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Do you want a neat house or beautiful memories?

Like sleep, a clean house is something you'll probably not get for a looong time once you have kids. It's funny how our definition of what a clean house is depends on who we are and what stage of life we're in. For teenagers, it's not even a concern. For singles, it's not really that important to have a clean house as it is to have fun. Married couples without kids are the ones who come closest to having that fancy house you see in the home interiors catalogue. But when you're a parent, out goes that catalogue. Everything becomes about being practical and safe. It doesn't matter if your child's art project clashes with the wall colour, it has to be the centerpiece of the dining table. And so what if your bookshelf is full of Lego toys and Barbies? To those who 'tsk, tsk!' at seeing a messy house like this (usually from another demographic), I feel like retorting, "It's a house, not a hotel!"

I've always felt that a house should look 'lived in'. Okay, I'll confess: I only feel this way because I have a toddler at home. But I do like seeing those toys strewn around the house. When Little Dude is asleep, it reminds me of what he was doing during the day and it makes me smile. How he hid his ball behind the sofa. How he put his socks in a plastic container. How he hid my lip balm in the... (I still don't know where it is!).

If I was always preoccupied with neatness, I would be missing out on a lot of time I spend with my kid. I would be too busy cleaning up after him to appreciate his creativity or play with him. So, I think you can only have one: great memories or a clean house. Of course, your house should be neat and tidy but it doesn't have to be spic and span, does it? I love this poem that sums up my thoughts:

Song for a Fifth Child (by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton)

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
I don't know why this song is for a fifth child by the way (if you do, let me know!). But it's so true. Kids grow up so fast that it's not worth fretting about the wallpaper or sofa upholstery. I have lowered my standards of cleanliness at the moment and now the ground rule is: It's clean if you can make the house presentable in 10 minutes flat! If it takes longer than that, I've let things go too long!

This is my first post on Bloggy Moms! This post originally appeared here and has been one of the popular ones. If you like what I have to say, come and visit my blog, Sand In My Toes!

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Comment by TheSaneMom.com on February 22, 2013 at 12:51am

You can have both, if you hire someone to take care of the cleaning :-) Even if you do hire someone active kids will reflect a less than tidy house. Unless, you hire them to follow your kids around all the time.

I had a conversation with someone who was convinced they could keep a clean house and have kids. They don't currently have kids. I told them that they were in for a surprise. Unless, the only place they allow their future kid to play is outside or in a closet. Anyone that has a closet and kids knows that kids can wreck a closet lol

Comment by Alethea Etinoff on January 29, 2013 at 8:29pm
I want both!

Blessings~
Alethea


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