I'm a terrible housekeeper


I just am.

In our home, it would not be unusual to....

... find a vacuum cleaner that I used maybe two full weeks ago still standing out in the hallway. Right in front of the closet it belongs in. Sure, it's in the way. But I just step around it. As does everyone else in this house.

... find that a corner of my counter is always full of papers, mail, magazines, coupons, bills, cards, a bag of chips, a cookbook, and much, much more. And just so you can all feel, every one of you, quite better about your own countertops, here is a photo:

... find my bed, unmade, for the twentieth day in a row.

... find dirty clothes or towels strewn across the bathroom floor.

... find clothes lying on the bedroom floor.

... find Lincoln Logs, Legos, Wedgits, Tinkertoys, and/or dollhouse stuff strewn across my living room floor. Making it difficult to walk.

... find miscellaneous items on every single seating area in our living room. Right now, as I look around me, this is what I see:

*Across the room, on the blue couch, is the remaining (folded) laundry that I have yet to put away. Also a hamper of socks I have yet to match. There is always a hamper of socks I have yet to match. Also on the blue couch? A library book. And a hanger. Some hair pretties. Some clothes (too small or yet to grow into) that I don't have a place for, so they're waiting on the couch until I come up with a plan.

*Also across the room, on our chair-and-a-half, you would find the remains of a project I was working on earlier today. Some bakers twine, felt, scissors, and paper. Also my sweatshirt. And Ella's. And my keys, I see there now. Which is quite handy because when I need to leave the house tomorrow and can't find my keys, I might just remember typing their location here.

*The couch I'm sitting on at the moment has not one, but six pillows covering it. Two of which belong here, four of which do not. The kids were apparently playing with pillows at some point this evening. Also three books, Ella's baby doll, and another sweatshirt of Ella's.

Just to point out that if someone were to stop by unexpectedly, I would have to SCURRY to clear off a spot for them to even sit down.

I also see a bag of handmedowns that has been sitting in the corner of our room for a couple of weeks. I have yet to go through it. Or maybe I already did and have simply forgotten that I did; I don't know. I see two shopping bags leaned against the couch, my raincoat lying on the floor (Don't ask. I have NO idea. There are hooks for coats right by the front door.) I see my shoes, my purse, my Bible, a picture Ella made for Isaac this afternoon during her quiet time. A blanket lying on the floor. My sweater. Another book.

I hate this. I have always been like this. It used to be a *HUGE* battle; THE battle, between my dad and I when I was younger. I could not keep my room clean. It's not that I don't mind the clutter, I do mind it. When I stop and notice it. But most of the time I really do not see it. I am long in the habit of looking/walking around it. I need to train my eye to notice things out of place.

The good thing about this is that when I go to other peoples' houses, I think they're spotless. I really do not notice your clutter. And if perchance I did--you know, were you to point it out to me-- I would just love you to pieces.

The bad thing about this is,...

Well, there's plenty. To name just a few:

1) I'm a terrible model for my children. I need to get disciplined in this area myself so that they can learn good habits from me. And, um... my clutter plus that of my three tiny clutter-bugs? Not a pretty sight, folks.

2) I love having a tidy house. (Notice I did not say "clean". Tidy would suffice.) It really makes me happier and more at peace and able to rest when there is order in our home.

3) It causes me great anxiety when people do stop by. Really. Great alarm ensues in this house as people are obliviously getting out of their vehicles or walking up the sidewalk towards our home.

4) It makes me crabby. At myself, at my kids, at my husband.

I really want to change, I do. [And don't even for one second suggest Flylady to me. I tried that, once, for about two days. And let me just say that the very last thing I need is four-hundred daily emails cluttering up my already-full inbox in addition to all that clutters my house.]

