If you ever walk into my house, you won’t find a perfect picture.
You’ll walk into a scene filled with toys lying all over the living room floor, some spillage stains on the tiles, laundry baskets full of folded up clothes under the stairs, our homeschool activities lying all over the kitchen table and a mountain of dishes that never seem to stay clean.
I used to feel embarrassed if I had unexpected company, coming up with different excuses to hide the embarrassment and trying to explain why there was a constant mess. I thought it would be an easier job, being at home full time with the kids, keeping a clean house. Having a lot more time to concentrate on keep a clean house felt like a dream come true.
I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case. Not even close to it. My time mainly goes to the boys. Their daily lessons, in between feeding them (and sometimes remembering to feed myself) and then keeping them entertained.
I remember going to visit friends of ours with kids and being in awe. Their home was perfectly spotless. No toys lying around. No dirty floors. No dirty dishes. I first assumed that they had just prepared their home for guests, making sure all was in order. I even felt bad about my own house because having a clean home was a possibility as I had seen from example.
I tried it for a little while. Keeping a clean home every day, making sure things were running in order.
I gave up after a week and this is why:
I didn’t spend time with my boys anymore.
I was so focused on cleaning and keeping everything in order, I pushed the boys out from under my attention and focused it on everything else but them. I spent more time worrying keeping a clean floor than sitting down on that floor and playing with cars or building puzzles with my boys.
They watched more TV.
To be able to get through all the cleaning , I needed to get the boys out of my way and (responsibly) out of my sight. Which meant the TV came on more often which would keep Monster occupied but not really Gremlin. So every time he came looking for me, which would mean he would destroy whatever I had just clean, I would lose my cool.
I was more irritable.
When you have to wash the same floor three times over, or fold the same laundry load a couple of times, you’ll also feel more irritable. It felt like I was constantly angry, snapping at my boys. It was completely unfair towards them, because it was my fault. I didn’t grasp the idea of them wanting my attention; that’s why they were following me around. These accidents on their part happened because they wanted to play and I was taking it away from them. Which brings me to the next point.
My kids didn’t get to have fun.
Because I was trying to keep constant order, my kids weren’t allowed to open the toy box and unpack anything. Nothing was allowed to be lying around on the floor, or placed in the wrong place. Which brings me back to the point where they watched a lot of TV. It was like we were living in a loop, and no one was winning.
I was always tired.
I didn’t take any moments to rest and I didn’t eat much because I was worried about losing time. Following this kind of routine day in day out caused me to be extremely tired. Add to the equation that I wasn’t sleeping much because Gremlin was a really bad sleeper, it just packed onto the tiredness. Being constantly tired meant that I was constantly irritated with everything and everyone around me. I couldn’t keep going like this.
Is my house a mess now that I don’t clean every single day? No. It’s not like I completely gave up cleaning, I just gave up trying to do everything every day. I realised how much time I was giving tasks that could be done later instead of spending that time with my sons. And it just wasn’t worth it!