How Do You Do It? What Do You Let Slide?

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It can be so tempting after we read a blog or magazine article or talk to an aquaintance to compare ourselves and think that somehow we are lacking. Some other mom has a cleaner house, a bigger budget, is a better cook, or seemingly “has it all together.”

This just isn’t true!

Every mom has her weaknesses. We just can’t always see them. Often, we’re comparing our insides to her outsides. Definitely not an “apples to apples” comparison.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would share a few tricks to how we survive around here. But, here are some true confessions first.

In case you had any false allusions, I don’t get everything done that I should or want to do. I am the ultimate “sidetracked home executive”. If I don’t stay focused, everything falls in a shambles. And I do mean, everything.

I am passive-aggressive about house cleaning. It comes in spurts and bursts. For a few weeks this summer our home looked pretty put together. And I got on a roll, rallied the troops, and we were pretty good at upkeep. It helped that we didn’t have school.

Once I get out of a hole, it’s easier to keep it up — until a major illness, stressful situation or lifechange comes my way. Then, I seem to become immobile and fall into a hole. (Can you guess where I am now?)

And then I have to dig myself out again. The last weeks are a perfect example. We started school and I had a couple days of major contractions and subsequent lying around. The house is not as pristine as I wish it were.

But, I’m coming to terms with it. This is one of the rhythyms of my life. I would like it to be spic and span all the time. But, I’ll probably take the next 20 years to get there. And I don’t want to miss out on my family along the way.

My motto is becoming: Do what you can when you can. But, don’t freak out if you can’t. Relationships take priority. Then food and clothing.

The other stuff?

Well, do it when you can.

For me, I can let some of the housework slide if we’re fed and clothed and relatively peaceful. How about you?

What’s top on your priority list? What’s an area that you let fall when things get rough? And why? Share it in the comments. It will probably be a great reality check for the rest of us.

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  1. The health and happiness of my husband and children are, of course, or paramount importance to me.

    What do I let slide? My floors. It is with a touch of shame that I admit that I have let at least a month go by without vacuuming or mopping in the past. For some reason, I guess I just don’t look down all that much so it doesn’t bother me terribly…

    Still, I feel much more content when I’ve “got it together” a bit more than that!

  2. Hi Fishmamma,

    Such a good and true article. I always feel so horrible after I seem to meet a "perfect" one out and about. But it really is apples to oranges. We're all just different.

    I feel it's been a good day if I can end with the Dining Room & Living Room vacuumed at the end of the day. I just use the vacuum to push the toys out of the way. Then I go to bed happy, even with dishes usually in the sink- even though we own 2 dishwashers that run each day! and a mountain of laundry… but it can wait. So I guess I let everything slide except vacuuming! Oh, Heaven help me!

    If the kids had enough food to eat, clean clothes, clean diapers, some hugs and laughs with mom- then that's where it's at!
    Best wishes with adding your latest little one!

  3. I’m really good at keeping things orderly because “clutter” drives me crazy! However, I’m not so good at floors, toilets, and showers. Those are the things that are hard to do with kids around and I don’t want them to grow up and remember that I was always cleaning. I’m trying to get better at these things as the winter germ season is approaching, so I made myself a little cleaning schedule that I’m trying to stick to and do while the kiddos are doing their chores! I posted it on my blog a few weeks ago for a little bloggy accountability! We’ll see if it works or not!

  4. Definitley housework, but then I want to be out of the house to avoid looking at the mess which means it gets worse because I am running out the door everyday. A vicious cycle! Thanks for sharing and the reminder.

  5. My children are 3, 2, and 6 months, so the whole doing what I can when I can is so encouraging to me.

    Truth be told, my expectations are so very unrealistic. The problem is, I find I’m much more relaxed when the house is “together”. I find myself getting on edge when it is not. I find myself in constant prayer about this.

    Oh, and as for sliding, it would have to be the kitchen floor. It is awful! Good thing the color of it disguises its true filth. I’m in trouble when the baby starts crawling!

  6. I, too, have definitely eased up on my expectations since having a child. Yes, I still need to do things around the house in the busy times – typically just making sure all toys are picked up & dishes are done is enough for me in the hectic times.

    If I can see that the next week or two is going to be too busy for me to keep up with my normal tasks, then I at least try to sweep the kitchen floor a few times a week & make sure the bathroom towels are washed.

    I used to be one of those "the house has to look spotless" if I know guests are coming by. Now, I try to make sure the kitchen floor is swept & then do a quick "hand mop" with an old cloth diaper & hot water – amazing how fresh & clean it appears afterwards!! Oh, & double check the toilets – but that's about it.

    Thanks for the encouraging reminder that the purpose of life is not a perfect home, but quality time with our families!

  7. I feel more ready to be with the kids and have fun, if the house is clean. Because the 3 oldest can help alot they all have chores that required every morning. It at least keeps the kitchen clean, bathroom tidy, and things picked up.

    It stresses me out to start a project with them if the rooms are trashed and the kitchen is a disaster.

    We don’t spend even 2 hours cleaning total every day, but things stay organized enough to make me feel better.

    But I don’t stress about other things, that drive my mom crazy. I don’t dust but about 2 times a year. My fan blades have a nice think layer of dust on them. I only clean them in the winter time. The dining room and living room floors only get mopped when it is necessary. Being wood it doesn’t show up much, since we sweep every day.

    It is so hard. Many days I feel like I have failed my kids entirely as far as spending quality time with them. What a nice article.

