Sunday, August 8, 2010

Are My Standards Really THAT High?

This is not what I strive for...honest.

I've been told recently, by family and a variety of terms, that I need to lower my standards. My house can't be THAT bad. I have a child to take care of and I'm pregnant. A few dishes is no big deal. Laundry can wait to get folded. I need to put my feet up and paint my toenails. I need new expectations. I need to stop stressing over the "little things." Hopefully, some of you that have said these things (or even thought them) are reading this post. 

There's also the other side of the coin. I put up a "To Do" list on Facebook and, on a really really good day, knock some of it out...and I inspire people. Can I just tell you how much of an inspiration I'm NOT? We all have good days, but mine are very few and far between as of late. 
So, I decided to take a few photos of what my house looks like on a typical day. I hate doing this. However, maybe, just maybe, it will help everyone see things through MY eyes. 

*Deep Breath*
This is one view of my kitchen.  Yes, I wake up each and every morning to a sink with dishes and crap all over the counters. 

The cutting board is filthy. That pan? It still has soy paste residue in it from dinner TWO nights ago. The smell, however, is sickening to me so I have avoided touching it.

Another view of the sink. (Ignore the brown package. That's thawing for later)

Why not just clean up before bed? Well, after running around after a toddler all day, spending time in the kitchen during the day making breakfast and lunch, and then spending MORE time making dinner the last thing I feel like doing is spending even more time in the kitchen in the evening. Stefan gets home after his 11 hour day (I hate you, Flight Chief) and he doesn't want to do anything either. *Rolls Eyes* we make quite the pair.

The kitchen is one of THOSE places for me, too. I'm picky about kitchens and bathrooms. If I clean nothing else in a house it's those places. A bad kitchen or bathroom will cause me to turn down an apartment. So, when my kitchen looks like this (or worse) I will actually avoid entering it because my anxiety gets going. I've been known to sit on the floor of a kitchen and cry because the mess was overwhelming.  

 That is a FULL SIZED Pack-N-Play full of clean laundry. This is what happens when the laundry "can wait" or whatever. My husband hates to fold laundry to the point that he won't do it. I can't fold during the day because my son wrecks folded piles. The only time I have to fold laundry is late at night...and after a long day who wants to do more chores, really?

Normally, I'd fold some laundry and put it on the dining table...the same table you see above. The stuff on the floor? Probably 80% dirty laundry that has yet to find its way to the laundry room.

More open space with random crap on the floor. If I could show you the state of the carpet I totally would. However, in order to vacuum there needs to be room to do so...and obviously that's not possible.

My entryway. Yeah, so even coming home is a disaster area.

An overall shot of the whole sha-bang. Diapers, laundry, toys, chairs, etc...

This is the entrance to the bedroom on a mild day. Sometimes there's several days worth of clothing on the floor. I recently picked up the rest of the room so it's not as bad as it was. (Think: Living room in the bedroom)

The Master Bathroom. Towels, clothes, baby toys...this is on a good day.

The first person to say, "A place for everything and everything in its place" will get a virtual smack in the face. We don't have that kind of storage. Yes, we have draws and cabinets...however, they're all at child level and he's in the "pull everything on the floor" stage of his development. "Well, just babyproof" right? Yeah, we have 3 drawers that will not work with drawer catches and cabinet catches are expensive. Roughly $15 for 2 locks (because we can't install them so they have to be the strong sticky kind) We would be locking at least 8 cabinets/drawers. That's $120 on cabinet/drawer locks and 1 very unhappy baby. He likes to climb in and sit with me while I cook sometimes. It's like a little chair for him. He's also putting items in and out of different drawers which, apparently, is a great way to learn spatial reasoning. (What size items fit best in which drawer kind of thing)

I don't strive for Show Home status. I used to, and then he got mobile. Right now, I'll take livable...and this isn't it.