So. We're working on this at our house. I am trying to be a diligent mama and remind the kids to clean one thing up before they get out another. I am trying to work at keeping our own bedroom clean and free of clutter. (And, HA! If you could see it now you would *so* know this is not going so well. ~smile~) I am trying to tell myself, as I walk through my house, "If you see something out of place, don't just walk by. Stop, pick it up, and put it where it belongs." I am praying that God would help. And teach me discipline. And open my eyes to see the mess. And give me creative organizing solutions. I have asked Mark to formulate a clean-up plan for the kids to be accountable to him for (something like they all have a designated area to keep tidy throughout the day and he can inspect it when he gets home from work.)

So in between meals and laundry and disputes and correction and school, we are applying ourselves to this task of keeping house.


  1. Best of luck to you, Stacy - I see myself in your every word in this post. This is also something I'm trying to get a handle on, bit by bit.

  2. If it wasn't for Amy, every room in my house would look like your countertop. My domain is the garage, which looks like your countertop, just with bigger stuff and taller piles.

    I'm sure you can do it; you just need to find your inner Amy.

  3. Hi Stacy, It always helps me if I tackle one room a day. Take that room and completely declutter it. I take things I don't need to Goodwill or give away to others, but I make sure I get rid of those things that day, so it isn't another pile sitting around. I know you didn't ask for advice, but I thought maybe this would be helpful.

    I think it is great that you are thinking about this, especially to be a good example to your kids and to bring peace to your home.

  4. I love you even more now after this post! :) And I didn't think I could love you more! :)

    I tried FlyLady, too. I had to unsubscribe from the five zillion emails, but a couple things really helped me. Picking ONE "hot spot" (ours is our corner counter, too) and keeping that cleaned off. Somehow it inspired me to do more than just that corner. Sometimes. Not today.

    One I do with my kids A LOT is either a "two minute tidy" or a "ten minute tidy" depending on what needs to get done. Two minutes can do one room sometimes! It is amazing how much the five of us can get done in just a few minutes, and it settles me down a little; I'm not as anxious.

    To me, it sounds as if your home is simply full of people who are LIVING and CREATING and ENJOYING their home. I'd prefer to be in your home than in some of my friends' spotless show homes! :)

  5. Hi Stacy!
    You poor thing, you have *little* children and you are teaching them, cuddling them, lovin' on them.. I personally, didn't keep a real clean house when my children were little. Right now, I imagine that you are in the teaching mode of even showing them how to clean. That can be overwhelming! By, the end of the day, even for me, I am tired! They probably can't clean a whole lot like the bathroom and vacuuming, or even emptying the dishwasher, so I suspect you have to do that?
    When they get older, a clean home will be much easier to come by. Because now my children are older and they have their set of chores and I have my set of chores. Or we just help each other. But it wasn't without patience and messy houses in the beginning!

    Praying for you...

  6. AS I WAS READING YOUR POST at 10:00a.m. on this Saturday morning, and enjoying this connection that I felt with you, however, thinking to myself my house isn't AS BAD as Stacy's. Doing that horrible comparing thing that I do to make myself feel oh so better about my prideful life, it happened! The most organized person I have ever known stopped by unexpectedly! Well, actually I knew she was meeting my mom at our house, but I forgot! (I forget a lot, probably from all the falling!) My grandmother, who is celebrating her 81st birthday today came into my house. My house full of blankets and pillows strewn across the living room, folded laundry on our big chair, breakfast dishes still unwashed and all over the kitchen, all of us still in our pajamas, piles of magazines, flooring and paint samples for our building project, the girls mix of school supplies from pretending to play school this morning. All of it right out for this most tidy woman of all to see. I am humbled. (smile)

  7. Oh, Stacy, I'm right there with you. I was never a very good housekeeper, but two years ago we went from 2 kids to 5 overnight when we adopted our last kids. There are so many more clothes and toys and books and shoes and stuff all over the place. We live in a very old farmhouse and there are very few closets or other storage areas. The key for us is toss, toss and toss some more, but that is quite difficult for me.

