November 10, 2012

Inherited Housecleaning

My brother and I grew up in a very, very, very tidy household. The family joke is that if you put your book down to go to the bathroom, you'd return to find the book on a shelf with a bookmark in it. My mom worked more than full-time but kept up with the housework constantly whenever she was home (full table/counter/stove wipe-down and floor-sweeping every night after dinner, for example, and constant clutter-clearing), and also did a huge multi-hour house-cleaning every single Saturday.

Fast-forward a bit, and my brother keeps a very tidy household, and mine is a constant mess. I'm sure we could both find ways to attribute these results to our upbringing no matter what our original household had been like: just as one person can say "My parents always kept sweets around so I got in a terrible habit" at the same moment another person is saying "My parents never kept sweets in the house so I grew up constantly sugar-seeking," we too could frame our reactions as either complying with or reacting against our house-cleaning training. I think if we'd grown up in a messy household, we'd just switch sides: he'd be reacting against, and I'd be a result of. It's very easy to blame parents either way for everything, which is so very pleasing and useful until we are the parents.

What I'm curious about is your own set of experiences: What was the cleaning/cleanliness situation in the household you grew up in, and how clean do you keep things now? And have you been considering your own cleaning system either a result of, or a reaction against, your childhood training and experience?

59 comments:

Diary of Why said...

In the middle of my own multi-hour Saturday house cleaning right now, I can say that I grew up in a messy, dirty, disorderly house. Rebelling all the way!

Erin said...

My mom always kept the house cleaner than I tend to (or maybe that was just my perception of it). My dad and brother and I are all huge clutterhounds, and she isn't at all, so I feel like she cleaned more than I do because the clutter bugged her more. I actually feel weird when my house is company-clean because it doesn't feel lived-in to me.

I do wish I was better about basic upkeep (my husband is like my mom, so he does a lot of the cleaning/picking up, and I feel bad about that because I'm the one who's home all day and SHOULD be cleaning) but I just am not bothered by the clutter like he is. He, on the other hand, isn't bothered by things like crumbs/puddles on the counter, which I am. So he picks up after me, and I sweep/mop up after him. I guess it works out?

His tidy nature is definitely a result of his upbringing. His mom can't stand having anything, even appliances, on the counter, and we fought for a long time when we got married about whether the toaster and coffee pot had a right to live on the counter, over in corners that wouldn't otherwise be used at all. (I won, but I know it still bugs him that they're there.)

Ginny said...

My house was pretty tidy and my mom cleaned regularly. I had regular weekly cleaning chores such as vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry. My parents are both strongly cleanliness-oriented, and it became evident from an early age that I did not inherit that. I'd say about 60% of my lifetime conflicts with my mom were over the state of my room.

So I'm in the position of being a naturally-untidy person who's used to living with naturally-tidy people. The trend continued with my college roommate/best friend, and my husband. I pick up after myself a lot more than I'm naturally inclined to, but my own spaces still tend to be more cluttered than my husband would like. He does the lion's share of the actual cleaning and housework, I just try to rein in my natural tendencies enough to avoid driving him crazy.

The one area where I care strongly about cleanliness is the kitchen. A messy kitchen, with spills on the counters and dirty dishes left all around, drives me nuts.

HereWeGoAJen said...

My mom was/is perhaps a bit cleaner than I am (she does things like cleaning baseboards) but I am infinitely neater and more clutter free than she is. I take after my dad and we like clear surfaces. My mom isn't messy by any means, but she has stuff out and piles of papers on her desk. My house has empty surfaces. It's beautiful.

I take after my dad in almost all personality aspects though, not just cleaning.

Sarah said...

My mom is more bothered by actual untidiness- toys, paper stacks, dishes out, etc- than I am, but way less bothered by things like a cobweb or a dusty tabletop. So I would say that I kind of rebel in a way by not caring too much about clutter but caring a lot about whether things get regularly dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, whatever. I feel VERY antsy when I know a certain room or chore hasn't been gotten to by Saturday. (I don't do weekend cleaning, btw. I don't know how people with little kids do that. Everyone just wants to relax and play and make a mess in my house- I'd be fighting a losing battle! I feel like I clean most on Mondays and Tuesdays, to recover from the weekend.)
Oh! Just remembered this- my dad was, and still is, completely anal about fingerprints on anything glass, especially the car windows. I have this memory of him always with a Windex bottle in his hand. So I definitely have rebelled against this; my car is an eternal mess and I never ever clean the inside of the back windows where the kids sit.

melty said...

my mother was neat and clean obsessed in our view as children... we used to mock her and say the living room was a museum, not a place to hang out. She used so much bleach it gave me headaches. Even now when I pull into her driveeway I can tell she's been cleaning. I think she has a sickness! For awhile we were kind of messy, but generally clean. At our first house, we were messy but managed to get it together for company. Then we sold the house and after 3 years of having to be clean and neat I will say 2 things.. 1. we had a little period last year where the house was a complete slobby mess, simply because we COULD and NO ONE was going to come in and complain about it! and 2. Now, I would say I'm neater, and I cannot stand clutter, or anything on the fridge, or a dirty floor, and I hate appliances on the counter, and I hate anything in my kitchen that I do not use at least once in awhile, and I only really need ONE of most things, MAYBE 2. That's a lot more than 2 things but the point is, we're just a lot neater in general now, and we do the saturday morning pickup, but it's not too bad with 5 people and if it stays relatively neat during the week it's no big deal.

I walk barefoot, so I dream about clean floors.. no grit, no stick.. ahhh. I hate clutter now, and I'm quicker to throw stuff away/get rid of it.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

My mom sounds JUST like yours - that first paragraph is exactly what I could say about growing up in my house. That said, I am... not quite as tidy. Clean, I would say - there's no real dust or dirt or grime anywhere. But cluttery. Which I attribute to my dad. I don't think I'm rebelling - I think I'm failing. Which is unpleasant.

MomQueenBee said...

My mom and I were eerily close in our housekeeping attitudes: Untidy enough to look lived in, not so bad as to look died in. I do remember her cleaning off a chair for a visitor to sit in, and ruefully doing the same thing when the Boys were small. My accountant Husband had to relax his standards significantly at that point in our lives, but we're much more presentable now that we're empty nesters.

alice said...

Interesting! I'm in the middle, mess-wise - I don't mind clutter all that much, but our house (no kids, not very messy adults) it doesn't get a chance to get all that bad. We also don't cook much, so the kitchen only needs non-dish help every so often. The exception to the lackadasical approach is anything that can smell - bathrooms, trash and litter all get more attention.

I never thought of it as rebelling, but my mom is slightly inverted from me - she tidies up a lot more, but cleans the bathrooms less. Dad is pretty damn messy left to his own devices, but has been coralled by his wives, and their rules prevailed except for brief stints living alone.

Growing up, I didn't have any official 'chores' connected to keeping the house clean, so didn't realize what went into house upkeep until I was on my own. However, since I wasn't forced to endure work or spaces I disliked, I think that I was free to figure out my own, slightly slovenly path without much resistance.

Brigid Keely said...

Our house was always a huge dust-bunnied dishes-piled-up newspapers-everywhere almost Hoarders level mess. And I got really very good at Not Seeing Things. And I keep a terrible house. But i don't really LIKE living like that, and I feel ashamed by having a dirty house, and I don't want to have friends see my dirty house, and I don't want my 3 1/2 year old to grow up ashamed of his house. So I tell myself firmly that I Deserve Better and that My Child Deserves Better and I read Unfuck Your Habitat and some other sites and try to stay on top of things. I frequently fail, but I keep trying. My house will never be Architectural Digest beautiful, but I aim for it to be 90% presentable at any given time.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a dirty home. Not just messy or cluttered, it was often filthy. I am certain my siblings and I could have been removed from the house had CPS ever come to investigate. My mother did clean, occasionally, espcially around Holidays. As a result, I do get a bit of a "shiney, happy, holiday" feeling whenever my apartment is extra clean. And I do keep it rather clean, but far from spotless. I have had to work hard to develop neat habits and learn how to clean. I would love a spotless home, but I feel overwhelmed by trying to keep it that way, so I mostly just try to content myself with what feels like "clean enough" to me. I have been told I have high standards, i have alsi been told I have OCD. I feel uncomfortable and distressed by messiness. I do blame it on my childhood home, at a certain point I thought to myself "I will never live like this again!"

Lyndsey said...

My mom keeps a cleaner house than I do, although not drastically so. She was very very tidy and I'd say i'm more average-tidy.

I think the fact that I grew up in a home that was always clean did make me want to live in a home that was the same. However I think now (and my 12 year old self would slap me for saying this) I do wish that she made me more a PART of all the cleaning. She just did it, all of it, almost by herself. Sometimes I had to vacuum or dust or something, but it was pretty rare to be honest. I don't feel like I really know how to clean as well or as efficiently as she does, and I kind of wish I'd gotten that training/habit as a kid because then it would be easier for me to do the same. Keeping house is something I really really struggle with, it is a constant battle.

Lara said...

Oh man. I think about this a lot. My mom was (and is) a neat freak. Our house was ALWAYS very clean and uncluttered and tidy.

I feel like I LIKE a very clean tidy house. I feel like things are NOT RIGHT if it's not and I feel stressed about it. BUT. My own natural inclination, which I think I get from my dad (heh), is to be not so tidy.

I am clean - I will clean up spills, messes, the manly toothpaste spittle mirror explosions, scrub out the sink etc - but I am a bit clutterer. I leave my clothes out. There's always STUFF on my coffee table. There's about 10 pairs of fuzzy socks scattered around the house right now.

I wish I could just ACCEPT that I am a bit untidy and drop the stress about it. But having grown up in a clean, tidy house just means I feel like that is RIGHT. And if my mom could keep A HOUSE up while working full time and raising two kids WHY CAN'T I - with zero kids and a 800 sq ft condo?

(Also my mom is coming for dinner tonight, so there will be some serious cleaning freaking out going on in here very shortly, ack.)

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I grew up in a house that looked like it was expecting House Beautiful to show up at any minute for a photo shoot. Not sure if Mom started out that way or became that way from marrying my dad, a man who every night would go down the hall flipping the multi switch light switches up and down until they were all facing the 'correct' way. I used to wake up every night at 11:30pm to the hall light flashing on and off as he readjusted all 3 switch sets. Our bookshelves were color coordinated & the alphabetized within color groups. Took forever to find a book. Everything had a place & damn well better be put there before you go to bed or you might never see it again.
I'm tidy but I am not neat. I like the floor to be swept & the toys in their bins but I don't care if the dinos are mixed with the race cars or that all the magazines are jumbled up in a heap on the coffee table & not neatly tucked onto the bookshelves. I might not wipe down the bathroom counter for a week or more. I like clutter. My folks house looked pristine, mine looks lived in. I prefer lived in.

Carmen said...

Our house was very clean, although a tiny bit cluttered in a few specific areas (a table in the corner where all the mail got tossed until it was a bit of a teetery pile). My mom did it all herself, because my dad, brother & I were NO HELP AT ALL. My room during high school was a disaster - clothes all over the floor, stuff everywhere. My mom took pictures of it for blackmail purposes later.

When I lived by myself in university, my place was always very clean, dishes done, laundry put away, etc. (to my mother's surprise). But then I moved in my boyfriend (now husband). His mother never had him do a single, solitary item of clean-up, ever. He can't put anything away when he's done using it, just drops it where he stands; he can't close cupboard doors; he flings piles of laundry anywhere, clean or dirty; he tracks mud across the house and just doesn't care. And on and on. Slowly over the years, my tendency to clean up stuff has been eroded by the constant assault. Our tiny apartment during grad school was quite clean, mostly because it was so small that stuff had to be put away or we'd disappear underneath stuff. Now our bigger house is much more cluttered. I don't pick up the kids' toys at the end of the days, because they're just going to take them out again the next day, and why would I want to waste my precious few minutes of time alone cleaning in such a useless manner? I feel like I spend an unacceptable amount of time trying to get Leo to just PUT SOMETHING AWAY.

Anyway, I think I've gone off the rails here. What was the question, again? Ahh, yes, I think my cleaning system is a result of training, but it wasn't training by my parents. It is lowest-common-denominator-based, as a direct result of 17 years of living with my husband.

Anonymous said...

I lived in a very clean and tidy house until I hit double digits, when my parents divorced. Cleaning happened less often after that point and a lot of clutter came in. It wasn't as bad as an episode of Hoarders, but you generally had to clear a space if you wanted to eat at the table. I actually did start spontaneously cleaning from time to time because it bothered me. (I didn't do it consistently because I didn't make those messes and I resented cleaning up after everyone else.)

These days, my house is generally the cleanest and tidiest of anyone I know. I do let things slip from time to time, but there's a point beyond which untidiness just adds unnecessary stress.

And with internet anonymity, I will say that I secretly wish that certain of my friends believed in really cleaning up before they had people over. I keep wanting to straighten their houses, and I know it would bother them if I actually did so.

Mary O said...

My mom is a total clean-freak, and I am pretty much a total messy housekeeper. I have come to think that you just are how you are, and there is no way to change your innate cleanness or messiness.

lillowen said...

My house growing up was always pretty clean, and was always tidied up in the evening so we started fresh the next day. Our current house is ... constantly in a state of destruction, thanks in part to our toddler and three pets, a fact that I find very demoralizing. I hate cleaning (we have a cleaning woman come in every two weeks to do the actual cleaning, so Mike and I are just responsible for the in-between stuff) and I do not understand how I can tidy and wipe and sweep and pick up, and then TEN MINUTES LATER there are dishes on the counter and toys on the floor and tumbleweeds of dog hair all up and down the hall. How is this POSSIBLE? It defies all of the natural laws I am aware of. It makes me less inclined to clean, and I think the usual state of our house might horrify my mother.

Lauren said...

My mom keeps a cleaner house than I do which is partly a personality difference (Type A/Type B). But we have also observed that I have fewer hours in my day because I need a solid eight hours of sleep to feel good and my mom almost never needs more than six. So she has two extra hours in which to get things done every single day and there's no way I can possibly keep up!

H said...

My mom was a cleaning machine. She enjoys the act of cleaning as much as she enjoys the results of her effort. She cleans ceilings, walls and floors. She moves everything in the room and cleans everything in the room. We had to help, but our work never met her standards so she often re-cleaned what we cleaned. That would frustrate us to no end because we had better things to do (we did not enjoy cleaning like she did!) so we couldn't figure out why she didn't do it herself in the first place. We were not only expected to help keep the main part of our home clean, we were also expected to keep our rooms spotless. I remember once being called in from playing outside to re-organize my socks in my dresser drawer because it wasn't neat enough.

My husband grew up in a dirty and very untidy home. He seems more willing to live with clutter than I am but he does enjoy a clean house. We keep our house clean and tidy, but not overly so. I've never cleaned my ceilings (except for that one time I shook the salsa bottle thinking the lid was screwed on tight and it wasn't). I wash walls if they are dirty, but I don't do a top to bottom wash twice a year like my mom does.

My daughter (she's 21) seems to innately be a clutter-tolerater. She also tolerates dirt/filth much longer than I would, but she cleans well and isn't as extreme as my mother-in-law was. Oooh, do I have stories about my mother-in-law!

My son (he's 24) is neater and cleaner than my daughter, and seems to be gradually (very slowly) becoming more like I am.

squandra said...

I might be a bit cleaner than my parents, but not notably. I am WAY more of an "unclutterer" though. Things are always put away, and we try to get rid of everything we don't use.

StephLove said...

I'm much messier than my mother, I'd say she was middle of the road when we were growing up, very clean now that she doesn't have kids at home and can afford a housekeeper. I sometimes feels as if I don't even know HOW to keep a house clean even though I had chores as a kid. It all seems so overwhelming and I'd rather read a book if I have some free time.

Nicole said...

I grew up in a very clean house, like the kind that had major weekly cleaning and washing walls every couple months, etc. I keep my house very clean and very neat. For one thing clutter drives me nuts so the kids put away toys at night. I can't stand clothes on the floor, or towels, or whatever. I can't stand unmade beds because of the feel of them. I like my sheets hospital cornered. Probably lots of this comes from my upbringing, but who knows. My brother is super messy, so it's like you and your brother. I am a bit of a high strung individual. I cannot ever let dishes sit on the counter overnight, for example. This is annoying even to me. I kid you not, I fully clean the main bathroom every second day. No wonder I have a love affair with wine. I'm starting to hate myself just reading what I've written. How lame am I?

Megan said...

My husband grew up in a hoarders style house. Very dusty, can't ever see the countertops, the bathrooms are gross. The fridge is the worst - stuffed with rotting food. He says he was always so embaressed to have people over, and hated living like that. He definently has rebelled, doesn't like clutter or mess. Now, he won't actually CLEAN anything, but he really appreciates when I keep up with things, which helps. It's nice to be appreciated.

My mom's house is always perfect. I just try to keep things nice - I have no idea how she kept it like that.

Amie said...

My mom was a constant housekeeper when I was young and I am now the same way - picking things up as I go, wiping down counters and sweeping floors multiple times a day. My middle sister went the other way - her house isn't what I'd call dirty, but it's MESSY. Piles of clothes that need putting away, mail on the counter, etc. My youngest sister got the cleaning bug like I did (maybe a little more - she will not get into bed without a shower first so as not to dirty the sheets - odd). What an interesting topic!!

Bitts said...

We had a weekly housekeeper when I was growing up, so I was never taught how to clean, nor was I ever involved in the process. I was responsible for my own laundry & linens since age 12, though. Our house was always clean, as a result, but I was never privy to how it got that way. My dad is a total unclutterer, so he would throw things away indiscriminately. I have inherited the same unfortunate tendency, so my house is not very cluttered because I don't keep stuff. My husband's standards reflect on his time in the military, so I think he would prefer if our house was more thoroughly scrubbed and disinfected. I would like that, too, but with 2 little kids, I just can't meet that standard. Maybe I will be able to maintain better when they're both in school instead of underfoot, wanting to "help." I don't mind having them help, but it's not like anything gets done then!

Lawyerish said...

My parents kept our house VERY neat and clean; my mom vacuumed every day and my dad cleaned the kitchen after every meal plus we each were in charge of scrubbing one of the bathrooms on the weekends.

I am a total neatnik and cannot bear untidiness or clutter (fortunately, my husband is the same way although his household wasn't white glove-clean like mine was). My brother is...not as bothered by such things.

Hillie said...

My mom grew up in a slightly abusive household, and keeps an impeccable clean house as a force of habit. While I acknowledge that she is as neat as she is from her years as a the family maid, I loved my home so much growing up. It was truly the most welcoming, comfortable place to be. It was not a "touch nothing" sort of house, but rather a place to be enjoyed. My mom went out of her way to give us a home that we were proud of and wanted to spend a lot of time in, probably because she never wanted to be in hers no matter how clean it was. Now that I'm on my own I try very hard to maintain her standards, but I realize I am no where near as dedicated as she was. I follow her example of picking up as I go, but I am a surface cleaner whereas she is a deep cleaner. My husband grew up in a hoarding household (reading the comments, I guess it's more common than I thought) so he is appreciative of any level of cleanliness I manage during the day! I saw how he grew up and it was pretty disturbing, fridge packed with ten years worth of groceries in various stages of decay, bathrooms covered in stains and a carpet of hair...it did make me want to give him the best effort I could when we moved in together, even if I'm not a natural like my mom.

Anonymous said...

My parents both rebelled after growing up in white-glove clean homes (literally, for my mom, who lived on military bases and watched her civilian mother get berated by some inspecting officer because the back of their furnace failed the white-glove test). My growing-up-home wasn't bad enough to, say, get us put into foster homes but we did nearly get evicted once and could also hardly ever have anyone over and I had a deep sense of shame about my home and my family.

