Okay mums and dads, how tidy is your home? Now be honest, do you live in a perpetually untidy home or do you somehow manage to keep on top of housework?
I often feel quite dismayed at the state of our house. It’s just never as tidy as I’d like it. When visitors top by, I am often paranoid about what they’ll think of the place.
Just before going on the school run this morning, I looked around the living room. The cushions on one of the sofas were all over the place as it had been pulled apart in a frantic search for a lost mobile phone.
The other sofa was covered in a duvet and a harem of soft toys. We wouldn’t usually allow this, but the eldest claimed the sofa as her own while she was a bit poorly and as she’s still getting over the bug, we’ve cut her a bit of slack.
Next to the bookcase was the ironing board Mrs Adams had used an hour or so previously. On top of the ironing board were my youngest daughter’s damp swimming costume and towel, dumped there in a hurry while her bag was rummaged through in a panic-stricken search for a vital piece of school uniform.
On the breakfast table were the children’s breakfast things. The rule is that they must put their used dishes in the dishwasher, but they’d run off after breakfast and left them there. In the cupboard under the stairs, meanwhile, was a knee-high pile of clean laundry that needed sorting and the whole of downstairs of the house desperately needed vacuuming.
I felt drained just looking at it. I once heard it said that an untidy space makes you feel exhausted and looking around me, I felt exhausted, very exhausted.
Balancing the needs of two children, a wife who works long hours and tending to this blog requires a lot of effort. The house is never perfect but the devastation around me was spectacularly bad following a couple of incredibly demanding weeks. Both kids had been off school having had different illnesses and the eldest had to be re-introduced to school doing half-days before returning to full days.
As you can appreciate, this has had an impact on my ability to undertake domestic tasks. That living room and that pile of laundry, sure, there’s always something that needs to be put away or tidied up but this had all built up during that ultra-demanding fortnight. Not only did I struggle to find the time to do housework, but instead of me being at home on my own, I had the kids at home with me (in various combinations) and that lead to more mess and untidiness.
I’ll now tell you a little story that warmed my heart. A little while ago I had to pick one of the kids up from a friend’s house. The friend has incredibly well-spoken parents and they’re lovely people. They’d been to our place in the past, I’d never seen inside their home.
This was probably wrong of me, but I’d built up a picture in my mind of what it would be like. I thought there was a good chance there would be no dust anywhere, shoes all neatly put away, no clutter anywhere.
As soon as I walked through the door I was presented with a clean house, but box files were stacked perilously on Ikea units. There was a liberal smattering of clothing lying around, and a personal computer in the corner surrounded by paperwork.
There was an air of warm domesticity and I felt oddly welcome. A family home that’s spotless and too tidy isn’t, in my opinion, an inviting place. Kids shouldn’t live somewhere where they’re scared to play for fear of breaking anything or making a mess.
Yeah, okay, as Mrs Adams sometimes likes to remind me, I could be better at this homemaker thing. I probably should encourage the kids to do more around the house.
The thing is, to live in a spotless home must require so much effort. A perfect home also suggests you’re focusing on appearances, not your kids and family. Nah, an untidy home wins over a perfect one every time. Just maybe not as untidy as our home presently is.