Her Bad Mother

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good Housekeeping: Totally Slobtastic Slackermom Edition

If you were ever to visit my neighborhood, I would love for you to drop by. I'd be thrilled to see you, and I would totally invite you onto my verandah, and I would fix us up a nice pot of coffee and we would sit outside and eat cupcakes - fresh from the bakery down the street - and drink our coffee and chat. Or maybe it would be, like, late afternoon or evening and I would bust out the wine and the cheese and we would sit outside and enjoy the sunset and it would be lovely, really, just perfectly lovely. But I'd really hope that you wouldn't ask to use the bathroom. Because I'd really kind of rather you not come in my house.

It's not that I have anything against you, or that I have weird bathroom issues. It's just that, you know, if you'd just dropped by? And I hadn't had enough notice to do a total sweep of the house in advance of your visit? I just would totally not want you to come inside. Because, really, it usually looks something like this:

That's what it looks like, all the time. Worse even. That room at the back? That's supposed to be the dining room. Needless to say, we don't do a lot of dining there. We actually moved the table out so that there'd be more room for things like, say, easels and chalkboards and paints. Also, giant stuffed cows and little plastic grocery carts. The piano is there, just off to the right, and it does get played, but it also functions as a toy shelf and Dora puzzle storage unit.

Oh, we try to keep it tidy. Two or three times a day I shove toys and books and miscellaneous child crap into the various baskets that you see strewn about. Then I vacuum. And then the room looks clean for about fifteen minutes before Jasper and/or Emilia begin upturning baskets and flinging toys everywhere again.

And then it looks something like this:

And this isn't even the worst room. If I, in a fit of transparency, let you in the front door, I still wouldn't let you up the stairs. That's where I hide the real mess: the piles of laundry, the unpacked suitcases (seriously), the random pieces of barely used baby equipment, the children. The bathroom is also upstairs, which is why, if you mentioned a need to use the facilities, I might suddenly suggest that we head to the cafe around the corner. For cookies! They make the best cookies! Also, their restroom doesn't have childrens' toothpaste smeared across the vanity mirror, and they probably actually put the toilet paper on the roll.

It's a losing battle for me, keeping house. I just can't do it. I have a ten-month old baby who is just starting to walk and using his newfound mobility to seek out things to scatter and destroy, and a three-year old who loves nothing more than to mark her territory by spreading toys and books as far as she can see. And I have a husband who has trouble figuring out the relationship between socks and sock drawers and two cats who have an enthusiastic affection for dragging miscellaneous crap underneath sofas and leaving it there to collect dust. It is Sisyphean, I tell you, the work of managing a household while tending to two very small children and a tidiness-challenged husband. It is impossible, and unavoidable, and necessary, and it causes me no end of stress.

Derrida and Bukowski get tossed and stomped. Not shown: destruction of the lesser post-modernists and later dirty realists.

I can look at pictures, in magazines, of skinny mom-celebs - the Gwyneths, the Angelinas - and it doesn't bother me, because, please. I know the work of a trainer and a private chef when I see it. But I see images of tidy homes - homes that are ostensibly occupied by families, by people with children - and it makes me a little bit crazy. Because even though I know that images in magazines are set-decorated and fluffed and faked, it still worries me, the idea that somewhere out there, other parents are keeping their homes tidy. I do not, and cannot, keep my own home in a state that even approximates something that even resembles a simulation of 'tidy.' And I have no idea how to change that. If I really wanted to lose my muffin-top, I would join a gym or do that shred thing and I would have some reasonable expectation of having some success. But getting my house organized? And keeping it that way? Figuring out the alchemical formula for turning cat turds into gold seem seems a more attainable goal for me.

So I'm trying to come to terms with it, in the same way that I have been trying to come to terms with the muffin-top. Embrace my outer slob, as it were. And it would really, really help if somebody - anybody - out there would stand up and to admit to some slobbiness, too. You don't have to post photographic evidence (although if you wanted to do that, I'd be really impressed. And grateful.) (Here's a Flickr group to post to, if you're so inclined.) Even just a show of hands? Anyone else out there losing the battle of the mess? Anybody else pretty much just ready to surrender?

If not, that's fine. You're still welcome to come visit me. Just make sure that you pee before you get here.

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Blogger Mr Lady said...

Oh my god, my house. ALL THE TIME. I've actually posted pictures of it before.

I think it may be a health hazard to crawling children.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Amy B said...

Your house and my house could be best friends. And I don't even have kids yet! I am full of housekeeping fail.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in constant chaos. I don't know what's worse: the anxiety or the shame. Thanks for making me feel a little more normal.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Kae said...

Hey thats not bad. I don't have the guts to post a pic of my house..If only i could show you a pic of my sisters. She has even said the kids have claimed the downstairs. It takes 4 people to clean it to be able to see the floor. Its terrible..

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, you snuck into my house and took pics! Oh wait, that is way to clean to be my house. One would think that when most of the children became teenagers that some of the mess would stop. But it doesn't. It becomes worse.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Viv said...

Okay...picture this. Six months pregnant, five children, two dogs, two cats, one townhouse bursting at the seams. I am guilty, oh so guilty, of pretending I don't hear the bell if someone that I'm not expecting happens to just drop by. I fight the good fight all day long. I pick up toys, I toss in loads of laundry, I do dishes. It is all to no avail. Nine bodies (including the furry) mess making as fast as they can vs. one Mommy that has trouble bending over. The scales are not tipped in my favor.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

About 10 months ago, Jakey started pulling everything off shelves and out of drawers. He hasn't stopped. Add that to a dog that tracks in every leaf and twig known to the forest, a husband who hasn't picked up after himself since, um, 1985, and another 4 year old child.

I used to weep tears of desperation. Now I just drink a lot of red wine.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids are older. I was you. But I learned a lesson. While I love a tidy home with clear surfaces, my family does not care for such a thing.

So I have learnt to live with knowing that my house is CLEAN. While it is not tidy for anything longer than 5 minutes I know that it is clean.

That means something.

Oh and I have a cupboard. WAAAAAAAY up high, where I store my wine glasses. It is PERFECTION. All the glasses are lined up and sparkling. I go to that cupboard and soak up the tidy when the crap all over the place just gets all too much.

Do that. It helps. You are welcome.

(oh and right now, my house is a TIP. My husband has been doing the housework. Nuff said)

12:52 AM  
Blogger JCK said...

Oh, the shame. The shame...at my house of O'Dirty.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Gry said...

Hell yeah! It's the same, if not worse, at our house.

1:41 AM  
Blogger All Things BD said...

Good Lord, the mess. It's everywhere, and my kids are in school for 7 hours a day! What is my excuse? I think I just suck. Every few months, I purposefully invite people over so that I am force to actually vacuum. That's right. The dustbuster is the only thing to touch my carpet on a semiregular basis. So sad.

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Total chaos here. I'm always impressed when you can see more than a few inches of carpet at a time. Glad there are more real people out there who get this. In my house there are 3 kids doing the damage. Some days it is just painful to look at...but I'm usually too damn exhausted to do anything about it.

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have hygeine. Food safety-type hygeine. what we do not have, however, is any tidiness whatsoever. We have CLUTTER. A lot of clutter. Maddening, piled-up, can't find anything in my office clutter. Then there's the living room. Which has a train table for a coffee table. Toys and art stuff and children's books and baby clothes pile up there. And around there. And on the couch. And on the floor. too many toys. Very few played with. Can't seem to get rid of any. Had to hire a new p/t nanny. That's stressful. Know what's more stressful? Having her come over and see how we REALLY live, not just when I'd cleaned up prior to the interviews. Ugh.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I make a point of telling everyone to FREAKING RING ME before they drop in. At least that way I can hide most of the mess and vacuum the crud from underneath the piles of toys.

