A Tidy House: Something I can Inspire Towards but Shouldn’t be Controlled By

Picture of my beautiful mom and I at the beach, 1983.

Picture of my beautiful mom and I at the beach, 1983.

One of my motivations for writing Aly’s Angle is so my children, specifically my daughter, has detailed documentation about how her mother handled (or didn’t handle) the balancing act of motherhood. Increasingly since having children, I have found myself asking and wondering how my mom felt during these early stages of motherhood. I wish I could time travel and be a fly on the wall, watching my young self playing while my mom: played with me? cleaned? made dinner? I am sure the answer is all three of these at different moments, but it would be such a beautiful moment witnessing it with my adult, new mother perspective. 

I used to have this reoccurring dream. I was standing next to my mom as a teenager with a scar on my knee. This is a scar I actually received playing soccer during elementary school recess when I slipped on a sprinkler. Next to my mom and my teenage self is me as a five-year-old sitting on her lap with the fresh cut on my knee. And in my mothers arms is me, as a baby without a blemish. Myself, in three different life stages, enjoying the comfort of my mothers love. Every time I'd wake up from this dream, I would have a different interpretation of its meaning. I actually haven’t thought about the dream for years until writing this post. But I do remember, even as a teenager, wishing I could witness my younger self with my mom. 

One of the biggest questions I'd like to ask my mother is "How did you always kept such a tidy home?" My adult perspective answer is "She worked her butt off all day."

I have mentioned this before, but I will mention it again. I have never been the type to be dragged down by comparisons, but recently I have noticed two areas in my life where I find myself subconsciously comparing. This comparison produces a paralyzing resentment that makes me so discouraged, it feels impossible to improve.

First comparison involves the unfairness that other women can eat anything after having a baby and breastfeeding and not gain an ounce. I am not bashing these women, but to be honest, I am jealous. I resent the fact that my flat tummy has a mommy pouch now, and I have to work so hard just to lose a couple pounds. My metabolism as a child, the one where I could eat anything and still have a flat stomach, did not prepare me for this reality. I have come to the conclusion that until I can overcome my resentment, I will not lose the weight or get stronger. Forever, from this point forward, in order to look and feel great, I will have to take care of my body by exercising and eating healthy. Looking around, I realize the majority of women fall into this category. I just didn’t enter it until after having children. I'm at the point now that unless I do something to put my plan into action, I am going to stop complaining. A few days ago, I signed up for the Nancy Anderson 30 Slim Down and Post Pregnancy Ab Rehab to correct my diastasis recti (splitting of the abs). I am also doing Fit4Mom workouts in the mornings 2-3 times a week. When times get tough, and I know they will, I am going to remind myself that everything hard makes you stronger. 

My second comparison is about keeping a clean and tidy home. I honestly feel EVERYONE is better at it than me. Not only the mommy influencers I follow on social media, but all of my friends. What confuses me so much about this reality, or at least my perceived reality, is that I try extremely hard. I value a tidy house. Last month, I packed up 4 boxes of toys and asked Cory to store them in his car. So for a month, he has been driving around with the boxes of toys I wanted out of our living room. Sometimes, I blame it on our adorably cute (small) house because I don’t have enough room to store things. Other times, I blame it on the fact I work from home, so every down minute (kids taking naps or after hours) I am squeezing in work. Last but not least, I blame it on my self-diagnosis that I have adult ADD. I literally get distracted all the time. By the constant mess. Attending to two toddlers. Thinking of creative ways to make Be Better “better”. And, of course, the "to do" list always on my brain. I often go from halfway cleaning a dirty dish, to getting milk for a crying toddler pulling at my leg, to trying to get Clark to not put the dog food in the dog water, to remembering I have to cancel eMeals (free trial ends tomorrow). It's frustrating, exhausting, and annoying. I don’t stop moving, yet I feel I don't complete anything. Evidence, the half-cleaned dirty dish still in the sink.

This week’s challenge has made me realize a tidy house is something I can inspire toward but shouldn’t be controlled by. My house can be tidy one minute and a complete disaster the next. I've come to the conclusion that, like most things, it's all about perspective: If I try all day to keep a tidy house that means every time my daughter dumps a box of doll clothes on the ground, I am going to feel anxiety. I will be anxious about the battle of having to convince her to pick them up, or I am going to be upset that I am cleaning up after her.  So, I decided to change my perspective this week. When I see the mess my kids create, I will view it as wonderful evidence they are good at playing and learning through play. Of course, we will have to pick up the mess at the end of the hour, or the day, but until then, LET KIDS PLAY. Play is important for their development and it's viewed as incredibly educational. Instead of seeing mess, I am going to see learning.

Develop Tips for tidiness

Marie Kondo-

I have successfully kept a tidy house for over 24 without stressing about kids playing!

I have successfully kept a tidy house for over 24 without stressing about kids playing!

Okay, by now we have all either read the book or watched the documentary on Netflix. Get rid of the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy. The extra stuffed animals, the mismatched toys, the books already read or too boring to read. I have been getting rid of it and it helps.

Put away 20 items-

A couple of times a day I play a game with myself when I start to feel overwhelmed. I just count and put away 20 things. Throw away the yogurt, wash the spoon, pick up the orange peel on the floor, put away the dish, the cup, the knife, close the coloring book, water the plant, shut the microwave, etc. It helps and it's amazing how fast I can accomplish twenty small to do’s. 

30 Second Tasks-

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge has significantly helped. It is amazing how much I can accomplish in 30 seconds and at the same time realize how long 30 seconds actually is. I have worked on telling my kids that yes, I can read you the book, but I need to wash the pan I cooked the eggs in first. I want my kids to know it's important to complete a task and not just jump to the next one. I have been doing it all week long and all over the house. “Yes, I will wipe your bum, but I need to finish making my bed.” “Yes, I can grab your shoes, but I first need to put on a bra and put my clothes in the dirty hamper.” Once I realized that they benefit from the practice of being patient, it gave me a greater excuse not to respond to EVERY request the second they want it done.