I'm actually pretty proud of the fact that I've swung the pendulum back to the middle. While I am self-conscious at times because our current house is probably a little messier than prevailing standards, I know that it is both normal and fine/healthy/whatever.

Allison

Tessa said...

My parents' house and my husband's mom's house were both full of papers, clutter, gross fridges, etc.

Our house is picked up and mostly clean 99% of the time. (Of course, no kids yet, so we'll see what happens whem that changes...). My sister, same thing. My brother adopted two kids and got divorced in the same month, so he's got his hands super full, but his house is more like the one we grew up in. I think if he had more time, and a less-demanding life, he'd swing toward the clean. It was no fun never being able to find anything as a kid...

Anonymous said...

My memories of growing up were that my mom was ALWAYS cleaning. My sister and I grew up in a small, 2-bedroom apartment in a relatively old building. My mom seemed to be constantly wiping down counters and scrubbing the floors and telling my dad and my sister and I that we needed to be helping more with chores and setting up a chore list, etc.

And yet, our home was constantly a mess. And now when we go back home to visit, it's even worse than it was when we were growing up. My sister staged something similar to an intervention with my parents to confront them about their borderline-hoarding behavior and it's made some difference, but they still struggle with the instinct to keep EVERYTHING.

Meanwhile, I feel like our house is in relatively good shape most of the time. My husband would probably disagree (and he'd probably be right, according to objective standards) but he understands that my standards are much lower than his. I think what frustrates me about cleaning is that it never feels like you're actually done. There's very little payoff. If we were the type of people to have guests over every weekend, then I would probably feel more motivated. But the truth is that we usually go weeks without anyone but us seeing our home. So what's the point in keeping it immaculate? As long as it's not smelly and nothing's a safety hazard, I have a hard time getting motivated to keep things cleaner than I personally need them to be.

Bird said...

Oh, I think about this often. My grandmother has a extraordinarily clean home and always has. My mom has what I only sort of jokingly refer to as the "cleanest home in America." I keep a very clean house though not to the extent that my mother and grandmother do. I do notice that I can not physically relax if there is mess (counters have crumbs, laundry needs folding, papers not put away etc.) so I am constantly puttering about clearing up.

I've been forced to relax my standards of cleanliness and tidiness by (a) marrying someone who isn't tidy; and (b) having little kids. I do have them clean up all their toys before bed and keep their room in order but mostly because it bothers me. You can see that my daughter (almost 2) has the organizing/clean gene in her and secretly that makes me very happy.

velocibadgergirl said...

I grew up in a very cluttered household - not dirty, just kind of FULL and had a messy roommate all through college. Then I married a man who cannot function in a cluttered house and so I keep my house much less cluttered and slightly more-frequently-cleaned than my parents' house.

I'm sure my standards of housecleaning are pretty lax compared to a lot of people. It's clean enough, but definitely not pristine.

lin said...

My mom was a mess when we were home, I am a mess, my kids and my husband are messes, and now the grandkids. I have one very neat brother and one very neat sister.

Lora said...

Growing up, our house was very messy. Every couple of months my mom would put on the John Denver album and get out the pledge and the house would be spotless for a couple days. But usually very messy. Both my sister and I keep our houses neat and tidy. Not at all perfect, but definitely cleaner than our childhood home. What's interesting to me, is that while I keep my house cleanish most of the time, my kids think we have a messy house. The reason is that when there is a mess somewhere or I haven't been able to get around to cleaning an area, I'll say, "This house is such a disaster!" So they think of our house as a disaster. It makes me wonder if my growing-up home was cleaner than I remember, and mom just called it messy.

Nik-Nak said...

My mom is a full house cleaner every Saturday. A baseboard spring cleaner every April and a twice a week toilet scrubber. My chore was always to dust and for some reason I never got to vacuum. As a result I always vacuum regularly and NEVER dust.
I like to think my surfaces are cluttered and the underneath is clean. But actually I only do a good cleaning about every three weeks. I keep the kitchen and bathrooms up weekly. I'm the exact opposite of my mother when it comes to cleaning but I wish I could be more like her.

Monique said...

My mother is Born Organized, and I am most certainly not. Growing up our house was always presentable for company with nothing more than maybe the newspaper and some drink glasses out at any given time. My room would sometimes achieve hovel status as a young child, but not often, and not much as a teenager. I am naturally neat when I'm on my own - first apartments were generally neat, but not to my mom's status. I would be, oh, maybe 30 minutes from company ready at any given time. Now I have a husband and 3 children none of whom help in a manner that is actually, you know, helpful. As a result I live in a nearly hoarders level mess, especially the dining room and my bedroom. I keep trying though. The kitchen is clean, but the floor is filthy. Everyone has clean clothes, just not put away. We will not discuss the living room. The bathroom is messy, but only a bit dirty/germy right now. But you have to walk the path to get through the dining room or my room. I am improving, but right now I'm at least 3 months from company ready.

