If you have any friends with kids, and you use Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or one of the countless other online social media sites that I never heard of and don’t use, then chances are you have seen posts similar to these:
I call bullshit. All of these seem to be desperate justifications for a nasty house, all the more disgusting because a child is in that home. I work full-time, and so does Gary. Granted, our home doesn’t have kids in it 100% of the time, but plenty often enough to know what it feels like to have children tearing around, making messes and dirtying up laundry like it’s their full-time job. And there are four of these miniature hurricanes!
There are two reasons our home remains clean and orderly, even when all four kids are in it. First, neither Gary nor I subscribe to the absurd notion that housework is women’s work, and both of share in not only cleaning but in making sure that the second reason is enforced: if the kids make a mess, the kids clean it up. No one is a maid in our home.
The kids’ rooms are never trashed because they have learned since they were very little that no more toys get taken out until what was already out is put away. There is never a huge mess because Gary and I are aware what the kids are doing at any given time, whether they are playing in their room or the living room or in the office. We monitor their activities, remind them to clean up one area if they forget, and are consistent in our expectations.
I like things clean, neat, and orderly. I freely admit to my militant OCD tendencies when it comes to the magazines being stacked a certain way on the coffee table, books lined up by subject and then author, or even my clothes hung up by style and then color. I don’t expect the kids to adhere to such stringent guidelines, but I also don’t condone leaving things laying around when they know damn well where they go, not cleaning up their own mess, or not taking care of their personal belongings. Their rooms have been organized with baskets, bins, and other specific items to put things away easily. It makes it simpler for them, neater looking for me, and leaves no excuses for things tossed around with no rhyme or reason.
A dirty, messy house is not a sign of a happy home. It’s just a dirty home. Our kids play on the floor with dolls, action figures, toy cars. Why the hell would we let them sit on or lay on a floor that hasn’t been vacuumed or swept in lord knows how long? They take baths in their tub. Is it a sign of a happy home and a good parent when that tub is filthy? Again, bullshit. Stop posting about what a great parent you are on facebook, and start cleaning your hovel.
Truth is, most of the parents I know who embrace the notion that a dirty home is a happy home were slobs before they had kids, so I don’t know what their excuse was before the baby arrived. I’ve never viewed the kids as an excuse to have a messy, nasty house. If anything, they are a reason to keep it even cleaner. I don’t want them touching dirty surfaces or sitting on a dirty floor or learning that sloppy is the norm for a home.
I take some time each day to do something: maybe wipe down the bathrooms one day, mop the kitchen floor the next. I don’t spend all day cleaning. That is ultimately the point: I don’t need to, and shouldn’t, because I am not the only one living in this house. Everyone pitches in, and everyone is expected to clean up after themselves. If they are too young to know exactly how to do that, Gary and I help them out, but the idea is still reinforced that they clean up after themselves.
My attitude about a messy house vs. a clean house is more along these lines: