What happens by Thursday...

...By the time Thursday rolls around at our house, it's trrrrrrrashed... Bad. 
In need of detox:

{There is this much food on the floor underneath my one year-old's high chair after every meal. 
Thank God I have a dog.}

Sometimes I look around and just wonder how in the world it happens?  How does a house get so destroyed in just 3 short days?  And the scariest part is, today's only Wednesday! Tuesday! (oh wow.  I totally wrote Wednesday and believed it until I realized my husband had class tonight, and he has classes on Tuesdays...  eeek)   We haven't even hit detox day yet!


{Clean me mommy!  Clean me!}

I sometimes wonder, "how do people do it?"  I only have two kids and it's madness here!  Last night my husband & I were hanging out in the kitchen attempting to make a yummy Valentine's Day meal, just enjoying each other's company for a few short minutes, when the dog came in, soaked and covered in PINK stuff.  And she smelled like strawberries!!

We followed her wet trail down the hall to our bedroom to find Christian (3 1/2) & Justin (1).  Justin was also covered in strawberry-flavored pink stuff literally from head to toe. 

Kids' toothpaste.  Awesome.

It was really hard not to laugh- especially when after a quick glance around my bedroom I could see that my room was okay (only half-kidding)...   And especially when it was one of the nicest-smelling messes our house has ever seen.  So I sort of laughed and hid my head and this time Dave got to be the stern parent.  All was well.

Christian has started reminding me of a little boy from Lord of the Flies. His hair goes wild at night and when he wakes up in the morning he rips all of his clothes off for his bath... but way earlier than need be.  We just need a fire.


{Christian... }

But anyway... my question...  how in the world do people do it??  I imagine nice calm breakfasts like in Lady & the Tramp where the family sits and eats and then everyone goes on their merry way.  Each dish is put into the dishwasher and the beds are made.  We rush around like crazy people in the morning and trash our house.  Why??

Case in point:  my husband just walked downstairs to where I am now writing, saying "I cleaned and I picked up, and I cleaned and I picked up, and I cleaned and I picked up..."  (I got all excited here) "...and it's still trashed."  oh.  And then he walked down the hallway and I heard,  "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!" and I will not tell you what he found because I still have maybe half an ounce of self-respect left but let's just say the dog's in trouble. 

The strangest part about all of this is...  I'm coming to terms with the mess, which is a little scary.  I know we fix it every week and I know it comes back every week.  It's inevitable and I've found it interesting to observe that Thursdays really seem to be the culmination of the mess.  (And a little freaked out to realize that today is only Tuesday and it looks a lot like a Thursday around here.)

So anyway...  every so often I bring up this topic on the blog, because every so often I need to make changes.  Sometimes I just want to sit down and give up on fighting the inevitable mess.  (Ummm... and sometimes I do.)   BUT, it's at times like this when we need to FIGHT THE FIGHT.  (Yes, I'm pep-talking myself here.) I have to remind myself that if we don't keep cleaning, the goverment would have to come dig us out of our house.   No really though...  if we don't keep trying, life wouldn't be as great.  It's hard to enjoy the people you love when the mess is eating them.  We have to periodically come up with new solutions to force ourselves (and our family) to keep the house neater...  to change our natural tendencies into ones that don't require detox Thursdays.  I'm too tired to come up with any enlightening solutions right now, but my question is-  how do you do it all?

xoxo, Lauren


ps- This post here from last year is a bit more helpful  (as are the comments) if you're looking for some solutions to this problem! ;)

90 comments:

A Vintage Vine said...

None of us do! I realized along time ago (4 kids later)....this is life, sometimes we have it under control but most of the time we do not!!!! Great post!

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

How do I do it? I don't have kids yet, so you're reminding me that I kind of have it easier than those of you who have two-legged kiddos. Of course, when I come home from a rough day at work to find that the dogs have not only gotten into the trash, but have dragged the "best" parts to their fave parts of the house, all I can do is laugh. You just keep trying, right? And the feeling you get after cleaning a messy house is oh-so-good! Thanks for reminding us that you, too, are human. :)

A.S. said...

Aww, I am really feeling for you. I don't have kids either--just a puppy who sheds her body weight's worth of hair almost daily. And has nose-marks on the windows and toys and crumbs everywhere. But that is really not that hard to keep up with (even though I do wish said puppy would learn to vaccuum after herself).

Love your sense of humor about messes. And hey, maybe eventually you can spring for a cleaning person on Thursdays!

Nathaniel said...

I'm no expert, but I think that with my daughter I just have to learn to enjoy her even though the house is trashed. I always just hope things will be better tomorrow.

Sooooo glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling with this!

Anne said...

It gets a bit more manageable when they're old enough and big enough to scamper off and clean their messes when you tell them to. Doesn't mean the messes don't happen, but child labor certainly eases the pain. :)

Full House said...