So glad you did this, I like knowing I'm not alone in my frustrations and tendencies.

Susie said...

My mom kept our house VERY NEAT AND CLEAN growing up. Vacuumed and picked up everyday, dusted every other day, no clutter, etc. We had chore charts! At the time, my brother and I HATED it. Now that we are adults with our own families, we both have homes that are not up to our mom's standard, but not terrible. My house is pretty cluttered, but clean. I WISH it were neater. I would live to able to keep the level of cleanliness and neatness that my mom did, but I just don't have time, or the wherewithal. And I prioritize differently - I'd rather go on an adventure with my family, or have friends over for dinner, than have my house be as clean as I wish it were. But I do think about it a lot- that my house is a mess and I'm failing at that particular aspect of adulthood. I never think that of OTHER people's homes - I don't even notice - just MINE.

Joanne said...

There were six of us in my family and our house was much neater than my mother would have had us believe! I think she had to do a lot of cleaning of her house growing up, her mom was sick and she had three brothers, so she was the one who cleaned. I think after she had four kids in five years, at some point she just thought, um, who cares? Then when we got old enough to reach the appliances, we were supposed to do chores but I am the third and a pleaser, so I ended up doing all of them. I have had four kids in the last seven years and I am feeling tempted to say 'WHO CARES?' but not yet. Right now I am neat, I'd say I'm the neatest of my siblings. I like things to be neat and clean and even though I am fighting against every slob in my house, I still try. I am planning on saying WHO CARES or making these mofos do some of it once they get old enough to actually be of some help.

Noelle Spooner said...

Growing up our house was clean but cluttered. My parents collect lots of things. I am clean and try to be organized but organization doesn't come naturally to me.

Elsha said...

My mom is a constant cleaner and I am decidedly not. I sometimes feel like it's because she always did everything so I never got into the habit? But sometimes I'm sure it's just my laziness.

Two of my siblings are messy like me, and two are not. However, with the two who aren't messy, I think there are other big influences in their cleaning habits. One is in the military. The other has a husband who is a neat freak, so she's developed excellent cleaning habits since she's been married.

Amanda Conger said...

I grew up in a house where things would pile up and then there would be one big clean up. I am fairly anti-clutter (though it piles up and then I lay the smack down) BUT I just don't see dirt until it's GROSS. My husband will clean if he sees me cleaning or if I'm going "ick" but otherwise, not so much. Our house is pretty much always messy/dirty unless we are having company over. It'll stay fairly tidy for about 3 weeks after though, so I figure we just need to have company over once a month. : D

My husband's mother is very, very clean and tidy.

missris said...

Hoo boy I am definitely reacting against my mother in my cleanliness habits. She is a terrible housekeeper, and such a packrat. I have a cleaning schedule and try to keep a spotless house. I also mercilessly purge and get rid of/donate things. Big cleaning tears and purges often happen after I get back from visiting my parents.

el-e-e said...

I think my tidiness or lack of has nothing at all to do with that of my mother. Growing up I don't even think I noticed whether our house was tidy or messy. I do know we had a cleaning service at one time, but other than that I don't remember my Mom cleaning or not cleaning! She didn't make us clean the common areas (although we did have to clean up our rooms and especially our closets with some frequency).

I think it's weird that I don't remember.

My own house is relatively tidy, but I also don't fret too much over some strewn about. We try to make the kids take their things upstairs to their rooms each night but inevitably there are still a few toys scattered, and I do my best to ignore them. I am also bad about having piles of "current" papers in various places.

M.Amanda said...

I grew up in a messy house and used to think I was reacting to that in keeping my own house fairly neat.

Then I had kids.

Now I notice how tidy my mother's house is compared to mine. I guess, like my mother, I like a tidy house, but not enough to clean after the kids have zapped all the energy out of me or to nag them constantly to pick up after themselves.

LoriD said...

My house was always neat and clean growing up. It was by no means an untouchable place, just always clean. My house is pretty well-organized, but I would like it to be cleaner. I'm an expert spot cleaner - the kitchen floor infrequently gets mopped, but is swept and spot cleaned daily; I often clean the bathtub while I'm showering. The main areas of the house have to be tidy, but I let the kids be a little messier in their own rooms. As they get older, though, I do expect them to organize themselves and take some pride in their rooms.

artemisia said...

Um. This is the current subject of my therapy sessions right now.

Our house was not quite hoarder-like, but it was constantly cluttered and untidy, and not very clean.

I was constantly embarrassed to have friends over. My parents never had anyone over and I am sure that was due in part to the state of the house.

There is so much more, but I won't bore you.

When I moved out, I kept my dorm/house/apartments IMMACULATE. I scrubbed around the oven dials with a toothbrush once a week. There was never any dust and very few items in the house, so clutter was nonexistent.

Now I live with A. He is sentimental and likes to keep things.

I've had to learn to relax. My house is quite acceptable, but I would love to have the time and energy to scrub it clean EVERY WEEK. AT LEAST.

I still get panicky and super crazed before I have company, however. SUPER CRAZED.

artemisia said...