  1. I don't think you have too high standards really. Your house isn't that bad, but I would be uncomfortable living in it (please don't take offense, I just mean that I know how you feel, wanting things to be picked up and such). But you definitely need a better system of organization. Everyone constantly is telling me how clean my house is, and it's not because my house is necessarily clean, it's because my house is organized. I feel your pain with not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars on baby proofing, but for your own sanity I definitely think you need some kind of system. I would recommend one of these things:

    ~Make one room (like your master bedroom) off limits to baby. That way you can have stuff on shelves and just don't go in there with Franklin so things don't get pulled off and crazy too often (and if he does go in there once in awhile, at least you can pick up quick at night because "everything will have a place")

    ~Buy some cheap shelving units and install them high up so Franklin can't reach. I'm thinking the $10 shelf/bracket kits you buy at home depot. Put one in each room and have that be where you put certain items so they're out of reach and off the floor when they need to be.

    ~Buy one or two sets of cabinet locks, instead of 8, so at least you have a few places to stuff things so they're not all over the house. And remember, those cabinets don't have to be neat and tidy, just room that you can throw stuff so when you look around your house you don't feel overwhelmed by the clutter.

    I also have 3 laundry baskets throughout my house. I can't stand dirty laundry all over the floor. If there is laundry on the floor, I pick it up and put it in the closest hamper (which is never more than one room away). This has led to my husband being very conscious of where he puts his clothes, because he often throws his clean pjs on the floor and then can't find them later, because I've thrown them in a laundry basket! We've established one place in our bedroom where he can hang clean clothes that he doesn't want put away and I'll leave them alone. The only other places clothes are in the house is in a laundry basket, or in the dresser/closets. I do not remove clean laundry from the laundry basket until I'm ready to fold it. Remember, I have 3 laundry baskets, and sometimes all of them are full of clean laundry, but at least there's not piles of laundry all over the house that I don't know whether it's clean or dirty. That's my laundry system that works for me.

    I have some other suggestions, but I've gotta run. I'll post some pictures of our house and how I have things organized for you on facebook if that would help you. I know how stressful being pregnant and having a toddler and wanting a clean house can be.

  2. I feel your frustration Kas. I remember being pregnant with toddlers(the 3 oldest are all 2 years apart or less). You feel exausted ALL of the time and most days it would just be easier to make sure the toddler is fed and changed and not even look at the mayhem around the house. Also I have found that the more you have clutter...the more you don't notice it. When a room does get picked up you almost don't recognize it because you're so used to the clutter. I agree with Jennie on the organization..only because I am a self proclaimed unorganized(by nature) OCD...doesn't seem like it makes alot of sense but when you say you've been on the floor overwhelmed crying..been there. I have found HUGE wells of sanity in just finding organization. And it's a process. It's not always cheap(but you can cut corners in areas) so what I have done is start little by little. I make a list of what I need to organize(plastic totes,shelving to hold totes and things, filing boxes, hampers,baskets,hooks,etc.) Then I just get them one by one. A $5 tote here, a couple of filing boxes there..and eventually you see it comming together. BELIEVE me I know how it feels to know an easy way to fix some of the organization issues but not have the funding to go out and purchase $200(and that's probably a low estimate) worth of shelves and rubbermaid..FRUSTRATING and maddening. Another idea that I do with my husband that might work depending on your family and friends..but when I want something useful around the house but don't want to fork out the dough, I tell him to get it for me for Christmas or b-day or something. And I make sure that I tell them I am serious and it is something that I truely want instead of traditional presents. This may be a request you could only make to close family and friends but if it is a true need I don't see the harm in it. I will go back in my photos to see if I can find some pics of when my kiddos were young. I promise you, you are not alone in this dilema and there is hope!

