Thursday, March 05, 2009

Can we talk about standards?

So, my SIL arrives tomorrow. We are having a St Patricks Day party on Saturday. My MIL and FIL are arriving next Wednesday, just one day after my SIL leaves.

It is widely known that I am a crazy person about cleaning before people come over here. I will wash all the curtains, scrub the inside of the refridgerator, clean out the medicine cabinets and on and on.

In truth I think this is a response to stress and about what my house looks like. (I tend to struggle with anxiety and being busy helps alleviate that.)

I am finding that the older I get the less I care about the cleaning. Well, that's not exactly right. I do still *care* but I have zero motivation to do it anymore. I've been doing it since I was 15 or so, and after 18 years I am finding myself struggling with a change in mindset.

But! there is still that little voice that says, "SARAH! Clean up those piles of crap, what will people think?" (I am convinced they will think I am a stay at home mother and everything here should be perfect, because after all, it is my job to be a homemaker*.)

It used to be that when I went to other people's houses I did notice if they had piles of crap. Now that I have Jack I find that I no longer care about other people's piles of crap. If their kids are happy and it's liveable, it's all fine by me.

This morning when I busted my knuckle cleaning out the fridge I wondered about all of you.

Do you clean obsessively before people come over? Do you not care? Do you notice other people's piles of crap when visiting them? Do you peek in the fridge and think "goodness woman, do you need 28 bottles of salad dressing?" Do you think you feel differently if you know the woman stays at home instead of working outside the home?

What are your personal standards?

Tell the truth now, no judgment here. :-)

* In reality I believe my job is raising Jack, not doing the laundry.


  1. My MIL is moving in with us this weekend. She is a deep clean person, I am a surface clean person. I normally go crazy cleaning before people visit, it was how I was raised. Normally I would be pulling my hair out right now cleaning up a storm before my MIL moved in but after having a second baby a month ago I just dont care right now. As long as both of the kids faces are clean as are their diapers I feel like I have done my job! I do notice others piles-o-crap and while I notice I dont care, if anything I am jealous that they can have piles of crap laying around and just dont care! You are not alone, that is what this nice long comment was meant to tell you.

  2. I am a slob at heart, a thrifter & a collector. The three things make for a VERY cluttered house! I do insist on moving all the piles into a room & closing the door before company comes over so we don't have people over much. If I notice someone's piles at all, it's in glee that maybe I dont have to clean too much before I have the next friend over. My vote is we all admit we have junk & just leave it out!!

  3. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Hang in there Sarah!

    I totally agree, you stay at home for Jack, not to clean your house.

    I love a clean house but it's tough with little ones around. I would much rather play with them! :) I've found that the trick is to find ways to get them involved. They don't do the job the way I want them to but at least they are helping a bit and not getting in my way as much when I do the type of cleaning job I like. If you start Jack young, it can be really helpful.

    Who cares what others think. They are only visiting to see you and your family anyway, not your stuff. If your house happens to be messy, so what! That's their problem if they can't handle it, not yours!

    Enjoy your in-laws...try not to stress. Keep in mind that they visit because they love you guys! I wish my family visited more often...

    Blessings! Jane

  4. This is a great post! I am clean frantically before people come too. As Ray from everyone love raymond said" it is the company house, Not the real house" Or something along those lines. My friend from CA is coming later this month and I am making curtains and wanting to paint every room before she comes. I am a pile person too, poor hubby, he is a neat freak. my girls are total slobs, I try to make them tidy and their rooms look terrible most of the time, so annoying. I want my house to look like a magazine picture and there is no way. The good thing about company is you get to enjoy the clean for awhile after they are gone!

