Monday, August 1, 2011


I've seen a quote floating around online that goes something like: "Good mothers have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids". Every time I'm confronted with this thing I think "OH, REALLY???", because as far as I'm concerned sticky floors are a pretty dubious measure of mothering abilities.

I keep a clean house. My husband helps. We're both fairly neat, aesthetically inclined people by nature. Messes make me feel chaotic and unhappy, so I avoid keeping them in our home.

I understand that lots of people DON'T keep a clean house, and that's cool too. Except in extreme, health-hazard style cases, household cleanliness is one of those "to each their own" type topics, like religion or politics . . . there's room in this world for all types.

What I resent, though, is the implication that my clean floors and oven have come at the expense of time spent with my toddler. I am not off scrubbing floors, for my own personal gain, while my son listlessly and lonesomely fiddles with an artfully arranged set of designer blocks.


I'm the first mom to flop down and play in the dirt. I'm happy to let Rhys feed himself, even try to drink by himself from a big glass, knowing full well there will be a mess for me to clean up after the fact. We play with finger paints, markers and crayons. I let Rhys take each and every toy out of his toybox and scatter them all over the living room. He thinks it is hilarious . . . why not? I'm not some kind of prissy, obsessed neat freak, I'm just willing to straighten up after we play.

And my son? He's picking up on the concept of cleaning up after himself. He's fifteen months old and interested in copying everything I do, so it stands to reason he'd take interest in wiping down and putting away. Most nights I hand him a paper towel and let him play at wiping his high chair table after dinner. When we're done playing with his bucket and shovels upstairs, he helps me gather them all back up and put them away, under the bench. He's been known to stand at the clean laundry basket and hand me little shirts and pants, one by one, to fold.

We're moms. We've got limited time and resources. Some of us may make time for weekly manicures or date nights out with our husbands or time spent sewing baby clothes or updating our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram statuses. I make time for a clean house. We're all entitled to set priorities for ourselves, and bashing other moms who may not have set up their to-do lists in the same order we have is just counterproductive, mean spirited and unnecessary. It goes without saying that for the vast majority of us, no matter where the other items on our lists fall, our kiddos are right up there in the #1 position.

That is all.

Sad monkey, right?


Nutsy Coco said...

I fully agree with you. No kids for me yet, but I don't see my house falling into a complete mess once one finally comes along. My house is hardly perfect all the time, but I like to be organized because it keeps me sane. My SIL noticed my uber organized spices recently and commented that it won't be like that once we have kids. Um, why not? They're organized now. I can't see us suddenly pulling them all out and putting them back in a mess. And they're up high so a toddler won't be able to reach them.

I know there will be compromises but it's refreshing to hear from someone who thinks it's possible to have a clean house AND a child.

HollyLynne said...

UGH! That would make me mad too! I got lots of comments after I put together Rhys' nursery about "Lets see what it looks like after he's here!" and, you know what? it looks more or less the same. I've swapped out the side table for a play table, there are a few more toys and a few more toy storage bins . . . it is "lived in" for sure, but it certainly hasn't turned into a chaotic mess pit.

It is very much possible to have a clean house and a small child . . . don't let anyone tell you otherwise! :)

Amy said...

Whatever!! People are so ridiculous, spouting off superlatives in order to make themselves feel better. I sweep the floor at least twice a day and mop once, and I think my son is better for it since it's enables him to crawl and explore anywhere he wants to go. And you know what? I do it when he's sleeping or playing with daddy. THE SHAME! ;o) I agree about the nursery, too - Tate's looks as good (or better, since I've tweaked it to my liking in the past 10 months) it did before he was born. We play and then we pick up. What part of that is bad, again? Like you said, it's teaching them how to pick up after themselves and to learn the value of a little work. I wonder if the people saying things against this are only paving the way for the future lazy, ungrateful adults I have little patience for, hmmm? You boy is one of the most happy, well-rounding little buddies I know online. You're rocking it, my friend!

HollyLynne said...

Amy, I tend to clean while the Meyers is sleeping or playing with daddy too. I wake up 20 minutes earlier than I really have to every morning in order to unload the dishwasher, do a little laundry, etc.

Bad mom, for shame! Right? ;)