I fantasize about a clean house.

If someone knocked on my door tomorrow and said “Two week long vacation on Tahiti, $10,000 or a tidy, well organized house?” I would be ALL OVER THE TIDY WELL ORGANIZED HOUSE.

Sure, I could make something happen with the $10K, but I’d probably just do something responsible with the money, like pay of school loans or get Cody a new car. Perhaps a fence or a deck. Or one of those college savings plans, surely those are more important than a clean and tidy house.

This photo? It was basically taken the day we moved in, before we had the time or energy to mess ANYTHING up.

Confession: organization is NOT my strong suit. Never has been, just ask my mom. It took Addie 6 hours, three crying fits and me using my bossy mom voice at least a dozen times for her to end up with what could be considered a relatively clean room on Saturday. The thing is, the kid is JUST LIKE ME. I couldn’t keep my room clean with the promises or threats of anything. Addie is the same way. Take something away? “That’s fine, I didn’t like it all that much anyway.” Ground her? “It’s cool, I’ll just sit here and read.” Take her books away? “No worries mom, I’ll just play with my carpet.” I once asked her to clean the loft, two hours later not a single misplaced toy had been put away, but 100 DVDs had been alphabetized and arranged by genre.

*slumps over*

You would think I could get things done during the day, while Addie is at school. But there’s this other little person running around undoing everything I just did. I couldn’t find my underwear today which was really strange because who loses underwear? Turns out Vivi had snuck it out of my drawer and shoved it in the dryer. It wouldn’t have been so bad had a dryer repairman not come over this afternoon had to ask “Ma’am? Could you please, uh, remove the…uh, laundry from your dryer?” I debated for a long time which was worse, being called “ma’am” by a guy my dad’s age or a guy my dad’s age getting a face full of my underpants?

I like work, I have a nice tidy little checklist right over there and as I get things done I can cross each one out feeling very accomplished. While “laundry” is currently checked off my real-life to do list, in a week laundry will be right up at the top begging my attention. So will the toilets (DUDE, what is with moldy toilets after three days in humid weather!?) and those stupid white spots on the mirror.

I’m convinced I’m missing the gene that qualifies people to be considered “put together.

I grew up in a house where EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING) had a place, and if something dared to be out of place? So help you… My room must have caused my mother a thousand tiny deaths everyday. I have two photos of the fireplace in my old house taken nearly ten years apart, the only thing that changed? Me. Every other thing in the photo was in the EXACT same place. Every plant, every photo, every decoration. What went wrong?

Ladies and (a few) gentlemen…I am horribly disorganized. I’m a clutter-er.

There’s no squashed cats under anything, nor is there dead or rotting food anywhere in the house. Basic needs are met, clean clothes exist, beds are made half the time, bills get paid, honestly you couldn’t really point out anything absolutely disgusting. It’s just chaos, clutter, half completed projects, boxes, and the toddler doesn’t help. (Neither does the seven year old version of her mother.)

I’m tired. I need my mom. Perhaps Nate Berkus. I’m overwhelmed. I really want to eat my feelings.

But really I just wanted to put this out there lest you think I’m one of those women living a very well styled and fancy existence. I won’t apologize for my house because it is lived in and occupied by a very happy family. But I also won’t lie to you and give you the illusion that I have my $%&# completely together.

Because I totally don’t.

Thanks for listening.


  1. I’m with you on that! Also, I can’t do work at work or be creative at home if it’s too neat and tidy. If I have to be creative at my mom’s? I have to make a mess first.

  2. Clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be happy. That’s all you need! 🙂

    Lee Reply:

    @Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig, LOVE THIS!!!!

  3. You and me? We’re knit from the same thread I think. My mother is the most anal retentive, house spic-and-span, “Sorry for the mess” kind of person there is. Just like her mother before her, and just like my sister. Me on the other hand? As long as there’s no trash and the floor is swept, I’m good to call that “clean.” My organized is my sisters version of a Hoarder’s house. (Ok, maybe not that bad, but still.) It took me 7 hours to clear the junk out of one room and put it in another and then organize what was left.

    And I don’t even have kids running around tearing things up. (Just cats and a husband!) I feel like some things are more important than others. My house is not messy, but it’s certainly not what I’d call well organized. I’ve come to embrace the clutter. 🙂

  4. Your home is instant comfort. Your home is love & life. Your home is beautiful because of these things and I personally think that’s all that matters. I would know cuz my home is pretty darn similar to yours, & I think my underwear is in my dryer too.

  5. You’ve got fun times and no dead cats and that is what matters! Besides, everyone must do some sort of massive cleaning before they take those pictures for Pinterest. Right? No one can be clean all the time and happy…I tell myself that. A lot.