  8. I have the hardest time with my bathroom floor and shower. I HATE doing those! I wish that I could keep them up right and have a sparkling bathroom. The longer I wait to tackle those, the more depressed I get about doing them.

    My home is pretty clutter free. I always have things put in there place. But the deep cleaning I have a problem with.

    I guess I’m not alone there. But sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. I have a fear of someone coming to my house and them thinking it’s filthy!

  9. No one sounds as bad as me. LOL

    What’s important to me is teaching the kids, reading to the babies and nursing on demand. Having a nice meal at the end of the day, all together, at the table is also very important.

    What’s not is a clean house. Its almost always messy. With a toddler tearing through everything it’s hard to keep clean. And with a baby who wants constantly held it’s hard to clean. We do 2 clean ups a day though, so if you come over at 4 or 8, it will be clean for you.

  10. Oh, fishmama, you still seem to have it more together than the rest of us! I mean, your moving, your pregnant, your blogging consitently (and doing a great job at that to boot!) and your homeschooling! All I can say is –wow!

    I guess I could say I let me laundry slide. This is because it is in a giant basement room area–that no one can really see. Plus we have laundry chutes. So clothes get tossed into the dungeon and forgotten untl someone screams “Mom, I can’t find any underwear!”

    Then I venture into the dark dungeon room and coop my self up in there until the laundry is reasonably caught up.

  11. Lizz @ yes, and so is my heart…you sound like me. Our kids are the same age, and I too love when everything is clean and put away. It makes me feel in control and like all is well in the world. Which is kind of pathetic to “say” out loud.

    I’m doing better about letting things slide when needed, out of necessity because I’m working full time at home, but it’s a work in progress. I don’t want my kids to remember mom freaking out about the dirty house, though! (And yet, I also don’t want them to look back and remember how dirty and disgusting the house was, like my husband’s memories…surely there’s a balance.)

    And the “army crawl” stage drives me nuts because their clothes get SO dirty on my dirty floor. DH mops with our Swiffer a couple times of week now that the baby is mobile. If he didn’t, I think I might just be putting her in old clothes that could be thrown away and cleaning her hands a lot. :blush:

  12. Donna, you make me laugh. Thank you for the compliment. You’re very sweet.

    Just so you know…Monday’s school was learning how to burn letters into wood using a magnifying glass. Oh my! Papa taught that one. Yesterday it was painting. They’ve read everyday and done lots of art projects that we never have time to do. But, it’s been hands on more than book work

    Plus, the laundry room currently smells very musty and I’m very hesitant to go in there ’cause I got other stuff to do. And I’ve not made my bed in over a week! Or scrubbed toilets for that matter. There’s more, I am sure, but I gotta keep some secrets. 😉

  13. I had fun reading some of the comments. One thing I will tell you is, my grown children never say anything about the house. They do talk about what we did. Mom, remember when we went to the park and ran through the giant spriklers etc. Have some fun. OK, you do need to clean and pick up once in awhile (oh, and maybe cook).

  14. Oh, I have been known to let it all go for a jammie day. Or a late night with the olympics. We simply can’t do it all. “Grace, grace, God’s grace…greater than all my sins within.” Isn’t that the line. I live everyday clinging to His grace. I also tell myself, often, I have just enough energy for bedtime. I may crash one minute after, but I can make it until that minute. It keeps my attitude in check.

  15. Prior to having my son, I kept seeing in magazines these “What do you wish you’d done differently?” surveys. In almost every survey, the #1 statement was, “I wished I had worried less about housework and having a perfectly clean house and spent more time with my child. They grow up too fast.” I’ve tried to keep that at the forefront of each day. If I have the time, the house is kept clean. If not, it will all come together in due time. But in the meantime, Nathan and I are making so many more important memories. Memories that far outweigh not having every dish clean or every piece of laundry put away.

  16. Just thought I’d add another post. With 7 kids I don’t have time for toilets. I promise you, promise you if you buy the Kaboom Never scrub toilet system that goes in the back of your tank, you will never clean another toilet either. I got mine at Walmart. Menards has them too. The kit cost like $8 something and it will last 3-4 months of sparkling white (even with boys!) and then I’ll notice small little spots starting to form and pick up a refill which cost $4 (usually has $2 coupon inside for the next one so it keeps getting cheaper). SO for about a buck a month you will NEVER clean another toilet-I promise you:) I even give this to pregnant friends for those first hanging off the toilet days…

  17. One more thing, the Mr. Clean sponge erasers work great in the shower! Scrubs all the grim away off the walls lickity split. I don’t have shower doors though so can’t speak for those. I’m just all for finding the quickest way to get things done. Just thought I’d share. Gonna go get back to my life!! and leave ya all alone now:)

  18. Oh the bathroom goes first everytime! And I despise/loath a dirty bathroom. But without fail it is the first to be neglected.

    That toilet cleaner sounds wonderful! I want it right now. (-:
    I too feel more content when I’ve got it together. Usually when things fall apart I am not using my time wisely or have a super lazy day. I clean when the motivation hits me or when someone is coming over. (-:

    My priority? (not including the care of my children) hmm laundry, meals, clean kitchen, general clean up of the house.

    Thanks for the encouraging words as this is a particularly full day of catching up.

  19. You know, my mother was a housework, church and friends first then the kids person. I vowed to never allow anything to come before spending time nurturing my child. I dont and mother doesn’t approve of my sometimes messy house, but I know I am a better mother (at least in quality time spent and bonding) than she was.