I posted a photo once. On a not to bad a day.


2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to add:

Admittedly that was over 12 months ago now and the kid has gotten taller AND we've added another baby to the mix.

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister once asked me what my decorating style was..you know, like contemporary, traditional, etc. I said Early Childhood. My kids are grown now with kids (well, kid) of their own. My house is neat and tidy. It echoes with silence. What I would give to have toys underfoot and chaos and the sound of kids laughing.
Relax. Nobody cares what your house looks like if your kids are happy.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Posted a picture of my clean dining room.

3:06 AM  
Blogger MrsVladdevlor said...

We used to joke about it and call our house a biohazard site but I think there's a point there... And the baby is crawling everywhere... We can't really keep up with her and she's not even walking yet! I would give anything for someone to come around once a day and clean it...

5:00 AM  
Blogger EliandMe said...

You know that mental list we all keep, 'what I would do if I won the lottery'? Well mine has one solitary item on it - a team of cleaners.

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a beautifully tidy house, an 18 month old son and I work three days a week too. Irritating superwoman? Nah - my house is beautifully tidy because of the combined efforts of my wonderful cleaner and my even more wonderful nanny. It's always possible to cheat in any aspect of your life with enough money to throw at the problem so next time you seee a tidy family house bear that in mind!

6:11 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Me too! I would rather be out playing with my 2 yr old than cleaning my house while he watches TV.
also, me too! on the muffin top but I can hot accept mine and its driving me crazy.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did read somewhere that it is important to let kids have their own mess, a space that is their own. I am sticking to that theory - the whole house is their space and by having it messy I am merely nurturing their souls. Of course I can't document the source of this knowledge - the book is likely to buried in toys somewhere.

6:52 AM  
Blogger MrsEmbers said...

I know your pain- almost. My husband is a fairly tidy person (except when it comes to the kitchen), but I can't keep on top of the mess from the 1-year old, the 3-year old and the 2 cats.

Then again, I COULD be cleaning instead of reading blogs, etc... Nah.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Teacher Mommy said...

Dear God. The chaos. The mess. It never ends and as much as I feel better when the place is clean, I cannot seem to get going on it ever or keep up if by some miracle some cleanliness is obtained! If I ever win the lottery with those tickets I don't buy, one of the first things I'll do is employ a maid service.

Because let me tell you, I'd be unemployed in a jiffy if I was an actual maid.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Lisa Moves said...

I have a three year old who must have 14 Thomas trains spread about whatever space he is currently occupying. I have a rock star 16 month old who can trash a room in seconds--he doesn't want to play with the toys, just dump them onto the floor. (Every single toy under a four foot high radius is now on the floor? My work here is done.) And you know if you drop clothes onto the floor or leave dishes on the table, they magically clean themselves and put themselves away. I do laundry every single day. I am puzzled as to how a man who dry cleans his entire wardrobe, a woman who spends most of her time in pajamas, and two small children can create 20+ loads of laundry per week. And I'm adding a new baby to this. Aaaiiieeee.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

My house is the exact same way. I just keep buying bigger baskets and bins to throw things in, but once an hour they all seems to explode like a geyser. It is a never ending, fruitless battle

7:53 AM  
Blogger RetroKali said...

Boring women have clean houses, right? That is what I have always heard. Looking at your house ( which closely resembles mine), it looks like you LIVE there, not stay there. You are LIVING. At least this is what I tell myself when I look around the smeared mirrors, curdled milk bottles, and toys toys toys. You aren't alone!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

Keep in mind, I live with Mr. Clean, so the messes are few and far between. In fact, I have to tell him to LET them make messes before he starts cleaning them up.

That being said, we've had our fair share of messes.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What did Ann Richards say? Something along the lines of, Do I want my gravestone to say She kept a clean house. NO. I used to clean and rage. I gave that up for being relaxed in the mess. Right now the dryer is going because I was out of underpants. And that's okay.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jaden Paige said...

OMG it's not just me?! YAY!!!!

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a little sign at the door that says "this home is not under construction Kids just live here!" Thank you for this post. Makes me feel a little bit better about my own messy home!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Thank you for posting this. I have three sons, an exhusband and a fiancee and well, I just had a complete tantrum yesterday because I have out of towners coming and I.just.wanted.a.clean.house.for.one.day and of course, it only lasted ten minutes.

Just as visual proof that I am a slob too, see a previous post: (what I didn't say in the video is that I ALWAYs have some project that keeps me from taking care of things the way I should):

8:32 AM  
Blogger The Tutugirl said...

I think you need to chalk up other people's clean houses to professionals as well. Growing up, my parents house was fairly tidy. Because we had a full time housekeeper/nanny. Every time we didn't have a housekeeper? The house looked 100 times worse than those pictures you posted.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Lesha said...

The only reason my house isn't overrun with dog-fur-bunnies is because I've paid someone to come clean it weekly for me. I hate cleaning and with a baby and then toddler I just never got around to the big stuff. I can put the toys away at the end of the day, but during the day, what's the point, they just come right back out. And it's not that my husband is tidily challenged, he likes things tidy and knows where things go. He just doesn't seem to want to DO it.

But now, I'm living with my parents while we transition to another state. I have my room and the rest of the house is tidy and clean because my mom is a machine. My room is piled high with boxes and laundry and diapers and everything that might fit into two or three rooms in a regular house is in my one little room.


8:36 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

My house looks just like that!! It's the remnants of a F5 9mo tornado. What's really sad is that my house is for sale and I'm supposed to be keeping it in tip top shape! HA! Instead I go into OMG mode and start yelling at everyone to stay out of my way while I try to clean it all up.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're all like that when the kids are small. Heh. I'm like that now to some extent - I moved three weeks ago and the suitcases of my clothes are still piled in my bedroom, rummaged through but not unpacked, and may never be unpacked now because to hang them up might require IRONING and I don't do a lot of that either.

Our toilet paper isn't on the roll either, but that's the cat's fault because he likes to unroll them.

But remember this:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'till tomorrow,
for babies grow up, much to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobweb-dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pay someone to come in every 2 weeks and make my house presentable. It has saved my sanity and probably my marriage. Besides, I have so many other things I'd rather be doing!

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am soooo here with you. I have three kids 5, 3, and 18 mos plus a husband that leaves random piles of crap and broken bits of computer around the house. We are ankle deep in toys and paper 99% of the time. We would be drowning in laundry too, but that pile is in the basement. (I call it Mount Washmore). I know my house is clean under the mess, but it is NEVER tidy.
Every two weeks I have professional cleaners come. For the five minutes after they leave my house is clean and tidy.

Full confession time: I have regular respite care because one of my kids has special needs. I am pretty sure one of the workers reported me to CFS because of my mess--a social worker showed up on my doorstep one day for a surprise inspection because they were told my kids were living in unhygenic conditions. I passed inspection, but as we were chatting, my baby was emptying cupboards in front of the worker. So there. So messy the Feds came.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

If I weren't at work, I'd take a picture and post it for you.
Our house is always a mess.
What my husband and I agree on is that no matter what we make sure that we clean up anything that could get moldy. So, we make sure the dishes are washed.
Toys/magazines/books/clothes, etc are not the end of the world. That's just stuff. As long as we aren't attracting mice I figure we're doing well.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Dorene said...

My house is usually a disaster. Toys EVERYWHERE. My youngest like to turn his toy bins upside down and dump everything in the middle of the room. He then uses the bins to boost himself up and empty shelves. I'm not sure why I bother folding clothes because they just end up in a pile on the floor.