Lauren I just was writing about this same type of thing on my family blog.

I finally hired a cleaner to come once a month and I am back on my kick to get up at least an hour earlier than my kids to get ahead of the game. Seriously though I have no idea how a house can get so trashed in less than a day.

I think that as Moms it is such a fine balance because the messes will always be there but the kids won't but then if it's a mess one doesn't function as well.

You have no idea how happy this post made me feel tonight to know I am not alone in this fight.


xx - CB

Lisa, An American Mom said...

I am SO in the same place! We have a toddler and an infant. We have a housekeeper once a month, but I still have quite a bit of cleaning to do in between. It is SO hard! Our house is on the big side. Having kids and a house (and a dog!) is just a lot of work. Period. If it helps, I think there are many, many families in the same boat as you. I wish I had something more helpful!

Kathysue said...

Oh Sweet Lauren, I raised 3 boys two years apart and trust me You can not do it allllll!! Allllll the time, it is just too exhausting. I did clean-up as the day went along and I was a perfectionist. I think balance is more important than clean all the time. Time with the little ones will always be the one thing you will wish you had spent more time doing as they are grown, trust me on this one.
Enjoy them!! I think scheduling time to play and scheduling time to clean sometimes helps. I think we women try to do it allllll and it is impossible. I will say a tired child and a tired Mommy are not a good mix. Make sure they get their naps and make sure you get some quiet time when they are down. Good luck sweetie, I think you are amazing and I know you have your priorities straight and your family is #1, keep it that way,Kathysue

bennettwilliams said...

Word. I know I can do it, and I'm sure I'll look back 20 years from now and just chuckle. BUT - right now, it's a constant struggle. Not just to keep up the house and spend quality time with the kiddo and exercise and try to keep a small business going and have a great relationship with my husband, but also the guilt! Oh the guilt.

I like Full House's suggestion about getting up an hour before the kids. I haven't been too successful (oh, how I love my sleep) but when it happens, things run much smoother.

Good luck to us all! a.

Cindy at Some Really Neat Stuff said...

I didn't do it all with 4 kids in 5 years but it's all over now as my last one left home last June. I would LOVE to have those days back when I wondered how I would do it all. I miss my kids being home with all the 'stuff' that comes with kids being home. It does get easier as they grow. Keep it up and teach them how to do it too. It'll pay off in the end with good kids and you missing these days.

Sheila said...

None of us do it all - if there is someone out there who does, then that someone is missing out on something else! Your post is awesome - life happens, and that's actually normal... even the pink 'stuff' :-)

Leigh said...

It's not just you. As a mother of four (oldest is seven), I can tell you it doesn't take a week to get filthy around here! The hardest for me was having two kids, though. The toddler isn't old enough to be much help at all and every time you try to do something that isn't child related you turn around and they've destroyed your house! Good news, though, it WILL pass. And sooner than you think. They'll get bigger and more helpful in just a couple of years and until then follow your own advice - quick frequent cleanups. Sometimes I even try to go reeeaaally fast and turn my cleaning time into workout time (crazy I know). Good luck!

Sherri Cassara said...

How do you do it all? You don't. You give up things, you compromise, you choose your battles. Kids grow up. And even now, with my kids grown I wonder, how can I do all this? My new mantra ... 'I can't'. I framed a wonderful print, "I can NOT do it all" (You know, looks like the "keep calm and carry on" print) and hung it in my kitchen to remind me that I can only do what I can do. It is freeing ;)
You are amazing by the way, I love reading your posts and you do seem to 'have it all' in many ways and if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would be looking at you as my role model. Keep smiling!

Fox said...

It was nice to read your post. A lot of these interior oriented blogs sometimes make me feel like my life and house are a mess! I have an 11 months girl, 3 crazy (selectiv hearing) dogs and a cat! We have nice cream tiles and live in an area with a lot of red clay... Get the picture? Thanks for showing us that perfection, even for those who have great taste is not available.

Trish said...

As Centsational girl says on her blog, you just have to take a leaf out of "dory's book" from the movie Finding Nemo & just keep swimming. I have 4 kids & some time Im the queen of organisation & sometimes I walk aroung saying "what the".
I guess thats what makes a home rather than just a house!!

Simply Brookes: said...

I love this post. So real. So true. Just discovered your blog a few days ago. L-O-V-E your look. Oh, and I am also in Northern Virginia (Navy transplant).
And I think we are all in the same boat, trying to do it all. The fun is in the journey, the crazy, messy, overwhelming journey. You are doing great (even though you don't feel like you are always).
You've inspired me to look at my house again.
New follower. Keep up the great work. See you tomorrow!
Wendy
at Simply Brookes:

Dena said...

