Don’t Look Too Close

Don't Look Too Close |

Ever have that kind friend over who comments on the cleanliness of your home? I try to be polite but sometimes it makes me burst out laughing before I can thank her.

Don’t look too close.

Being a mother of two little ones has required that I master doing ‘just enough’ cleaning. The house may appear to be clean, but I guarantee it took no more than 20 minutes to pick up and ‘clean’ before you came over.

Most likely, we ran the dishwasher last night, so we used paper plates for breakfast – I’m too lazy to put dishes away first thing in the morning. A few minutes before you arrived, we may have crammed the toys into the catch-all toy box.

Out of necessity (the potty-training-kind), I did quickly clean the toilet and surrounding floor this morning. But I would have done that whether you were coming over or not, because as I said, it’s necessity.

I do sweep the whole floor once a week, but most of the time I just touch up problem areas – around the kitchen island and by the front door. If you look for crumbs…you’ll find them. All over.

If your child is under the age of 2 and puts things in their mouth, I probably did vacuum the two rooms our kids will be playing in (although I have gone without vacuuming for quite some time when the vacuum belt breaks or the bag is full), but please know it wasn’t because I wanted you to see a clean house. No, it was to protect your sweet child from choking on the umpteen tiny clear Lego lights and who-knows-what-other-tiny-pieces all over my carpet. I am always amazed at the clatter of tiny things sucked up and tossed around the vacuum cleaner.

But don’t look too close…the illusion of clean isn’t necessarily clean.

The house is clean if you don’t pay attention to the crumbs accumulated under the overhang of our kitchen cabinets.

The house is clean if you don’t look upstairs where I surely did not vacuum…it looks like I vacuumed my stairs from the front door, but I only did the bottom 5 stairs and the landing  – the remaining stairs are still in a matted down, un-vacuumed state along with the entire second floor.

The house is clean if you don’t look into the laundry room at the mountain that is CLEAN laundry, begging to be folded and put away.

The house is clean if you don’t run your hand over any hard surfaces to check for dust.

The house is clean if you don’t open the hallway or mud room closets. Open and risk the impending avalanche.

The house looks clean when you arrive but won’t be like that again for the rest of the day week. The house usually looks like this.

The house is clean if you don’t look in the toy box. Nothing is sorted, matched or organized. ALL the toys on this floor fit in the toy box or cabinet in that room. If not, they are ejected to the basement (the kids want to play in the basement? Sure, but it’s a MESS. And not the ‘a few things are out, don’t mind our mess’ kind of mess…I mean a borderline-chaos kind of MESS).

My counters are clean and clear of mail and daily stuff, because the stuff was all shoved into my one three junk drawers in the kitchen or hidden under the now closed roll-top desk in the office.

The only reason this ‘clean illusion’ works is we are distracted by kids when you come over. When we didn’t have kids, it’s possible my house may have actually have been clean when you came over.

Back. When. I. Had. More. Time.

Seriously, what did we do with all that excess time?

The truth is, for the house to be truly CLEAN, I’d have to spend hours and hours that I do not have. I’d probably have to stay up late or get up at the crack of dawn to clean. Then as the kids got up, I’d have to chase them around, picking up after them, and probably scolding them to pick up. By the time you got here, I’d be one stressed out mama with a mop.

That kind of cleaning isn’t going to do us any favors. That kind of clean yields crabby kids and a frustrated mama.

The reality of playdates is this: our kids are going to track in sand, drop crumbs and play with toys. A house doesn’t need to be spotless for kids to have a good time or for their mamas to talk over a cup of coffee. As we talk, I’m sure we’ll agree our lives are much fuller now, even if they aren’t very clean

Plus…all this dirt must do something good for our immune systems, right?

No, I much prefer the 15-20 minute pickup so I can relax, enjoy your company and watch our kids giggle while making carefree messes and memories.

And to be clear, I am more than OK with you stopping by and seeing my house (and me) in a state of chaos and mess.  House is a mess? You’re still welcome here. Come on in and let’s be real with each other.

This life, this house, and this family are not perfect, and neither am I. No need to pretend among friends.

In fact, this house is often a mess. Don’t be alarmed. Sometimes, the mess is just here and evidence of a full life without much time to clean. We live here. But our relationship is too precious to cancel a coffee or playdate for a silly reason like my house being too embarrassingly dirty. Hopefully, you’re OK with that.

I’d much rather enjoy these messy years while kids are small than chase everyone around with cleaning products in an endless cleaning battle that cannot be won.

