To The Mom With A Messy House


There is currently yogurt dried on my wood floors that I’ve been meaning to clean up for three days now.  My kitchen table is the picture perfect definition of sticky.  There are little fingerprints on each and every window. And don’t even get me started on the laundry situation. Yikes.  Up until recently, I used to think I was really missing the mark.  After all, I’m a “homemaker” by trade; I think it’s safe to say that includes keeping the house clean. But instead, everything is a mess – my hair, the bed, my kids: one big wild mess.


A couple of months ago, my dad sent me an email with a FaceBook post that went viral.  It was written by a woman who went to visit her aunt and was envious of her perfect vacuum lines.    Here’s an excerpt:


“As we strolled into the dining room, I remember thinking to myself, “oh my gosh! Her vacuum lines are still in her carpet probably a week or more after she vacuumed!! What I wouldn’t give to clean my house and have it stay magazine perfect for more than 5 minutes!!” I couldn’t wait for the day that I would be able to do that and not have it messed up by sticky little finger prints on the perfectly waxed dining table, or Legos hiding under the table, or walking in to discover Ryan’s latest art creation had so carefully been designed on the wall with crayons.


Here’s what I didn’t know at that time: that to have all of this picture perfect cleanliness, the kids would have to be gone. You see, I wanted those things because the everyday struggles of 5 loads of laundry, toys everywhere, mouths to feed, meals to prepare, beds to make were overwhelming to me, and the beauty of a pristine home was something only dreams were made of. Hell it took me 20 minutes in each room just to find the floor before I could vacuum it.

Then one day I woke up, went to clean my house, carefully placed vacuum lines in my carpet, looked at my beautiful dinning table with a perfect wax coating and zero finger prints and realized it would stay that way for days…..and that’s when I realized that vacuum lines are lonely.”


My first reaction to the email was “ My house is SO MESSY, that my father is sending me articles about messy houses.  Mental note: do a deep clean before my parent’s next visit.”

But then it hit me.  The point wasn’t that I needed to clean my messy house, it was that their house was clean. My youngest brother left for college last fall and they officially became empty nesters.  They have vacuum lines.  My dad wasn’t telling me to be a better housekeeper, he was giving me the grace to cherish this season.  Because that’s what it is, a season; and seasons come and go.


It dawned on me, maybe I had it backwards .  Maybe I wasn’t failing at all.  My days spent playing, exploring, and creating with my kids aren’t wasted days, even if the day ends with a sink full of dishes.  After all, the shaping of little hearts is really the most important thing.

That being said, I can only run to Target so many times to buy more underwear before I actually have to do some laundry.  And the dishes can’t wait forever because then you will get ants and nobody wants ants.  So today I opted for a stay-home day so that we could have some clean clothes to take on vacation and so we didn’t have to spend extra money on an exterminator.



But just because we stay home doesn’t mean it has to be a boring day.  You can make adventures right where you are at with the time you have.  Today we had the simplest of adventures.  It was the kids and I and a bucket of sidewalk chalk.  Creative imaginative play at its best.  It was unscripted and unplanned and full of giggles and sunshine. There are some really fun and easy things to do with chalk.   We drew an obstacle course and a city road for my transportation loving baby.  My oldest and I got creative with some our story telling.



Before I had kids I would go over to people’s houses that had kids and each time after I left I would say “When I have kids, I’m going to keep my house in a way where you won’t know I have kids until you see our family pictures.”  Yeah, no.  As soon as you walk into my house you will see toys exploding from every corner, two high chairs around my kitchen table, and you are bound to touch something sticky as you venture in.  I’ve discovered this thing called balance.  Well, let me rephrase, I’m discovering this thing called balance.  It’s a work in progress.  Some days we get lost in the woods all day and the dishes don’t get done.  Some days we stay home and the dishes get done. BOTH kinds of days are time well spent.


In this season of life, the housekeeping has taken a back seat to living life with littles and I think that is ok.  As the littles grow to bigs I anticipate that struggle between the two will ease.

I love these words by Jen Hatmaker, “You will never have this day again with your children.  Tomorrow they will be a little bit older than today.  This day is a gift. Breathe and notice.  Study their little feet and faces.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today mama, it will be over before you know it.”


So to the mom with the messy house, you are right where you need to be.  Vacuum lines are overrated.