Your kiddos are at a tough age, as they probably aren't great about helping you pick up! My kids are 10, 8 and 4 and I've found the best way for a quick "Mama is about to lose her mind" pick up is to yell (sweetly of course) "5 Minute pick up!" with lots of enthusiasm. They each have to find 5, 10, whatever amnount nec. to pick up and put in it's proper home. This works on the husband BTW too! The key is to announce it then say, GO! before they have time to think about it :)
I think it works because the idea of working on it for 5 minutes isn't overwhelming for anyone. You'd be surprised how much of a dent 5 people can make in 5 minutes!

Irene ~ RE~VINTAGED said...

I'm with you! I have two boys 6&8.
Kids make a mess 'cos they're kids! God Bless each and every one of them :)
And the mess? As others have said - its real life.
:)

Melissa said...

Give yourself one more year-- I have two boys, a tad more closely spaced than yours, and I felt like a compelete failure at housekeeping until about 6 months ago (whearas pre-kids our house was almost always spotless.) They will be better able to clean up after themselves (really, I promise!) and somehow that energy will subside a little bit. The only other thing I've found that helps is to force myself, no matter how tired, to spend the first 15 minutes after they get in bed doing a sweep of the main living areas. I pick up every little stray thing, and then quickly run the cordless vacuume-- having a cordless vacuume to use on the off days helps me be a better housekeeper!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

I have the solution!
STOP looking at squeaky clean magazine and decor pages...where real life happening!

Easy peasy.

With 4 under the age of 5, I used to say it is just like stringing beads without a knot on the end!

I found doing a little bit each night helped...but I also found I loved Helen Oxenberry (sp?) children's books...the illustrations always showed real families with laundry piles and food on the coffee table...and no one was stressing...just living.

It'll get better. Promise.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Make that..."where real life ISN'T happening"

carry on.

Lydia said...

4 kids in 6 years, the youngest is now in 2nd grade, and I'm back in school. it never gets easier, just different. those old home videos show a lot of grime and fingerprints, and boys are more mischievous than girls, believe me! it's called getting "tag-teamed"! the kids are helpful now, and its definitely cleaner than it used to be, but do yourself a favor (or two) and get someone to come in once a month to do the bathrooms and floors so you don't have to feel guilty that you haven't gotten to them, and a ROOMBA! (for those times when it is picked up!) and take the time to teach your kids to help out (starting at about 2 years old) with their own messes, I was too overwhelmed and could have done better in this dept.

by the way, you are awesome, and it helps us aspiring perfectionists to know that you're not perfect, either!

JennyCB said...

ajsociaruacorihf.. So sorry. Just tripped over a singing Dora and four Hot Wheels cars. But here it is, the sheet of notebook paper I was looking for! I so carefully dusted around it last night in my failed attempt to do a nightly quick pick-up before I passed out from exhaustion. On it I have written: "A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life" by Mary Randolph Carter. A book I've been meaning to purchase... Just the title alone gives me just the skip in the step I need, provided there are no more toys to trip over. (Seriously, looks like a great book. I say take all of your commenters' advice and become at one with the mess while your little ones are still little. Mine are both three years old and I'm going to co-opt your advice!)
Happy Tuesday! I mean Wednesday.
;o)

Amy R. said...

I don't bother to clean up until Eva has gone to bed. Otherwise I am just cleaning and re-cleaning! We also now have a housekeeper come every month to do a deep clean which is soooo worth it! I think the key is to keep it just clean enough so you feel comfortable, then just let it go and enjoy time with your family!

Danielle said...

I'm with you girl...just wait 'till the boys get in elementary school because the amount of paper is incredible and overwhelming! I have a super unhealthy habit of ignoring until it gets out of control. I have designated dump spots that I can so easily walk by and just pretend doesn't exist. Also, I love my sisal under my dining room table...it hides so all the crumbs, so I don't have to sweep every day. So don't despair Lauren...we all commiserate! xx Danielle

Melissa said...

I only have myself and a cat and somehow by Thursday morning my house is always a mess and/or dirty as well. It just happens! Good luck not giving up the battle.

Natalie said...

I think if there was someoracle solution we would all be paying the big bucks to implement it! Sadly, or should I say frustratingly, this is just our season as parents of young children=messy cluttered homes that the can maybe only be kept clean for four hours....but then all the precious babies covered on toothpaste that come with it :). One smal thing I do is when I am on the phone with someone, like a friend or family (not work! Ha) I clean. And I always get soooooooo much done. Maybe it's because I feel sidetracked by my conversation that I don't focus too much on the fact that I am cleaning? I don't know but it works for me! Also acceptance. That I am a stay at home working mother of two babies and this is life! A beautiful MESS

mark said...

