There is a constant, ever-present battle going on in my home. I know I'm not winning this battle, and I'm aware I never will. It often takes over my whole life, but sometimes I choose to ignore it. I occasionally have allies who try to help too, but for the most part I'm alone. It’s a losing battle, for sure, and one I probably won’t win until my son in college. The name of this epic war? Having a clean home. And if you have kids, you know there are multiple stages of cleaning when you’re a mom that make this war a soul-crushing, exhausting, pointless endeavor.
To be fair, I’ve never really been much of a "cleaner." I mean, I can do my best to tidy up a bit, sure, but that whole "deep cleaning" thing was never something I was expected to do, wanted to do, or found joy in doing. And when I did finally cave under the pressure and do some cleaning, it was just me and my headphones going to town on the dishes or changing bed sheets or dusting whatever was within arm's reach. I did what I had to, as a grown-ass adult, and I moved on, because who likes to clean, right?
I had no idea adding a child to the mix would also add so much additional chaos and stress to the already annoying task that is cleaning. I love my son, obviously, but he’s learning to be more organized himself, so it's not like he can help me mitigate the situation. Really, it’s not even his mess so much as his frequent interruptions whenever my partner and I attempt to clean that make it a near-impossible task. Coupled with the sheer exhaustion of simply being a parent and, well, cleaning has become a complex process. Here’s what I mean:
Decide That Today Is The Day To Clean
You’ve gathered all your weapons, er, cleaning products and tools, and you're ready to go to work. You’re determined to see the bottom of your sink, to clear all the surfaces of your home, and to make the windows so clean birds will try to fly through them. Today’s the day!
You Find A New Mess Where You’d Just Finished Cleaning
Maybe your partner came home with muddy shoes. Maybe your preschooler decided it was a good time to learn to pour milk... all over the floor. Or maybe the dog decided to make your throw pillow their afternoon snack. Either way, frustration is creeping in big time.
You Have To Stop Cleaning Altogether
You did your best, mom. You swept the floor but didn’t get to mop. You put a load of laundry in, but now it’s sitting in the hampers. You want to do more, but now it’s time for your daughter’s dental appointment, or you need to pick up checks from the bank, or you remember you promised your partner you’d accompany them to a work function. Either way, it’s time to stop.
You Come Across Your Child’s Artwork & Decide You Need To Put It Away Somewhere Special
Basically, you get side tracked and choose to work on this project instead. No one else is going to hang up their finger paintings, right? No one but you will be filing away their precious artwork. Dust bunnies be damned!
A Few More Days Pass Before You Start Cleaning Again
Once again, life interrupts. You’ve got to run to the store and pick up supplies for dinner. You’ve got a coffee date with your best friend who’s only in town for the weekend. You have to work on a report for your day job. Your dirty house will just have to stay dirty a few more days.
You Try To Get Your Family To Help
Your kids end up crumbling up their clothes rather than folding it Kon-Mari style. Or they accidentally spill the mop water onto the carpet. They’re trying, and it’s good for them to learn, but sometimes all you want is the ability to clean, all on your own, sans help or interruptions.
Buy Into The Expression "Bless This Mess"
Try as you might, your home will never be as clean as you’d like it to be. Of course, everyone has different standards of cleanliness, but over all you’re going to have to accept that there might always be some toys on your kitchen table, and there might always be a few socks lying on the bathroom floor. And that’s actually not the worst thing in the world, is it? Try again tomorrow, mama, but don’t forget to have a little fun, too.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.