I'd like to say the clutter is just the kids' fault but one look around and you will also see unread magazines, boxes that have not been opened, and other things that do not yet have a proper home. I would need a few kid free days (or weeks) to get the place in order.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Antrop√≥loga said...

Those pictures? Your house is not dirty, not scandalous, just the regular kind of kid-clutter everyone has. Wait till you have bulimic, long-haired cats, and humongous indoor/outdoor dogs with long fur. Do you have a smushed cherry tomato mating with your floor? Then you can say your house is dirty. Don't worry about it. Also, with my best friends I don't even feel the need to clean for them, at least if I'm tired or something. And your house is not dirty, I repeat.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Canadian Lawyerista said...

Clearly, you are not the only one. My kids are 3 and 5, so it is getting better. But, there is clutter all over the rest of our house, piles of stuff I have to "go through". We moved in July and I still have not unpacked.
I don't even pretend that I am interested in having a clean house. The cleaning lady comes on Fridays and piles the stuff and cleans around it so we have the appearance of a clean house until, say, Saturday morning.
When people come over, invited or not, I just say "please excuse the mess, but if we waited until the house was clean, no one would ever come over".
Oh yes, and we have been renovating and everything is covered in drywall dust.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I'll fess up. My house is clean but rarely organized or neat. I am organizationally challenged. I try, I go on fits of going through papers and organizing and then I have no idea where to put it all. It's maddening. BUT, my house HAS to be clean... that's where I draw the line. If that means I remove all the downstairs rugs so that I can more easily vacuum and mop the hardwood floor, so be it. Trust me when I say it's not exactly a decorator's dream.
But my dirty little secret to keeping up with it all? Hire someone. I need it for my sanity. This incredible, amazing woman comes once a week and does all the really dirty jobs that I never have time for any more because I'm too busy picking up toys, doing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning spills (among other things). She keeps me sane. Without her I don't know what I'd do.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Eva - true. But you haven't seen my kitchen.

9:20 AM  
Blogger RHW said...

You are not alone! Our house is an untidy disaster zone. We have a guest bedroom where you can't even see the floor and don't get me started on the basement (there's a path to the laundry room and that's about it).

We too have resorted to inviting people over from time to time so that we actually do *some* cleaning. Generally, though, we invite other parents (they at least have a sympathetic frame of reference)

9:21 AM  
Blogger Organize with Sandy said...

I think you house is more normal than you think. We have so much going on in our lives and so much stuff in the world that have to come into our homes everyday...it is a battle to keep them picked up.
Don't beat yourself up. Its a battle for most.

9:24 AM  
Blogger ginabad said...

You are DEFINITELY not alone! You should see my kitchen floor, no really, it is GROSS. My walls? This house is 2 years old but if you looked even UNDER all the pencil/pen/marker on my white walls, you'd see splashed applesauce, tomato sauce and something unrecognizable. Small spashes of it, just dots, but ewwww. And it's done in that paint you can't clean, and we dont have time/money to paint now.

As for the kitchen / dining nook floor, oy! I scrubbed it the other day, and I mean I HAD TO scrub, hands and knees. 24 hours later, right back where I started. You think, what's the point???

anyway, I'd come in. We can discuss strategies on how to get our kids cleaning their OWN messes...
take care,

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sweetie, you are SO not alone! It's only the OCD amongst us who keep things under control - I have a friend who is one, who came into my house once when I actually had it tidied up, and asked me if I was expecting company! (No, I actually DO clean for us, once in awhile!)

Even with kids older (one gone, even), it's nigh unto impossible - although I do claim sufferage for a full-time job that comes with a 3-hr-a-day commute - does that count? You'd think that would mean less messiness, not more - no one home to make the mess all day, right? You haven't met hubs... Sigh.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

I have no kids so I can't even blame them. My house gets cluttered with mail, and useless junk, shoes, and books. The dog scatters his toys all around, the cats deposit their hair all over the furniture. I work full time and am gone from the house from 7:30am until 6:30pm most days and the last thing I want to do is spend my weekend vacuuming and cleaning toilets and showers. I spent a decade doing this but last year I hired a housekeeper. Every 2 weeks she comes and cleans up my house, the bathrooms are clean, the furniture gets dusted, the kitchens given a good once over, the floors get mopped and I get my weekend back for me.

Best decision I ever made! :)

Oh and my sister - she has an 18 month old boy and a 5 year old boy. Her house resembles your photos because let's face it kids are enough work in themselves and cleaning up after their little tornados of terror is just not reasonable every day! :) I don't judge her for it at all - I love going to her house and plop down in the mess of toys and play with my nephews.

Don't sweat it! And if you can afford the occasional household helper I highly recommend it!

9:26 AM  
Blogger cutiepiescustomcreations said...

WOW! You made my day. THANK YOU. Seriously. I have 3 little kids & my house is in a state of perma-kid chaos/clutter. Doesnt help that my neatfreak mom lives down the street & visits often...& that anytime we visit someone elses house with kids, its neat and non cluttered & my husband asks why our house cannot look that way. The other day I had a moment of complete bliss when I realized that at some point they will all be in school (which I am dreading otherwise, letting go) but I realized my house would have fewer hours in the day with kids to pull things out!!

OH, & lastly, I leave you with this: I have two signs I have seen that I want for my house: Excuse the mess, We are busy making memories. AND trying to clean a house with kids is like trying to shovel snow during a snowstorm.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

This is my house on a GOOD day. I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't seem to make it all work at once.
My girls are healthy, happy and well fed. My house is a mess. It's a combination I can live with, though I'm not exactly thrilled with 100% of the time.

9:32 AM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

This makes sad. I'm sad because I hear so so so so many women - my friends, my friends who I talk to about periods and poops and vomit - my friends who I know are beautiful writers and funny gals and insightful and creative and even grumbly and sarcastic and real pills, and all who I'd love to spend an afternoon with - we don't any of us invite each other over because we think our particular brand of chaos will be too much, and that our friends won't want to be friends anymore or that they'll whisper or think badly....

And that's just not true.

Listen, I've sat in a home with a sheep in the corner and stacks of old Life magazines raised to the roofs and had one of the most lovely afternoons ever. I LIKE looking at other people's clutter. I don't care about toothpaste on the sink, for heaven's sake, I'm okay with using outhouses with raccoons in them.

I know that this doesn't help anyone's self consciousness over Their Mess. But honestly...I'm tired of pretending the way I was tired of trying to get my hair to feather perfectly in 8th grade.

So invite me in. I'll invite you in. Dammit.

Here. My tender white underbelly: http://www.halushki.com/2009/02/wordless-wednesday.html

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not alone, I have this poem framed and hanging in my home.

Excuse This House:

Some houses try to hide the fact
That childen shelter there,
Ours boasts of it quite openly,
The signs are every where!

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should appologize I guess
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the door bell doesn't shine
Their eyes will shine instead!

And when at times I'm freed to choose
The one job or the other,
I want to be a home maker
But first I'll be a mother.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

You have no idea how happy it makes me to read this post and all the comments that follow. My house looks pretty much like yours, minus a piano. It's a mess. 2 toddlers, a teenager, a totally oblivious husband, a dog and a cat and my house could be a federal disaster area. It's awful and it makes me crazy and makes me weep tears of frustration on a regular basis. I don't like living in such a mess but I don't know how to keep up with it either. I don't have the money to hire a cleaner, so it's all up to me. I hate it. I don't want to be Martha Stewart, I just want some semblance of tidiness, y'know? Just a smidgeon.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

Yeah, uh, I can't even invite you on my deck right now, as it is an un-sealed, toy splattered mess. But at least it matches the rest of the house!
I spent 5 hours cleaning the playroom the other day. FIVE HOURS.

