If I got a penny for every time I picked up and put away something I didn’t get out, I’d have 1.5 million dollars. It’s true, I’ve done the math.
M.O.M. Job Description: Dealing with O.P.S. Daily
“Mom” is really just an acronym for my true title, Manager of Mess. An unreasonable amount of MY time has been spent dealing with Other People’s Stuff. It seems like I graduated from college just to spend the next twelve years picking up and putting away the clutter left lying about by someone else. Part of the problem is that we have too much stuff. But the real issue is that no one in my family cares as much as I do about the general cleanliness of our home.
My husband has recently evolved into Super Dad and does a great deal around the house, including 100 percent of the grocery shopping and cooking. But the man could get into bed and lie down next to a pile of dirty dishes and not think anything amiss. To be clear, we don’t keep dirty dishes in our bed. That would be weird. We put them in the bathtub where they belong.
As for the kids, I am diligently teaching them to pick up after themselves. However, as is typical with the majority of children, messes don’t even register with them. It’s like they’re programmed to create clutter and disperse it about the house. “A clean room you say? I can take care of that! Fetch me my scissors and a pad of paper!”
Meanwhile, I have to resist the urge to assume the fetal position several times a day as I discover the latest clutter deposits. A neat-freak from way back, my wildest fantasies all involve increased storage capacity for my home and a shopping spree at The Container Store.
The Only Happy Medium is a Cheerful Psychic
With two little kids and a full-time job, even though I have the desire for a clean and orderly environment, I lack the time and motivation to actually achieve that. As such, my approach to housekeeping now fluctuates between bare-minimum-filth-management and museum-quality-pristine. There is no middle ground wherein my home can simply be “good enough.” What generally happens is I’ll clean for a party or gathering scheduled to take place at my house and after the event has passed, I will work maniacally day and night to keep it clean. For two weeks. Then I stop cleaning all together until someone has a birthday or we have to put up the Christmas tree, which starts the cycle over again.
In my attempt to find a happy medium, I’ve noticed that I can either effectively manage clutter (i.e., put stuff away) or I can clean (i.e., scrub floors, dust, vacuum) but I can’t keep up with both. Generally speaking, I know exactly where everything is. Everything: the title to the car, our kid’s first finger painting, my Great Grandmother’s postcard collection. However, there is a three-inch layer of dust on all of it. If I were to focus on the deep cleaning, everything would smell fresh and be squeaky clean, but I wouldn’t be able to find anything and we’d be tripping over toys and baskets of laundry all day.
They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I say that’s stupid – why would you want to have cake if you couldn’t eat it? It would just add to the mess.