If I were to compare myself to a character from Friends, it would have to be Monica.
I love a clean house, almost as much as I love a glass of wine on a Friday night!
Before kids I had a cleaning routine which involved smaller jobs during the week when I was working and then a big clean on a Saturday morning.
This would take hours and involve scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming and tidying until everything looked perfect. I actually really enjoyed it, mainly because while cleaning I would have my iPod on listening to music. It was the closest to a workout I ever got.
I am not someone who can pile up the plates by the sink and just leave them there. All I can think about is how the food is congealing and setting harder on the china, making them that much harder to clean. Nope, I have to get washing up done immediately. I even wash up while I’m cooking, because I can’t stand the clutter on the kitchen surfaces.
So I suppose that I am a bit of a neat freak.
Why on earth then did I have children? They are surely the arch nemesis of the neat freak? You may try to remain a neat freak once your kids arrive, but they laugh in the face of tidiness.
No matter how much you fight it, the change to your life once kids arrive is undeniable.
They suck away your time and energy. Cleaning around them is useless, because they are like miniature hurricanes.
They whirl through your home wrecking chaos in their wake.
Just folded up the laundry? Now it’s crumpled up on the floor next to the laundry basket.
Just put the blocks away? They’ve now become the best toy in the room.
Just vacuumed the carpet? They’ve been out in the garden and trodden grass, sand and dried leaves everywhere.
With my first child I did try to fight it. A lot.
I tidied and cleaned constantly. The carpet cleaner was out far too frequently, but I just loved seeing everything looking shiny and bright.
Perhaps cleaning was my way of fighting motherhood and the change it had brought into my life? It was an area I could still control, although it took a lot of time and energy that I didn’t really have anymore.
Things changed when my second child arrived. I was knackered, I had a toddler who no longer napped and I could not longer fight the chaos.
Some days I sat there and looked at the mess in utter disbelief.
“What if the health visitor turned up right now,” I wailed at my husband. “She would report us straight away!”
I blame this outburst on postpartum hormones, because logically a health visitor does not give two shits if your carpet is looking a little tired and there’s a pile of dishes by the sink. They’re just interested in the little whirlwind that created all this carnage.
Now that I am 18 months in to having two children, I have learned to accept the chaos.
Maybe that’s because I have realised that there’s no point in fighting it.
Maybe I’ve got used to the mess.
Or maybe I have finally accepted that it actually does not matter. It doesn’t matter that the carpet looks like it’s been the setting for a mass stampede by a herd of muddy cattle. What matters is that I spend hours playing with my children on that floor as we trot about the house creating our own special games.
It doesn’t matter that the laundry hasn’t been put away. What matters is that we spent a happy hour at the playground.
It doesn’t matter that the dishes haven’t been touched yet. What matters is that we enjoyed a few quiet minutes curled up on the sofa together reading books.
When I look back on this time, it won’t be the cleanliness of my house I will remember, and I know for a fact that is not what my kids will be remembering either.
So let’s all embrace the chaos and accept the little hurricanes will continue to muck up our homes for the foreseeable future.
Who knows, maybe they will grow up to be little Monicas too.