I would love to have an immaculately clean house. I long for a day when I can open my door at any given time and everything is perfectly picked up- nary an item out of place. I have tried all sorts of methods and programs, but my house stays pretty much the same. Moderately picked up- usually clean. The norm to get it "company ready" is about 2 hours. Not bad, especially considering that I have pretty high standards. However, I would love to just have it ready at a moment's notice (or at least clean enough to invite the Schwan's man in without apologizing). I was discussing this very subject with a friend on Saturday. I came to a few conclusions:
1. Most people who have perfectly clean houses (although I think the word I am looking for is acutally "tidy"- my house is clean: vacuumed, dusted, bathroom wiped down, etc.) have either fewer children than I have , or they have much younger/older ones. That is: people who have infants, or no kids, or kids 7 and up, usually have a little more help or not as much mess. I have to say: when I just had Jocelyn my house was clean all the time. She was not quite the destroyer Carson is, nor did she need as much direct supervision.
2. Owners of tidy homes are not as inclined to participate in many activities. We have three regularly scheduled activities a week (4 if you include Sunday church) and a multitude of other one-time occurrences (this week we had dinner with friends twice, I had drop-off and pick-up for the JBF sale, I went to the outlet mall-twice!, and a couple of other things I am pretty sure I am forgetting) I could trim back the number of times we are out of our house, but I am not sure that at this point that I am willing to make that sacrifice.
3. They usually have exceptionally neat AND helpful husbands. I have a helpful husband, but he is not neat. He is horrible about leaving clothes anywhere and everywhere (the bathroom, dining room, living room...) He will do anything I ask, but he is not particular about putting things where they go. If they are in the general area, or out of the living room floor, he is happy. I don't believe he has ever put away the kids laundry and if he can't figure out where something from the dishwasher goes (he has emptied it twice in the past three months) he just leaves it on the counter. However, he is great at vacuuming and also motivating the kids to be useful . So, I'm not complaining, just explaining.
4. They have more rules than I am willing to commit to: no shoes inside, no food outside the kitchen (we can't eat in our kitchen), only water for the kids, etc. We do have rules, but I don't have one for everything- I couldn't remember them all! It is not in my personality to be that regimented.
5. They have much more regular schedules than we do. It is 12:00 pm as I am writing this and Joel has already been home twice. That usually disrupts anything we have going on. This happens quite a bit, but not every day. I have a routine that I try to follow but I have to be flexible. I can't be a slave to the clock.
Basically, I realized that unless I am willing to make drastic changes to my lifestyle I will probably never have a constantly show-ready home. I have decided to make some small changes to see if that will help me to be a little more welcoming to random people who come to the door. I recently instituted a rule that the kids can no longer bring "upstairs toys" downstairs. I am working at doing more quick tidying of the front rooms, rather than deep, totally organzied cleaning. For some reason, everything in the house gravitates towards those areas!
I also have to say that I am sure that there are people with lives similar to mine who have cleaner houses. But, I am learning to balance the desire to have a "perfect" house with having a wonderful family and a busy life. I think that I can have some of both, but I will never have all of either. It does make me feel better though, when on a day like today, my house is clean, schooling is done and my Bible study and Awana lessons are planned. Almost makes me feel like I can do it all...almost.