Confessions From An Unorganized Working Mom

I’m counting on you here, ladies. I’m hoping to not air my dirty laundry all over the interwebs and stand here alone in shame. No really…there’s a picture of my actual dirty laundry here. Scroll down. (sorry husband!)

And if you come in close, I’ll whisper the truth to you: I am not nearly as organized as I want everyone to think I am.

Most of the time? My kitchen counter looks like THIS:

Glory be. (this is embarrassing)

When we moved in, I called that space The Command Centre. There’s even a binder there on who’s spine I have emblazoned the words: Higgison Command Central……..2011. Fail. Complete and utter failure. The only thing that space on the counter commands is a full-out anxiety attack and the beginning of many a disagreement between husband and wife on who is to blame for the most junk left there. We both agree it’s the kids. Hah.

I have high hopes. I want to come home from work and hang my purse neatly on a designated oil-rubbed-bronze hook, drop my keys into a crystal bowl and drape my scarf over the banister. Flip through my bills and place them neatly in a leather mail organizer alongside some pens, a new Sharpie and some paperclips. I want the girls to have their school agendas and permission slips tucked neatly into a folder corresponding to their name. I want to have my coupons always clipped with scissors, our pay stubs chronologically filed and our to-do folder blissfully empty by week’s end.

None of this happens.

Because life happens.

When we get home from work, there are at least 16 other things I’d rather be doing than organizing a counter top. It would be so much easier to keep on top of initialing Bella’s agenda if we could find it under the stacks of Annika’s artwork and last month’s Hockey News. I cringe when I sit down to write and happen to glance over and see the pile that still lives there when I should have cleaned it hours ago. And it’s much easier to keep up with laundry when we actually put it away. (Yes, Ryan! I’m painfully aware that this is my own shortcoming and not yours. All hail Laundry Dad and his folding prowess. All hail.)

Oh stop looking, there's no gitch in there...I already checked.

But this is all so much…work. And I’ll admit, sometimes the last thing I want to do after a day of work is more work. So I let it slide. I’ll put the leftover dinner in a container in the fridge, and leave the pan in the sink “to soak” overnight. I will throw discarded toys into the bin in the living room, and sigh while I close the door to the messy playroom. It’s a give and take. We ask the girls to please clean up their art supplies from the kitchen table before we eat dinner, and I want them to see me doing the same. Cleaning up, tidying, putting away the day. Because it’s frustrating to see all the stuff from yesterday when I wake up in the morning. I makes me anxious and makes it hard for my mind to calm down.

I’ve tried a system, I’ve tried the calendar, I’ve tried the charts, I’ve tried pure iron will…nothing seems to give me the push to do that one extra thing.

And to be honest? Completely honest? I don’t care that much. I’d love for it to be done. It would make me feel so much better to have a clean counter every morning. But on a day-to-day basis, I’d rather expend my extra energy painting Annika’s nails or running around the staircase with Mae. It’s important to me to have a clean house. It does wonders for my mood when it’s tidy. But tidy is really the best it can be with three kids and a two-parent-working household. Because we live here. We really live here. So while I may get bug-eyed and temporarily furious at that stack of manila papers beside the sink? Annika painted those and is so proud of them that I can’t bare to put them away and I have no more space on my fridge to hang them. And I know my bathroom counter is so small that everything should be tidied and placed neatly away, but I’m just gonna use that dang straightening iron again tomorrow, so why even bother?

Trust me, I’m miles away from an episode of Hoarders. But some of our more tidy types are probably a little astonished right now. Go sit beside my slightly-OCD husband and wait your turn with the dust mop. I’m gonna go play with my kids.

51 Comments

  • Shannon says:

    This.is.awesome!! My post for next week will pair so gloriously with this post :) PS–I had to look up what a “gitch” was… Canadians.

  • alicia, i am so there with you. i am one of those people who knows where things are, even though it’s all in disarray. and that’s how i get by. i wish i had a lovely, neat, organized home … but i’d rather relax when i’m not working, and enjoy time with my family. and knowing that i’m not the only one (whether it’s because people like you are willing to share via the internet … or because a good friend has us over, even when her “laundry couch” is … yep … still full of clean, unfolded laundry). it’s good to know i’m not the only one who lives like this :)
    Twitter: mylifeasprose

    • mrshiggison says:

      Yes ma’am! You totally get me on this– it’s not that I don’t notice it, it’s not that I don’t care it’s there…it’s just that if it’s not impeding on the healthy & mental well-being of my household? I’ll ignore it in favour of something else until I can’t stand it anymore.
      Laundry couch! <- that's totally awesome.
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Melissa says:

    Amen. I really thought I was the only one! *sigh*

  • I can only stay on top of the laundry because my mother-in-law does it for me… she watches our daughter on Thursdays and Fridays, and has been incredibly sweetly doing our laundry on a weekly basis since April 2010. Otherwise, I’m not sure what any of us would be wearing right now…
    Twitter: mrsmidatlantic

    • mrshiggison says:

      Ryan asked me the other day how much extra Marcie (our nanny) would charge us to wash the floors once a week:) Not gonna lie…I genuinely considered it.
      How glorious!
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Surf Momma says:

