Like most people, we make an effort to show a mostly-organized face to the world. But you don’t have to peek very far behind the curtain to realize that, most of the time, we’re holding it together with scotch tape and paperclips. Years ago we threw up our hands and stopped doing a lot of the things we “should”. For example, we don’t:
- Clean. Hardly ever. Papers move around our house in piles that languish for months before we sort through them. Jumbled heaps of clothes straight-from-the-dryer sit on our bedroom floor for weeks on end. Holiday decorations hang around long past the right season. Bags go unpacked for ages after trips. Stacks of art supplies from three kids’ birthday parties ago are cluttering our garage. We can’t remember the last time we pulled our vacuum cleaner out of the closet (thank goodness for our crumb-loving dog!). We do invest in a housekeeper so our mess stays just on the disheveled side of filth, but still…..
- Make our kids clean up their own spaces consistently. Yeah, we know we really should do this. But since we’re hardly role models in this area, seems like a lost cause before we even start. We do attempt to get them to clear their dishes, and enlist their help in periodically tidying their playroom and bedroom. But our attempts are halfhearted, at best. We figure since the kids do get lots of practice in cleaning up at school, they’re unlikely to turn out complete slobs, right?
- Print and frame family photos. The pictures scattered around our home and offices are light years out-of-date. We barely resemble the young, carefree, well-dressed people in the photos of just the two of us. The only saving grace is that the kids’ school pictures are still ordered old-school, in print. So at least some pics of them are sort-of-current.
- Do house maintenance, until a problem hits critical level. And even then, we’re not very fast on the draw. Case in point – last month, we finally fixed windows that have been broken since we moved in three years ago! We ignored a slow leak from our shower for months until a mushroom grew out of the baseboard! We finally pulled the baseboard out, and are now slowly taking steps to replace the closet wall where water also seeped through. Next up: the slab of stone façade that has been hanging off the front of our house for over a year now. We’re sure we’ll get around to re-attaching it, someday….
- Cook (actually cook) dinner more than a couple times a week, and even that’s only if the stars align. Thank goodness for BJs & Trader Joe’s frozen meals and a neighbor who caters reasonably-priced home-cooked meals for busy families. Without them, the whole family would be on a peanut butter-and-jelly diet five nights a week.
- Iron. Ever. Seriously.
This list could go on and on, but you get the picture. The big question is – are we okay with all this? The answer – it really depends on the day.
Generally speaking, while neither of us likes to deep clean (something we discovered the hard way early on in our marriage), we both like things neat and organized and functioning. Leaving stuff undone or half-done stresses us both out, and we occasionally feel guilty about all the things we “should” do with/for the kids but don’t. Plus, D really enjoys cooking, and B gets a kick out of decorative organizing.
Every once in a while we get so annoyed by what’s left undone that we spin into a whirlwind of activity – aggressively putting things away, organizing, cooking, scheduling repairmen, etc… Each time, D relishes the nine and a half minutes he gets to enjoy a clean house or car before chaos once again takes over. But we just can’t keep up. Between juggling both of our work calendars, the kids’ schools and activities, family time, seeing friends, and squeezing in the rare hobby now and then, not to mention occasionally sleeping, our time is at a premium. So all those things we should do, but don’t, inevitably resume their spot in the backseat.
When it all gets to us, as it often does, we try to take a deep breath and remember that we’ve made a conscious choice to focus on the things that really matter to us, and to do those first. And we hope that no one (well, at least, not to our face) will judge us too harshly on all the things we don’t.
What don’t you do? How do you feel about it?