Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Coming Clean: Confessions of an Untidy Mother

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Coming Clean: Confessions of an Untidy Mother

The times are a changing. We have laughed in the face of Brexit fear and made the rather rash decision to put our home on the market. “So what?” I hear you cry. “Who cares? You are not the first to do this and you won’t be the last. What is the big deal?” 

We are “live”

The “big deal” my friends is that we currently have nowhere to go. The "big deal” kind reader is that we have two small children. The “big deal” loyal souls is that we are not, by nature, very tidy as a family. In that respect I fear we fall very short of everyone else’s mark. I placate my anxious self with reassurances of “it’s not like we are unhygienic” and “we do have two small children to look after” but in reality I fear that my husband and I will still be resolutely untidy until the day we shuffle off this mortal coil.

Now I know that Husband will be reading this with a resolute shake of his head while inwardly exclaiming that he does all of the laundry and that every so often he does set aside a time to do an overhaul of the homestead and I will admit that he is marginally more intuitive of the jobs that are required before the situation becomes desperate but, and believe me there is a “but”, he piles. He piles everything and that pile will become part of the furniture; gradually moulding itself into the contours of the room. 

He, too, embraces the chaos 

I, on the other hand, am blind to the gradual deterioration but merely wake one day to the realisation that I appear to live in a squat; the surfaces are no longer visible and my children are down to their last set of pyjamas. I then get to action (following a dramatic and self loathing outburst) and afterwards, thinking I have done a fairly good job, smugly flaunt my handiwork to my mother who will inevitably rectify the situation to a much higher standard. Tidiness is just not in my nature and, unfortunately for her, she is used to it.

In fact, my husband is the only person who has actually learned to cope with my mess and I genuinely believe that is because, as with most things, in this we are equals. All flat mates (even those who were, and are to this day, counted amongst my best friends) ran for the hills after a few months of living with me. It’s not that I don’t care about my belongings (although I wouldn’t consider myself to be materialistic) but I just don’t seem to notice their erratic dispersal about our abode. If it were left to me laundry would be done on the basis of immediate requirement rather than a need to see the bottom of the basket, ironing would be saved for essential work items and the windows would be washed when it is starting to look unseasonably foggy in June. 

“What is this Mummy?”

I’ve attempted to rectify the situation and even had my fair share of cleaners but they all seemed to do a great job on day one before making a half hearted effort thereafter. This was probably my own fault as I didn’t really know what to ask them to do and, in all honesty, I was pretty uncomfortable asking them to do anything. The foray into professional help was short lived.

When the kids came along we just embraced it and put it down to tiredness, infant paraphernalia, toddler toys and the short attention span of children when it came to activities. We would spend the vast majority of the weekend outdoors and would rarely invite anyone into our house preferring to socialise at parks, cafes and other people’s homes. It wasn’t that we had dirty plates or soiled clothes lying around but the whole place appeared chaotic not just because of the “laundry couch”. There would be the odd occasion where we would have people round and remedial actions would be taken but descended into its previous state. 

Note the “laundry couch” in the background

At the tail end of last year we decided to sell our house. It wasn’t because of the mess, I mean, we’re not that bad. It just felt like the right time (ignoring Brexit, the ever present threat of a second independence referendum, job changes and night time potty training). We tidied, painted, scrubbed and put two car loads worth of belongings into storage and then, basking in our efforts, we invited the estate agent in and showed her around with unashamed pride. 
"Well you would need to declutter obviously...” Just brutal.

I see clutter, they see joy.

We are not ones to ignore advice though and two further car loads (including some unopened 5th birthday presents) were packaged off to the lock up. We were “live” in estate agent speak, “on the market” in anyone else’s. Viewings were coming thick and fast which meant that we had to diligent in maintaining the tidy state. Our drawers were fit to burst and we could find nothing but our house reflected a serenity that we could only dream of. It was exhausting. The children were routinely being hollered after to “hang that up!”, “that’s not where that lives!” and “we are trying to keep this place tidy!” It was fun for all the family but the only thing is, if we can’t pick up after ourselves how we can expect them to?

You can always try...

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