@Missris me, too! Your comment is my attitude EXACTLY.

Alice said...

My mom kept a VERY clean house, but I am a woefully messy person. The result is that I very much enjoy - and want to live in - a clean, tidy house, but cannot seem to make that happen because SOMEONE keeps on messing it up. (That would be me.)

I do go nuts before I have company over, though, which I know is a direct result of being made to do so as a child.

Bunnyslippers said...

My parents were borderline OCD. The house was vacuumed thoroughly at least twice a week, floors swept multiple times a day, full-on top-to-bottom house cleaning twice a year (windows removed, tracks washed out, walls floor to ceiling, top of cupboards washed, shelves wiped, base boards etc.). There was no clutter, no dust, no crumbs, floors were pretty much sterile. We had special carpet runners that we had to walk on instead of using the actual house carpet. Linen closets were in pristine order. I remember getting yelled at once because as I helped my mom fold laundry I was so incredibly careless that after I folded a towel, the band ended up in a different orientation than the other towels (in my defense, at least the major fold at the end was stacked in the same orientation). It was around then that I decided there were bigger things in the world to worry about.

My house has clutter and dust and kids. I sweep every couple of days and try to keep the kitchen reasonably clean. His Nibs is in charge of vacuuming and it is done once a month. I would like it done more often (maybe twice a month), but if it is his job, I have to accept his schedule. I keep on top of the kid laundry but mine is never folded (honest to Pete, Swistle, I don't know how you can do it with a big family--you are a star for keeping them clothed and clean never mind fed and not living in squalor). I consider our house lived in but not messy.

marie green said...

Our house was a mess growing up. My mom was a SAHM but she... well, she really just didn't DO much in terms of cleaning.I hated it, and I was SO EMBARRASSED when friends came over.

I've always craved and strived-for a tidy, clean household. With four kids (one being a clingy baby), I've had to lower my standards quite a bit, but my ideal would be much tidier. As it is, I also do the full wipe-down after every meal, as well as sweeping the floor after dinner (and sometimes more) (but daily sweeping is only when I have a high chair baby in the house). Toys are picked up before bed. Weekly deep cleaning happens. But? It's still mostly pretty messy and cluttered around here. I think, actually, that's it's probably JUST messy enough to make others feel comfortable that THEIR house doesn't need to be perfect. So, despite the messes driving me a little crazy, I guess it's... homey?

Veronica M. D. said...

Both of my mother's parents were Depression-era "savers" -- not hoarders by today's standards, but definitely harboring that tendency. My mother, then, became a "saver" as well. Aside from saving things "just in case," she has several collections. She has not problem with all of these things being OUT. Just OUT, in plain sight, all the time. Her kitchen counters are FULL of things, and you have to clear space to make room for a cutting board. The walls of the great room are full of framed things, shelves holding her various teapots (she had hundreds) and her basket collection also hangs on the walls. Even if she WERE very clean otherwise, I think it would be hard to tell because of the amount of things present. When we were young, she had a housekeeper come every Friday to give a intense clean, and then she would tidy the best she could throughout the week.

By the time I was in high school, I was disgusted and outraged. I was ALWAYS cleaning something and always campaigning for a certain item to be put somewhere instead of just hanging out -- isn't there somewhere, ANYWHERE, we could put this??

Now, I am very tidy and my home is sparsely decorated. I hardly ever hang anything on the walls of my home, and when I do, it has only happened after MONTHS of deliberation. We do not have a SINGLE knick knack sitting out in the main living spaces, and the only things on my kitchen counters are the toaster, coffee pot, and knife block.

My little sister, however, is messy, an artist (how I like to explain the chaos), and a "saver." She has things EVERYWHERE, which makes it harder for her to notice that she hasn't vacuumed in over a month. How convenient! :)

Maggie said...

Thinking about this I realize I've nearly replicated my mother's cleaning style and to some extent my parents' marriage. My mom went back to work when I was 8 and immediately hired a biweekly cleaning service because my dad is extremely messy and without help cleaning, their house was going to go to hell ASAP. My mom had rooms in the house that we were not allowed to use because they had the good furniture etc. Even though I didn't clean, I was responsible for doing the dishes every night from the time I was 10 and doing my own laundry from 12 on.

Because I work FT out of the home, my husband is messy, and I have 2 kids and 3 animals that shed, I've also hired a biweekly cleaning service. I don't do much housecleaning in between unless we have company other than fully cleaning the kitchen every night. I can't stand a dirty kitchen and do poorly with clutter, so I tidy every day. That said, I don't believe in having rooms we can't use or furniture that is too good to sit on. I always hated that as a kid and refuse to have it as an adult.

Diane said...

Just this week I spent a few days at my Mum and Dad's place. It is the cleanest house I've ever been in - they even squeegee the glass in the shower recess and then wipe it with a chamois after each shower!!!
Besides a bit of dust, Mum has always kept a clean house. My sister and I were brought up with the maxim - a place for everything and everything in it's place.
Me? I WISH my house was clean. I WISH everything was in its place, except that I don't even have a place for everything!
There is a huge difference though - Then there were only 4 people in my family - easy to keep tabs on. Now we have 9 people in the family. I've given up!!! At least *my* stuff is clean and I know where *my* stuff is.