This morning I got up, looked around at the kitchen and boys rooms and the volcano of laundry and went WTF HAPPENED???

So I feel ya. I posted pictures on twitter the other day of the playroom. It was frightening.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Shannon Orestis said...

The mere mention of someone coming over puts me in a panic... and yet.... it's not getting any cleaner at this rate... better log off and get on with the housework.. that NEVER ENDS!!!! It's quite the point of contention, but no one around here is willing to let go of any of their clutter, so it all just piles up and up and up and there is no end to the stress, shame and mayhem. (Not to mention the constant judgment from those who have no kids and look down their noses at those of us who can't manage to keep it all spick and span... Don't get me started!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

So, first I'll recommend flylady.net to you. Don't be fooled by the slightly weird appearance, or the over-the-top cheerfulness, the system is actually very good. And helps to deal with the day-to-day chaos, and toothpaste on the mirrors.

Second, nobody with children will mind things on the floor because we all have it.

Third, right now I'm trying to vacuum the house for the first time in three weeks. (Not much success as you can see, but I will do it some time today.)

Fourth, I'm sorry that I can't show you any before pictures of my son's room. We spent about two hours sorting, and throwing away last weekend. Afterwards you could feel the whole family breathe out in relief. Also, there's an actual floor in his room. Who would have thought!

I also remember the time when he started to walk and pulling everything out as the worst in this respect (and I only have one child). We were constantly moving things back, or putting them on top of all the furniture. Nice look.

Hand in there. You're not alone at all.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your house looks cleaner than mine. And for me, the kitchen is worse than the bathrooms.

Plus, there are toys EVERYWHERE. There is not ONE room in my house that doesn't contain toys. I would kill for a playroom where I could at least pretend all the toys would be put away.

I tell myself that if I could just stay home from work for a couple of days, sans kids, I could actually get caught up. But it never happens. I hate it.

Thank you for admitting that there are others out there like me.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you, but right now mine is worse. Last week my F**&^% MIL asked me for the Windex to wipe the kid handprints off the windows. NExt she suggested she come over for a day to play with the kids while I cleaned my house...or that I get a cleaning lady. Bitch! (Thanks for letting me rant. We all feel your pain!)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I've got a busy three year old, an autistic eight year old, an oblivious husband and a never ending battle with a desire to never throw anything away. My house is NEVER neat. I also have a mother who lives less than a mile away and it totally ocd about keeping neat. (She freaks out if a couch cushion is out of place.) It's led to lots of stress and some not so fun conversations. I should direct her to this post. She's pretty sure I'm the only mother with toys on her living room floor and school papers on her dining room table.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

My mother (god love her) kept the most tidy house I had ever seen when we were kids. I have no idea on this earth how she did it (maybe because she is obsessive compulsive). I know that if I ever have kids there is no way that I'm going to find the time to vacuum the whole house daily and clean up every single little mess.

Even though I grew up with Mrs. Clean for the life of me I don't know how she kept things that way!

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've taken pictures just like these. I've felt compelled to - like I need to punish myself for the OMG-this-is-awfulness of it all by creating documentary evidence. I've never had the courage to out myself by posting them, though. You're courageous, and you have lots of commiseration!

10:02 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Oh mine is at least that bad if not worse. And I only have one child. If you invited me over I would tell you how much I loved your house. And I would mean it.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean everybody's house doesn't look like that? Oh man. I pick up messes all day and the kids just keep making more. And the whole bookshelf thing, I'm starting to wonder if having books out is really worth it with my third hellion. Who cares if people know if we read or not. Which reminds me, I have people coming over tonight, CRAP.

10:05 AM  
Blogger TheOtherJennifer said...

Dust will always be there. The kids will not always be small. You have their whole teenage years to have a clean house and exercise.

I don't think anyone here would even care...and might put a book or two back on the shelf on the way to the bathroom.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I am having a really bad day of cranky kids and total chaos and it's nice to see that I'm not alone. I hate going to my friends' houses and seeing immaculate floors, clean counters, spotless rooms. It just doesn't happen here.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Rebs said...

Oh, I am there. Right now a friend is heading over to help me deal with the crap. I'm purging all kinds of stuff, but it's the getting it together and to its destination that gets to me. In an ideal world, I'd be able to have a six-hour window in which everyone could come get their stuff: The kid carrier/backpack destined for Peterborough. The hand-me-ons for the superstitious friend who doesn't want baby stuff in the house until baby is born in July. The piles of baby clothes destined for the consignment store and the clothing swaps. It all needs to go.

I would love a group effort...we team clean all the houses, one at a time.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Liz Miller said...

My hand is up like a total Hermione. My house is generally worse than what you've got there and I don't have a just-started walker or a cat.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to step over couch cushions, a prone child and her toy laptop, and a bunch of crap from the Barbie Diamond Castle just to get to my desk to read this post. After I comment, I'm going to go kick a few stray toys under the couch and toss the rest haphazardly onto the shelves at the other end of the living room, but then I'm closing the door to the kids' room and calling my day done.

My goal of having a tidy home is unattainable at this point unless I'm willing to spend 85% of my day cleaning up after two kids. My new goal is going to be to just try to keep things to the point where I can maybe have it presentable within 15 minutes if someone is coming over.


10:19 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

I laughed out loud when I got to the second picture, with the cat front and center.

My house goes in waves - mostly because my husband is a neat freak of epic proportion and will not countenance disorder. So when he's not home, all hell breaks loose. Then he comes home and puts everything away. Except in the child's bedroom, which is a minefield.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't remember the last time we kept toilet paper on the roll. I mean, we have it in rolls, but we never hang it up on the little toilet-paper-hanger-thingy, because someone inevitabley grabs an end and races through the house with it. We have to keep our rolls out of reach of shorter people. It seems kind of normal, now.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is pretty freaking normal for most of us I think. it got better for me once my kids were older, plus my husband is an anal clean freak at times so i have that on my side i guess. (when he gets bitchy about the clutter tho, i want to strangle him)

10:21 AM  
Blogger Everydaytreats said...

You vacuum every day? Wow. I'm impressed.

I used to have those pretty wicker baskets - and the boys would flip them over 20 times a day. Now I have those cheap sterilite boxes from Target (the ones with the tops and locks) and I let the kids open one each at a time. It's helped a lot. But I don't vacuum everyday, so you're not allowed to look under my couch.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Miguelina: I HAVE to vacuum every day. The baby has an extraordinary scouting talent and will put any stray piece of crap in his mouth so there needs to be a full floor sweep multiple times a day lest he find that one furball or elastic band or doll shoe and shove it in his mouth.

It's exhausting, I tell you. EXHAUSTING.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Amo said...

I JUST had this conversation with a friend on the phone while I scraped permanent marker off the dining room table! Yes, it is called permanent for a reason, but enough scrubbing will remove it...along with the finish, but whatever. Kids live here! If I wanted a nice house, I would run away from home.

Did you read my post about when the welcome wagon lady came to visit? I would post it here, but it feels too cheeky to do such a thing. It would certainly make you feel better about your 'mild clutter'. (If you want to read it, email me.) Seriously, I had a beer bottle in a candle holder on the front porch that I didn't know about.

10:38 AM  
Blogger louralann said...

I have absolutely no excuse. I have no kids, no husband (or boyfriend), a very very very clean almost analy so room mate and 2 cats. Yet for the life of me I can not clean my house.

My poor room mate cleans, almost every day. She does the dishes, the bathroom, she cleans the kitty litter.

The only room she does not clean is my bedroom. Subsequently for a while..I had a literal pathway to my bed. So on tuesday I went on a cleaning frenzy. I did 7..yes count them 7 people!! 7 loads of laundry!! (I had run out of undies AND socks...I was getting desperate). I also picked up my entire room, moved furniture around, cleaned all the crap OFF the dressers...and shoved them into, but at least it's out of sight..right?