  5. I was just having this conversation with myself this morning! I used to clean frantically before people came over. Even my best friend, just for a playdate. It was always because I was afraid of what people would think of me. As I'm getting older (I'm 34), I'm finding that I just don't much care what people think of me that much anymore :)
    I had a bunch of friends and their kids over for a kid friendly New Year's Eve a few years back and we still had a big pile of broken down boxes from Christmas sitting in the kitchen next to the back door. One of my friend's said "Oh, I'm so glad to see your boxes there! Why do we always try to be someone we aren't just to impress each other while the kids play?"
    From that point on I've given up on trying to make my house pefect for company. I vacuum (because we have dogs) before anyone comes over and then just do my regular every day stuff (wipe down the counters, pick up dirty towels out of the bathroom, etc...)
    Its liberating!! :)

  6. Love your blog! I've read for a while and never posted. I found your blog through my love for vintage items but really stayed b/c I also have a 4 year old named Jack!

    As far as deep cleaning before company, so glad to hear I'm not the only one. I really though I was the only neurotic woman who needed to pain before a party! I too am finding myself less crazy since motherhood!

  7. I think for me it really depends on who's coming. If it's my family I don't do as much because I don't feel like I need to impress them. Even though I know I don't need to impress others either, I stress it a bit more. It's super hard to have a spotless house all the time with little ones. I always tell my guests, if you drop by after 5 you can expect a semi-clean house. (I try to have my house clean by that time everyday so that my husband doesn't have to deal with the stress of a messy house after a long day at work.) BUT, if you drop by unexpected during any given day, I can't promise that there wont be crackers all over the floor and dishes in the sink.
    I think everyone looks at what's in people's houses. I think when I was younger I used to wonder why people couldn't keep their place clean. Just get it together. Now that I'm older and have a family and other responsibilities I totally get it and I don't ever judge. I figure everyone is just doing the best they can. Some days maybe that's just getting out of bed.
    Who cares what others think anyway. Just keep on doing what you're doing! You're a great mom and that is really all that matters.

  8. This has me looking back to Frankie's growing up years. We would always spend the day or two before any visit or holiday cleaning and sniping at each other to get ready. And I can remember my inlaws saying they didn't like to come over because our yard was messy or because we weren't tidy (and by no means we were THAT BAD) We stopped having people over for a long time and now that Frankie's an adult I see we missed out on a lot of stuff. I say do what you can and if you three are happy with your lives other people can just suck it if they don't like it. Seriously.

  9. Anonymous9:41 AM

    I do it too. That's how I was raised as well. For long(er) term guests, I go all out. And I hate to say it, but I expect others to do it too. At least sweep the floors if you know I'm coming with small kids.

    That being said, I don't notice small stuff at others houses. If I ever do, its in an "Oh i feel better now" way.

  10. I care less and less all the time. I keep trying to get myself organized enough that when someone is coming over that all I would in theory have to do is more a pile or two out of the way and it would be presentable. But as I try my hardest to get organized, everything seems to get worse and worse. I never seem to get to the other end of... it has to get get worse... before it gets better!!!

    Run the vacuum, clean the bathrooms and the kitchen counters and sink, shove the rest in a closet or drawer, or a little seen room (my bedroom for example) and call it done! that is my motto!

  11. Anonymous11:11 AM

    I clean obsessively before people come to stay. I also clean obsessively before we leave to go anywhere because what would people think of me if I died on vacation and they found I left a messy house?) I can usually hide stuff and clean the bathroom fast if people are just coming to visit. Increasingly, I figure my real friends don't care, and I feel better going to their house and seeing a little imperfection. I think my level of judgmentalness (?) is directly proportional to how much I like the person. Like 'em a lot? Don't care how their house looks. Find them insufferable? I care a lot, and I will find something wrong. I am deeply ashamed.

  12. My ILs are coming this weekend so I plan to clean tomorrow, but honestly--the house needs it! Things got kind of neglected around here in February and it's looking a bit rough. I'm not going crazy though--vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and the guestroom.

    Other than that, I don't care. I could clean ALL DAY and never be caught up so I've just learned to let it go. Also, I'm the neat one in the family and DH is a slob, and I can't control what he does but I'd rather not fight against it all the time. I'm a piler, but at least my piles are neat. :)

  13. I bought an old collector's plate at a yard sale a fgew years ago that says this:

    "My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy."

