Why I Have a Messy House

I grew up in a big 6000 square foot house where all the neighbors had housekeepers—many live- in.  But my parents were baby boomers with parents survived the depression.  The values in our house were tempered.  For example, a car is there to get you from point A to point B, and you don’t need to spend $60K to do that.  The big one, though, was:  you don’t hire someone to do what you can do yourself.  So, we did not have a housekeeper. 

My mother cleaned our house top to bottom every single day.  She says if you do it every day it only takes a short time.  So five bathrooms were scrubbed daily.  She made everyone’s bed, if they didn’t do it themselves.  Every night she did the dishes; don’t worry, we did have a dishwasher.  She did 2-3 loads of laundry every single day. She dusted everything each day.  You get the point.  Anything you could see was cleaned daily.  She was efficient and quick.  She got it from my grandmother.

You’d think with that example my house would be spotless.  Not so!  In fact, I’m terrified on some days that someone will stop by unexpectedly.  Oh, anything to do with food is clean, but I don’t dust regularly.  My Dyson doesn’t get the work out it should.  Clutter will build up; I truly want to get organized this year.  I clean when I want to run from my house. 

How could this be?  What is wrong with me?  Why would I allow this?  Simple, the hour or two it would take to maintain a spotless house is just one more thing I must give up.  I would rather sing and dance with my preschoolers to The Wiggles or Laurie Berkner.  I would rather teach my child how to climb a tree without hurting himself or the tree.  I have spent that time learning all about Thomas the Tank Engine, how to play soccer, all about Star Wars. 

Yes, I have a messy house.  I have spent over an hour walking around our small block so my kids can stop to examine every plant and bush along the way.  We have discussed what worms might do for fun.  We’ve examined at the clouds, the stars and the moon.  We’ve taken the time to make our own sidewalk chalk rather than buying it.  Sometimes, I do something for myself while I watch/listen to the kids pull out every toy we own and play with all of it at once, and don’t care even think about the mess we will be faced with as I hear their imaginations go wild.  I do not want regrets in life.  I do not want to miss out.  So, I happily have a messy house. 

While my mother was efficient at cleaning, she did not enjoy cleaning.  We could not do what would make the house messy.  One toy at a time—it didn’t matter if you were playing with them together.  Don’t experiment in the kitchen because it might be difficult to clean that mess.  Just let her handle the cooking and preparing; it was easier.  She never knew who we were or what we wanted because she spent her time wiping down the tables.  She never had an interest/hobby of her own because there was never time. 

I agree it doesn’t make sense to pay someone what I am perfectly capable of doing myself, but I’m not willing to do it myself.  I don’t want to miss out on my raising my children.  When they are older and my job parenting is done, I want us to have a basis for a friendship.  I have a messy house and am proud of it.  I see my messy house as a sign of life and love. 

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Comments 32 comments

Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Lelah, I like your style. I have sign on my front porch that says, "If you came to see me, WELCOME. If you came to see my house, Please Call For an Appointment". Pretty much sums it up.

I do have to vacuum and scrub bathrooms everyday, but maybe I'll learn to get over it. :-))

What did you decide worms do for fun????

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

That sign would fit me well. I think we might be a lot alike. Except, without a darn good compelling reason I won't vacuum more than every 2-3 days. Anything coming in contact with food is clean. Clothes are clean. The kids are clean..at the end of the day. :)

I'm not sure if we ever did decide what they do for fun, but I know they don't play baseball.

Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Hee Hee!!

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C. C. Riter 7 years ago

I always had a clean home until, my wee one was the one working her butt off for me and then we ended up with all these dang pets that we love and I just don't have time for it. I feel awful about it and she gives me heck, but what can I say? Mom would be horrified. It doesn't stink, just pet hair and i need to dust and vacuum and, I quit.

You're not harming the kids, that's what counts. Pm, why doesn't that surprise me about you?

Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

CC, I have no idea!!!! :-))

Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

Well done, it is so difficult to keep a place tidy with little children around... It is more important to concentrate in other things like spending fun time with them than forcing them to have the place like a showroom!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I think you have your priorities straight. I once heard that Pablo Picasso would not let anyone dust his studio because he believed that "dust protects things". I have adopted this idea myself, and I thought you might find it useful.

Great hub.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

Rochelle, it's why I know how to take care of dust bunnies. Another hub. I'm sure the requester meant to see how to get rid of them, but seeing above, I wouldn't know. Ha ha

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Yes, i liked your dust bunnies as well.. I never thought of dressing mine up.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

I agree with your completely.

Dirt isn't OK for me, or the kind of mess where you can't find anything or open the door properly! But otherwise, there are lots of things I'd rather do as well.

