For me, this post is one of the most relatable that I’ve had in this series. At least most reliable to my own personal life. I’ve been “accused” of being a Monica too. And, Nicola’s feelings about her messy house are something I can relate to. In a big way. Nicola is a very loyal reader here, and always makes me feel less alone in this parenting world. I’m so thrilled to have her here today. Make sure to check out her awesome blog too. If you want to be part of my Be Brave Guest Series go here.
I’m writing this guest post as part of Meredith’s ‘Be Brave’ series. It’s inspired by the idea that becoming a parent has meant that I have had to change in many ways, but in particular my need for perfect order and neatness around the house. As I explained to Meredith, I wasn’t nicknamed ‘Monica’ for nothing and if you remember this Friends character, then you will instantly understand how I used to be.
Thank you, Meredith, for including my story in your series.
My daughter and I stand back and admire our handy work. The shelves of the playroom are organised into boxes and baskets containing related articles, such as craft items, Playmobile sets and trains etc. The books are aligned. Our work here is done.
It feels good to have it all organised just so. There is a sense of relief that comes with this and I can tell my daughter feels it too. I realise that she is just like me, yet in this instance I am not in the least bit happy or proud. I feel sorry for her.
I’ve spent the last ten years trying to come to terms with the fact that having children has brought a level of chaos and mess to my life that is unlike anything else I could have imagined. I’ve tried to fight it, but it is impossible to control and at some point I have had to admit defeat and learn to live with it.
Perhaps I’m being over dramatic. But prior to children I was a proud home owner who enjoyed having a show-home style house. The curtains were dressed with equal distance between each fold, ornaments were strategically placed, scatter cushions and throws were in abundance.
Nowadays my house mostly looks like it has had a bomb dropped on it.
I walk in to a room sometimes and feel a sudden tension running through me as I look around at all the mess. The kids have been in the living room again. The sofa cushions are thrown all over the floor and the throws have been used as a tent or blanket or whatever, who knows? I sigh in resignation and straighten everything back up. Until the next time…
And the clutter, oh the clutter, where does it all come from? Books, magazines, bits of paper, toy figures, plastic jewellery, shoes, items of clothing, the list goes on. If I’m not standing on it, I am sucking it up in the vacuum cleaner by accident or if I feel that way inclined I will just gather it all up and throw it in to the relevant child’s bedroom.
‘Does the front door mat look like a shoe cupboard to you?’ I will yell.
‘My kitchen worktop is MY space, so get your toys off it or else they go in the bin.’
I have tried to help matters by providing guidance on where things are supposed to go, in the hope that my family will at least humour me. I had specially made drawers and hooks put in to a cupboard in our hall, so that the children can hang their coats and put their shoes away. Nine times out of ten they manage to comply, but there are times when all they can be bothered to do is open the door and throw their shoes in, shutting the door behind them in the hope that I won’t notice.
But I am learning. Learning to close the door and walk away. At one point I would have been having palpitations at the thought of what mess was lying behind said door, but I’m getting better at it. I have to be content with having ‘areas’ where things can be put/thrown and know that at least they are not covering the kitchen floor or cluttering the work surfaces.
Occasionally though it becomes too much and I cave with the urge to do a proper tidy and organise. This is where my eldest daughter comes in. She has gone from the most untidy little girl to having a room where nothing is out of place and everything within her drawers and wardrobe is perfectly co-ordinated and arranged. I swear I didn’t nag her in to submission. It must be something that is in her, like it is in me.
This is how we come to be organising the play room together. Neither of us can take it anymore. Something must be done. We work together and it is fun. We ruthlessly throw out old toys that are no longer used (we’re both really good at that) and before we know it we’re finished. The trouble is neither of us want to let the other two kids back in the room because we know they’ll make a mess again, but reluctantly we do it (after giving a lecture about how they must keep it tidy).
I envy people whose houses are perfectly tidy and clutter free (I know a few), but I have finally stopped trying to be like them, it is too exhausting. I have come to realise that my house is a home and one that you can’t fail to notice has a family living in it. Finally I have reached the stage where I am comfortable with it that way. As the saying goes, a house should be lived in and our house definitely ‘lives’ in us.
I’m Nicola and I’m a writer. I’m also a mum to three young children, so I’m never short of material to write about. On my blog, Nikki Young Writes you will find articles about parenting, health and life in general.