August 16, 2012

Catch Twenty-Two

If living up to your own standards and personal expectations made someone else feel bad that they can't do the same, what would you do about it?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

I like to keep an orderly house.  Granted I have my days when the dishes pile up, the laundry goes undone, the toilet starts looking monstrous, and I've been in my pj's all day (or for a few...whatever!)


The floor was flooded by 2-3 gallons of lemonade the Twodles dumped everywhere!  

Generally though, my house stays pretty clean even for having a toddler running around all day.

There are a few reasons for this...

First, growing up my house was not the most tidy.  My mom inherited the I-can't-get-rid-of-it-what-if-I-need-it-someday attitude from her mother.  They were the type to keep the plastic silverware from the take-out dinner, just in case!  Coming from that background, I have grown to be the exact opposite.  I throw away things I shouldn't.  If I haven't used it or looked at it in a while, I chuck it.  I'm pretty sure my children will wonder if I did anything worthwhile in my life.  I continually cleanse my memory box when things won't fit in the one box anymore.  I know I have had the occasional thought "I shouldn't have thrown that away" but because I couldn't even tell you now what I thought that about, it can't be missed too bad right?  Maybe its a bit overboard, I know!

image source 

Second, I feel so much better with a clean house.  I just can't rest unless things are in their place.  I find myself picking up toys and movies at least 2-3 times a day.  Once the littles are napping I do a quick 10 minute pick up before I allow myself to eat lunch, veg in front of the TV, read a book, work on a project...whatever.  I try to follow this verse of scripture:
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;"
Having said that, I have had people stop in randomly and make a comment like "your house is cleaner than mine and I don't even have kids" or "how do you do it all?"  I don't repeat these things to brag at all.  It has just caused me to think about how I make other people feel.  Is my cleanliness causing someone else to feel inadequate?  Am I setting unrealistic expectations of a housewife?

Lets blame June Cleaver for the unrealistic expectation, okay!

So I keep wondering, do I let my own standards slack just to make someone else feel better about themselves?  If I were to let go, I wouldn't be fulfilling what I know I can do, so I'd be letting myself down.  Is it worth it?

Really what my house looks like doesn't matter, and what yours looks like doesn't either.  We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses.  Some are just more visible than others.  I really like this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
"We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those."
I can imagine it would be a more enjoyable life if we simply measured our successes and failures with the Lord.  He will help us know when we can improve and when we are doing our very best.  Without that envy and guilt we will be happier people and can spend more energy doing productive worthwhile things.

So here's to you!  Do YOUR very best and let go of the rest!


  1. I have to admit. It is nice to see that you are capable of mess. But it certainly doesn't look right. Chandee is a neat and tidy person and it is strange to see your place in any other form. Of course you probably cleaned everything as soon as you took those pictures. That is something you are great at. Getting rid of the clutter and keeping things clean. Now seeing my house as clean as yours wouldn't seem right to those who know me well :). This is more my norm. LOve you! I thin that is the important thing. We all need to do our best and try to improve on the things that we aren't happy with and not worry too much about what other people are doing. I don't know if i feel bad about myself when i see other clean clean houses but i will say that I feel happy when i visit someone knew and realize that they are a messy person just like me. It makes me feel like I am okay and not the freak that I often feel like I am. This is Jenni, of course, not JP.

  2. I would bet most people don't leave your house feeling bad about themselves because your house is so clean. If anything they probably feel inspired to want to be better in that area of their lives. AND there's nothing wrong with being inspirational. :)

  3. There isn't anything wrong with the way that you are thinking. You are thinking that you need a place for the spirit to dwell and for you family to be safe and happy. It is nice to go to peoples houses kids or not, and be able to walk in their living room or kitchen, and be able to sit without having to shift a ton of things around. Your kids will thank you, being that you will pass it on to them how to be clean and maintain a house. Also a cluttered and messy house, brings nothing but contention and frustration, when you can't find homework or a shoe or what not. I have had people tell me that my house is too clean, and that I won't be able to keep it up when I have kids, but here is the news flash, you can keep ANY house clean, if you try and take 10-30 min a day to do your cleaning list ( I also only tackle on area of the house a day ( mon: kitchen, tue; living room ect.) and then 2x a day I will tidy up, morning and night.)

    Don't let what you think others might be saying or feeling get you down, it's not about them, you want people to be comfortable and you want to be able to look at your kitchen or bathroom without going crazy right? Also the scriptures are the most important guide, we have that scripture hanging on our wall. Just do what you need to and everything will work out fine, every person and family is different.

  4. I understand your point of view and you wanting to have things clean and clutter-free. I have know a lot of people like that. It used to make me feel guilty and like I wasn't "measuring up" by keeping my house in the same order. I have found in my situation that if I focus too much on keeping things clean, I miss out on a lot of other important things, and get really moody, because there is always something that can be cleaned more, or one more thing that needs to be picked up. I have decided that the way that I live is what works for me, and I am not embarrassed anymore. I have found the balance of what I like clean, and allowing my kids some time to just be kids. If someone comments that I should keep things cleaner I just shrug it off and reply, "It's lived in." I like my kids to know that if they touch the windows to make funny faces, that I will leave it up for a day or two so they can admire their funny face, or if they spill their juice on the rug, it isn't the end of the world. If they track in mud, it cleans up.
    This is just my medium of how I live with things, as it has been said before, everyone works differently. This is what works for me for now.

  5. I'm not a very tidy person....well, i am a little bit. i like piles. for me, my piles are organized. i've found if i spend alot of time keeping something clean, i get mad if someone leaves something out. if our living room looks like it does now-"lived in", then i dont get mad at them. i do like your "spend 10mins of me-time straightening up. that;s something i can implement. you didnt make me feel bad, you helped me to become a better house wife!

    @jenni: your initials are jp too ;)