to the other taking things out of any space possible, especially if she thought she could climb into that space to play. I learned to enjoy her silliness. Since there were 8 years between her and her brother, I knew how fast she could grow up. I wanted her to feel at home in her home.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California Author

Duchess,

Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed it :)!

Cardelean, My son is the same age, not yet easier but I can see a small light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reading, glad others can relate :)!

Shawneepaints,

Feeling at home at home is soooo very important. My kids know that they are allowed to have fun in their home and feel comfortable here, that is what my ultimate goal was, I still struggle with letting go every now and then but writing it out helped :)!.


hankt profile image

hankt 5 years ago

Great hub Mande. Any suggestions how to get my wife to realize the same. Drives herself nuts with worry about getting the house clean. I try to help, but I can't bring myself to worry about it as much because there are so many other important things that are going on.

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