I approach this topic sheepishly. It’s been a struggle for me my whole life. A family joke is that I knew how to hire and fire housekeepers before I was eighteen. As a kid and single adult, my bedroom was always a mess. When my husband and I were dating, someone felt that he should see the condition of my bedroom before deciding if he wanted to marry me. That was embarrassing, but fair, I suppose. I’m glad that he loved me enough to go ahead and seal the deal.

As a stay at home mom with little kids, I was overwhelmed by laundry, toys, dishes and kid messes in general. I was often discouraged and ashamed. I was stressed out and could not relax in my own home. My husband is a doctor and coming home to the chaos of a messy house, little kids and a stressed out wife was tough on him, and I’m sad to say, our marriage. He would offer to help, but I was defensive and embarrassed and it almost always led to a fight. We had housekeepers off and on, but the house still always felt messy.

A few years ago I finally figured out the main problem. We had too much stuff! There were too many clothes, too many toys, too many knick knacks and too much junk. I began purging stuff. Every year I would purge a little more. Last year I went really crazy and decided to become a minimalist. I haven’t quite achieved that goal yet, but I did get rid of a lot of stuff! I am finding that the house is a lot easier to keep clean when I don’t have things everywhere.

Also, it helps that the kids are older now. Everyone has their own laundry day and washes their own clothes. They clean their own rooms. They all have chores that they do and while the house isn’t perfect, MOST days it’s pretty good. There are a few little hot spots that I know I need to get to. I am going to clean out that area under the buffet! Every time I open it storage containers come tumbling out and it drives me crazy. And I really need to organize the kids’ craft supplies, and the basement storage rooms need to be purged, but overall, I am pleased with things.

The best part of having a clean-ish house is that I can relax at home now. I don’t feel guilty or stressed. I am learning to stay on top of things. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a clean the baseboards once a week kind of girl, but when the kids need to earn extra money, they do baseboards and windows. My house will never be on the cover of an organized living magazine, but it’s cozy and there is order. My goal for my home is that it will be a peaceful and comfortable place for my family to gather. I don’t like it when my house is full of stuff, but I am overjoyed when it is filled with the people that I love.

So, if anyone were to ask me advice on how to keep their house clean, I would first laugh at the irony, and then I would tell them to get rid of things that they don’t need. On that note, I think I just figured out what my plan is for the rest of Christmas break. Anyone need some stuff?

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