Photo: dericafox

Let’s be real… I’ve never really cared if my house is clean. But once I started having children, the pretty low standards I began with kind of bottomed out.

My wonderful Mother-In-Law (a domestic goddess by all accounts – and a law professor with a PhD!) offered to hire a housecleaner for me for three months after our first baby was born, and I said, “No, thank you.”

“Are you crazy?” you might be thinking to yourself. Nope. I just knew from the experience of others, that if I had someone coming into my house to clean, I’d have to pick up all the clutter first. Housecleaners don’t really do that.

So, that would mean I’d have to clean my house first, so that I could then pay someone to clean my house. This makes no sense! But, if I’m being honest, I was a little afraid that I’d love having a housecleaner so much that I would never want it to end. And we just don’t have it in our budget to pay for these services on an on-going basis.

Seventeen years ago, I started having babies. I’ve since added three more to the bunch and my last “baby” will be turning eight later this month. This means that the current state of my house will remain the same for at least another decade. And I’m okay with that.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever clean my house.

I can’t stand having an unmade bed, so this gets done immediately upon waking every morning. Ditto to having dishes in the sink, or laundry piling up. In a family of six, these things can’t not happen – so they get done on a very regular schedule.

But the deeper cleaning stuff? Not so much.

I sweep the kitchen floor on a semi-regular basis, but have considered getting a dog to help with all the crumbs that make it onto the floor. And as far as mopping? I only get to that when the white floor tiles start to look uniformly gray or there’s something so sticky underfoot that my shoe threatens to fall off when I walk on it. I clean the bathroom often, because – gross. But vacuuming usually happens after the ratio of debris to carpet tilts in the wrong direction. And dusting? Rarely – and only when we’re having company.

The clutter factor is an issue, so the day before recycling I walk around the house and find anything not nailed down to throw into the bins. But I have to be pretty sneaky about this, or I get called on it by one of my kiddos who’s upset about me trashing one of their “masterpieces!”

Listen… I’ve always known that I’ll never win “The Greatest Housekeeper In The World” prize, and I’m definitely okay with that.

But when given the choice to clean up my house and yell myself hoarse trying to get my kids to do their part, OR snuggle a little while longer with one of my sleeping babes, engage in another ticklefest, or read “just one more chapter!” of Harry Potter (with 20 different British accents, no less!) – I’m always going to choose fun over cleaning.

My kids will never remember me as a domestic goddess! But I hope they will remember that aside from the times when we’re hosting 40 people for Thanksgiving and our house needs to be cleaned NOW!, that I preferred spending time with them, or focusing on my writing, or cooking fabulous dinners (always making sure that the dishes were done before going to bed.)

Because life is short. Children grow fast. And I’m okay with my level of “clean.”

I’d like to think that my house will be really clean when all of my children are grown up and on their own… But by that time, it’s possible that my oldest might have a few children. And maybe I’ll do a little cleaning before they arrive for a visit – but once they’re here? All bets are off! I’ll be too busy having fun!

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