    Praying you find the reserves to start tackling some of the areas that bother you the most.

  8. Hmmm...Are you sure you weren't talking about my house?! The vacuum cleaner, sock hamper, hand-me-down bag, the pillows and dollies sure sounds like home to me.

    We're working on this too. Since we came back home, the "stuff" has really been burdening my mind and heart. It seems that when you can live on, like, 10% of your stuff, you come to realize that the other stuff you left behind was really, really unecessary! So, it's a process, but we're getting rid of lots.

    Hugs to you!

  9. Hilary,
    Thanks! Bit by bit is a good way to look at it. Really, I think I'm much better in this area than I was one year ago, so that's a good thing, at least. :)

    I like that phrase: "find your inner Amy". :) You'd think some of her would rub off on me.

    Oh, I'm open for any and all advice as long as it's not Flylady! :) You declutter one room of your house each DAY?!?! Wow. That's great!

    I love you, too! Yes, I did like the "hot spot" concept of Flylady. I just have trouble IMPLEMENTING. ~smile~

    And there is no way two minutes could take care of one room in our home. No way.

    And yes, we do a lot of living and creating and enjoying... it's wonderful. But I'd like to balance that with a little tidiness, too! :)

    That's good perspective. I know it won't always be as tough as it is now.

    Thank you for your encouragement!

    Carrie (the other one, :))
    You make me laugh. The whole "Surely my house isn't as bad as Stacy's." It probably isn't. :)

    And when you said, "the most organized person you've ever known" I was *sure* you were talking about Michelle! Is it even possible to be more organized than THAT? I think Michelle should use her gifts of organization and natural tidiness to clean our houses while we watch. And eat. What do you think?

    Oh I'm glad I'm not the only one! :) I will pray for you, too! :) Tossing is difficult for me, too.


  10. Oh, and Joni- :)

    I'd probably think your house was spotless, remember?

    Oooh, I'll bet London was good for you in that... nice to know you can live scaled down like that and now just how to implement that lesson into your life here. :)

    Love to you!


  11. Stacy,
    Bless you! As I (continue to) pray for God to send you the children he wants you to love (in addition to the three whom you clearly LOVE already) I will pray you offer yourself more grace in this specific area.
    P.S. I should send you a photo of the corner of OUR kitchen counter!

  12. Oh Stac. I have so many random thoughts from this post.

    Like if I could trade my made bed for a bit of your creativity I would in a heart beat!

    And did you know that lately I have been working on trying not to "see" all the things out of place when I walk through a room? I have been feeling like I steal peace from my family when I am ALWAYS seeing what needs done! I just think it's funny that we are both talking to ourselves as we walk around, you: "see, see," me: "don't see, don't see."

    And your home is one of my most favorite places to be. All I ever see and feel is warmth, love and room for everyone. Actually, I had no idea that you have "alarm" when others are coming up the walkway... I'm kinda bummed to hear that.

    Isn't Mike's picture weird? He's a goofball.

    Love you,

  13. You must have worked hard to clean your house before I came to visit because I don't remember it looking messy or cluttered at all. (Or else I'm so used to messes and clutter that I didn't notice and don't remember!) I struggle in this area too. I'm able to keep things generally tidy, but have those hot spots, like a corner of my kitchen counter, with piles. And piles. Of stuff. We are also blessed with a too-big dining table, which means that one end of it usually has books, projects, etc. And unless company is coming I just sort of ignore it. And areas of the house that don't get seen by others, like our bedroom, my craft room, and our guest bed tend to pile up with stuff until it becomes necessary to clean them. On our guest bed right now is: Christmas stuff, waiting to be sorted and repacked into totes and put away, clothes that the kids have outgrown, waiting to be sorted into things to keep and things to get rid of, a few bags of hand-me-down clothes for the new baby, a stack of kids books and a doll, painting stuff that needs to be put away from when I painted the hallway and our bedroom, oh, seven or eight months ago. I'm sure there's other stuff too.
    Bedmaking- I'm pretty bad about this. I feel bad because I don't have Peregrine consistently make his bed, but I can't really, when I don't either. It's honestly not that important to me, but I do something feel like it should be.
    Can you have the kids match the socks? Make a game of it or something? Either that or just adopt the philosophy of "two socks make a match". Who cares if they're the same color or not?
    I tried Flylady too, and had to wonder if getting 95 emails a day was really helping me or not.
    Judging from all the other comments, you're not alone in this! I guess we should all share tips if we come across things that help. And remember that it may be an area of weakness, but truly our kids will remember the fun times and the love and having a relaxed mama (assuming we're doing all of that!) more than a stressed mama and a clean, or even tidy house! I know some women seem to do both, but apparently we're not in that category. Yet. :>
    Bless you my friend!

