October 22, 2007

Cleaning: Hazardous to My Mental Health

I have been cleaning all this month (in preparation for the mother-in-law visit, and to keep things tidy while she was here) and I am so sick of it. With so many hours spent in mindless activity, I've had time to think about how sick of it I am. And I have come to a happy and convenient realization: it is not good for my emotional well-being to have a clean house.

Having a clean house turns me into a FRUITCAKE. I snap at everyone. I hate everyone in my family because all they are doing is MESSING UP MY CLEAN HOUSE. I get all weird about tiny little spots. Must! be! perfect! I feel frantic and overwhelmed all the time, like I'm trying to keep back the tide with my bare hands. There is so much to do! THERE IS A CRUMB ON THE COUNTER!!! The more I do, the more I see that also needs to be done: cleaning the sink makes me realize the cabinet fronts need work; cleaning the cabinet fronts makes me realize the floor needs mopping.

You'd think that if cleaning several hours a day makes me frantic at how much more needs to be done, I'd feel even MORE than way if I WEREN'T making progress. But no! That is the wonder of it all! There is no logic here! When I do less, I feel MORE in control of things! Trying to keep the house clean IS like trying to keep back the tide with my bare hands. But if I let things go, it's not like it keeps getting worse and worse until we're waist-deep in garbage: it descends to a certain level of disheveled, and it stops. And a Cheerio falls gently to the floor, and no one freaks out.

21 comments:

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Here! Here! Cleanliness is overrated!

(and you're not kidding about being a super blogger today!!!)

Jess said...

This happens to me too. Whenever we've just cleaned the apartment, I get grumpy at Torsten for not hanging up his clothes or putting his bowl in the sink or whatever. Really it's much better for harmonious living for us to live in squalor.

Nowheymama said...

This is *exactly* how I feel.

Also, so glad the visit is over!

Tessie said...

Sigh. This is so true. My nemesis is the glass coffee table. Clean=heartbreak of first handprint imminent. Dirty-what's another handprint? Needs to be cleaned anyway.

Sara said...

I am so the same way! I'm totally ok with a mess because it keeps me a lot calmer. :0

LoriD said...

I couldn't agree more! Achieving anything beyond "clean enough that no one's going to get sick" is just such a wasted effort. An immaculate house is not conducive to people actually living in it!

laughing mommy said...

I'm the same way. Clean doesn't really make me happy.... it just makes me see more things that need cleaned and organized.

I've even wondered if I should work an extra day each month and pay a housekeeper to come once a week to clean for me. The everyday putting away of things and doing dishes/laundry I can deal with... it is the scrubbing and mopping and cobweb removal and vacuuming/sweeping that makes me insane.

Serenity now! (or CALM! BLUE! OCEAN! whichever works for you)

laughing mommy said...

Forgot to mention... I made oatmeal scotchies this weekend with my 5 year old daughter. We used your recipe and they were AWESOME!

Thanks!

Kathryn said...

I think my husband likes me more when I don't clean, for the very same reasons.

Katie said...

Oh my god. You are totally right. I never got it until now!!! I always keep thinking I need to KEEP CLEANING and then I don't realize why I have turned into an angry freak! Too much cleaning!!! Thank you, Swistle!

Jeninacide said...

I am the EXACT. SAME. WAY! When I am not being totally anal about the couch cushions being in PERFECT FORMATION and the kitchen counter being SPOTLESS and the Floor MUDLESS I actually think our home has a nice, cozy, home-y feeling. However when I start scrutinizing all the minute details I start feeling like "OMG THIS PLACE IS SUCH A DUMP!!" So: For own well-being must NOT be anal-couch cushion straitener/floor sweeper/counter wiper!!

Erin said...

This makes absolute, perfect sense to me. Absolutely. Perfectly. Sensical. THANK YOU.

You know what makes it worse for me? I am the MESSIEST ONE IN THE HOUSE. I spill all the freeeking time. Coffee. Pepsi. Red wine. The worst stuff. And I forget to take my work boots off when I get home. So I tromp all sorts of dirt everywhere. And I start hating myself for being so damn messy. And clumsy. And FORGETFUL. I clean up after myself all damn day. You'd think I would try a little harder to not make such a flipping mess.

Remember Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown cartoons? Yes, I always felt for him.

JMC said...

I just did the mad housecleaning thing for a party we had on Saturday. I haven't done a thing since (except laundry, but that doesn't count, because it's not scrubbing or dusting anything) and probably won't for a while. At some point I decided that, hey, we LIVE here. And life's messy.

lesleysmeshly said...

I agree completely! Before the twins I was anal about clean...OCD anal. Nowadays we're lucky if the floor gets done once a week. Gross, but like you, I could clean all day every day and still not be done...and of course then I get all anxious and want the kids to nap longer so I can clean. So now we live in semi-clean and I'm ok with that because it lets me spend more time on the dirty floors playing with the crazies. =)

Kristin H said...

I'm so glad you're back! I totally hear you on crumbs. Crumbs! Always with the crumbs! Can't my husband at least sweep them off the counter into the crack beside the refrigerator where I can't see them?

I was wondering if you were able to use any of our pithy comebacks on the MIL when she made weight comments?

Mommy Daisy said...

I understand this completely. And I'm glad to see I'm not alone. I never thought about it quite like that before, but I found myself nodding in agreement with every word.

Devan said...

ugh! I totally get this because the house is constantly in very, very clean condition due to being for sale. It's a nightmare.

Banana said...

I totally get that way. Everything I clean leads me to something else that must be cleaned. And I'm a bitch while doing it - my husband knows to either hide or take a room to clean himself when I get going.

Pann said...

Yes, yes, yes.... exactly! I am going through post-mother visit house cleaning withdrawal myself. I know it was a sickness to clean so much and now we're descending into our usual squalor. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Black Sheeped said...

Maybe this is why I feel so calm when I go to bed and the house is in utter chaos. Mmmm. Chaos.

CAQuincy said...

Exactly!

Next time hubby mentions that the "house should always be clean, right?" now that I'm home, I'll click to THIS post and remind him that my MENTAL HEALTH is more important.
...And that he needs to PUT HIS OWN CLOTHES AWAY.

*ahem* sorry....