As a working mom too, I totally feel your pain. I know you really don't expect it ALL, you just want it to be livable and that's hard when you are busy with work five days a week and then family seven days a week. Thursday is our crazy day too. I look around and think, holy cow! what happened in here??? During the week, there is absolutely zero down time to really devote to organization/ cleaning. I pick up every day and give a really good cleaning on sat morning and thats all I can do. I like the idea of getting up really early but we already get up pretty darn early. I've just come to the decision that unless all my kids were in school and I didn't work... that is the only way I could somewhat stay ahead of things and even then it would be hard. Good Luck. If you find a system or idea that works, let us know :)
PS I completely related to the lady and the tramp mornings- I wonder if anyone has a morning even remotely similar? Ours are insane. If we get everyone out the door kind of on time with hair brushed and most of the things they need for they day then we have success.

mark said...

Sorry Mark is my husband... Jennifer :)

Beth said...

I was laughing as I read your post, because I was reading blogs instead of cleaning the huge mess in my house!

Natalie said...

I cannot tell you how much better your post has made me feel about myself, our family and our house! I struggle with this constantly - keep the house 'somewhat' clean, spend quality time with my daughter, cook dinner for us all, and to have even just 1/2 an hour to myself! I've recently tried making a 'cleaning schedule' to try to organize my weeks and stay on track with keeping the house in order. I like the idea of getting up earlier too - just have to find the will power to drag myself out of bed. Thanks for the great post!!!

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Lauren- My Mom would bring up the Erma Bombeck quote; "Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing..."

I had two good friends over for breakfast two weeks ago, and I told them they since it was so early in the morning, they either got a clean house or good food, and that morning they got the good food. They replied the house looked just fine - it looked like a house should look, lived in. I agree with Linda at Lime In The Coconut that staring at the glossy pages of interior magazines throws us way too much clean house guilt!

Loretta, mother of three little messies

Val said...

The solution is to lower your standards!! I work full time and have 4 kids (9,6,4 & 2). I know what my "non-negotiables" are- meaning, if they don't get done I'm crabby. I try to focus on just getting these "non-negotiables done" and forget about the rest. They include, keeping up with the laundry, meal planning and grocery shopping, vaccuming & keeping the bathroom presentable. Notice, I didn't say "clean." I've accepted my bathroom will never stay clean for more than 5 minutes after it's been disinfected! (This is all secondary to spending time with my kids!) Some days I feel like it's working, other days I can't believe what a mess my life is! I think that's just the ebb & flow of a normal life. LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

Val said...

Oh yeah...and I also have the last line of the "Song for a Fifth Child" framed & on our entryway table. It helps put everything in perspective.

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

The Smallest Sparrow said...

Hi Lauren, My kids are the EXACT same ages as yours and we have the EXACT same problem. I feel your pain and often throw up my hands and just let it go. But then I get depressed (I crave neatness and order) and then I put it all back together again. Only to have a mess FIVE MINUTES LATER. It's a never-ending battle but I suppose we'll miss these days when the kids are older. Good luck! You'll get through it.

Suzanne said...

I don't even put cleaning and picking up on my to-do list. I just do it! A mother's work is truly, never done!

Wives said...

Lauren- I dont know how YOU do it. It's just me, the hubs and the pup and I had a meltdown last night because I could vaccuum daily and sweep/mop every other day and I still feel like my house is filthy. overworked and unpaid :) and im preachin to the choir here!

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Lauren- I DO have an answer for the "Lady and The Tramp" happy morning! But you have to wait till your boys are older...

Sounds strange, but I have one of my kids invite a friend (along with their parent and siblings) over for breakfast on a school morning.

The night before we cook a "breakfast for dinner" so all the food is ready to heat up the next morning. The kids happily put their school stuff out the night before and set the table (happily!) before they go to bed.

We spend the rest of the morning tidyng up the house to look nice for our "guests" then have a great time eating and laughing before all the kids head out for the school bus. SO happy! (compared to the normal nagging, crabby school mornings.)

Loretta

Filia Artis said...

Oh Lauren! I just want to hug you! You sound JUST like me! And trust me, the highchair situation looks a lot better at your place than at mine!

My one-year-old just managed to get a bowl of yoghurt from the kitchen onto the living room curtains all in one mighty and accurate fling - this happened twice in one day.

I have a cleaning lady twice a month and somehow Thursdays is my detox day too. I let it build up until then and then I tackle as much as I can then. The rest waits until the next Thursday when the lovely Halina appears to help out!

They took away the looney bins up here in Canada, so I guess we're both gonna just have to find a way to stay sane in all of this!

LiveLikeYou said...

Best advice I have is perhaps get yet another dog. My two dogs keep the floors spotless. We never have meal without them being squashed in under the table..or guard closely when you're cooking in hopes of slurping up a few crumbs. If we drop something we just yell for one of them...I know bad. Hey it's real life...?