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Good point! I've got an extremely messy house and it is because we are helping the kids with homework, working, etc. I feel guilty but then I have a better relationship with my children than my parents did and they fixated on it being spotless instead of listening to a child's issues with bullies. Though we take an hour a day to do a quick pickup and spend a morning a week cleaning in detail. Daily detail cleaning is too much for us.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Such sensible people attracted to this hub. There IS hope for the world.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

LodonGirl--I promise, while there might be more dust than I'd like, there is no real dirt. Just mess and clutter. I feel like I live in a giant toy box sometimes. Both the little two have preschool on Thursdays, so that is the day I run around like a mad woman taking care of the bulk of it. I just don't see the point in scrubbing everything everyday. I'd rather spend an extra hour or two on one day than one to two hours every day.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

I agree with you. I make sure plates and clothes are washed, the kitchen kept reasonably clean, and the rest is lower down on a priority list (-:

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

I don't even have the young kids excuse (although have fond memories of walking in the rain with Sonny Boy when he was little -- we liked looking for worms, too). We try to keep common areas company shape, but our private areas are off limits to guests. We have a very different standard in here!

For me, cleaning is something done when I have an upswing in energy. When that happens, I tend to go into a scrubbing frenzy! Too bad we haven't been able to train our cats to assist with home maintenance. Or even to clean their own litter boxes!

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

Ah, but you can get a self-cleaning litter box, can't you? No cats here, so I could say for sure. I swear I've seen an infomercial.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Hey-- we always had an old-fashioned cat that followed the old ways of its ancestors. Went outside, dug a little hole, buried the evidence. Never had a litter box cat-- but I'll bet the "self- cleaning" ones require human attenton.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

Hey, I don't have a cat; I don't know about litter boxes. The commericial tells me it self-cleaning and I think "cool". What can I say, the word around our house is "Wolf".

eyewearspy profile image

eyewearspy 7 years ago

That's the difficulty of having a big house unless you have so many children responsible enough to help you do the cleaning.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA Author

eyewearspy--I'm not sure I understand.

dawnella66 profile image

dawnella66 7 years ago from South Carolina

Great article!!! I enjoyed it. I have a clean home, however, it will never know a spotless day. I do know I like the time and energy to clean anything bigger than my 2134 sq. ft. home. Especially the older I get. thx!

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wordscribe41 7 years ago

Your hub is spot-on for me. My mom literally had (has) OCD about cleaning. I've seen how many useless hours she spent cleaning and I won't waste my life that way. I agree, take time to smell the flowers, look at worms and clouds. Those are the memories your children want to have, not memories of you with Tilex in hand.

multi talented profile image

multi talented 7 years ago

Great article. My mom also had OCD and was very irrational about cleaning ( she spent time in a mental health hospital for this) I always said when I grew up I would have a messy house but happy children! I still struggle to get to the balance right. Some times the mess really gets to me ( I have 6 kids so they make  LOT of mess!) and I hear myself getting grumpy and nagging my kids the way my mother nagged us. Sometimes I ignore it all and total chaos follows rapidly. One of my greatest daily challenges is to find that balance between happy kids with freedom to play and whom I have time for, and staving off a house of total chaos!

Proud Mom, love that sign - think I need one of those too!

ClemintineUndone profile image

ClemintineUndone 6 years ago

Some of this makes me feel a little bit better... the self cleaning litter boxes, I have heard, sometimes get stuck and fling poo a significant distance. Or they did. Maybe they are made better now? Don't know

Spindle profile image

Spindle 6 years ago from Surrey

Just come across this hub and I am with you! Great hub!!

Hil 6 years ago

My mom had a weird perfectionist attitude about cleaning as well--I think it has made me have negative associations toward cleaning, when if I had a more neutral feeling about it, I would prob. be more likely to clean more. I have found the Fly Lady to be a very nurturing encourager when it comes to embracing housekeeping in a non-perfectionist way.

sweetpea 5 years ago

Hi really loved this story. I wish that I could do that but my husband is a perfectionist and likes things clean all the time. I grew up in a house that was not always tidy but lived in and my parents house is still that way. I think it is great because you feel comfortable to be there and not scared to touch anything.

DTroth profile image

DTroth 5 years ago from My Little Hole In The Wall, HubPages, USA

Hi Lelah...

Boy, did you hit the nail on the head! It sounds like you have your priorities straight. Your kids will remember YOU being a great mom more than they'll remember having a messy house. Kids don't care about those things anyway...well, MOST kids don't. If they don't like it, they can help you clean it up! (:

My mom was exactly like yours and drove us all crazy with it. I was even that way for a long time, until now. Life is too short to worry about dust and dirt and other such trivial things. I'd rather be outside playin' with the critters anyway!

Keep up the good work, darlin'.


dawney profile image

dawney 5 years ago from California

Wow, 2 yrs later and people are still reading your hub, great job. I enjoed it. I can relate and applaude you for seeing the value of your time. Someone once said, "A clean house is a wasted life." I dont know who it was but I think there is something to that.

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Shirley 2 years ago

Nonhtig I could say would give you undue credit for this story.

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