Amanda said...

I grew up in the same house that you did. Even now, if a child is visiting and takes off a sweatshirt said sweatshirt will be washed, dried, folded, and placed in it's appropriate place before child realizes that he isn't wearing it any longer.

I am the exact opposite of how I was raised. Oh so very opposite. I have heart palpitations when my mother comes to visit.

Christina said...

My mom was like your mom- full time job. Yet she did a daily tidy and declutter, cooked dinner, and had the kitchen clean after dinner.
We also did an hours long full cleaning every Saturday- all laundry, bed linens, vacuum, mop, bathrooms, etc.

I'm not a slob by any means of dirty, rotten food. But I definitely do not have any ability to control the mess- the mess controls me. It's just overwhelming and clutter. And geez every time I turn around there's dishes and stacks of crap on the stairs, and sticky bathroom counters.. gah.

ericadouglas said...

Oh, this is just FRAUGHT with issues! :)

My MIL vacuums daily. I...do not. FIL does the kitchen cleaning and cooking. My husband was never expected to do anything at his house besides tidy his room. His parents never did chores WITH him, so he doesn't know how to work with me. Since his childhood home was just magically cleaned, he expects ours to magically be clean as well. He is tidy - his idea of cleaning is to straighten the clutter on the coffee table and line up the books and magazines so their edges are parallel to the table edges. But it doesn't occur to him to, you know, take the dirty dishes from the living room to the kitchen. Or put them in the dishwasher. In fact, I don't think he even noticed that we didn't even own a dishwasher for the first five years of our marriage.

His parents' cleaning style has very negatively affected our marriage. He wants everything tidy like it was at his parents' home but he doesn't know how to do it and he doesn't want to learn. Then he's frustrated with me because I'm a lot more worried about CLEAN than I am about TIDY.
He leaves his clothes all over the floor in our room and since I can't tell if they're clean or dirty, I throw them in his closet so the baby doesn't trip over them. I do all the laundry and all the dishes and all the cooking but he says I don't do anything around the house because I don't TIDY the books and I don't vacuum daily.

One time he decided to do a load of laundry to 'help' me but he put in an entire load of blue towels PLUS a king-size red quilt and BROKE the washing machine.

My mom and I did chores TOGETHER or at the same time - we'd each clean a bathroom, I'd fold laundry while my mom ironed. My husband's idea of helping in the kitchen is to stick his (unwashed) finger in the spaghetti sauce while it simmers.

To complicate this further, it's an IDEAL SATURDAY in my family-of-origin if we can stay in our pajamas all day. We enjoy not leaving the house. It's not laziness - we're certainly busy all day. We just like not wearing fancy clothes. (Especially since we're all in professional careers that require dressy-ish clothes.)
My husband's family gets dressed the second their feet his the floor in the morning. They simply don't DO pajamas. So when my husband sees me in PJs at noon on Saturday, to him that's the epitome of laziness, even if I've already done laundry and dishes and cleaning and general baby-keeping-alive. It doesn't help that I work full-time and he works 30 hours a week over four days.

Anonymous said...

I am a special kind of crazy. In my family you either got the ODC gene or the I don't care gene. I have the OCD gene. I want everything perfect and there are times when I got to be way to late because I "had" to finish cleaning something. That said, I lived with my dad and step mother growing up. My dad was clean but cluttery and my ste mom was hoard-ish, cluttery, and not clean. I had chores out the fanny every weekend that I had to complete before I was ever allowed to do fun things with my friends. The bathrooms and to be cleaned, the laundry done, the whole house vacummed and/or swept and my bedroom spotless. Needless to say Saturdays were not my favorite and I missed out on a lot of things with my friends. Now that I have my own house I am a neat person and I like everything put alway but I attempt not to care about cobwebs and just bunnies in the corners. I work a full time job and realize that it's just impossible to work and have fun sometimes and keep the house perfect. My husband comes from what I call a "piggy" family. They don't wipe off the counters after dinner although they might do the dishes. They throw their wet bath towels on the floor after their shower and they walk around the house with their shoes on. So we tend to have dissagreements about things but I am re-training him slow but sure. . .it's been 8 years!

DC

Umiyyad said...

I am my mother!

I clean when guests are coming (the bits of the house they will see) and I sweep the floor when it crunches underfoot (with every step).

I *love* the house when it is clean and tidy but somehow getting it that way comes pretty low down on my list of priorities (some distance below reading blogs...!).

I am not a complete pig... but my husband ALWAYS expresses slightly surprised appreciation when I clean for no reason (no guests coming) so I know it doesn't happen often enough.

But the way I see it, it's only really worth doing if you haven't done it for a while. If you clean the bathroom daily you can't even see that you've made a difference. Right?!

One of my favourite quotes is something a friend has on a magnet. It says, "You can look at the dust, but please don't write in it."