Growing up, I lived in a tidy house. My sisters and I were expected to clean up our own dishes, make our bed every morning, and not use the corner of our room as a trash can. The general consensus was if you live here, you clean up your own stuff.
I don't know if growing up this way is why I prefer to have my house in an orderly fashion most of the time, or if it's just my Type-A personality. Either way, I need to have a clean house, and my kids know this. I've tried to not make it such a big deal in my life, only to fail every single time. So does it make my life harder? Hell yes! Let me count the ways:
1. Kids are messy.
I know this, I just have a hard time letting it be what it is. I wish I could embrace the messy more, I really do. Kids have a lot of stuff, they eat constantly, and are professional mess makers—it's part of the job. I'm outnumbered, and it's hard to keep up, but I find myself running around like a machine anyway, even when I don't feel well or we're running late because the mess makes me physically uncomfortable. The stress that comes from this is totally self-induced and I realize how ridiculous it is, but I can't help myself.
Maybe my life would be easier if I just let them have their way with the house, and never asked them to pick up after themselves or asked for their help with household chores, but in the long run, it would be harder for me to be surrounded by chaos all the time. Kids don't see the point in cleaning up the Legos they have displayed all over the floor if they're just going to get into them again the next day.
3. I'm afraid I'm going to miss the mess one day.
When they're grown and gone, I'm afraid I'm going to miss seeing their toys strewn about, and I might even miss tripping over their shoes. But then I find dirty laundry under their bed, and get so frustrated, I feel like my head might pop off.
If I'm being honest, it's exhausting to expend so much energy even caring about it.
4. I would have more free time.
My expectations for what I consider clean are probably too high. I spend enough time cleaning to know it cuts into time I could be spending with my kids, reading, or getting some work done, but I just feel better when these things are checked off my list and can focus better. So what's a neat freak to do?
5. I'm just as embarrassed about my clean house as others are of their messy house.
I have mom friends that come over and say things like "Your house is so clean, my house is a wreck, how do you do it?" I always feel the need to explain myself to them because I never want them feeling bad or less-than just because I have a clean house. It's important to me, to a fault, and I'm so aware of it.
6. My kids feel I expect them to be perfect.
Which I certainly don't. I just don't think there is a problem with teaching them how to value things, even if they are material possessions. I also don't want to feel like I'm the maid, nor do I want to nag them all the time, but that ends up happening because they're kids and I haven't found the right balance yet.
7. If I try to let things go, I just end up rage cleaning.
I have really, really tried to be a more laid-back mom, and just let things happen as they will. I'm able to do it for a few days and feel all right about it, then one day I walk down the stairs, see a few candy wrappers floating by and blankets all over the floor, and I break out into a full blown rage-clean. This is not good for anyone within a one-mile radius.
8. It is exhausting.
Constantly cleaning, noticing all the dirt and clutter all the time, and feeling like if I don't do something about it nobody will, is so tiring. If I'm being honest, it's exhausting to expend so much energy even caring about it.
I want a clean house, but I don't want to do all the cleaning. I want my family to help out more, but a lot of the time, they simply don't see it. And when I find out I'm the only one who does it all the cleaning, I get mad and resentful.
10. I'm the only one that cares.
Being the only family member that cares if the house is clean can turn into a shit show really fast. My kids see me asking them to clean up a mess or requesting their help to tidy a room as a punishment, even though it isn't. It's just an expectation many moms have.
I know a lot of parents, especially moms, who live this same story every damn day. They want a clean house, yet they don't want to do all the cleaning—and they shouldn't. It also isn't easy to find the balance between letting your kids live a carefree, playful life, and feeling like you're a drill sergeant who's always on their back about cleaning up.
But for some of us, it's just the way it has to be.
Yes, being a neat freak mom is annoying and takes a lot of extra energy, but it works for me—monthly rage cleaning meltdowns and all.