Why I’m Okay With a Messy House
Let me fill you in on a dirty little secret.
My house stays a mess.
Like a really big mess.
Like if you come over unannounced I'll be really embarrassed mess.
But here's why I'm okay with my messy house:
1. I have a messy personality.
I'm not saying that personality is an excuse to be lazy and undisciplined. And I'm not saying it's a reason not to try to be more organized either.
But as long as I'm trying my best — working at keeping the mess cleaned up, learning better ways to keep things clean, and just generally giving it my best effort, then at the end of the day I have nothing to be ashamed of. Stressing over it and wishing things are different isn't going to change the fact that being organized isn't my strong point. (Ahem. I just smelled something strange and found a pot of rice burning on the stove that I'd completely forgotten about! But hey, at least I was trying to make dinner for my family right? There's no guilt in that!)
2. The mess means we live here.
The dishes mean I've been cooking up something for my family to eat. The craft supplies laying out mean the kids have been ultra-creative today. (We're still working on teaching them to clean up after themselves!) The shreds of ripped-up tissues (unused!) mean I have a curious little baby who gets into everything, and that's okay! She's developing into a healthy, active little girl. There's so much loud, lively chaos going on at all times of the day (and sometimes night!) that I cannot stay on top of it all. I'm just so thankful for this family God has given me!
3. I'm investing my time in teaching the kids how to clean.
I'm honestly trying to focus more of my time on teaching the kids how to clean than I am actually doing the cleaning. I'm hopeful that the time investment will pay off in the long run, and I think it will. When my 3 year old wants to help unload the dishwasher, I let him help me, even though it takes 5 times as long. When my 5 year old wants to learn how to put the dirty dishes in, I teach her how, even though it is a slow process (and even though previously mentioned baby is destroying who-knows-what while we do it.) Am I the only one who can't stand the dishwasher to be loaded the “wrong” way??
But guess who knows how to unload the dishwasher all by himself now? Or sweep the floor? Or take out the trash? Yes – my oldest who started slowing me down as soon as he started walking. But since I've taken the time to teach him these things, he can now do them – and do them properly – without any help. His younger siblings are not too far behind, although that doesn't necessarily mean they comply when asked to do a chore.
Which brings me to my final, and most important point…
4. I'm focusing my time on the eternal as opposed to the temporary.
As I've already mentioned, I am not the most organized person in the world. While some mothers are able to manage to keep their houses clean while also finding the necessary time to train their children in the things of the Lord, I – to put it simply – am not.
I've been told that my children are unusually willful. Whether or not that is true, I don't know, but I do know that their training has been immeasurably more difficult than I ever could have imagined.
Hours upon hours have been spent behind closed doors instructing my children in the way of righteousness. Sometimes I wonder if they're deaf. There are many — no, I honestly think most – days where the only thing I manage to get done is to go in and out of the bedroom correcting, teaching, and praying over children, many times disciplining for the same offense over and over and over again. (I'm told their father was rather hard-headed as a child. I'd sure be grateful if they turn out like him, but in the meantime, well – it's just flat out difficult.)
I'm unwilling to give up the fight. If I lose my children, I've lost everything. And if that means I have to give up a clean house to teach them that a life surrendered to the Lord is the only life worth living, it's a price I'm willing to pay.
I used to feel very guilty and stressed out about the constant mess (and I still do sometimes.) But for the most part, I've found joy in this place. The place of knowing that I'm fulfilling my most important calling as a mother. The calling to raise up a generation of people who love the Lord with all their heart.
Do I need to work hard to try to do both (keep things clean and spend time training my children)? Absolutely.
But if it comes down to one or the other, I'm choosing to be okay with a messy house.
(See also: Letting Go of Homemaker's Guilt)