I have no excuse....and I need a maid.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had to let it go I guess, it really bothers me too. I can't sit still, I just try and organize pile after pile. I have one less child, two additional cats and a 130 pound dog. In about 900 square feet ....

10:49 AM  
Blogger Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Oh thank you. I'll happily join in the slobtasticness of this club. I have an 18 month and a 4 year old and it's truly like shoveling snow in a snowstorm trying to keep things picked up. I do two clutter sweeps a day - once at naptime and once right before Hubs walks through the door (mostly just to clear a path from the front door to the back of the house).

Life is too short and too tenuous. I'd take a kid-cluttered house over the alternative (sudden silence in the absence of little hands and loud voices) any day.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

I posted pictures awhile back, and was surprised by the comments I got (both grateful/supportive, and a few mean).

10:56 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Yep, same problem. I'd just make everyone take their tea and cakes in the bathroom as it's the only room that's "done". I have done Ikea, got the storage solution boxes and my house is still horrific...c'est la vie!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Goldfish said...

Well, there's actually toothpaste smeared all over the roll of toilet paper, which is conveniently placed on the counter several feet away from the toilet. But! my kids occasionally peruse Bukowski, too. If it's at the top of the pile of books that rarely make it back onto the shelf.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I agree with what some of the other commentors said. It is CLEAN, just not TIDY. I don't know how it could be with small children.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would totally take pictures of my untidiness for you, but I've lost my camera in the mess - seriously. I think it's been missing since Christmas. I hope to find it when I move, cause it's brand new.

I fail too :)

11:13 AM  
Blogger Beth Noel said...

Me too, sister. And what's worse about my house is that we were one room into fixing it up when I got pregnant and just managed to get the baby room completed before his arrival. The rest of the house is in various states of 'unfinished' from splintery pine floors to wallpaperless, paintless walls. And then there is the couch we use just to put things on. And because our walls are bare and in serious need of spakle, there are always little pieces of wall on the floor and even if I sweep or vacuum every day, there is still grit and grime on the floor. And the cat hair everywhere and my hair everywhere.

I'm glad to know there are others in the world who wonder how the eff people do this. Cuz I ask myself how every. day.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

My house is clean ONCE per week. We do a top-to-bottom cleaning - with dusting, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing - on one weekend morning. The rest of the time, my house looks "lived in". Just like yours! We do a once/day toy sweep and general tidying once per day. But not every surface!

If I was chasing crumbs and scrubbing floors constantly, what would I be giving up? Do my kids want mom = cleaner? Does my husband need a maid? I think a clean house is the LAST thing I'll be thinking about on my death bed.

So I think about other stuff instead.

11:18 AM  
Blogger mek said...

Oh yes - this is also my house. Except with only one child. But the two cats, yes, and aren't they the real problem?!

What I've really been sitting here trying to figure out is which Norton Critical Edition Jasper has chosen. :)

11:22 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Our house is a total of 1695 square feet. A mansion, no! This becomes a clutter problem in itself. Our kitchen table is too big, therefore no room in the kitchen for anything. Our living room furniture is too big. Toys, clean clothes in piles, jumparoos and a dog bed cover everything.

Then there's the kids rooms... UGH. Don't get me started. I'd love to buy a larger house, unfortunately my house is worth only half of what we paid for it. My kids will be in college before I can move.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

mek: that would be Middlemarch ;)

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am extremely close to someone who has been in the New Orleans home of one of your aforementioned celebrities and it is a pig stye...so no worries, life gets messy, I on the other hand am being stalked by a rather large and angry looking dust bunny right now...

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My house is totally a disaster all the time. Your pics look tidy compared to the horror that is my house - you don't have the crushed cheerios and carpet stains we have, even though I vacuum every couple of days if not every day. I figure I've got time to clean it up when they're all in school together (of course, I'll be back at work, but then! I can get a cleaning lady! and nobody will be here messing it up 55.4762 seconds after I clean it up!). No worries.

11:52 AM  
Blogger JNo said...

Thank you thank you thank you to "Bad Mother" and everyone else. I was feeling like such a failure as a wife, mother, housekeeper, (keep adding other titles) because our house it a pit. I just cannot keep up and if I have to choose between "mommy come play/snuggle with me" or dishes, folding laundry, whatever, I chose kid. Thank you for helping me feel like I'm NORMAL!

12:00 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

HERE! Standing up in support.

If it's not the kids flinging crap everywhere (thank GOD not literally) it's the ancient old cat (who hates noisy children) who stress-craps.

In the middle of the upstairs hall.

In consistantly ONE place.

We call her the 'Indiscriminate Shitter' and it's my main fear that someday we'll have someone over (the house, clean-ish) and suddenly from upstairs will waft the scent of 'I may be old, but I still enjoy a good crap once in awhile'

Out on the deck? I would be honored.

12:01 PM  
Blogger MJMILLS said...

My house looks like that too! Im glad Im not alone! I was starting to think how lazy and gross I was,,,my house is clean, but a mess!!!! There's no way to work a fulltime job and cook, clean etc. Unless you have a nanny or something! YAY for messy houses and the fact that Im not the only one! YEEHAW

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I say it? I love you! How refreshing, how absolutely generous of you to let us in!
I had a friend say she was jealous of my ability to let things go so I can play with my kids. I'm not sure how to take that.
But anyway, since my blog is dedicated to making women realize they are not nearly as bad as they think they are, I'm totally posting pictures tomorrow. I will put you all to shame.
All your mess are belong to ME!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Jenny Grace said...

My house might be worse, because it's me, a toddler, and a one bedroom apartment, so there's a lot less space for the same amounts of CRAP ON THE FLOOR.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My house looks at least this bad and I pay someone to clean every other Monday! I stays clean for about 3 minutes after the kids or my husband gets home. I'm trying to make peace with it, but I have a couple of friends with a kid each who DO have that house in the magazine with everything in its place. And then I have another friend with THREE kids and that house. I am an inferior housekeeper.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About once a month or two I throw a screaming fit at my husband and two teenagers about the disgusting mess that is our home and they help me get it all clean. I spend the next week or so NEVER SITTING DOWN! So as to maintain the pretty clean. Nobody comes over, everyone is too busy to see us. At some point my husband says something along the lines of "Oh my God, please stop circling the room and SIT DOWN! So I do. And the house "throws up". As soon as the house is good and dirty, my parents (or his mom) will drop in.


12:36 PM  
Blogger K.Line said...

I can browse at 50 different gorgeous models without caring a whit that I don't look like that. But show me a gorgeous, tasteful, clean room and I am a bundle of inadequacy. Kids are like the death of tidy! Good expose...

12:38 PM  
Blogger Maria Melee said...

We have that same easel!

1:10 PM  
Blogger JPTG said...

the post is so "me." In fact if I could suggest a #11 to your previous list about suggestions for pre-kids, it would've been to keep a tidy house THEN, b/c surely it will not be accomplished after the kids.
My most stressful evening of the month is the night before we have our housecleaner arrive- trying to declutter (hide somewhere, anywhwere) so she actually can clean surfaces underneath. We clean for the housecleaner. Good post, HBM.

1:42 PM  
Blogger JPTG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Georgia Hardstark said...

I would suggest you hire a cleaning woman once in a while, but I did that last week and not only did she NOT clean my apartment, she left a kitchen knife in my cat's bed (seriously!!!). I think the best thing to do would be to resign yourself to a messy life for now, that way you don't have the added bonus of guilt. But you'd probably slap me for saying that after seeing my tiny, spotless, childless one bedroom apartment.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Cleo said...