    It's clean, but it can be messy and cluttered. I break my neck for Christmas Eve, but pretty much just do normal cleaning the rest of the time.

  14. Interesting questions - yes, I will clean obsessively if in-laws are coming over, no if it's my family.

    I go through phases, but honestly, the only time my house was consistently neat and clean for more than a few days (I did FlyLady for a few months when Peter was about 6 months old), I felt like that was the only thing I did and it drove me nuts. I do try to keep the living room presentable so that when the front door opens, no one is shocked. I do not judge people unless their houses are filthy (like you can see the dirt) - I do consistently do the "big jobs" about once a week - bathrooms, floors, dusting, etc. I do have a really hard time with clutter, so I have piles, but I try to keep them manageable. And actually, sometimes I judge the other way - especially young moms who have homes where everything is in place and spotless all the time - I think that must be their focus and all they do (it would be if my home were that spotless) and they may regret later in life that they just didn't let it go every once in a while (is that terrible? maybe I do it to make myself feel better about my mess)

  15. I clean, too, but don't overdo it. Now, I will use company as an incentive to get some projects done that I've been putting off, but it's not a do or die type of thing. Sometimes I need the motivation like that.

    Other people's houses? Don't bother me at all. It's not my house to clean. I do like a wiped down counter, though.

  16. I always want to clean when in-laws come. When my mom comes, I could care less. I have piles everywhere. Mostly I don't notice others piles but rather am amazed that people lack them. Of course, even the neatest people have to have a closet or drawer or storage unit of least that's what I tell myself.

  17. Interesting topic Sarah! I do clean obsessively before an in-law visit, but like you, the older I get, the less I care. If they open up a messy closet -- oh well, they shouldn't have opened it, right?

    And yes to all your questions. Yes I notice piles. Yes I notice them more if you're a SAHM (which is TOTALLY unfair 'cause if you're not, there's no one there for it to get messy, right?) And Yes, I realize that none of that matters -- spending time with the child(ren) what really matters!

  18. I always clean up before people come over and in general like a clean place. Is our house clean? Not by a long shot. But at the end of the day, if I spend lots of time with my family after being at work all day and then collapse in my bed, because I am tired, then the house can go to hell (moderately speaking though). I prefer sleep over killing myself to clean. I also prefer to spend time with guests in a happy, not exhausted mood instead of yawning because I was up cleaning the night before they came. I don't care so much about other people's houses anymore. Things that I will notice if I go to visit another person's house - grunge in the toilet, pet hair everywhere (more so than average), rotting food on counters, and sticky spots over everything. Seeing as how most of those that I know don't live that way, I rarely notice their piles of crap, though I am sure that most people have piles of crap everywhere.

    Even though I'm not super neat though, this post is reminding me that we really do need to clean our basement and attic at least once....hmmmm :)

  19. I will be hosting a baby shower on Saturday. Needless to say, I have spent the last couple of weeks cleaning baseboards, miniblinds, ceiling fans, and oiling the kitchen cabinets! Yes, I go nuts cleaning. I don't judge when others don't clean like I do, but I do wonder what some people do with their time....

  20. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I can rarely be bothered to clean in too much depth, I have piles of thrifted stuff everywhere and as for the state of the floor around my sewing desk...but the second I hear someone might be coming over I panic and clean. But mostly if the dishes are done and the bathroom is clean I let the rest go. I notice mess in other peoples houses but they're living their lives so who cares I say.

  21. Used to but now - not so much. Good for you for letting go.

  22. I can be a bit of a clean freak when people are coming to stay or visit. My husband gives me a hard time and asks if the Queen is coming. I can't help myself and I know it is not necessary but I still stress myself out doing it and grump at the kids about keeping their romms clean. Maybe I need therapy :0)
    You have my sympathies!

  23. I notice all aspects of decorating, but more because it's interesting how others live than judging. Also, we are Felix and Oscar and I am the *messy* one so I am not judging! Dh wants me to clean like crazy before company comes because it's his rare opportunity to have no piles!

