I can’t recall how many times someone has said this to me as a word of comfort:
“They’ll remember the love, but they won’t remember the mess.”
For a long time, I believed that. After years of struggling to keep a clean house I have to stand up and say, that’s complete BULL HONKEY.
Yes, your children will remember the love you gave to them, that part is absolutely true. No, they won’t remember every time there was a pile of dishes in the sink, because honestly kids don’t care about that. But they WILL remember the condition of your home, and if your home is always a mess, if YOU’RE always a mess, that memory will stick with them.
I speak from experience. My parents are amazing and I love them dearly. They taught me many important life skills, but there’s one very important one they neglected to pass on simply because they didn’t know it themselves: how to keep a clean and inviting home.
I did not grow up in a minimalist home. I did not grow up in a clean home and I did not grow up in a hospitable home.
My parents never would have anticipated the troubles this would cause me in my adult life. They likely believed that I would only recall all the things they did for me out of love, that I was blind to the mess around me, but that wasn’t the case.
My parents are children of depression era parents. Their parents saved EVERYTHING on the chance that they may need it in the future. This is a completely fear based decision, to save things for a rainy day. Yes, you should absolutely have money set aside for emergencies, but you you shouldn’t keep old things that you MIGHT one day need.
Last year my grandma moved into a fifth wheel, and left her house to my parents, which meant that I got the privilege of helping clear out what she left behind. Bless her heart, but the woman had a box labeled “STRINGS TOO SHORT TO USE.” What was in the box? Exactly that. It was full of tiny bits of strings that couldn’t possibly be used for anything. This is the kind of mentality I was raised with. Nothing was thrown away, because we might find a use for it in the future.
What really happened was, my dad would go looking for something he knew he’d kept years before, and he would spend half a day looking for the thing. That time spent looking was all wasted, it would have been more productive to spend the money on buying a new whatever-it-was, than the spend more time looking for an old one than it would have taken to earn the money at work for to pay for a new one.
This taught me to keep everything, I was a borderline hoarder, keeping things out of fear that I might need them. I’m so thankful that I changed this belief as an adult.
Letting go of fear based decisions has freed me to use logic and faith to make my choices. Letting go of fear is what gave me my second son, deciding that I wasn’t afraid to take on two children under two years old, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Everything kept out of fear has an emotional value to it. Every time you look at the item you kept out of fear, you’re reminding yourself of your fears! Let it go! Let go of the fear and let go of the clutter.
If you’re hanging onto an item out of fear that you may need it SOMEDAY, it’s not serving you and it’s useless to you and your home. It’s clutter and it’s needs to be cut from your life.
My mom didn’t teach me to keep a clean house.
My mom would take one day a month to deep clean, and that woman could CLEAN HOUSE! She got a lot done in a single day, especially when she’d recruit us kids to help out.
But what she lacked was routine. She didn’t keep the house clean day to day, and I didn’t realize at the time that it was a matter of anxiety and overwhelm. I didn’t notice that was the problem, until it was my problem.
I adopted the same mentality she carried. I held onto the same overwhelm and anxiety. If the house was a mess, I lacked all motivation to take care of it, until it was a HUGE mess of a beast that needed courage and ambition to slay.
As a kid, there were always mountains of dishes and laundry to be done. I’ll give her credit here, because she does keep up on dishes now and has for the past few years. But the damage was done when I was young. That’s the habit I saw daily and I kept for myself.
These chains took years to break because I didn’t know HOW to break them. It wasn’t until I discovered decluttering and routines that I began keeping a clean house consistently.
Cutting the clutter in my home has reduced the feelings of overwhelm that kept me from getting housework under control. Getting rid of the unnecessary things in my life has freed up more time to clean, also.
Developing the routines of always keeping counters clear and washing, drying, and folding one load of laundry each day, has given me a head start on house chores. I no longer have to say “I can give the dog a bath AFTER I do the dishes and have my sink clear.” I no longer have to feel guilty spending a day out, knowing there’s a mountain of laundry waiting for me at home. I no longer have to be filled with stress the moment I get home from a trip and see my house is just as filthy as I left it, because it was left clean!
We weren’t very hospitable.
We rarely had house guests. I remember my mom would always get freaked out when I asked to have friends over. It was always a big deal to have anyone come to our house and would send my mom into one of her cleaning sprees.
As an adult, I kept this with me. My stress levels would peak when guests were coming over.
1. Because my house was always a mess.
2. Because that’s what I knew.
My husband has always loved to host gatherings, and I didn’t. I hated having anyone over, because there was SO much to do before anyone could see my house. I was so ashamed of the house I lived in and I finally understood why my mom never liked to have guests.
What she didn’t know would happen, was that she would raise a daughter full of conflict.
I knew I was called to be hospitable, God tells us to open our homes and our hearts. I closed off both for a very long time. I was embarrassed of my housekeeping skills, I was afraid they would judge me for my home. I made it about ME.
The point of being a hostess is not to show off your perfect home or your cooking skills, it’s about being there for others. Opening your home and your heart to those who need your care and friendship, that’s the point.
I do remember the love.
My parents love me with all they have. They give me absolutely everything they possibly can. My parents have always been there for me, even when they weren’t there for themselves.
Children will always remember the condition of your home, but also the condition of your heart.
If you’re under stress every day because you can’t keep up on the housework, that’s what they will remember and that’s the behaviors they will learn from you.
I keep a clean, decluttered and welcoming home now, BECAUSE I love my children.
Having experienced it myself, I know that my children will take MY habits and make them their own. I don’t want to see them struggle as I did, I want to see them shine. I don’t want their every day to be an uphill battle with a messy home, I want them to spend their time and energy on things they love.
I want to spend my days enjoying time with my family, not constantly cleaning up after them. This is why I’ve adopted the minimalist attitude, developed my routines, and make the effort to reach out to those in need. I want them to see that this is normal. I strive to be the person I want my children to become.
Are you ready to set the example for your family and to be present for their lives?
Visit the Hot Mess Toolkit to find my favorite ways to make your life easier!