The New Year is upon us, and most of you are probably setting New Year’s resolutions for your home and for yourself—I get it. We all, in some form or fashion, want to fulfill the “New Year, New Me” philosophy which has been ingrained in us for years. But this year, I’m approaching my New Year’s home resolution a bit differently: I’m going to stop stressing about having a clean home before having guests.
Now some of you reading this may be thinking, How backward? Isn’t the point of a New Year’s resolution to better yourself?
And how could me getting more comfortable having a messy house, in any way, be a step in the direction of bettering myself? Well, I’m glad you asked—I’ll tell you how.
In choosing to care less about what other people think about the state of our home, I am choosing to stray away from the ailing need for perfection that often plagues me—and many other moms. I am making a conscious choice to not force myself to keep up with checked boxes in order to feel qualified as a “good” mom or wife.
I’ve come to the realization that a few scattered LEGO blocks and some crumbs on the kitchen floor are not a determining factor of whether or not I’m doing a good job—because in reality, I’m simply doing the best I can and that is always more than enough.
I admit it—I used to be that mom who always needed to tidy up before we would have company over. And even after hours on end spent cleaning, my greeting upon answering our front door would often be, “Please excuse the mess.”
In an attempt to people-please, our home always had to be spick and span before having company over. I couldn’t stand the idea of having guests in a messy house. I’d stay up into the wee hours of the morning, after my toddler had finally gone down for bed, bouncing from room to room to make sure everything was as spotless as could be. Sometimes, I’d be joined by my husband in this quest of what I now see as unattainable perfectionism.
I felt like our guests would be petrified by the toys sprinkled around the house. By the basket of dirty laundry sitting near the washer machine. By the sink semi-full of dirty dishes or by the fingerprints of our toddler that decorated the piano.
Because who could imagine ever being in a messy home? Definitely not other people who also have their own homes—and perhaps even their own kids, right? Definitely not people who might know how hard having a clean home can be sometimes. How could they possibly understand? (Inserts fake gasp and eye roll).
I think a vast majority of us weigh ourselves down with the pressure of presentation in front of others. One TikTok couple, @Thedashleys, even created a hilarious satirical video portraying how some people often think guests react to even the slightest amount of dirt.
And even while some of the comments such as “Let’s normalize only letting people into our houses who we don’t care if they see it dirty” and “I will never judge. A messy house just means there’s life. Ppl work and have things to do, cleaning is tiring” are reassuring, the truth is that the pressure still exists—and sometimes, even the judging from outsiders does as well.
I don’t understand the reason behind wearing ourselves thin trying to obtain a spotless house before guests arrive, when in reality… that’s not reality. Reality is that we have a messy house more often than not. Reality is that sometimes, the days get away from us and before we know it, we have three loads of washed clothes that still need to be folded. Reality is that sometimes dirty dishes sit in the sink overnight. Reality is that our children often travel behind us and unclean as we clean (ha, motherhood—am I right?). Reality is that life gets busy and overwhelming and demanding and sometimes, cleaning our home doesn’t take precedence.
So that’s why I’m choosing to stress less over the mess. I’m not going to wear myself thin over having a clean home. Because it’s all part of life—our life that is laced with ups and downs, tears and smiles, good days and bad ones. But at the end of each day, we have each other—messy house or not.
I understand that it’s likely considered an act of common decency to prepare your house for guests, but why do we make it an overwhelming, unrealistic expectation that our space has to look like it’s straight out of a magazine catalog? Why do we feel the need to decorate an idea of perfection when the people we have in our homes are those who know us, care for us and love us—despite the dust speckles that may line our baseboards some days?
My decision to stop stressing about having a clean home before having people over isn’t about disregarding my guests. It’s not about blatantly not caring if they have to step over piles of dirty laundry and toys and trash just to get to the couch. But it is about taking away the stress of trying to please everyone, of trying to look and act and be perfect.
I don’t want to spend hours upon hours creating my home to be a scene that does not mimic my reality, just for it to get messed right back up the minute my guests leave. I don’t want to spend so much time grappling with perfectionism that I miss out on enjoying the quality time spent surrounded by people whom we love.
So if there’s some dirty dishes in the sink, it won’t hurt anyone. If I forget to dust off the piano, it’s no biggie. Trust me, I’m trying to be the best mom that I can be, even when our home is in disarray and it looks like a tornado of children have just swept through. Chances are, they probably have. But if you step through our door, the one thing I ask is that any mess that our home may carry doesn’t hinder you from seeing us for us—some of the most genuine, loving, caring and compassionate people around who are just doing the best they can on this joyride of parenthood.
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