“Hi, my name is Lindsay, and I’m a mom with a clean house.”
*Cue irritated glares.*
Okay, okay, hear me out. The thing is, during my first pregnancy and once I had my daughter, I read all the posts out there in Mommy Facebook groups, I read all the new momma blog posts I could get my hands on, and there was always a resounding theme – let the housework go, let the laundry pile up, feel lucky if you shower once a week. First, let me say that if that helps you, I am totally okay with that! I am on board and support any way that any parent survives and thrives. We’re all different, and that’s okay. My favorite speech teacher used to say a quote that has always stuck with me: different doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different.
I’m a Mom with a Clean House – And That’s Okay
My need for clean
I wasn’t always neat, just ask my mom, but when I moved into my own home, my Monica OCD tendencies shined through. Yes, sometimes my need for clean can stress me out, but ultimately I’m the kind of person who cannot just sit and watch TV if there is lint on the carpet or dust particles on the table. I feel more at ease and happy when I have a clean house. It’s just part of my design.
I’m the same with myself – I always had friends in high school or college who boasted about going days without showering, but that is not my style. I cannot function without showering at night before bed, and when I was home during maternity leave, often I bathed right when I woke up and before bed. I’m very big on scents and cleanliness, so I like myself, my clothes, and my home to all reflect that.
Shocked and confused
It terrified and confused me to read moms saying you would be lucky if you shower every day, maybe a few times a week and you’ll be happy. I always wondered, but how is that possible to not have even a few minutes to yourself? I envisioned putting my baby in a bouncer outside my shower, checking on her every two seconds, but still making it work.
It was never this way. Moms assured me it really wasn’t possible (or at least not always possible).
But that’s not true. So if you’re a soon-to-be mom and want to shower and/or clean yourself every day, l assure you that YOU CAN DO IT. I promise, you can.
judgement and shame-free zone
I see comments on social media, judging and shaming moms who post pictures of clean homes. Sure, I’m certain many people will clean or stage their pictures, not revealing their 100% true lives, and to that I say, so what? And I’m certain many moms who show their clean homes actually are revealing their real lives, and again, so what?
If you’re a mom who cleans up solely for the purpose of a photo, why do we judge you? For many people, social media is a part of their livelihood and directly reflects their brand and income. Is there some Instagram law that says you have to post only the messy, unfiltered parts of your life? I hope not, because most of us would be in social media jail.
If you’re a mom who genuinely keeps a clean home while still raising kids, why do we judge you? Why do I have to read snarky Facebook comments or hear people say things like, “ugh, I just hate her, her house looks so perfect;” “if she has time to keep her house like that, I question her parenting;” “how does she have the time? I’m over here cooking, playing, going to ballet, art classes, sign language school, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches between piano class, and of course, snuggles and reading time – what is she doing with her kids?” These are all actual variations of things I have read or heard.
I don’t care if your house is messy – and heck, my house is far from perfect – but whether you have piles of laundry in every room of your house and a sink filled with dishes or shiny streak-free mirrors and a tinge of Pine-Sol in the air, I don’t care! I care about you and what works for you, completely free of judgement or shame.
the quest for authenticity
A huge trend in the blogging, social media, and parenting world is the term ‘authenticity’ – we’re all striving to find, live, and exude our authentic selves in order to bring realness to an often painfully fake world and to connect with other real humans, not the media’s manufactured version of them. But in this quest for authenticity, I see another trend – one that glorifies and even encourages mess and disorder.
However, some people’s authenticity is order and cleanliness. It doesn’t make them wrong, worse, or a prime target for your mommy group criticism – it makes them different from you. And that’s okay! Remember, different doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different.
my ultimate hope
I notice that people like to complain just for the sake of complaining. Now I’m not above rants and complaints, but I ultimately try to come from a place of solution. I try to understand that my way is not the best or only way, and I open my mind to others’ opinions (it’s part of what I love about discussing controversy!).
Maybe messy moms don’t need encouragement to post an untidy picture and to keep neglecting the housework, even if that makes them happy. Maybe they could benefit from tips and advice of simple ways to keep their house neat that could ultimately streamline their schedule, lighten the burden and stress of accumulated mess, and provide more happiness. Maybe moms need inspiration from other real moms who can teach them something new or allow them to experience a new kind of joy and balance they didn’t know they were missing. Or maybe not – maybe they are perfect just the way they are, and that’s okay too.
I know what helped me as a new mom in times of stress, feeling like I couldn’t put the baby down to shower or that I had to let the housework go (like these moms demanded, which made me miserable), was my mom, sister, and husband telling me it’s okay to put the baby down. I can keep my baby safe and happy if I take care of myself, and taking care of myself meant daily showers and tidying up. I needed the love, support, and encouragement from them, and maybe other moms do too.
My hope is that we just all become a little less judgmental, taking out the snark and caddiness that often bonds women together, that allows seemingly harmless negativity to spread like the sniffles through preschool.
And don’t forget, you’re not in this alone! If you have a partner, remember that we’re living in the 21st century – women are not in their parenting and domestic duties alone, so divvy up the work and make time for yourself.
Let’s take a moment to check our potentially mean girl mom behavior and just come together, messy, clean, and everything in between to support one another, in the spirit of kindness and helpfulness.