I Traded My Clean House for 4 Kids & I Don't Regret It

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Dirty Dishes in the Sink
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Once upon a time, I had a really clean house. Even when I had two kids (nearly five years apart, by the way), my house was almost always clean. Did I mention that I was also a stay-at-home-mom at the time? 

Yeah, I'm laughing at myself now, too -- while I am literally sitting at the kitchen counter with my laptop, staring at a sink full of dirty dishes and wondering why my elbow is sticky. Probably has something to do with the yogurt my 2-year-old was eating earlier. 

  • Look. I'm a neat freak, so this bothers me.

    I have never been a person who easily brushes off everyday messes. Of course, I try to go with the flow and understand that messes happen. Sometimes I even enjoy messes! Especially when they involve a lot of laughter from my kids. Because if there's one thing I care more about than maintaining order -- it's my kids. 

    And aren't kids supposed to get dirty? Isn't making mud pies part of childhood? But then everything is supposed to get cleaned up, and mostly stay cleaned up -- at least until the next "messy fun time."

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  • Now I have FOUR kids -- and nothing is totally clean. Ever.

    Back when I was a SAHM to one and then two kids, my house was never perfect ... but it was presentable. After I got a full-time job and welcomed babies three and four ... well, let's just say that I had to throw the idea of at least a semi-clean house out the window.

    Right now, I live with a man, a teenager, a tween, and two toddlers. A sticky elbow or a sink full of dishes is low on my priority list. That time I used to take to clean up every mess my kids made, and teach them to clean up after themselves? It's spent making sure they all have time with mom. 

  • Love is unlimited, but time is not

    I love all four of my kids exactly the same amount. Some days, I'll definitely like one or two of them more than the others, but that's a topic for another day. It's true what they say, though, about the love you have for your children -- it isn't diminished with a new addition to the family. 

    So I have all this exploding love for my daughters, but what I don't have a ton of is time. Between working full time, carpooling the older girls to and from their activities, wrangling two mischievous toddlers, helping with homework, helping to solve friendship problems, helping to solve sharing problems ... oh, yeah, and making sure that the husband and I have a moment to connect on a daily basis ... yup, I'm LOL'ing at the idea that my house will ever be totally clean again.

  • Even with outside help, it's impossible. I had to get over thinking that I'm embarrassing the cleaning lady.

    I have a wonderful woman who comes every other week to make sure we don't end up living in a sty. Everyone knows the night before is time to pick up all the crap from where it doesn't belong and put it away.

    "Why do we clean up if Victoria is coming to clean?" they ask. 

    "Because I pay her to clean, not pick up your crap," I tell them. 

    More often than not, though, I never feel like things are picked up enough when she comes. Actually, it's never once happened. Thankfully she is amazing and makes neat little piles out of whatever I didn't manage to get put away. 

  • I get about an hour every two weeks when things are relatively spic and span, and for now, that's enough.

    When Victoria is done, the carpet is vacuumed, with all the chip crumbs taken blissfully away. The kitchen sink is empty and sparkles. The counter is cleared, and I can run my hand over it without worrying about what level of stickiness I'll encounter.

    It's marvelous, and it reminds me that someday I'll have time to keep up with the house on a daily basis. But now, I just simply don't have the time or energy to devote to it.

    I'd so much rather have these kids to raise in this messy house full of love and fun than a clean house without them.