So my friends, if you comment on our home, please don’t be offended when I chuckle and say, ‘Don’t look too close’ – I’m not pretending my house isn’t clean – it really isn’t.

But thank you for saying it is.

Don't Look Too Close |



11 ThisGratefulMama Confessions

1. I covet one-on-one time with each child

In the morning, I run in to our daughter’s room, change her diaper and whisk her back to my room before she can make a ruckus. I cherish those morning snuggles.  Sometimes if our son is awake, I do it anyway. In the afternoon our son takes a ‘rest’ while our daughter sleeps. We sneak our time alone in the afternoon. These moments are sweet, restoring, and special.

2. I will do almost anything to hear our children laugh

A child’s laugh is like crack and I’m an addict. I will do anything to get just one more laugh – act silly, tickle them until they pee, you name it. I love the way their laughs make me laugh. Every. Single. Time.

3. Thunder isn’t fun anymore

I love loud thunder that startles and falling asleep to the sound of pouring rain. The problem is, there is little sleep in our house if there is any indication of thunder. Our son has struggled with fear of storms since we got 2-3 inch hail a couple of years ago (understandable – it sounded like the sky was falling).  I can not sleep on his twin waterproof mattress with him so he ends up on a make-shift bed on our floor.

4. Date nights are much different

Before kids, date night had a much different meaning…a special event, a nice dinner, and getting all dressed up. Now, a date is quality time spent with my husband, in ANY location, at ANY time. Dates require a little more creativity and either require a baby-sitter or scheduling around the kids. Many of our dates have changed from nighttime activities to coffee and lunch dates. Sometimes worshipping in church, holding hands while the kids are in Sunday School feels like our little Sunday morning ‘date’. Or, after kids are in bed, a candle-lit dinner, Netflix movie night or game of Scrabble. I’m just happy to have time with my hubby, no matter the circumstance.

5. Pinterest is seriously distracting

I. Cant. Stop. Seriously, follow me, you’ll see.

6. Changing diapers is easier than potty training

Diapers are gross. Our son is pretty much done potty training except for the occasional nighttime accident. I am NOT ready to start with our daughter although I think she could do it. I’m just not ready to return to tear-inducing potty reminders, waking up in the night to take a trip to the potty, or to have to pull over for an emergency bathroom break. SOME days I wish we could stay in diapers forever – accidents are even grosser than diapers.

7. I admire working moms

I worked outside the home when our son was a baby. Getting out the door on time and getting all the proper supplies to daycare with a child was NOT easy. Leaving a crying child in the arms of a caregiver and going to work wasn’t easy either. Working all day, running errands, picking up a child and trying to get dinner on the table so we didn’t starve was HARD! And the laundry…putting laundry in after work and remembering to move it to the dryer…is the reason we had a monster laundry pile to get through every weekend. If you are a working mom, YOU. ARE. AMAZING. You are a great mom and I salute you!

8. My house will never be as clean as I want

While I clean something different every day, I simply don’t have time to clean it all at once. This means the whole house is never really clean at the same time. Especially the floors. Our kids may eat off of them, but it’s not a good idea! Between the sandbox, crumbs, and tiny pieces of cut paper from our son’s crafts, our floors are dirty immediately after I mop, and potentially smeared with water, drool, or applesauce. The 10 second rule does not apply here – throw that away!

9. I still feel like I don’t have enough time

When working full-time, I was sure my morning time with the Lord, working out, and house cleaning would be easier when I could stay at home. Truth is, these kids keep me busy and I find the same time struggle as when I worked. Making these things priority takes effort and discipline I didn’t expect! I can get up early or my kids can play while I sit and pray, read or workout – I just have to be disciplined to do it!

10. I rely more on the Lord

Parenting is a humbling experience. It reveals my shortcomings in the mirrored responses and behavior of our children. I need grace, peace, patience, and wisdom more than I ever have. For them. For me. I am so grateful that the Lord is faithful to supply all we need. I rely on him daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) to supply what I lack and so desperately need in parenting and life. Without Him…this would be a true disaster. But WITH Him, I can do ALL things and trust that His mercies are new every morning, even when I fail.

11. This is the best job that ever was

Hands down, being a wife and mom is the best job I’ve ever had. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Even if in demand all day long, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These kids make my day, every day. I am grateful for my husband’s hard work and dedication to make it possible for me to be here. No matter what happens during the day, I’d rather be paid in giggles than any other currency the world has to offer.

11 ThisGratefulMama Confessions |