  24. I’m struggling with this too. In fact I have company coming tomorrow, and instead of cleaning I’m checking the computer. Before I was a mommy I use to look at my SAHM friends and think how bored they must be. Now I look at them and think how in the world do they do it all. What can I learn from them so I can get more done, because I have no idea. One thing I have learned is that it’s hard to have to decide between spending quality time with your child and doing housework. I have to keep telling myself not to feel bad for choosing quality time, but I know that it is the most important in the end. Maybe tomorrow my SAHM friends can tell me how they do it and hopefully look past all my piles of crap!

  25. I LIKE having company come, because it motivates me! I don't do anything that didn't 'need' to be done!! I was raised with the motto "Don't stay Home to clean" - it will wait for you! I like that.

  26. Oh yes! I will clean like a mad woman if I know people are coming over

  27. I always want my house to look like a model home when people come over. The only problem? Model homes don't have 3 year olds living in them.

  28. I used to clean like a mad woman before we had people over. Now, not so much. I work full time and the house is usually pretty clean and straight anyway. My youngest is now 18, so he's outgrown leaving his toy cars and trucks laying around and will actually call me when he gets home from school to see if I need anything done around the house (shocking, I know). My husband will also help out occasionally. I don't mean to say it's spotless, but its good enough for us so I figure it's gonna have to be good enough for everyone else too. Just don't look in my closets, please!

  29. I usually try and clean the house before I know someone is coming over. I always have piles around, piles of coupons, piles of mail... all things I say I'll go through and then don't, lol. So I try and get all that put away before people come.

    I notice people's crap, but unless the house feels dirty and gross, it doesnt bother me. I know life is busy and things get overlooked. No one is perfect, I'm definetly not!

  30. Anonymous1:41 PM

    YES! Try being a foster parent when strangers troop thru your house nonstop! Drives the southern girl in me crazy.

  31. Ok if you saw my blog the other day and saw the picture of my desk you'd understand my life and someone wrote a comment that a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind, so my thought is a spotless house is a sign of a sick mind, I have two kids and 3 dogs, it's never clean, if you are happy others can deal with it.

  32. Okay I love to shop so I got junk. I pile things up and let them sit on the dinning room table. Then when company comes I grab it all and toss it in either a room or the garage. Of course without fail every time I do this someone needs to go in that room and see's my mess anyways.

    Grandma came to visit this week. I cleaned and decluttered but ran out of time when it came to the master bedroom. Wouldn't you know it, she needed to use my shower! She couldn't' get into the one in the hall.

  33. My style of cleaning varies from place to place in my house. Depends. In a perfect world my house would be 100% clean all the time like my neighbor Laura's. But I don't like doing it so it isn't. Period. I'd rather sew.

  34. When I was younger I was very OCD about my house being clean. I could be sitting on the couch, having a conversation with someone and notice dust on a table across the room. I'd have to jump up and dust right then and there! And my carpet got a good vacuuming about twice a day! A friend of mine used to laugh at me because I had my spices in alpha order and my glasses were in the cabinet, turned upside down so nothing got into them, and in order according to size!
    Now that I am older, not so much. I still have to have a relatively clean house when I know someone is coming over, but as long as there is a little order to things, that's good enough.

  35. Anonymous12:04 PM

    One of my favorite sayings ever!!!

    A clean house is not the sign of a good mom!!!

    I totally get you though! Reading your post was like reading exactly how I feel, I am the same way...I struggle to not be ocd :) and I have THREE kids...

  36. I love the look and feel but don't have the energy anymore to keep it perfect! I once locked the "company" bathroom for 3 days after I'd cleaned it so no little boys would go in and mess it up! I was a freak about stuff like so much!

  37. hehe do you really have 28 bottles of salad dressing?
    what i really want to know is, am i the only nut that has more condiments in her fridge than "regular" food???
    i dont care if people have piles, we all have piles, its just some peoples piles show more than go be messy girl!
    and of course i clean like a manic when i am expecting guests..


Hi there. What say you?