On Saturday I went to a movie with a new friend, who is expecting her first child. After the movie I dropped her off at her house and then invited myself in to see the progress on their nursery.
“Sure, come on in. Don’t mind the mess” she said. I laughed and reminder her I have a toddler. My expectations are low.
We went into her house, and the “mess” was two blankets left on the couch and a few pieces of mail scattered around. I would give anything to have my house “messy” like that. I am, generally, a pretty neat person. When I lived on my own, my apartments were usually tidy and I’d try to do a good cleaning every week or so. Friends warned me that it was harder to keep up with kids, and I understood that, but I also knew I had a husband who does his fair share, so I thought we’d do okay.
We’re not doing so okay.
I feel embarrassed to admit this, but I have a house that is so messy I’d be ashamed to have someone stop by unexpectedly. Between both of us working full-time and training for long races and taking care of the kid, the thing that we’ve let go of is cleaning. And it shows.
This is our current house (we rent). It is 115 years old and is cool in the way old houses can be: hardwood floors, wood trim throughout, great bones, etc. The house is, frankly, bigger than we need and there are a few rooms we never use (or clean). The house is owned by good friends of ours and we are glad to rent it, but sometimes I think it might need a bit more TLC than we can give it.
But, more than any problems inherent in the house, is the problem of time. We’re all out of the house by 7:30am on most days. Michael and Miles get home by 3:30pm and I’m home by 5pm on a good night. There is dinner to be made, one or both of us needs to work out, Miles needs a bath and then it is the bedtime routine and then, all of the sudden, it is 8pm and we are both tired and the dishes didn’t get done again. The weekends are no better. Between long training sessions, running errands and Michael working, I am never alone in the house and Miles’ 1.5 hour nap is barely enough time to start cleaning.
We seem to be able to manage to keep the living room/toy area in check (but dusting and vacuuming are another story), our bed gets made most mornings (thanks to Michael) and the kitchen floor around the high chair gets swept daily, but the rest of the kitchen, especially the dishes (no dishwasher of course) is an ongoing problem and nothing has been deep cleaned in a while.
I think what bugs me is that the mess feels stressful to me and makes me feel a bit out of control. I find myself daydreaming about ditching work for a day just to be alone in the house to clean. That is a sad ass day dream.
I believe that things we are doing when we aren’t cleaning are good and valuable and important. But, I hate the mess. I think it also makes me feel less stable. We are, in some ways, not that stable right now anyways (not sure how long we’ll live in this house, somewhat unsure how long we’ll live in this town, etc) and the house does not feel like ours, which I think the clutter reminds me of. I also have some bad mom guilt about my kiddo growing up in a messy house.
If anyone has any great tips for keeping an old house looking clean with a toddler under foot and next to no free time, please feel free to leave me a comment.