  14. Ok - I only had time to read your post and not all the comments so please forgive me if I repeat anything anyone has said.

    So - please take me VERY, VERY seriously here when I say I absolutely could have written this myself. Some of the biggest arguments I have ever gotten into with my mother were over my messy (organized to me) bedroom.

    But lately? I don't know what has gotten into me - I am changing my ways. After thinking about it for a moment - these are my two tips.

    1. Get rid of stuff. Just purge, purge, purge. I'm still working on this. But the less stuff you have, the less stuff there is to be laying around. For example, this could be a blog in itself - I recently realized that my kids do not need so many clothes. We stay at home! Sometimes we go to Jazzercise but mostly we stay at home! On Sundays we go to church. They don't need to wear a different outfit every day to stay at home. I could go on and on about this but you get my point. Same with toys, unmatched tupperware etc. etc.

    2. I try to clean up everything at night before I go to bed and am teaching Steele to do the same. When I used to leave all the dishes until the next morning, I now clean up right after dinner. Steele cleans up his room and all his toys before he goes to bed. After I put the kids down at 7 or 7:30 I tidy up before I sit down myself.

    I'm not perfect yet (not sure if I want to be) but it sure makes me feel way more relaxed. And I like that. If I were to come up with a big plan or organizational process it would stress me out way too much. It wouldn't work for me. So this is what I do.

    Just keep at it - there's hope! ;-)

  15. I hate to comment again, but I had to because I knew you would be thinking I was talking about MICHELLE! and believe me she is a close second, but my grandma, she is amazing right down to her box of color coordinated cross stitch thread! However, I love your idea of Michelle "organizing" us while we watch and EAT, I think it would be very helpful, because, she is oh so talented in this area, we really should allow her to use her gifts for others! It might as well be us:)

  16. Check out www.achristianhome.com and look at her homemaking articles. there's one in there about easy steps to taking back control of your home, or something like that! It helped me years ago when I was knee-deep in life. I, too, detest all the "flyjunk" in my in-box, but I like her method and loosely use it ~ but don't subscribe to all the emails.

  17. Stacy,

    Thank you for posting this. I hope this makes you smile...

    When I posted some photos of Harrison eating breakfast last month, you mentioned how cute my house was. I immediately thought, "oh no, she could see my house!" (I too, have a problem seeing it.) I hurried to my blog to check the photos, and sure enough, stacks of papers, mail, books in one photo, pillows and blankets strewn in another. I sighed and felt caught.

    I felt pretty certain that your house was immaculate and my messes would be incomprehensible to you. ;)


  18. My 2 cents? Get baskets. They always make me feel like things are ultra-organzied, even when they aren't. :)

  19. I hear ya with the housecleaning!!! I just came across your blog through adoption blogs..Anyway, we have adopted three beautiful children. One was a private adoption, one was through an agency in our state, and our third child was adopted in China. All beautiful experiences.