Amanda said...

Someone turned me on to Fly Lady about 5 years ago. It's like AA for house cleaning. You just have to realize you're sometimes powerless over your condition but cleaning CAN be manageable, through baby steps. It's a great philosophy to adopt. Here's the website:

www.flylady.net

- Mandy (wife, mom of toddler, 2 dogs and 2 cats)

Tawna said...

I was told once that our life has all these plates spinning, and just like a juggler, we just spin the plate harder that is going to fall. There is no "balance" in life. When I heard this, it really changed my stress level. I don't worry about cleaning everything everday. I just clean up the biggest mess and leave the smaller ones for another day...and the dog stays outside :)

kayce hughes said...

It does get easier as they get older but I have yet to figure it out. I like to think that it is a huge dose of creativity that makes my kids extra messy.

Jenny B. said...

I can't say it gets better as they get older, except for those times that they actually help clean up. If I've spent hours cleaning, as soon as my 12 year old walks in the door, dumps backpack, sports stuff, most of his clothes (if you've ever seen "The Middle" on tv, he is like Axl who is constantly walking around in his boxers, and starts grabbing food, the mess begins again. Because we live in a bungalow in CA there is no such thing as a mudroom! But as my oldest is a sophomore in high school, I feel the winds of time at my door and realize this will all be over soon and I'll miss this constant maelstrom. Life with kids is messy, but it is also a full life and we'll miss it when it's gone.

Laurie Jones said...

I think we're all in the same boat and as women we are just way too hard on ourselves, I guarantee men are not having this conversation! I think most of us that read your blog are interested in design so we are constantly seeing nothing but beautiful photos of beautiful spaces. The older I get the more I'm able to just let go a bit but I'm the type who functions and enjoys life more when my surroundings if organized and clean, it doesnt' have to be perfect though and so I just do a little each day and it does get easier as your children get older, my daughter is 12 and she has responsibilities like keeping her room, bathroom and vacuuming and emptying the dishwasher, and I don't redo what she does! Let go and let God is my mantra!! (Great discussion once again, Lauren!)

Denise said...

Lauren, you are so real. I love that about you and your blog. Sometimes I look at picture perfect blogs and I wonder how they really live behind all those beautiful images! Raising a family can be messy at times. Throw in a few house pets and well, you know what I mean.

I wish you lived in my neck of the woods in the western NC mountains. I would gladly trade my personal cleaning services at your house for a few design hours in my 100 year old farmhouse. You could do wonders here. Darn the distance. By the way, I'm the proud Mom of 2 sons (15 and 25) plus a huge outdoor dog and 2 cats!

Heather said...

What a relief to hear that I'm not the only one who can't get it together (or keep it together!) The problem is, somewhere along the way we decided to do it all. Mrs. Darling (Lady's "mom") didn't work, and she had help around the house. So there you have it. I like the person who said "lower your standards"--or decide what it most important, what makes the bigger impact, and do that. For me, its making my bed and clearing the dining room table. Good luck!

Nicole said...

Oh Lauren, I feel your pain! I am also a working mommy with 2 younger children - although mine are girls ages almost 5 and 7. So, I was in your shoes not too long ago. If it makes you feel any better, the mess does get a little better when they are old enough to start being in charge of picking up their own clutter (and become less interested in toothpaste as paint!), but there's a good amount of whining and complaining in my house that comes along with mommy announcing its "clean-up time!"

I do have an *amazing* housekeeper that comes every two weeks who is wonderful (and I live pretty close to you in Potomac Falls, so if you email me I'd be happy to share her contact info). If she can do the deep cleaning, I feel like I can try to tackle/stay on top of the clutter. I was just talking about this topic with one of my good friends last night - we are just in a busy season in our lives, and as children get older, their activities and social calendars start to take over, and I'm realizing that life with children is pretty full until they're off to college! So, I have finally accepted that things aren't going to really calm down for many more years, and I am learning to prioritize, tackle clutter before it becomes too overwhelming, and mostly remember to enjoy my kids. I love the Ruth Hubbard Hamilton poem posted in another comment - it's one of my favorites.

Katie @ covestreetblog said...

Lauren,
You are too cute!! Amen to everything you said! I have 3 little boys and I feel like the house can look half put together and by 5pm its trashed! I struggle with it big time. I think for me, I need to allow a little more time before I have to be somewhere so that I can pick up as I go. Constant struggle:)

L @ Salt and Sentiment said...

Thanks for being so honest! Its so nice that even people with magazine beautiful homes are living a real life too! There are no such thing as live paper dolls. Way to go!

Barb said...

don't kid yourself - no one does it all! Look at your amazing career and family, and do your best to enjoy it!

