Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Clutter and Chaos

When I went to Michigan on my little Mommy Vacation (yes, there are still more stories to tell there), I ended up suffering from a severe case of House Envy.

My friend Sara's house was just so.....perfect.  There were no crumbs or clutter on her kitchen counters and it was sparkling clean.  Her living room pillows were arranged in a purposeful manner, the kids' beds were made, the bathroom was spotless and fresh smelling, and even her scrapbook room was organized and tidy.

I couldn't help but think, "Man, this woman is some kind of superhero."  How else other than superpowers could she possibly keep up with two young kids at home and keep a huge house so spotless and organized??  I suddenly felt so inadequate, lazy, and sloppy.  

This morning I came to the horrifying realization that Sara and her family are coming to visit in about a week and I looked around at my surroundings, realizing that the impression I will be giving is pretty much the opposite of what I experienced as I walked through Sara's house.  I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple photos, just to drive home the shame.

Random pile of shoes and a tupperware container underneath the kitchen counter.

Couches stripped of their cushions to create a "pool."  After I took this photo, I brushed about half a pound of crumbs off the couches and chose to ignore the nastiness underneath the seat cushions.  I wasn't about to start vacuuming before I even had my coffee.

The laundry.  Always the laundry.  It never ends.  The overflowing baskets of laundry seem to be our favorite dining room accessory. 

Then I looked up and saw the state of my kitchen.  Cluttered, chaotic, covered in crumbs.  Suddenly I felt like a good cry and a long nap.

And don't even get me started on the piles of toys all over the place.  I find letter blocks, light sabers, and LEGOS in the most ridiculous places.

One side of my brain knows full well that Sara is not going to give a flying fart that my house isn't as immaculate as hers.  The same side of my brain knows that it stresses her out to have to work so hard day in and day out to keep her house at that level of orderliness, but it makes for a happier family.  This logical voice reminds me that Sara is coming to visit me and for her children to play with my children and that the chaos isn't going to bother them one bit.


The other side of my brain is tempted to call her immediately and tell her not to come.

Looking at my work schedule this week, I know there is no way I can possibly get my house whipped into shape enough that it will be anywhere near as nice as she's used to.  How can I open that front door and welcome her into such chaos?  Will she judge me?  Will her husband judge me?  Will they think less of me as a person, as a mom, as a wife, as a friend?  Will the clutter in my kitchen reveal the chaos in my heart and the struggles I have been feeling as I try to balance everything in my world?  What if they can see at a glance that I am overwhelmed?  What if it makes them feel unwelcome?  Will they run and never want to come back?  What if I lose a friend because I just wasn't able to work hard enough? 

Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels like this.

Oh, and if you're available to come help me deep clean my house from top to bottom, let me know.  You're probably likely to find me avoiding confronting the problem and enjoying a Skinnygirl cocktail instead. 


  1. True friends look at the inward appearance and not the outside. Maybe her house was a mess and she quickly picked up before you arrived. A true friend will not run from a messy house, she will remain and enjoy herself and you will to, your house is just a little more lived in and 3 active boys keep you on your toes. If I lived closer I'd be there to clean, but to far of a drive for a day.

    1. Totally. Sara has already told me to knock it the heck off and understand that I don't need to stress about this. It's just my own dumb insecurities.

  2. Oh, Sarah, I TOTALLY feel your pain! We went to a family reunion over the fourth of July, and spent four glorious days in someone else's house. Mind you, their puppy pooped on the living room floor multiple times and the air conditioner broke while we were there, but I didn't care because it wasn't my mess to deal with! As soon as we walked back in our own front door, the disgust came upon me like a ton of bricks. Anxiety. Chest pain. Shortness of breath. I kid you not. I went outside to cry, and that didn't help because the back porch was just as cluttered and dirty as the inside of the house! Deep breaths... In... Out... I was partly overwhelmed because I'm just so darn sick of our house looking like a pile of crap, and partly freaked out because I was hosting Bunco night at our house later that week (it's at my house only once a year). Anyway... I SOOOO feel your pain. So... what to do? Well, I would suggest adopting The Nester's motto of, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." She says imperfections make people feel welcome. If your house is too perfect, people have a harder time relaxing. So, it's OK if your house isn't spotless and some home repair projects are unfinished. Whew! Also... Since you need to crisis clean (even though your sweet friend will tell you not to, you know you will), I would suggest checking out the FlyLady's site. She has a to-do list just for crisis cleaning. A timer is a must, as is focusing on the most important priorities. I tend to go all psycho when I'm in crisis mode and start detailing the washing machine or something, but obviously, there are more pressing things to clean and organize when you're getting ready for company! Here's a link to her checklist:


    I think this plan is to do it all on a "cleaning day," but you could easily adapt it to 15 minute chunks of time whenever you can fit it in.

    I'm sure it will all come together, and you will have a wonderful visit with your friend! :)


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