Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Embace your messy self housewives: What you must and must not clean

I am a clean person stuck in a house full of extremely messy people. This is a major source of angst for me.  Why you may ask? Well, for starters, whenever I sit down to work I am surrounded by paper products. Cut out images of Ben 10, pieces of scotch tape stuck to the hardwood, and just today, a piece of gum wedged in the crack of the floor.

And the toys! There are toys EVERYWHERE. Handy Manny's head is somewhere in the corner (I swear I haven't tried to analyze my child for ripping his head off and casually tossing it) , Buzz Lightyear lies face down on his buttons on the couch, causing him to talk and move his head so that it looks like evil is sprouting from the throw pillows. Even the fish tank is not exempt from mess. I fished three toy cars out of it yesterday, although I'm sure the fish were delighted in suddenly acquiring a Hummer.

Amidst such a mess all the time, I can do one of two things.

A.) I can clean all day every day. Pro: My house would be clean. Con: I would spend all day cleaning, and I think cleaning is one of the most soul sucking actions you can perform on a daily basis. Its right up there with constant rain and shopping in Costco on a Saturday. It drains your spirit.

B.) I can clean selectively. Pro: Parts of my house would be clean. Con: I would need to turn a blind eye to the other parts. This requires me to wear ski googles as I walk throughout the house each day. Lucky for me, ski goggles are plentiful in my garage, but they scare the baby who has no idea who I am and frankly, they are itchy.

This leaves me with a conundrum. Obviously I am going to choose Plan B, because I'd rather have a half messy house than have my soul and my passion emptied down the sink along with the drain-o that may or may not dissolve the action figure that my son put down there. But in choosing Plan B, I have to decide what NOT to clean.This list could go on all day, and who has time for such things. Rather than focus on the NOT-cleanables, I will state what you absolutely must clean:
  1. Pets - Creatures that are alive and living in your home must be cleaned. If they need bathing, bathe them. If their litter box stinks to high heaven, clean it out. I never scoop the poop because I always leave it too long. Rather, I take everything in a plastic bag and I dump that crap straight into the garbage can. I also have fish, which I manage to neglect for at least a week longer than I should. Our poor Betta 'Ben 10' looks at me forlornly each morning as he dances for food, so he isn't as easy to ignore as the 40 gallon aquarium. When it gets stanky, I clean it.
  2. Your fridge - It is simple to ignore the fridge. After all, we stuff it with food that will cover up the shelves so we can't see how messy it is. Unfortunately, if you ignore your fridge for too long, the leftovers that you have shoved to the back will start to take on life. And as we've said here today, if it lives you must clean it. Imagine how disgusting it is to find that your toddler cracked an egg that somehow managed to get itself under the fruit crisper. You wrongly blamed the apples, until you discover that you had a colony of something living under the bin. It was a sad day in bacteria history when I wiped that one out.
  3. Your floor - I used to have carpet. When we first moved into the house and everything was brand spanking new, I would vacuum pretty lines into the rug every single day. The vacuum would be plugged up with new carpet fiber, which just made me more determined to keep it sparkling. Flash forward 5 years later, and after potty training two boys who decided that the rug was certainly safer than the actual potty, my carpet was toast. Out it came, to be replaced with pretty hardwood. And now I can't ignore the floor. I invested in a steam mop to make it easier, and I can say that this is the only part of cleaning that I enjoy. That steam mop just makes stains disappear. Its bliss, despite the fact that you can sometime see the tracks of mop around the toys that I leave on the floor.
The key to staying sane when you are a clean person living amongst the mess? Embrace it! Embrace your messy self! Don't beat yourself up (or the others around you) for their inability to keep your house as clean as you'd like it.You can use my mantra if you like:

Do what you can.

And I have a set of ski googles somewhere around here if you want to borrow them.


  1. I love your post! I cant help to feel this way too about cleaning and I dont want to spend my days cleaning, but I cant do other things if there is a mee around me. What has worked for me is the terrible way to assign days and tasks. At least the anxiety has reduced. Now have to worry about becoming a control freak, man!

  2. I love this post Shelly! I spend WAY too many hours in a day cleaning, and like you say only to have it get messy as soon as I turn my back. Like laundry, it never ends!