Chris & Steve said...

I've been following your blog for the past few months and I LOVE your work! I have a one-year old as well, so I understand what you mean about always picking up and cleaning up. As a work at home mom, I'm very grateful for my daughters' naps! :) I hope you find moments in your day, when you look around at the all the beautiful places you have designed. I actually think about your house, because you created some awesome spaces. You're an inspiration to me! Keep it up!

My Notting Hill said...

I have teenagers and my house can be trashed in 2 - 3 days too. With little kids I would say choose 1 - 2 rooms, along w/1 bathroom, that you keep together. That is a huge success as it is. Don't waste any energy worrying about it. I know from experience as I wasted too much.

JeanaB said...

I do it all, but I don't do it all well. I have come to understand that someday, when the boys are grown and gone, I will keep a tidy and clean house. Today is not that day...thank goodness. I would rather have the chaos that comes with 3 boys, an awesome husband, an adorable Shihtzu & a mostly full time career than the routine of quiet, calm and clean. It's coming someday, but not today. :-) Hang in there.

andrea of ffft said...

I have two thoughts on this... Everyone is right that it gets easier when they are a bit older! (Yay!)

In order to get the help you need, I think the trick is to show them now how cleaning is not a chore or drudgery (which is near impossible, I know) but to do the jobs you don't mind doing around and with the wee ones so they see that cleaning up is not the end of the world and is just a part of life. Then when they hit the right age, they go through a period where they want to help mommy and if they are told seriously, (not make a huge deal out of it, but really express your gratitude sincerely) that everything they help with makes things that much better, it kind of sticks around. Once in awhile I take my eldest for an ice cream or something because he has to clean up so much of the 4yold's mess, but if he does so willingly and without complaint (mostly) I surprise him and say "this is for the other day when you had to pick up all that LEGO your brother spilled everywhere, I really really appreciate that." Also I make sure to tell other people when I know he can hear me how much of a help he is so he knows it isn't something I am telling him to get him to do it. The little guy is learning, and he has a great role model of a big brother. Knowing that they are appreciated this way is hugely helpful.

Start training them now :) !

Mikalah said...

Haha, this post made me just smile. I don't even have kids yet, but I feel this way too! Before I got married, I remember thinking "some day I will keep my house clean all the time." But seriously? I'm lucky if I can have the whole house clean for 5 minutes! It's true that it's a constant battle to keep up with everything. Hang in there though, we are all fighting the same fight!

Mo Thygesen said...

single mom speaking: my 4 year old is a creative soul - she brings all kinds of things together from everywhere in the house and creates her own fantacy envirements and projects - sometimes she will ruin stuff or stain things that can not be fixed, cleaned or replaced ... i try to remember that 1) she does not mean to and 2) those stains may be there forever - but she will one day leave this nest ...

helen said...

sweetpea,

this is life in the best possible way - it is full and messy! love it:)

we have four kids, my first two are boys about the same age difference as your two and our house looks like your thursday most everyday!

i love that maria shriver kennedy quote: you can have it all, just not all at once.

faith b said...

Many years ago a young woman without kids came to our totally out-of-control house and became a friend forever by saying "I love your house; it's always such a joyful mess." And I immediately and forever after saw it that way when I was desperate. Believe me, there's plenty of time later to be neat. Have fun now!

Jenny said...

I haven't read all the comments, so please forgive me if I'm repeating. :) First of all, I have learned that no one does it all. Really. They don't. I've also learned that, "well begun is half done," (Mary Poppins), and that a timer can be your best friend. The Flylady (www.flylady.net) was my saving grace after my first child was born. I haven't been keeping up with all of the routines like I used to, but I do try to get my two boys (ages 6 and 2) involved in picking up, and we try not to wait until right before bedtime to do it. My goal is to have the house picked up before I go to bed at night. If all the clutter is put away each day, the weekly cleaning tasks can actually get done. This is, of course, easier said than done. :)

Sarah said...

If you can, pay someone to clean once a week or once every other week. Then you can just straighten and put away instead of having to do all the heavy lifting. I'd give up food before I'd give up a cleaning lady.

pve design said...

You mean it is not magazine shoot worthy all the time! I love a lived in look and appreciate all that I have, mess and all. I guess we need to just appreciate it when it is in a state of grace. Cleaning or rotating duties helps.
be well -
pve

Ingrid said...

I just found your blog and can't tell you how much I loved this post. It is such a fight and I get really down about it. Why can't I keep my house looking beautiful all the time...It is so hard. My girls are now at the ages (8 and 5) where they are now getting allowance and to get it they need to help out around the house. No it is not to "my standards" but I have to get over it and realized that at least they are trying. I love your blog and look forward to reading it daily now!

Jessica Wrasman said...