I grew up in a spotlessly tidy home. It's doable.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

A-fucking-men. We've got guests coming over for dinner this evening-- a couple without children-- and I'm currently curled up in a fetal ball,weeping, at the thought of getting the mess in hand by 5pm. Sigh.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You aren't alone. We moved in here a month ago and I'm afraid the last few boxes have just become a part of the scenery since I have no idea where to put all the junk they contain. Maybe I should get off my ass and go take care of them. Blog reading is more fun.

2:05 PM  
Blogger chermonblie said...

Please! As I was reading this... the toddling tornado dumped a huge tub of toys....and is now piling them all in my lap saying "Thank You." :) Surely a tidy all the time house doesn't have nearly as much fun as we do! ;)

2:06 PM  
Blogger dogwooddiarist said...

Your house is so beautiful and TORONTONIAN! Makes me miss my years growing up there. Looks just like a house I used to visit off Queen St. West.

Now, at least you have places for things! That's a start. It was just recently that my friend introduced me to "decorative baskets." They're great and pretty dumping grounds.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Oh man. Our house is the same way, and we don't even have the toddler-stomping-on-Derrida problem (I'm rooting for the toddler, btw). I've staked out a couple areas of the house for which I have complete responsibility and any stuff left in it will be cleaned/moved/shredded/canned so I can clean the surfaces underneath. I cannot control the whole thing without a lot more help. It's a strategy ...

2:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

My home looks just like yours. Someday I'll get the balls to post pictures of mine but today is not that day.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

Well, I'm with you for sure. I'm desperate for playdates and social interaction, but completely embarrassed to have people come over to my house and see the state in which I live. And if I am mortified by it - what on earth would an outsider think??

I can't seem to reconcile myself to it either. And yet, when given the choice to read or clean, which do you think I choose? Every time.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Just for you and your bad self. A slacker post of my own.


With pictures.

Of my house JUST THIS AFTERNOON on a good day.

3:17 PM  
Blogger ANTM said...

Meh. What's a little mess when you have two of the cutest muffins I have ever seen??!!

I grew up in a spotless household. Quite literally...and I can tell you that what I remember the most was making sure not to dirty the clean floor with my shoes or being told the Play-Doh had to stay outside. "Perhaps your barbies could just stay in the closet today...I just cleaned your room."

Your kids? They'll remember the fun, the painting, the piano playing, and the book piling because it's all right there in front of them to enjoy! :)

3:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Blaming innocent babies for your mess is... well, accurate. But if you think it's bad now, you're not going to BELIEVE the teenage years. I actually kept a pretty neat house with my twins when they were small, but when they became teens, all bets were off. It is astounding to me to be living in the kind of filth I do, but honestly, like you I can't do much to change it. The main rooms are cleaned professionally on a weekly basis, but they are dirty and messy within hours after her departure. With two kids who can't throw away ANYTHING, who cook themeselves meals and leave everything all over the kitchen, who bring dishes upstairs that never come down again, and who drop their crap willy nilly all over the house, it's just not worth it to even TRY and fight the filth.

However, I am counting the days until college.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Ms. Huis Herself said...

I'm sorry - I don't have the time to read through all of the comments today, so somebody probably already mentioned it, but I've just started cleaning/tidying the Flylady.net way.

It's nice because it's all about doing small things and building habits and doing 15 minutes worth of decluttering/cleaning at a time. It makes it seem so much more manageable! Only been doing it a few months, but it has definitely helped a lot! I've not got a perfect house by any stretch of the imagination, but it really has helped.

That being said, I canNOT understand the way her website is laid out, and sometimes it all comes on a little much "chicken soup for the soul," but I'm much more likely and willing to do a little cleaning and tidying than I was before! (I'm a SAHM with a 4yo and a 22mo.) And I'm still spending quality time with my kids.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gave up a while ago. Luckily my husband is tidy by nature, and we have a cleaning lady who comes once a month, so we've avoided serious health infractions. I just can't justify cleaning one room while someone's destroying another. So I don't.

There's another great Flickr group, too, which you can find here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/inreallife/

4:02 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

Whew. This means I can totally have you over now! There are certain people that I would not let come inside my house because I know they are neat freaks. And even though I should be more confident it still makes me feel insecure, those weirdos.


4:13 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Throw in two dogs, pounds more pet hair, and an even more sloppy husband and you've got my house on any given day. I told friends a long time ago to NEVER under any circumstances to ever drop by.

4:17 PM  
Blogger becks said...

My house is the same as well. Once a week those baskets are organized into like items, the rest of the time I just throw the shit straight into the first emptyish basket within reach. As for vacuuming? Forget it... I have hardwood, I try to sweep every couple of days. It's BEYOND exhausting. I have a 2 yr old and a 3 yr old and man those two can tear the house apart.
I totally agree with the upstairs being worse.... my mirror gets smudged with baby fingers covered in mummy expensive face cream or various hair lotions and potions that are so attractively packaged to the wee ones.
ALSO - toilet paper goes on the roll??? It makes sense, I guess, but then that would eliminate the 2am hissing at my husband to get up and get me some toilet paper because someone (probably under the age of 4) has wandered off with the roll again and I'm sitting on the toilet in a compromising position...

4:36 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

My house is always a mess and I blame my husband who works from home and never cleans up the messes he makes or lets the kids make. If it weren't for him we'd still be messy, but I'm fairly certain we wouldn't be in danger of having to A.) obtain a zoo license, and B.) suffer the indignation of having it revolked for health and hygene related offenses.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Amy Ruth Webb said...

We never invite people over for the exact same reason. I feel guilty, but I hate cleaning so much, I just can't get the energy up to do it. I always say that I stepped out of my career to be Henry's mother, not a housewife.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

I lost this battle so long ago that I don't even know when it was that I lost it.

In my house just add: dog hair every where, little scraps of paper all over the floor, because my four year old loves to make "cornfetti" and hair brushes and hair bands in places that one would not expect to find such things. Like in the freezer. Or in the glass cupboard.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

Oh and sorry for the double comment, but...my mom once told me that a picked up house isn't possible when you have children in your house. She says that the first time her house was truly clean and picked-up and she noticed it, she sat down and cried.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! I am in good company. :D

I always say when someone is starting to get snide that I am a Stay-at-Home MOM, not a stay at home housekeeper! And I definitely choose reading over cleaning, any day. (Once in a while I get into a cleaning jag, and almost everything gets cleaned up, but that doesn't happen very often.)

5:01 PM  
Blogger Magic27 said...

In our place, it's got to the stage where I can't take photos of the girls inside any more because there isn't a single place (except perhaps the ceiling, but that's a bit tough logistically) I can put them that doesn't have mountains of crap behind them, to the sides or on the floor round them. Oh, except perhaps the bathroom. Not that it isn't a mess (it is) but one wall has no furniture on it, so I can photograph them with a white tiled background (but that makes it look like they're standing in a public toilet or something, so it's not ideal either).
I have uploaded three photos to prove my point on the Flickr account mentioned in your post - look if you dare!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Magic27 said...

Forgot to add that the photos on Flickr come from my other e-mail address (the "professional" one ha! ha! ha!), so my "screen name" isn't Magic27 but tomtrad1...

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My house is so messy, my three year old told me I had to clean up because it wasn't tidy. Damnit, the tidiest room in the house is his bedroom!

I FAIL at housekeeping. It's a good job I'm anti social really.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God! I thought I was the only one. I lose the cleaning battle several times a day. It'll get better one day but until then . . .

6:17 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Well, I gotta tell you I have to say thank you!

I am so glad that I am not the only one with a house dominated by toys, toys and more toys with a few odds and ends thrown in here and there. I fear drop ins for the same reasons as you!

