Don’t get me wrong—it’s not that our house is ridiculously cluttered with stuff. My husband and I are generally minimalist when it comes to our lives, and that applies to what we own. In other words, we’re not pack rats. Nor are we slobs where we’ll leave goop and slime in bathrooms and kitchens for weeks on end. We like to be sanitary, after all.
But our home wouldn’t be featured in a decorating magazine. When your coffee table is littered with toys, random knick knacks like books, a watch, board games and other miscellaneous items “to be put away,” it doesn’t exactly make for a magazine photo.
Why then do I not bother with messy house guilt? For one, I’m expecting again and therefore prioritize rest over chores. I’ll do the daily chores and what needs to be done—dishes, laundry, scrubbing an annoyingly-dirty sink—but for the most part, I’d rather sleep than work myself too much.
As a mom, I also don’t have as much time anymore. Even before I started becoming useless around the house—err, I mean before I was pregnant—my husband and I stuck by a monthly chore list, which gave us more time compared to our usual, pre-kids weekly chore list. Doing so gave me my sanity back when, as a first time mom, I felt terrible when I couldn’t check off my list during those early months. I needed to cut myself some slack and realize that I have a new role now that doesn’t exactly allow me the time I need to maintain a home the way I was used to.
And if we’re expecting guests, we’ll give our home a nice clean through but don’t stress about every dusty nook or that the books aren’t perfectly aligned. These guests are our friends and family, and as such, we don’t expect judgment from other people. We just want them to feel welcomed and comfortable and enjoy each other’s company.
Maybe my lack of guilt at keeping an impeccable home also stems from the fact that I’m not naturally drawn to decorating. I have a general sense of what makes for good furniture, arrangements and accents, but along the way I lose this skill. Rather than keeping my bedside table clear but for a lamp and perhaps a basket underneath, I’ve now made it “un pretty” by plopping a pen, eyeglasses, lotion, an eye mask and a watch in a not-so-neat arrangement. But for me, these items are what’s most useful, even if they may not beautiful to look at.
So instead I listen to my messy-threshold. If something bothers me enough to compel me to dust, vacuum, scrub and put things away, then I do. After all, I also don’t want to stress out because of mess. But if my home doesn’t seem too bad, if sleep seems so much more alluring than putting away crayons, and if I’ve accepted that my living room won’t be featured on Pottery Barn anytime soon, then I let it go, and ease myself of the messy house guilt.
How do you handles mess and chores in your home? Do you prioritize chores, or has it gone to the bottom of the list? What would compel you to tidy up your home, and what keeps you from doing so?