The boys are adorable! I love a well-lived in home. :)

Jessica Wrasman said...

The boys are adorable! I love a well-lived in home. :)

Antiqueaholics said...

Our three girls are grown now, but I would love to go back to those days mess and all. It's true - no one can do it all, you just think that everyone else looks together and organized, but trust me that is not the case. At the end of the day, enjoy the kids and let the house get a little messy. I am a perfectionist and wished I had let some things go. I have a framed handprint of my daughter when she was just four. Below the HANDPRINT, It reads:
"Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
And leave my sticky fingerprints
On the window and the wall.
So this is to remind you
When I have grown so tall
That once I was quite little
And my hands were very small.

Know that you are not the only one, it is impossible to do it all.
Patti

Stephanie Sabbe said...

ahhh, thank you. I just basically read this post to my husband. Good to know everyone else is not as perfect as I imagine them to be. Our little guy is due in 6 weeks, so in reading this to my husband I was warning him that it (our Thursday mess) was only going to get worse:)

Karen said...

Lauren,
I was a stay at home mom with 2 sons (some years ago) and I still was amazed at how "trashed" the house could get in a very short time. However, at some point you get the little guys interested in helping mommy and maybe for that they get to watch a program they'd like or earn a dollar for something...yep, it's bribery of sorts but it worked. Now that our oldest son is married his lovely wife thanked me for teaching our son to make the bed every morning...he still does it and she's thrilled!

The age your little guys are makes it a bit more challenging but you'll manage and someday be amazed that they are in school and you have more time to clean, etc.
Karen

B.x said...

Hi Lauren,
Even with husband, dog and cat (no kids yet) I have similar chaos (except the messes the dog brings in are never pink and sweet-smelling). I often try new strategies, new systems and new routines. If only 10% of them stick, we're still better off.
At least things are lively...

Megan said...

I loved this post Lauren because to me I thought you were an inexplicably "have it together all the time girl." I must say you just became cooler. The only people that really do have little ones and "have it all together" are missing out on other more important priorities like being spontaneous with your little ones and hearing their adorable laughs!!! Nobody can do it all. I'll take food particles on the floor and a full laundry basket anyday if it means sanity and a happy baby :) Thanks for keeping it real!

Acquired Objects said...

I don't even have kids and I wonder how people do it all so sorry you're on your own here. If you figure it out could you please let me know!

Emily A. Clark said...

You know what? I'm beginning to accept the mess in our house too. Because if I don't, I may very well have a nervous breakdown soon.

Oh, and maybe I need a dog, because your floor looks pretty darn clean in comparison.

Jamie said...

I'm a mom of three amazing boys- twins that are 4 and my little one who is 2.5 (yes, 3 under the age of 1.5). From the beginning things were hectic for me. Recently our family built a new house that we love to pieces. I try soo hard to keep up with the mess my kids make, hubby makes, friends make, and I make. It's tough and sometimes drives me to lunacy. Recently, I decided that I am going to be a good mommy instead of a good cleaner. Don't get me wrong I am still cleaning a lot but I am not stressing out about it as much. I keep it in my head that I want to play with my kids more then I want to do the dishes for the millionth time so now I am leaving those dirty dishes in and around the sink until there's a lull and even then I wait a bit more. It does KILL me to see mess but I'm just not looking because I just have my mind set. It's hard, really hard but soo worth it! Enjoy your boys they are gorgeous and look like loads of fun

Amy C said...

Let me just add my agreement to all of the comments here. I completely understand what you mean!! As a working mom with two little girls (age 4.5 and 3 yrs), I simply cannot keep up with it all. And my husband is wonderful about helping and cleaning, taking care of the kids, etc. But even so, our house feels like a constant disaster zone!! We just do the best we can. :)

thevintiqueobject said...

Laughing because I just finished steam cleaning the couch to rid it of a "pee-pee" accident AND the rug to rid it of a Indian take-out container of sauce that got snagged off the dining room table. I have two-year-old potty-training twins and keeping things tidy and clean around here is a constant battle.

The thing is that most of us are visual people -- why else would we look at design blogs? So the messes and destruction probably bother us more than most.

Like another reader, I've found flylady.com to be an invaluable help to me. I catch myself chanting the mantras like "A load of laundry a day keeps the chaos away." I highly recommend you check it out!

Brenda said...

This is just my personal observation but I find that mostly people with super tidy homes are usually pretty boring. It's the interesting people with the books piled, the art stacked and a collectable assortment of stuff with the lived in look that are gems of life. You sound like a gem!!

eclecticrevisited said...

your kids are only young once and for that matter, same goes for you and your husband...life only gets more complicated the older you and your kids get...so, really, as much as having a messy house is a distraction, love that life is still fairly simple...and that you are able to enjoy your family...trust me on the older=complicated thing...
blessing...
maureen

Kellie Collis said...