But you, if you dropped by my house I'd let you in, 'cause you'd get it!

8:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, yes. My house is a mess all. the. time. My husband hates it, but seriously, what is the POINT? It just gets messed up again five minutes later! Why waste the energy?

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We gave up the fight on the dining room. We don't even call it that anymore - it's just the playroom. Most days I close the french doors and ignore the mess. I even broke my never-going-to-IKEA-again rule and bought some storage bins. They helped contain the clutter for about a week.

Beautiful kitty in that one photo!

8:27 PM  
Blogger Another Suburban Mom said...

Puh-leaze! There is only one way to clean your house.

Get a box of large black garbage bags

Toss everything that does not fit, or annoys you in there.

Never buy anything again.

Otherwise just wait for the people to become teens where they can have all their crap in their rooms and you can close the door.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Another Suburban Mom said...

Puh-leaze! There is only one way to clean your house.

Get a box of large black garbage bags

Toss everything that does not fit, or annoys you in there.

Never buy anything again.

Otherwise just wait for the people to become teens where they can have all their crap in their rooms and you can close the door.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

My house is similarly cluttered. I'm certain it drives my husband insane (he's the cleaner, he likes to get rid of things, he has no emotional attachments to things). But I am enjoying my kids instead of spending all my time cleaning. Although I haven't had any friends in my house since the baby was born in May.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Petit Elefant said...

You've read that Erma Bombeck quote, no? The one that goes something like this: Cleaning up after children is like shoveling the walks while it's still snowing"

A total waste of time.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yep, just like my house. I gave up on looking like a home from Good Housekeeping even before Cordy was born.

I'm more content with the chaos than Aaron is, though. He gets so frustrated with all of the clutter.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Banteringblonde said...

I embraced my outer slob and feel much better now! lol

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We moved out to the middle of no where to stop people just 'dropping by'... no one drops by any more.. to big a drive to risk us not being home. Thank goodness!
I posted a photo a while back.. it's only the tip of the iceberg.. I'm not game to post any more..


7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A house with kids that has no mess is a repressed house. Kids need to feel free to explore and mess about. It is like going into a house with no books....it gives me the creeps. That being said..it is nice to have one sacred room free of mess...even if it is the smallest room in the house.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*raises hand*

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is where I get to smugly think to myself how much better my house looks... and then remind myself that it's because we're trying to sell our house and we had a viewing yesterday and another one in (my God) two hours.

It's a blessing and a curse, because it's so refreshing and wonderful to have a clean house, but it sucks like, well, I guess a baby would be more accurate than the usual mutha, but I digress... it totally sucks to have to actually get it to this refreshing state of cleanliness.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: I may be a little insane where it comes to my own house, but as long as there isn't actual excrement on the walls, I don't pass judgment on my friends' houses.

11:30 AM  
Blogger sugaredharpy said...

Oh sister, YES. My house still struggles with the mess...and my kids are 13 and 14 now. It gets better, though, I promise. Toddlers are impossible to keep up with, feel comfy in that you're just being a good MOM instead of a good housekeeper. Mom is way more important.

12:05 PM  
Blogger linda said...

Haha. I drove by your street on Friday afternoon and actually thought about seeing if I could spot your house if I drove along... maybe you'd be outside with the children, or I'd spot a trike in the yard?

I have one child -- and she's older, five -- but I cannot keep on top of the housework. I think our house is in worse shape than it was when both my husband and I had full-time jobs. Now, I'm at home and am confounded how people can keep on top of groceries, meals prep, kitchen cleanup, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, bed-making, clutter-clearing, etc. I mean, are they doing it from the moment they awake? Do they continue to sweep, wash and declutter into the night?

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the love of gawd get off the computer and clean your house! Just kidding (sort of). My house looked like that until we converted a spare room into a playroom. ALL TOYS are kept in there. The rest of my house looks sorta normal now. (it's hard to keep up with the cat hair though.) We're also thinking about hiring a cleaning lady. I've recently gone back to work and I want to spend my weekends with my kids, not cleaning the house.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Heather at My Coupon Coop said...

Oh God you crack me up! I can so relate. I've got a baby and a toddler and quite literally I can follow the toddler around 2/47 and pick up after him and the place will still be a mess.

Lately I've been getting flashbacks of my friends' houses in the seventies when I was really little. They were always a mess, with stuff on the floor. As I got older, the memories change - the houses suddenly got much cleaner.

Do what you can, keep things as sanitary as possible (old cats are a disaster) and spend time with your kids. The one regret I hear so often from old ladies is that they wish they spent less time cleaning and more time with their kids.

I have a picture of cat vomit on my site! You are not alone!

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for making me feel normal! I have 4 kids--14, 13, 6 and 1, and my house looks just like yours, except we have gray carpet and a dog. No matter how much I try and keep up, the mess just takes over. I love you HBM for freeing me from my slob closet!

5:51 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Laughing out loud! I had to write out the words to really tell you how funny that was. The funiest part was I just wrote a blog the same thing..my toddlers pulling books off the bookcase! WHO CARES how clean the house is....my view is this....
the messier the house the happier the children; why? Because you are actually being a mom and not a maid....the house comes later...enjoy playing now!
KUDOS! Long live the messy toothpaste sink and mirrors.

2:24 PM  
Blogger the new girl said...

I just wrote a post about it last week. It puts me into like, DEE-SPARE.

I have total neat-freak friends, whose houses look like magazine photos. EVERY. DAY.

I don't know. You're brave to post the pictures and I appreciated seeing it. For me, I feel SHAME connected to it but that's ANOTHER STORY.

2:58 PM  
Blogger SM said...

I can't resist - even if I am the 150th commenter. Thank you! I feel so much better. I have 2 girls, 21 mos. apart (now 3 and 5). When I was still working part time, I told myself that was the reason I couldn't keep up. Now I barely work at all. When they were little, little guys, I told myself it would get better as they got older. At the end of the day, as I'm looking over my destroyed belly splayed in my favorite chair at the destroyed living room while my husband bitches about the sad state of affairs around here, I just can't figure out what happened. I can't really say why it's like this. We didn't do anything much all day. I vaguely recall making like 27 different meals as they disdained one healthy option after another, thus it took 27 meals for them to get 27 bites. I have an idea it was around 3.5 hours getting them down for nap as they traded off throwing fits. And that I cleaned up the same messes at least 5 times over the course of the day, ran the dishwasher at least once, possibly twice, and rehung the same articles of clothing too many times to count. Yet it looks as if I've been eating bon bons all day and I find myself feeling vaguely guilty as I really have no idea how this happened....

3:37 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

My sis bought her best friend a license plate frame that says "Dull women have immaculate homes."

3:41 PM  
Blogger Mama Bub said...

I don't understand homes that are neat all the time, I just don't get it. Nor do I have ANY idea how to attain such a home.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you! About a year ago I started posting "Full Disclosure Friday" posts with pictures of messes or stories of disasters just to balance out all the perfect-seeming blog posts out there. Here's a couple:
Pics and all!

BTW, we only have an upstairs bathroom too and I am exactly the same way. Though we have FOUR children and are dimwitted enough to keep them home and homeschool them, so the mess just multiplies like fruit flies.

I distrust tidy people. I find them oddly fascinating but completely foreign. :)

4:12 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

*raises hand* Right here!

I've given up too. I've pretty much accepted that my home will be in a constant state of toys-and-crumbs. I try to do a sweep once a day, but sometimes I don't bother, because like you said, 15 minutes later it looks like you didn't even do anything. So what's the point?

I've been meaning to write a post imploring other moms to LET THEIR HOUSES BE DIRTY. Not only for their sanity's sake but so I don't feel so bad when I come over, or when I ask them over.