  3. First of all, while I totally validate how overwhelming it is to have so many things out of place, there's no filth in your house. Underneath the cute wicker/gingham baskets is a clean carpet. While I certainly wouldn't relish seeing these things strewn about, and struggling to keep up with Frankie as New Baby grows, this is really a surface mess. I promise. I call this a Level One, which means the only thing between you and happiness is a walk through picking up and putting things away. Level Two involves scrub-a-dub-dubbing your way to gladness, but your kitchen looks clean under the Saran Wrap and assorted packages. It looks insurmountable, believe me I know. But it looks like you actually have enough space for everything if it was all put away. I'm guessing you're not the culprit, minus the laundry in the Pac 'n Play (genius I say!), so Frankie needs some deterrence. What about blocking drawers with larger furniture? It may be unsightly, but it's easily moved for company, and only until he learns he can't turn the house into Hurricane Katrina aftermath. I'm not afraid to tell little ones "No!" But I find that making their nefarious little plans impossible saves a lot more tears.

    I am STILL working on a schedule for Moxie. You're not the only one waiting. Sigh. One tip is: make the bed as soon as your feet touch the floor. Your bed looks simple, it's not some twisted mess of separate blankets and no rhyme or reason. Pull it together each morning, and right away you'll have *one* soothing visual. This generally leads to an innate desire to tidy up a surface or two. Suffice it to say, you need to lower your standards and somehow see your house as clean with relatively clean debris, and not an endless sea of maddening filth. As someone who cleans houses, I could zip through yours so quickly it would cost you $5.00, lol. This doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong I swear. I'm just trying to minimize the ferocity of the beast.

  4. What if, each time you stood up, whether to use the bathroom, make food, rotate some laundry, you picked two areas, or, like jackets/blankets/whatever out of the hallway. Then sit. Then next time you're up, just kick Frankie's toys into one general heap. If one or two piss you off more than the others, throw it away. Seriously, this is survival. No matter what anyone says, if you feel like there's Hanta Virus crawling throughout your house, there may as well be. This I know well. I tell people all the time not to say, "I have to clean my house," because most mamas would rather plunge a cleaver through their necks before tackling the entire house. So break it up. A little burst of energy? Do something you otherwise struggle with, like bending to hang things up. I'm not a big fan of daddies stipulating how they will or won't help, since it took no persuading to make these babies who scatter. But, you could drag the laundry out and fold it while watching a movie, or just grab a handful every time you pass by it and put the folded stuff on the made bed so it has to be put away before bed. Use a new red sock to turn Stefan's clothes pink, and tell him you have prenatal colourblindness, oops. Maybe he would help out. Sorry, dads not helping, and not understanding that mamas'jobs never end, that they're 24/7 for 18+ years, is a sore subject for me. I have a friend, sweet mama of four, whose dear hubby won't change a diaper. I've offered to kick his ass. Moving on...

    While I have asked for certain luxury cleaning items for birthdays, looking at your house, I really don't think you should have to forfeit the other more personal and enjoyable things you might get in order to stock your broom closet. I think you need to take smaller bites, do some rearranging, and if Frankie continues to dump one set of bins, put them away. Also, talking on the phone always gets my ass doing those dreaded thing, which for me, is like organizing under bathroom sinks and hanging earrings back up.

    Never underestimate the 20 minute challenge either!

    Do you have an afternoon tv show? Watch it with no guilt, just get up and do whatever you can during the commercials.

    It's possible. You can do it. You're overthinking. I have total faith in you. Smaller bites, deeper breaths.

    (Not proofread)

  5. Your house is messy (so is mine!), but I wouldn't call it squalor. Cleanliness and tidiness are separate things. Making that distinction in your mind might help. It sounds as though you can live with mess/clutter, but not dirtiness. And with everything you have going on right now, that's reasonable.

    Your apartment looks pretty much like half the houses of my homeschooling mom friends. It will get easier as your kids are older and can help you tidy up.

    My advice is to spend your energy on what bothers you and your husband the most, and realize that this is a busy season in your life in which a tidy home isn't much of a priority.

  6. I clicked over here from MDC and could not leave without leaving a comment. If your house is bad, mine is a sty. It looks lived-in, especially with a toddler and pregnant mama, exhausted dad...looks completely and totally normal for that stage of life. I don't have any suggestions, I feel like I'm drowning here trying to keep up with six people, but I wanted you to know that you are NOT ALONE.