  6. I’d love to see what those rooms look like messy. It always makes me laugh to see what others consider a mess. I have to say I feel the same way though. I keep thinking one day that super clean organized thing is just going to kick in. Never at one time is every room in my house put together and organized. I’ve googled everything under the sun to try to get things done. I think this is just the way things are going to be.

  7. My house does not live up to my mom’s standards and it hurts my heart…but not enough to do anything about it. But I do shove **** into closets very quickly when she comes over.

  8. I hear ya, sister.

    Right now there’s a stack of picture frames (waiting to be hung up) piled on the dining room table that’s been there for a month.

    Chris Reply:

    @Barb @ getupandplay, My stack of picture frames has been there for about 8 months. Sigh. My house is clean. And most of it is sometimes clutter free, but it would never, ever live up to my mothers standards, were she still here. And her house (which was immaculate) never lived up to HER mother’s house, in which I was a little afraid to breathe.

    JMH Reply:

    @Chris, Heh…I had my dining room repainted 3 years ago…I still have not hung pictures on the walls. 🙂

  9. I’m probably another version of your mom, who craves a place for everything and everything in its place. And who drives the people she lives with, who could trip over shoes, backpacks and a pile of Legos on their way to the fridge and not give a flip, absolutely crazy. But here’s the thing: I do drive myself and everyone around me crazy at times and my house still has cobwebs and moldy toilets and white specks on the mirror. It’s just hard at this season of life. I keep reminding myself to do the best I can, pick my battles, and enjoy my family … because it won’t be long and I’ll have all the time I want to clean and no little people to clean up after.

    But if you ever want me to come help you organize, I’m SO there.

  10. This blog post makes me love you.

  11. My husband has a term that applies to both of us “clutter-blind”…we just don’t notice it, then I reach a point where I want to snap. Sadly, my kids are inheriting the SAME gene!!!

  12. This is why I think we could be friends. You’re amazing. And if you could write and take pictures as well as you do and had a perfect house, I’d call robot. No way you were human.

  13. I’m soooooo with you! Also, my savior is flylady.net It is free to use, and even has ways to get kids organized. It is seriously the only thing that has worked for me/my personality type which is the “not a neat freak”.

  14. My husband likes it when I invite people over during the day because it means the house gets picked up. I also lock the door to my bedroom when we have a babysitter – because that’s where I stick all the clutter that doesn’t have place 10 minutes before she comes.

  15. Erin Marie says:

    “but 100 DVDs had been alphabetized and arranged by genre.”

    That is so me. My family room is a huge mess and needs to be vacuumed desperately, but what’s bugging me? The fact that the DVDs aren’t organized since the baby pulled them all out. And they’re behind the cabinet doors; I can’t even see them!

  16. For the past three nights in a row we’ve scoured the house to find Addison’s beloved bunny, and each time it’s been hidden under a pile of stupid stuff in some corner of the house. It’s all stuff that should be put away. But it’s not. And it’s my fault. If I have to spend 45 minutes looking for the bunny tomorrow, I might have to tell her it died and went to heaven.

  17. You are like me!!! Except my two are now 17 and 18, and I can’t take photos like you do. But, you keep house like me! 🙂

  18. I breathed a big sigh of relief to hear so many similar shares. I FINALLY went through my embarrassing monstrous paperwork pile that has been growing on my desk for months, overflowing into 3 baskets. THe time was right with both boys back in school. Not a single distraction. It’s hard with a little one especially around. As long as you can function, live with it. Houses are meant to be live-able right??

  19. This is so funny because when I stayed with you I thought your house was so put together! But I get it- my kids are the same way as Addie so I crack up about that. And I am just not wired to have my home all together and perfect – actually since we moved and things are still kind of in order in our new house, I feel SO distracted because there is no clutter!!


  20. YES. I cannot organize anything and don’t even know where to start when I try. FISTBUMP.

  21. Who does have their $%&# completely together? Be proud of your wild, crazy and loving house. Your children will always have warm memories of the house where they could always just be themselves. That’s a far better battle to win.

  22. Anyone who claims to have all there *cough* together are lying to themselves and everyone else, or they’re a little too anal and don’t spend a lot of time with their kids. At least that’s my opinion. Heck, I’m home mostly all day (minus insane weeks where I have to make a trip to Walmart every day because someone remembers they need something AFTER I’ve already gone), but my home still sometimes looks like a bomb went off. I hate folding laundry, and I avoid it. So, it sits in baskets on the couch. Until we get tired of sitting on the floor and then it gets folded and put away. Or shoved in another corner 😀
    But, I have smiling happy kids, and there are clean clothes, clean dishes, and like you said, nothing is dead or squashed, so I don’t stress 😀

  23. I feel ya. My house is clean, picked up even but I have little clutter piles every where and god forbid you open a drawer or cabinet. My room is a mess, the hubs side is nice and clean, then I have too many clothes to fit in my dresser so they sit on the floor. It drives my husband crazy. Whatever I don’t have time to file bills and sort through stuff.