  20. Stacy,
    I loved this post because, just like so many others said, I can SO relate! It kind of bothers me to see where my boys have peed behind the toilet, making the bathroom unclean and well, just yucky. BUT what sends me into a frenzy of grouchiness at my family and myself (similar to Amy's tendency to always "see" what needs to be tidied) is, for example, the piles of coats/hats/shoes/Sundayschoolpapers/junkmail by the front door. Pee on floor=stinkiness. Shouldn't that bother me more than clutter that doesn't necessarily represent a health hazard? Like you, Stacy, we have been working on this at our house. One thing that has been particularly helpful is a new routine upon entering the house. Now, intead of rushing out of our coats and shoes and hats and leaving them all in a large basket at the door, we have a small bin for winter hats, a coat rack(it's always been there, you just couldn't ever find it because it was covered in coats we never wore) for mommy/daddy coats (but just one each) and the shoe basket has been removed. The boys have a basket in their room for their shoes (just one pair each) and hooks for their coats in there as well. Mercy keeps her shoes in her room also and Bob and I keep ours in our room now too. Oh and we also have a bin by the door for outgoing items (bills ready for the mail, DVDs to return, tupperware we borrowed from Bob's mom, etc). Keep in mind that this entry area is really small and these collecting bins are really small, too so they can't hold too much stuff. Anyway, that's just one thing that has been a help recently and it really did require re-training the kids and myself to do this stuff everytime we come in the door.
    keep at it, Stacy!

  21. ok, girl. you work on the house, i'll work on staying on task and getting up EARLY (dagnabit.)

    it may take me another 20 years - baby step by baby step.

    then we'll meet halfway and have a success party. k?

    love ya!

  22. Quite frankly, I think that Michelle girl is not nearly as "organized" as she tries to appear to be! Not sure I have much to add....we have chatted on this often before...I relate to Amy on this one, I would like to learn to overlook it more and just sit down and play a game with my hubby! :)

    It reminds me of that saying "My greatest strength is also my strongest weakness!!"

    Love you (just the way you are! cluttered couch and all!!!)
    Michelle (oooops. that gave it away, didn't it!?)

  23. Annie,
    Thank you, friend, for your prayers. And He is answering as far as the "more grace in this specific area". We're doing quite well around here in the cleaning department. :)

    Well, just to clarify again: I don't fret when it's YOU who is on the way up my walk. I know you love me with all my cluttery tendancies! :)

    And yes. Mike's picture is weird.

    I probably did!!! ~smile~
    Or maybe that's why I ushered you outside-- so you wouldn't see the mess! :)
    It is nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

    Oh yes. Sounds like our childhoods were similar. :)
    Yes, purging is a good tip. I do try. (So maybe Amy *is* rubbing off on us, afterall? She is the Queen of Purge.)
    I have gotten WAY better at this. Just your comment made me remember that I used to go to bed sometimes with a messy kitchen. Now I am up and cleaning it up before the meal is done. My kitchen is ALWAYS clean now. (Well, except for that corner. And one other one...)

    ~Smile~ That's funny you thought I would think you were talking about Michelle. :)
    And I am absolutely with you about Michelle using her gifts to aide us in this area.

    Thanks for the link!

    Oh that is SO something I would do! I did NOT EVEN NOTICE any mess in the background. And, a little secret? I dread taking photos for this blog because of that very fact-- what *else* will be seen that I don't want shown? :)

    Good idea!

    Ooh! I'll be over soon to check out your blog. :)

    Wow... great solution to your in-the-door issues!
    We have hooks and a shoe bin and a shoe rack (that are always jammed full!) Maybe I just need to purge some shoes/coats? Yes, probably. I'll add it to the list! :)

    Oh, dear me. I need the getting-up-early motivation, too! :)

    I like you!

    You are SO trying to get out of the helping-Carrie-and-Stacy plan. [By saying you're not nearly as organized as we think.] HA! I've seen your kitchen drawers, girl.

    Thanks, all! :)
    You're a bunch of fun blogging friends!


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.