A Messy House Does Not Equal More Involved Parenting

Have you read this? In case you haven’t, here’s a summary. This guy blamed his SAHM wife for their messy house. He’d look at that house and think “You have one job! One job! To take care of the home.”

Finally, his wife said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk.”

Even quicker summary: Man realizes wife is also human who must also prioritize her  day.

Thankfully, he got the picture and eased up.

Now I’m glad that this mom’s husband finally realized she wasn’t just a slatternly layabout. I’m glad that his realization prompted him to start helping around the house, even if he ought to have been helping around the house from the start. I’m glad that he sees that there are some things that are more important than whether or not there are crumbs on the floor when he steps through the door at the end of the day.

But I can’t say I like the way he framed his post.

My dad had seven kids and he kept his house neat and tidy without sacrificing family time. He taught me that keeping on top of stuff is the key. Wipe down the counters while you cook. Put things away when you’re done using them. At the end of the day, do a walk-through of the house and pick up the toys and art supplies. Sweep up. Don’t let the bathrooms get too icky. Empty the sink every day.

These are not tasks that take hours and hours. Will there be crazy days where a quick wipe of the counters won’t be enough to undo the chaos at the end of the night? Of course. But most days the time it will take you to clear away the breakfast dishes will use up roughly five minutes (or less) of what could have been family time.

Me? I am happy to sacrifice those very few minutes that allow me to really enjoy my kids because it means I am not looking at crusty dishes while we’re painting or having a dance party or baking something for our afternoon snack. I am not choosing between cleaning the house and taking my kids to the park because going to the park might be an hour-long excursion or even longer and cleaning the house takes minutes. Especially if you enlist the little ones’ help.

Nobody chooses between doing the dishes and teaching a kid to ride a bike or between clearing the table and potty training. They’re things that take place in entirely different spheres of an average day. It’s not either/or.

Please don’t take that the wrong way. If you don’t mind a little clutter or sticky counters or stuff on the stairs (and you should see MY stairs, omg), that is totally okay. There’s nothing inherently bad about letting things go, as the state of my month-old chipped nail polish proves. But whether you couldn’t care less about polishing the floors or polishing your nails you should own it. Don’t use spending time with your kids as a justification because you feel like you’re being judged.

Or as was the case with the original poster’s wife, you ARE being judged and badly, too.

Cleaning and tidying up is not a monumental task. All of us local moms are all spending time with our kids. To imply that a messy house means you’re a more involved parent is just plain ridiculous. Being an involved parent is what makes you a good mom or dad, regardless of the state of your house.



4 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh yes! Sometimes my house is messy and sometimes it’s clean. But I feel judged either way. If I spend time cleaning and tidying or if I didn’t vacuum the stairs. Yeesh.

  2. Lindsey Peterson-Pope

    Stop making me feel judged for my messy house! ;P

    Seriously, though, as someone who has always been messy, it’s not about the time for me. It’s about the mental energy, especially when it starts to build up. It’s so much more pleasant to go to the park than to clean up all the dishes – especially since at the park I don’t have to look at the dirty dishes! I am fortunate to have a partner who is willing to take care of the majority of the housework.

  3. I find that if I have people over a couple days per week it forces me to keep my house somewhat clean (somewhat). ;) My son has speech therapy on one day and then I’ll host a playdate or two on other days. It seriously keeps my mess from spiraling out of control.

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