  24. Thanks for posting this! I am the same way! Even worse now that I’ve been on crutches for two months! I want a lovely calm presentable space, but end up with cluttered, wild, piles :). I tell myself as long as we are happy and creative, the clutter doesn’t matter :). Still, I find myself aiming photos with care :). Funny!

  25. me too!

    okay, well, not on the “which would you choose part”
    but on the clutter, etc….
    ME TOO.

    and kudos to you for making the beds 1/2 the time. i really do wonder when i’ll get my act together to teach the little girl better habits.
    maybe tomorrow?

  26. My mom kept our house cluttered and messy all the time. She was too busy playing with us, loving us, going to school book sales, and making us awesome. And now my house is perfectly clean and organized most of the time. So my kid will probably grow up to be less awesome but will have a messy house and awesome kids and keep that cycle going. You following me? Ha!

  27. Oh, I SO get this.
    You know what I do?
    I do the frantic dash around to “tidy” before company comes over, and then tell them “I totallllly didn’t have time to clean up, sorry my house is such a disaster” haha, just so they possibly think that my cleanest is actually my messiest!

  28. Reading this is like looking in a mirror (or reading in a mirror or well, you know) I’m the exact same way!! I drive my husband insane with my constant clutter. Having a dog and four cats, doesn’t help at all either.

  29. Right there with you. I like to sit in my car, facing forward, outside, in the dark. Because from that vantage point, there is no clutter. No turning around, though.

  30. Thank you.
    I think my home is built out of clutter.

  31. I know people who have tried to find happiness in having a clean home. It only drove them to self-medicate in some form or other. No joke. It is SO easy to see what is in the photos we post and think that the whole house looks that way. My house is currently a wreck. I’m hoping to get it cleaned – mostly – by next Sunday, when we’ll have Cupcake’s first birthday. If not, then I’ll just tell them that I managed to clean my kitchen and one toilet, so everyone should get in line and be patient if they need to tinkle…

    Like a previous commenter, my goal is to keep our home clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be fun.

  32. Kristin S says:

    Oh the truth shall set you free!
    I’m the same.
    The “would play with her carpet” line made me lol. Literally. Too funny.
    Thanks for making us all feel normal.
    Normal is good.

  33. Dude, I’m impressed your house was ever that perfect looking. When I first moved in my house it was like Beruit up in this piece for like three months.
    Your kitchen makes me drool with organizational fervor

  34. Amy in StL says:

    Dude, I’m totally a clutterer! What’s worse is that my 30 year old niece is a neat freak and always is very judgey when she comes to my house – and then calls my mom to tell her about it. I would love to have everything put away, but I just don’t live that way – I’ve resigned myself to the face that they are thousands of things I prefer to do instead of keeping house.

  35. Yup. This! I’d venture to say I may even be a bit worse. The hubby’s and my philosophy is to always keep the ground floor rooms fairly tidy (aka the ones someone would see if they unexpectedly stopped by). After 8+ hours of being away from home and my children the last thing I want to do is clean my house. Nope. I’ll just enjoy my clutter.

  36. Amen! Though I must say, your move-in pictures are eons better than mine. My house has never, ever, ever looked that organized. Not even when there was no furniture in it, I think. 🙂

    I once described myself as the anti-Pin on my blog. I even had the audacity/stupidity/recklessness to post a picture of my coat closet floor…or everything that was COVERING my coat closet floor…on there. I think when we’re real like this, it makes use AND all the other not-perfect-when-it-comes-to-neatness folks feel better.

  37. Stephanie says:

    We are the king and queen of clutter at our house, and it drives me up the wall, but I can’t seem to get on top of it. We actually pay to have our house cleaned, because I work fulltime and want to spend my time with the precious little ones not cleaning, but whaddya know? They don’t clean up clutter! And we’ve been in our house for close to 2 1/2 years and there are still boxes unpacked.

    On a separate note – wow! That before and after picture on the weight lost was amazing. I’m 6 months post-partum, and I still have 10ish pounds to lose to get to my pre-pregnancy weight (which is still a smidge higher than I’d like it), although I gained 48, so I’ve made a lot of progress! Still, it’s hard. Great job!

  38. Yeah, my mom was one of those too. I used to fret about it. I had a group of moms & kids over to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. One of the mom’s came back a few weeks later to pick something up. The house was a disaster. I said “I’m sorry things don’t look the way they did the last time you were here.” She laughed and said “Yeah, well we live in our house too.” I love Stacey’s comment above, clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy. YES!!

  39. Yeah, so way late to this post, but dude, I am so like you! And I bet you can find anything you need under any pile in a relatively short amount of time, no? 😉
    My mom always hated my room too, but her house is almost as cluttered as mine and she’s retired and only has herself and my dad to take care of! So… yeah, it’s in my genes, I guess I’m screwed!


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