Friday, October 11, 2013


I was reading the blog of a family member the other day who was discussing how his therapist had asked him to make a list of triggers for his depression and anxiety, and another list of things that helped to calm him.  In thinking about similar lists for myself, I’ve realized that the state of my house is a huge trigger for me—it’s the easiest way for me to feel overwhelmed and bring on panic attacks. I’ve always been kind of a neat freak (understatement), and it’s been an adaptive process for me learning to be okay with the inevitable mess that accompanies a family like mine.

What I’d ultimately decided was that I was okay with the skiff of toys if everything was clean underneath.  I’ve written before about how I’ve had my regular to-do list items laminated on my ‘fridge for years—that list includes everything from daily storytime and one-on-one time with each child to cleaning out my ‘fridge and vacuuming my car. 

But. It’s been many months since I managed to cross everything off on that list each week (usually I do pretty well on Monday and then it’s a downhill slump from there.  Today I spent most of the day in my pajamas reading stories to the boys and building Lincoln Log towers.  Good on the mothering front, but not so great on the “bathrooms really need to be cleaned” front).  Today after dinner (which was PBJs because a) I was so tired and b) I haven’t been to the store in two weeks because oh my gosh have I mentioned a million times that I was sick and Isaac has been…recovering?  Not well, in fact, and his doctor started him on 3 new medications today--I've been doing well on dinners up to this point and making up random things from my cupboards [i.e. yesterday we had cheese tortellini with roasted carrots & broccoli tossed with fresh pesto & cherry tomatoes from the garden], but today I so did not feel like making food or cleaning up), anyway…today after dinner I was folding laundry with the girls and I said something about tired I was and they said they would clean up and I just dropped the socks in my hands, told them thank you, and went to bed with a book and a headache.  Half an hour later, they had cleaned everything up and I felt SO much better just looking around at my serene home.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this other than the fact that I have finally decided to hire someone to come in and deep clean my house on some sort of regular basis.  I’ve gone back and forth on this a lot—I’m home all day!  Shouldn’t I have time to do it myself? Is this really what I want to spend this money on? Can’t I just get the kids to pitch in more?

But the bottom line is this: I stay home with my children because I want to be with them, not because I want to deep-clean my house in the way that it needs to be cleaned with the 7 people living in it.  And yes, there will still be plenty of daily maintenance work going on, and my children will have far more chores than they’d like, but I feel so much calmer already now that I’ve committed to outsourcing some of the big jobs that I dread. So I’ve decided that if a few dollars can buy peace of mind, it’s money well spent.
So that’s what I’m thinking about today.  Keeping it real, folks, keeping it real.

(And the image at the top is the list Abigail made of their cleaning tasks—I found it tonight after the girls were in bed.  She is SOOOO much like me that it’s not even funny.)


Melanie said...

I think this is a fantastic idea! I can't wait to hear how it goes for you- it's been on my list of ways to make life easier/more enjoyable for quite a while now!

Jen said...

That is brilliant. And you're right: your chosen profession is Mother, not House Cleaner, so why shouldn't you spend more time doing the one and let the professionals help with the other? Good for you.

Kristin said...

Right before number four was born, I went through the same dilemma! I felt like on one hand I was failing at being a stay at home mom because I wasn't able to keep my house clean enough but on the other, I was a basket case because just looking at the toilets was overwhelming! The best thing I did for myself and my children was to get a cleaning lady! She now comes every other week, and like you... As long as I know the toilets are clean, the floors are mopped, the dusting is done, I am SO much more sane, it's not even funny! The little toys all over don't matter because they are sitting on a freshly vacuumed floor! It sounds ridiculous, but it was life-changing!

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