Monday, March 22, 2010

The Big Secret

If you've been reading along, you've read about my schedule, activities, philosophies, and some of the practicalities that make life happen. I bet Jessica never expected such a long answer! It isn't a perfect life- no one has such a thing. We are perfect in our imperfections. Keep that in mind as I share this Big Secret, ok? I asked the other day if anyone had a guesses as to what my Big Secret was... I got some VERY creative answers on my Facebook Fan Page! Caffeine, Insanity (can't disagree with either). I'm a robot and there is actually 10 of me (I wish!). I'm a time traveler (can't stop thinking of Dr Who now). There were 2 things that are true- just not Big Secrets. Linda said that I know it can't ALL be done so I prioritize and do my best. I agree- that goes under Philosophy and my understanding that I'm not perfect. Kari suggested that I "ask for help." I do know my limits and I do know when to say No and when to reach out. But none of those were exactly right... scbride came closest... my guess...you have a cleaning lady clean your house every two weeks? if not, that is my big secret, but it's not really a secret. i tell all working moms this tip. I don't have a cleaning lady or service. The main reason that I don't have a cleaning service is that I don't want to pay money out for it. We all have different priorities in regards to money and how we spend and what is important to spend on. Other people want to spend money a cleaning service? Fine by me! It just isn't in my own budget. But there is more to the story. I don't want a cleaning service coming into my house because... I'd be too embarassed. Because my Big Secret is... I don't clean my house. I don't mean it NEVER gets cleaned up. But I don't spend any time during the week mopping or vacuuming unless necessary. I don't spend Saturday scrubbing bathrooms and straightening up bedrooms. I don't do dishes every day. I don't dust or polish. I don't strip and change sheets every week. Our house is cluttery. Our bedroom is chaoticly messy. The kids' bedrooms are manageably messy. My basement is a lost cause. My garage is a lost cause. (Those are Jeff's areas, though). My house isn't filthy. We take out trash, we do laundry and wear clean clothes. We do dishes regularly (just not every single day) but usually have a dirty dish or pan in the sink when we go to bed. My ottoman is covered with clutter. The toys in the living room aren't organized or straightened up or in any sort of order. I don't make my kids clean up every mess they make- because I don't clean up every mess I make. Strangers or recently made friends couldn't just stop by without me being embarassed, in all honesty. Yes, I would like to live in a neat and tidy home. But I'm not willing to make it a priority at this time in our lives. I'm not willing to put in the time every week to maintain it. I do get things done in spurts from time to time. Just never all at once and always as a big project instead of a maintenance thing. So that's the Big Secret. My dirty, cluttered house. Eventually, toys will clear out. Eventually, the house will be more visitor friendly. But with a 5 year old, a 2 year old, a husband, a dog, and me... and working full time, and heading up a children's choir, and getting healthier, and training to run a 5K, and singing on Music Team, and spending time with my kids, and spending time with my husband, and spending time with my friends, and finding a few minutes to read a few pages of a book and sitting down to blog or connect with others online... Something has to give. And when it comes to priorities, house cleaning just isn't on the list. So it is something I can leave unattended to and it's ok. Yes, there are times it is overwhelming and too much- and that is when things get cleaned and time & energy are spent on getting things back under control. Yes, there are times that I would be embarassed to have someone pop over for a surprise visit. But you know what else? My kids aren't afraid to make messes. My kids get plenty of my time and attention. I can focus on getting healthy and strong. I get to spend quality time with my husband every day. And for the friends who know me and love me for all my faults- my home is a place you can show up in any state, any condition, with any needs... and you will be welcomed with open arms and offered food and drink and a place to stay if you need it. Just move the piles of clean clothes onto the rocking chair so you can get on the bed. Photobucket

16 comments:

mimbles said...

Right, that's it. We're clearly twins.

I took a photo of our garage on the weekend. Adam asked why I was doing it and I said that if there was ever an "after" I wanted to be able to show the "before" - we are trying to clean it out at the moment so that we can get the electrician to come and wire up the pottery kiln I got for Mothers Day last year *sigh* We'll get there eventually.

I've actually been considering getting a cleaner and I even have a great recommendation from a friend for one. But I simply can't do that yet - I'd have to get the tidying done first and it just never gets done the whole house over - if the living areas are clear then the bedrooms and study are a disaster.

And, yeah, it'd be nice if the house was pristine but, really there's other things I'd rather do first :-)

Amy said...

I hear ya. I am a SAHM, but just that. I did not choose to stay at home to clean house. I chose to stay at home to take care of our daughter. She is the priority. I may do the occassional load of laundry or dishes, but my job is her.

Mellodee said...

In other words, you are just like most of us! We just don't tell our Big Secret!! Trust me, you are NOT alone!

Lori D said...

I won't tell if you won't tell about my home likely looking just like yours! Talk about a mess! There's nothing decomposing or anything like that, just a huge mess.

Reminds me of Bugs Bunny saying in a cartoon: "If it's the Captain's Mess, let him clean it up?"

Sarah said...

Awesome Liz! Great post, great lesson....

Shell said...

You mean, I'm not the only one??? Thank goodness!

Flartus said...

Wow, what a revolutionary idea! Not the idea about not cleaning all the time--apparently we ALL do that. But the idea of not feeling guilty about it.

I admit, I learned at my mother's knee--my very traditional, stay-at-home mom, who, when she comes to visit, doesn't understand why I don't have the energy to work in the yard all Saturday, after cooking a full meal and doing the dishes, after coming home from a 50-hour work week.

We still have these standards from the 50s that have become unquestioned.

Momza said...

Liz, I so appreciate your honesty on this...I was wondering how you "do it all"...and there ya go!

I'm one of those wingnuts that has to have a clean kitchen to wake-up to every morning and a made bed to get into every night.
I also have seven children, so maybe that's why even a little disorder gets to be chaos if I let things go.
So you're right, we can't do it all, but thank goodness we have the options to choose what's important and worthwhile to us!
Gotta love that!

scbride said...

Love it! My home is still a mess, despite my cleaning lady's work, but it is clean underneith that laundry, toys, mail, etc. Way to go!!

C. Beth said...

I love this--it makes me feel so much better. :)

Kristen said...

Awesome post!! I'm right with you!!

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

Great post. I hate clutter though. I've had a housekeeper every other week. I miss that.

Your last sentence was awesome!

Karen said...

This is a good post. Because you're right. Time with your kids and your husband should be your biggest priority.

I had to let go of cleaning, too, because I'm just so busy all the time. But I don't feel comfortable with it. I really hate it. I just don't have time to do anything about it.

JESSICA said...

Thanks for the post/series Liz! I have really enjoyed it! I must admit, I finally broke down and hired a cleaning lady for my deep cleaning b/c I could never find the time or energy myself. The only thing that finally made me do it is I have become close with the woman who cleans our office and she does my house for nearly nothing just b/c she enjoys it, go figure!

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

Cleaning is the one thing I slack on too - much rather bake cookies or play.

You might not want to read my post tomorrow when I talk about my neatness ;-)

You are supposed to change sheets once a week? Huh. Good to know.

I bet you have found that most people slack on the cleaning. I was sure the big secret was something awful or that you had a sisterwife!

:-)

Amy said...

Yep. Cluttery here, too. I often joke that folks have to sign a waiver at the front door swearing they'll never tell anyone what my house looks like inside.