That's changing - slowly.
Laughter, music, reading aloud, sizzling food, preschool television, vacuum cleaner...I think those who know me know the foreign sound in my house.
I'm what they call a "messie", which is technically a cutsie way of saying a poor housekeeper, slob, what have you. I've never had a penchant for keeping a neat house. I want to. I've tried to. But you know what they say - "the spirit is willing but the mop is weak".
Don't get me wrong. I'm WAY better than I was when we first got married. Working and going to school at night while being a mom and a wife was just a lot at that time and things were perpetually disorganized. It would take days to tidy up and prepare for a time of hospitality or hosting a special occasion (which I enjoy so much) and would often result in much barking and shouting on my part. Reciprocal tears and scowls from my eldest and my husband (respectively) would be provided. By the time company arrived, we were so tired and cranky that we could scarcely enjoy the event.
Nowadays, we're much more easily able to tidy, though we are still recovering clutterbugs. I've begun a serious and massive purge of clutter since being home on maternity leave. Partly my nesting instinct must have kicked in, but partly my realization that this would be the largest chunk of time off I'd have until retirement in 20+ years lit a fire under me. I didn't want to be incarcerated by my own bad housekeeping habits any longer.
I have successfully cleaned out drawers that have been accumulating crap for 15+ years. I've bagged and donated enough clothes to outfit all the Duggars. I've trashed, yard-saled, eBayed and given stuff away like it was my job for the past several months. Guess what? The house is magically neater somehow. Not perfect, but neater.
I have been loosely following the Flylady, who helps by giving a systematic approach to decluttering and keeping house on a rotating schedule. I've yet to perfect her system or follow her directions to the letter, but her decluttering inspiration has worked wonders thus far. She talks at length about CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I don't want CHAOS because I want to use my home and devastatingly deft culinary skills to bless others. I want my house to be filled with the laughter and chatter of friends old and new.
Today I cleaned my 5-year-old's room. She helped a little when I started but then went to storytime with her Grandma. While you may think it best to make a child stay the whole time until it is done, you'd be wrong. You can't throw stuff out and move things around nearly as effectively with a little person poring over every broken toy and useless article of junk. She had a stake in straightening up but then I was able to be ruthless once she left. This will be the last time I clean like that in her room EVER. She will be taught daily and weekly maintenance. This will force me to do the same in the rest of our home, lest I be a glaring hypocrite, which is not my desire.
I don't want my younger two to grow up thinking it is normal to have junk all over the floor and run around frantically when company is dropping by. This is a great mistake I made with my eldest, whose bedroom oft wafts the aroma of a high school locker room and looks like an episode of Hoarders. This is partly my fault for teaching her crisis cleaning instead of routine cleaning.
So while I still have a home that looks "lived in", I am endeavoring to have it be a place free of CHAOS without secret exploding closets of shame or bedrooms with doors that need closing to conceal great tempests of laundry. My children deserve to grow up having pride in their home and be able to invite friends to come over without worry of embarrassment.
As a team, a family of "picker uppers", we can do it. It is a habit we are forming and a change we are excited about. No more CHAOS for us.