23 thoughts on “To The Mom With A Messy House

  1. Thank you for this encouragement! I am so type A and OCD about a clean home that I find myself getting frustrated with the kids over silly things. I’m ashamed to admit that… But here’s to the rest of the week just playing with my three littles. After all, preschool starts up in just 3 weeks and I’ll lose two of them twice a week! Thanks again Holly!


  2. Oh my goodness! It’s so true. It’s all so true. The days are long but the years are short, so enjoy them while you have a chance. I’ve decided that I’ll worry about carpet lines and dusty tables when my baby leaves for college in 4 more years. {{sniff}}


  3. Spot on! I sure feel like my house is never clean enough and there is no way to catch up on that housework that everyone hates so much but when I stop and think about it, I don’t care. My kids are what is important. They don’t care about the messiness of their home. They prefer I get in the floor and make a mess with them instead of passing by them while I sweep or head to the laundry room or clean the bathroom. I’ve been saying that I will get a sign to put at my front door for visitors: “This house is messy. If you don’t like it, clean it or go home.”
    Love the chalk adventure photos too. Adorable!


  4. Terrific article. Such a great message that can be so easily forgotten on those busy days! My 10 year old son looked over my shoulder as I read and he said he loved the pictures!!


  5. I know exactly how you feel lol. Before kids I wanted my house to be clean and I was always cleaning. Growing up our house was always spotless and I never realized how much work my mom had to do constantly to keep it that way until now. I still feel like I’ll never be as good as my mom. She is still raising my half sister and even after keeping my kids for a whole week I go pick them up and her house is still spotless. All she ever really does is clean and work on it though. She doesn’t ever just sit and watch tv or some other hobby. She is always up doing something. I finally had to decide for myself that I don’t want to spend my life cleaning. I would rather enjoy the time I had with my family and growing my business. So if you come to my house you won’t see the floor and you will trip in every room on the piles of toys the kids have spread everywhere. My laundry baskets are always full and there will always be dirty dishes in the sink. I still get embarrassed by it and frantically clean whenever we are going to have company but that’s just something I don’t think will ever change lol. It’s ingrained.


  6. This is great (and I love the photos!). It is definitely something to remember when you have children at home. Life with kids at home is oh, so short, I can have a clean house later, the only judgment I have to worry about is myself.


  7. SO true!!! I go back and forth on this all the time (wanting a clean house and being embarrassed when it is completely trashed). Finally I bought a cute sign and hung it on the wall that says “please excuse the mess. my children are making memories.” Somehow when I look at that, it gives me the reminder that it is okay and to just enjoy the day.


  8. Thank you for this! It is just what I needed to hear. I love my kiddos to death but there are days I wish my house and time would be used just the way I want them to be. And then I remember that in order for that to happen, the kids would have to be gone. And then I just want to bawl, haha. Thanks for the reminder that the things that make our lives worth living aren’t clean homes and perfect calendars. It’s people, especially our children.
    P.S. Love your chalk artwork! I may need to borrow that idea! My kids would love it!


  9. This is SO true!!! It’s also hard sometimes to break out of that way of thinking. Some days I think “Oh my god, this house is a disaster! I need to clean NOW!!!” Then my daughter will ask me to go outside and watch her do something, and I’ll say, “I can’t, I’m cleaning right now.” Then I see the look on her sweet little face and think, NOPE! She is more important than this messy room. I don’t care what anyone says!!! Posts like this are good reminders to keep the right priorities in check!! Those rooms will always be there to clean; our children, however, will not be.


  10. As a 60+ grandmother I say “hear, hear”. Having grown up in a spotless home where you just didn’t make a mess, I so envy the kids who are allowed to make a mess and enjoy their homes. That’s how it should be. Great story with a wonderful message


  11. So True! I constantly have to check myself when I fuss at my daughter about her mess. I have stop and realize that one day she won’t be there working on her latest craft project, and she won’t want to “snuggle with mommy”. Thanks for reminding me to cherish the moment.


  12. I hear ya… I used to worry all the time about my house being such a mess… well, I still do but at least now I don’t worry quite so much about it. The mess will always be there tomorrow and I can clean it up anytime but my kids are growing up too fast and I don’t want to miss it!! Thanks for the reminder…


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