Adorable! A day in the life of a beautiful household. I think it's normal. You think it's impossible but everything turns out pretty great! Have a wonderful day, Kellie xx

Emily @ Little Home said...

No one can do it all! And if they appear that they are, they are secretly sacrificing something. That's my opinion.

And also, it is the age of your (and my) kiddos that is difficult, too. Because they can do so little for themselves, or to help us.

I'm glad you keep it real :)

Cristin @ Simplified Bee said...

Love you real life moment post... so true! It is very hard to juggle family w small kids, work and blogging. I find my head spinning at time. Purging toys, clothing, etc. often helps. Also, don't aim for perfection, but function. Don't beat yourself up.

xo,
cristin

vignette design said...

Thank you for being honest Lauren. I raised 4 kids and don't know how I did it either, looking back. I was just at my daughter's today and she has two children the same age as yours as well as two jobs, doula and appraiser. They can barely keep up with laundry, dishes, beds, etc. With our blogs, we can portray a world that isn't exactly reality. Thanks again for a glimpse into your real world. Hang in there! ~Deloress

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Oooo I hear ya! I have three kids and a hubby who travels constantly... I feel like I'm spinning plates on sticks when I'm finished with one I have to go to the other! I like Cristi's comment and agree.... don't beat yourself up, as long as everyone is healthy, happy and loved xoxoxo

Elizabeth said...

I have to say that reading this post just made my day because I can completely relate. Every few weeks, I have a "breakdown" where I look around at the mess and feel so consumed and overwhelmed by it that I can't do anything but sit down and want to cry. My husband and I both work full-time and have a 3 and 5 year-old--and a dog, who also makes embarassing messes from time to time. The biggest problem from my perspective is that my husband works from home 80% of the time..and some days the kids are home with him. And those days, I come home to the biggest mess of my life. It's frustrating because we'll spend all weekend cleaning, yet by the time Wed night rolls around, the house is a disaster, the laundry has piled up, there are dishes covering my husbands desk, toys are everywhere, and I could just cry. And sometimes, I do. I start feeling bad for myself because I know I'll spend all morning Thurs (my one day of the week home) cleaning, only to have the house trashed again by Friday. Then we start all over. Some weeks we seem to have it "together" but most of the time it's a total mess...and my husband reminds me that no one ever says on their deathbed, "I wish I had cleaned more." That always makes me realize that living is the most important thing, and if it means doing it in a messy house sometimes...so be it. Even though it does drive me nuts :)

modernchemistry said...

i love your honesty! i don't have any words of wisdom other than i just have to remind myself that there are some tasks (mostly, laundry and dishes!) that i will never be able to cross off from my list. but that's okay, because i love the people who create the laundry and dishes, so i wouldn't have it any other way! :) :)

Jenny said...

It's just my husband and I and a VERY hairy black dog. Add in all white tiles in the kitchen and dining area in the apt. that we rent and you have a MESS. All white tiles...seriously? They are my nemesis but I'm trying to let go!

Lucy said...

LOL! I see there were a lot of comments on this post and for good reason. We've all been there. My husband and I feel like we are on constant "rinse and repeat" of cleaning. Not easy but always worth it!

JacciM said...

WOW - what wonderful comments! :)

I just had this conversation last night with a friend of mine. I go back and forth between phases of embracing the chaos and phases of hyperventilating because of it. I'm expecting my 5th child and... we homeschool. I always cringe when someone says "how do you do it all?" NO WAY. I totally don't! We had Subway for dinner last night because we were out of groceries and my laundry pile (Mt. NeverRest) is unbelievable. I'm talking, like, 9-10 loads! But, we've chosen our priorities and where my energy/time are to go each day, and I can't be everything.

I SOOOOO appreciated the comment above that **visual** people struggle with mess more. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just uptight, but I think it really does have a lot to do with my visual bent.

~Jacci in Ohio

{darlene} said...

hahaha! No ONE does it all! I was just impressed that your house takes a few days to get trashed! We clean up our house every night... and it is always trashed by noon!
-{darlene}
fieldstonehilldesign

Ashley @ pure and lovely said...

I'm a new reader & love your blog...but just know how comforting I find this post-because were in the exact same situation over here with a 5,3,1 yr old & a gargantuan dog! Just glad to know othes feel the same way!!!

pibbleterrier said...

Catching up on my internet in the wee hours, while my family sleeps, and I loved this post so much I had to read the every comment. Yay! Thank you everyone for the sympathy and affirmation! I have a three- and one-year-old, too, and I suspect that our regular state of chaos is just another phase that "too, shall pass," although I can only articulate that when they are all asleep and I have a chance to regain some of my own equilibrium and perspective.