And good gravy woman you get a lot of comments! How on earth do you find time to read them all??

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not alone. Really. And I am so glad there are moms like you who admit it. It is not defeat, it is REALITY. It is being FINE with how things are and not stressing over what is just a phase. Hugs to you!

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah, yes, thank you, once more. You -- and I -- clearly have many many compatriots. I do not mean to be a slob, I do not want to be a slob, but I have all the issues that you list here, and then some. Well, no cats. That I am aware of. I am happy to get the dishwasher loaded up and run at the end of the day. I will fold laundry, but getting it put away is another story. And the toys. Definitely challenging.

The girls are getting older, though, and we are all working on it. Except for my husband, who apparently has no clue what a clothes hamper is and what it is used for.

And I will not even mention the bathroom. DearDR was going on about all the stuff our house needed this weekend, and I snapped and said, "What we really need is a maid." And then we had a good laugh.


7:58 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Want me to share a really terrifying story? Sure you do!
When The Baby was six months old or so, we all came down with the flu - all five of us. My husband got home from work, sent me to bed, made the kids supper and then passed out on the couch. When I got up the next morning, the kids had trashed the living room and the dishes were unwashed and there was a policewoman at my front door, asking questions about a neighborhood incident.

She then phoned children's aid on me because OBVIOUSLY from the unwashed dishes in my kitchen and the toys on the floor of the living room, we were negligent parents.

Nothing came of it, but the whole thing terrified me more than anything else in my whole life. Now I get panic attacks when my dishwasher isn't loaded. Fun.

8:51 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

SOOOOO with you here... The chaos makes me nuts, yet I know it's a losing battle, especiaaly since we are without even one closet until we dfinish this latest (small) reno... Yeah, it's a fucking disaster. What can you do? With npotice of people coming, I throw it into high gear, ignore my baby, and give the place a once over but the rest of the time, I try to not let it drive me crazy and go with it.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

I think I love you, because you make me KNOW that I'm not alone. First of all, I do not clean. Secondly, I have two kids. Thirdly, I have a neat freak husband. I'm lucky I'm a good lay (oh, sorry, TMI :)

We repossessed our living room after our daughter turned 3. Before that, it was a circus (I'm not kidding, tent, a separate ball tent, three vehicles, a couple of train sets ....)

Off to see the gallery of shame and offer my contribution...

1:46 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

1.) You could totally let me into your bathroom, toothpaste and all, and I would not say a word.

2.) No matter how clean my house is-- even if I have just spent several days in a row cleaning and adjusting and decorating for a party, let's say-- I always think people will think it is dirty and hovelish. Because you see I spent nearly all of my childhood weekends living in an ACTUAL dirty hovel, not like your house, but an actual HOVEL, with bugs and mice and narrow winding paths through junk, with my compulsive hoarder father. Every time someone comes to my house I apologize for the mess. But you see, it is not my mess I am apologizing for. It's one my guests cannot see. However, this neurosis of mine does not apply to other people's houses. To me, your house quite looks homey. And safe.

3.) You need bookcases with doors on. Good, sturdy doors you can lock or tie shut. Trust me. Best $400 I ever spent. Saved my life.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those pictures brought me much comfort.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Candi said...

I absolutely love your blog. You make me smile. :)
Sincerely, the woman who has three loads of laundry piled on the couch...so if you want to visit me we'll have to...well let's just sit on the porch. ;)

2:06 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

My problem is that I am basically lazy and hate to clean. Also, I have a toddler, cat and two month old. Well, the newborn provides much of my excuse for non-cleanliness b/c he is attached to the boob most of the time and I cannot figure out how to nurse without sitting down (yes, I know how to use a sling, but still...). Heh, now that I think about it, this is also the same excuse I use for my expanding gut.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Betsy said...

Why can't I comment on you mom's blog? Asks for my profile than shuts me down. Anywho: here is my comment. Please forward:

This blog is a hoot. I'm going to show it to my mom and hope it brings out her inner irreverent granny blogger. Thanks, and keep writing.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try. I really do. My husband does very, very little to help unless explicitly asked. So, yes, my house is in a constant state of disarray despite my best efforts and the stress it causes me. It does help to know I'm not alone with this, so thanks for this post.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Krishna said...

I found your site a couple months ago. After reading a few posts I realized that our babies are the same age. I just went through your archived posts because I suspected that our little ones share the same birthday. And they do. My daughter is about 7 hours and 15 minutes Jasper's senior.

Just in case you didn't know, being born on the full moon in May is kind of auspicious. The May full moon is considered The Buddha's birthday. Congratulations for bringing in two such beautiful little souls.

11:09 PM  
Blogger LilliGirl said...

Hmmmm...My solution is to throw whatever isn't being pulled out away and then put all the stuff that get's playtime back in those spaces...Goodwill loves me!

7:12 PM  
Blogger A Writer said...

This is my house, seriously. I've learned to do the middle bits that everyone looks at when they come in and then do the edges when bits start to fall off from being too overcrowded.

It drives the Hubby crackers but keeps me sane!

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tarasview said...

I just found this post...and I am SO with you. My sons are 5 & 6 and my daughter is 2... my house hasn't been consistently tidy since before I got married... because my husband? Is worse than my 2 year old. Seriously.

And we moved the first of this month... and still I have unpacked boxes. I am considering leaving them packed. Easier that way. :)

12:45 PM  
Blogger litanyofbritt said...

for what its worth, we bought our first home in september. all of our non-local relatives and friends continuosly demand pictures. but my house has literally never been clean long enough to photograph. except before we moved in when it was empty. 2 little kids+ open floor plan+ blogs to read= embarrassingly slobbish house. honestly if the crumbs on the floor can't be identified as the original food source, i'm patting myself on the back.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I am so relieved to see I am not alone. And perhaps I'm a bit over-tired but I am also crying with laughter at the photos, especially this one.

As I stepped over toys this evening, leaving them were they lay with the thought "heck, it's late, and they'll have them all out again in the morning", I wondered whether I should be feeling more guilty. Thank you for easing my conscience.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I can't tell you how relieved I am to read this. I go into other mother's houses, and they are spotless. Mine is always a disaster - toys strewn from one end to the next, cushions on the couch askew, crumbs on the kitchen floor (I do sweep once a day - usually at night. Why bother to do it more than that when it's just going to be more crumbs after the next meal?)

I also find housekeeping exhausting and thankless and I'm just SO GLAD to see I'm not alone.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

If you mow your lawn and then turn your back for a second and its magically re-grown, plus some huge weeds and maybe your lawn mower caught fire? That is cleaning the house with small children in it. DOES.NOT.COMPUTE!!!

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh thank god. there is exactly ONE mom-and-kid pair i feel comfortable enough with to invite them over to our disaster (and even then, i have to crazy-woman-clean first). it's just too d*mn much to deal with the house on top of the kiddos, cats, dog, job, and husband. i feel so much better after reading your article and the accompanying comments!!

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

I live in a distorted version of Stepford where I am a complete aberration...and sometimes I forget there are people like me.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa Renata said...

hahaha. even I that was once considered (by many) a clean freak, can't seem to keep a clean house with two little ones running about.

so please, don't worry about those picture perfect living rooms

12:54 AM  
Blogger Kokorozashi said...

I know I'm a little behind the 8-ball, here, since this entry is from March and all ... but if it's any consolation, I don't even *have* kids, and my house looks like that too.

Right down to the cat sitting in the middle of the floor with that admonishing look that says, "I thought I raised you better than this." (My cat thinks he's my Dad.)

Your blog is made from awesome. Rock on!

6:18 PM  

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