Whether it’s Marie Kondo’s Netflix series “Tidying Up” or Rachel Hollis’ best-selling book “Girl, Wash Your Face”— it seems the age-old message to women is always the same: In order to be a good wife, mom and woman it's time you (and I) get ourselves together, #amiright?
Is it just me or do these messages never seem to apply to anything substantive? Instead, it seems like women are constantly expected to be fitter, happier and more productive, especially with anything related to appearances. Namely: our bodies and our homes.
Not only is this message inherently misogynist (where are all the self-help messages aimed at men to kick clutter and use expensive facial products?), but what I want to ask self-help sisters like Kondo or Hollis is this: Is it really possible to have (and more important, DO) it all? A clean house, a thin bod and happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids?
To have it all takes more time and energy than both my partner and I have to give. I don't know about you, but I’ve made peace with having a hot-mess household.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me: I am messy. You will find a pile of laundry on the floor in my closet at all times. Family art supplies are almost always strewn across the kitchen table, counters and dining room. Beds are rarely made. Dishes are rarely done.
But, I don’t believe my family needs an intervention.
Because while Marie Kondo and her supposedly naturally neat-freak children may love to clean, my brood and me? Not so much. And that’s perfectly okay with me.
Which is why my partner and I decided a long time ago our home would be a place where others can have fun, feel safe and relax. And while an everything-in-its-place home can bring a sense of order, it’s rarely a place where you can let your hair down. It’s hard to be completely at ease in a home where you feel a misplaced mug or a stain from a spill will set the masters of the house on edge.
Case in point: Every New Year’s Eve, we host a big party for friends and family. Everyone brings over food and drinks, we dance, we sing, we host a photo booth and play outdoor hide and seek in the dark.
The morning after the party, our house is always a disaster. This year, there were enough dishes for days, chocolate and wine stains on the carpet and confetti everywhere. But you know what? We had a blast! It was totally worth it, and I truly believe that if we had a house like Marie Kondo's it would have been a far less fun party.
Sometimes, it’s ok to eat a cupcake in the living room, drink a glass of wine on the couch, dance barefoot in the kitchen and throw a piece of laundry straight on the floor when you’re tired (especially when it could mean that little bit of energy you have left will go toward having sex instead). It’s usually in these more relaxed moments that my husband and my kids open up to me. What if I (or my husband) ruined those intimate times with "cookies at the counter only" or "can you just toss that shirt in the hamper"? I have a feeling there would be far less spontaneity in our home.
I thought having less stuff would keep our house cleaner, but I was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen prey to the cleaning craze more than once in my life. A few years ago, I got obsessed with minimalism. I thought having less stuff would keep our house cleaner, but I was wrong. My kids quickly found a way to make the only four toys they each had look like a clusterf**k on the floor. It seems the only way to truly have calm in a house full of little ones is to Let. It. Go. And what’s so wrong with that?
Because here’s the thing all the self-help gurus fail to acknowledge when giving their "outer order, inner calm" pep talks: There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all, even if and when every member of the family is on board (and let’s be real, often they aren’t).
So, if something’s got to give, I choose the dishes, or the laundry, or the carpet over real, raw and yes, messy every time.