You Can’t Do It All

Do you avoid having people over to your house because you feel it is simply too messy?

Here are some pictures of what my house looked like the other night when we had friends over for our twice a month Bible study.



Now granted, I had the main rooms straightened up, but they certainly weren’t “clean.” The floors in the entryway and kitchen were awful! I’m sure it was noticeable, as people probably left with sand stuck to the bottom of their socks, but I’ve ceased to care.

So, all I can say to you is, if you hesitate to have people in your home for this reason…get over it along with me. Please! Your mess helps me feel better about mine.

I read a survey recently that interviewed both stay-at-home and working moms on the reasons they feel guilty. For both groups of moms, the state of their house made one of the top three reasons.

Why is that? Are we holding ourselves to some kind of unrealistic expectations? I would speculate that our standards have increased in several areas making it nearly impossible to do all things well, let alone even one thing.

This scenario reminds me of when I was getting my elementary education degree. We had a class focused on every discipline, and each professor thought we needed to make their subject the priority in our future classrooms. Be the best math teacher. Be the most outstanding reading teacher. Blow the parents away with your science experiments. The stark reality when I started teaching was doing all of it to maximum capacity was pretty much impossible. In fact, the principal may dictate what a teacher focuses on, then you have no choice.

So here is the truth. Keeping your house clean as a single parent, or with two working parents, is hard without a cleaning person. Your time is limited, especially if you hope to spend time with your children. If you stay at home full time with little ones, I think it’s self-explanatory why keeping your house spotless is a nearly impossible feat. I remember sitting down at the bottom of the steps and crying my heart out one day, because no sooner would I get one room clean and move on to the next, than the previous room would be a mess again because of my littlest guy. I wish someone had told me to take the pressure off.

I just don’t think it’s possible to give 100% at work and then turn around and give 100% at home. And for moms who stay home, we expect ourselves to not only keep the house clean, but provide hours of engagement and entertainment for our children. I don’t think moms 40 years ago felt the same expectation to spend as much time with their kids acting as their playmate. And people certainly didn’t have their kids involved in a zillion different activities at the same time. You add exercise and trying to cook healthy meals on top of all of this, and you have a recipe for nothing but disaster.

Just think of Betty Draper from the show Mad Men. She stayed home, plus she had a nanny/housekeeper. Wouldn’t that be grand? The grocery store without kids? Sheer bliss.

No doubt I could write a series of blog posts on possible solutions, but that isn’t my purpose today. I simply want to say, “It’s okay if you can’t do it all. Not many of us can.”

Please invite me to your dirty house. I’m happy to share mine with you. I feel like so many people are afraid to show their messes– like somehow they are the only ones who have them. Right now my family room is cluttered with blankets, Valentine cards in the works, a dining table strewn with popsicle sticks for a random bridge project my son decided to create, a candy wrapper, and two baskets of laundry that needs to be folded, as well as one pile on the couch.

I live in the middle of a mess. You are welcome to come over and enjoy it with me, if you can find a spot on the couch! Leave judgment on the doorstep, and let’s focus on building relationships!

Do you share your home, or are you fearful? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

5 thoughts on “You Can’t Do It All

  1. Even though I’m not a mom, this totally resonated with me. I about had a breakdown on Saturday when our vacuum ceased working before Cameron came over. He came over to a cluttered downstairs, dog hair on the floor, and a couple pans soaking in the sink. He’s my BROTHER and I felt like I was letting him down and showing him a yucky side of me. Thanks for the reminder that my dirty, messy house doesn’t define me!

    • Absolutely. When we realize that not having people in our homes prevents us from deepening relationships, it makes the mess easier to deal with. Your brother would much rather be at your house in a less than perfect state, than not be there at all!

  2. I am totally struggling with this this morning! A friend is coming for lunch. And I really want to see her! Yet I’m feeling so defeated. I can never keep all the balls in the air, and sometimes my attitude is better than right now. But right now? I’m in the middle of a too-long kitchen reno, which I’m 97% doing on my own. I haven’t started school, gotten dressed or brushed my teeth. I’m tired. I have a cold.
    How do I let it go? How do I feel ok about the piles of stuff laying around?

    • To answer your question thoroughly, I think I need to write a follow-up post, but here is the quick answer. Focus on what you HAVE done not on what you HAVEN’T. I’m sure your friend will come over and think, “April is amazing. This kitchen is fabulous and I can’t believe she’s doing it herself.” That’s what I would think, anyway. And if she looks around and thinks, “Oh my gosh. This place is a pit,” I think you need a new friend. We all have bad days. There are seasons we can’t do as much as we’d like. Hope that helps. You are a great mama to your little ones. Put on some of that red lipstick today and celebrate the fact that you are one day closer to be done with your kitchen.

  3. Pingback: You Can’t Do It All: Part 2 (Strategy) | Middle of the Mess

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