    Deb (TwinMom on MDC)

  7. Hello! I agree on a few things said...first, your standards are not too high. You have to have what makes YOU comfortable! And your house looks messy to me, not dirty. This is a distinction I struggle with myself. Some areas in my house are dirty. I can often 'put a bandaid' on the house by picking up, but I'd still like more cleanliness than is allotted by my house mates, otherwise known as family...

    My personal plan is one room at a time. I pick up everywhere, vacuum, do the 'have to's' and then try organize/declutter one room at a time. You know what's most frustrating to me? I see progress in that one room, and start another and realize I will have to go back and redo part of the first room because someone has decided to store their crap in the area I just decluttered.

    You aren't alone. You aren't crazy. You don't seem to want a magazine cover house. You want lived in but not trip over stuff and fall house. I get it. And me too.

  8. i found your blog through weeks ago - i procrastinate but i'm getting it done!

    you are exactly where i was last year. a 2 year old with another one the way. the difference is my husband and i have a TINY apartment with (drum roll please) ONE closet. small bedroom, tiny bathroom a 'great room' which includes the kitchen living room/dining room and my husband workspace with is some what separate (did i mention he works from home?) it's basically a step up from an efficiency. I needed help and i knew i wasn't going to transform over night. i still have some bad habits but i'm getting closer and closer to my goal. i grew up in a house like yours - minimal organization. chores left for later (turning into never). it ends up being extremely stifling to a child's creativity. i'm only speaking from my own experience, but there were many MANY lost opportunities to learn and create because i couldn't find want i was looking for or what i had was now broken because it wasn't kept in a safe place OR there simply wasn't any clear surface to do anything on.
    i realized i was creating the same environment for my own children. i found a book recommended by Family life today called "the Messie Manual" you can get in on audio book for only $30. GET IT! the author is thorough and it truly helped me to understand myself and habits better.

    go on eBay search for cheap cabinet and drawer locks. this will be money WELL spent - no more excuses! he will continue to learn spatial reasoning. and you will begin to regain some sanity! i know I did!

  9. Thank you for the pictures. I love you. That's my house too. I have 4 six and under and...ya need I say more.

  10. I'm back again because it struck me (as I was looking at my kitchen) what I've been doing and how it's helping. It's not overnight, but it's working.

    I pray about it.

    Now hear me out. I'm serious. I don't know your faith (this is your only post I've read) but I'm glad I tried it. And I was really...well...shocked.

    I get on my knees in the morning and ask Him what He'd have me do. The first time I did this, and still, I only get 4 rooms to focus on. My friend suggested to ask for an amount of time. Here's what I got: 20 mins in the kitchen, 5 in the dining room, 5 in my bedroom and 5-15 min in the Living Room depending on the day. I was shocked. That's it? Should I do more? My friend also shared with me that when she did more than that chaos would enter her life. So I did this for one week. Oh my. The core of my house was so...lovely (don't read perfect)! It is so much more fun to clean a clean-ish kitchen than a dirty one. I dressed nicer, I was nicer, I smiled more.

    Then the next week I tried to add more. I thought surely He'd expect more of me now. Chaos entered. Honestly it was a good month until I remembered that gloriously peaceful week.

    So I'm starting again and I just feel so much better. After 20 minutes in the kitchen I finish up what I was doing (~1 minute) rinse my wash cloth and turn the light out. I'm done. I can even look at it peacefully knowing I'll be back to do more later, but I am DONE for right now.

    You know all those things on a to do list? Ask Him about those too. We have some things outside that need to be taken care of. They were not on my list for that week so I felt no guilt not working on them!

    Oh just writing about this is making me excited to apply this again daily. What a difference.

    Baby steps! (I'm saying that to you and me!!)

    He wants us to be peaceful and happy. He really does.



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