    Love.This. I have taken clean ready to be folded laundry back to sit on the washing machine TREE times this week. Perfectly clean laundry that is now a wrinkled mess. And for everything that is organized, one look inside my file cabinet would tell a different story. Luckily I live close to work, and a few times a week on my lunch hour, I run home, pick up toys, make beds, do laundry, prep dinner – whatever needs doing. Then I feel like a rock star when I come home, even if its because I busted tail on my lunch hour! It’s my fake it till I make it method!
    Twitter: SurfMommaBlog

    • mrshiggison says:

      Wow- ignite Lunchtime Warrior jets! That’s totally awesome:)
      Our kids would be walking around as wrinkled messes if laundry was left up to me, for SURE! Luckily my husband takes that chore and does it all while he’s watching hockey, since the laundry room is right beside him. So nice…because I haven’t a clue how we would ever get properly dressed without him! LOL
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Lindsay says:

    Oh honey, your place looks like a palace compared to mine. I’ve tried everything and I just can’t keep up with the counter (aka mail, change, snack pack, and receipt dump), the laundry (we must have too much clothing) because our laundry room is in the guest bedroom/loft upstairs- out of sight, out of mind, and the endless tumbleweeds of dog hair from the fluffiest rescue lab on the planet. Seriously. We furminate her, we vacuum with a judgey Dyson every other day, and we still have little hairballs that dance across the wooden floors mocking us as they go.

    I can’t afford a maid, but apparently I also suck as a housekeeper. What’s a girl to do? I guess I’ll just try to make sure my kid isn’t the smelly kid. It’s good to have goals, right?

    You are not alone.
    Twitter: Lilloveandluck

    • mrshiggison says:

      I say if you have a happy, non-smelly kid & at least one pair of clean underwear around? You’re winning at life!
      I got thinking about your “mail, change, snack pack and receipt dump” and realized mine is “keys, wrinkled tissues, lip balms and hair ties” Oh goodness, motherhood is a glamorous gig:)

      ::fistbumps::
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Tracy says:

    I thought I was reading something I wrote…seriously, I could have written this word for word…except just the one kid, though ;)
    Twitter: wa_tracy

    • mrshiggison says:

      I’d love to blame it on the two extra kids, I really would. And from what I recall the house was much tidier with just the one kid…but at that point I didn’t work, and we lived in an 600 square foot apartment. (and still if I’m honest the kitchen table was a dumping ground!)
      My mom always says that for years while we were young if she could get her house just TIDY she was patting herself on the back- now I totally get it!
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Heather says:

    I cannot stand my home to be messy. I have found that cleaning a little bit every night helps. After our kids go to bed, my husband and I spend about 15 minutes picking up the entire house, wiping down the kitchen table and counters, and swiffering the kitchen floor. It really doesn’t take that long if you do it all the time (trust me, I have a 5 bedroom home with a playroom and a 1.5 and 3.5 year old). I work close to home so every other Thursday I do a quick vacuum, dusting, and wipe down the bathrooms during my lunch break. The other Thursdays I pay a house cleaner to do the heavy cleaning. My husband and I have an active social life (bwhahahahaha!!), so we spend Friday nights doing the kids laundry and Saturday nights doing our laundry while catching up on our tv shows or watching a movie. I get super stressed and anxious if my house is in disarray!

    • mrshiggison says:

      I would love to be more like this, really! (and my husband would love it too, he’s much neater than me) But I feel like we’re set in our routines now…our overly busy routines and working our way out of them is a chore in itself.
      I tried a kind of chart system like you’ve got going- specific chore on a specific day- and I just found myself resenting having to do it. Do you ever feel like that?
      Twitter: mrshiggison

      • Heather says:

        Some Thursdays I just don’t want to go home and clean, but I do really get anxiety when my house is messy, so cleaning actually calms me. Having the housecleaner helps out sooooo much. If you really dislike cleaning, maybe try to find small ways to cut back and pay someone. We used to get takeout dinner every Friday night instead of cooking, we stopped doing that which almost pays for the house cleaner. I haven’t cleaned showers/toilets for over a year!

  • Katherine says:

    Oh you should see our center island thing. We always start the week out GREAT, clean and what have you, but by the end of the week just looking at it leaves me SO overwhelmed I get all sorts of stabby. Oh and the “leaving the pot overnight to soak” I totally picked that one up from my childhood years when I had to do dishes as my chore for the week for our family of six. I hated dishes. Oh who am I kidding, I still hate dishes to this day.
    Twitter: lilmissrysmama

    • Alicia says:

      I will leave that pot to soak for DAYS! (it’s reeeeeeally dirty, Ry. Just leave it. hah.)
      I truly think every home has and NEEDS a ‘dumping ground’ b/c no one can be 100% organized, 100% of the time. It’s actually impractical.

      …or that’s what I tell myself…
      Twitter: mrshiggison

      • Kara says:

        Lol, I hate washing that pot so much I debate throwing it in the trash and buying a new one every time I make anything cream or tomato based in it. Or anything with cheese. Ugh. Stupid pot. Luckily I have a neat freak other-half who will get annoyed with it “soaking” in the sink for so long and will wash it for me.

  • Lori says:

    AMEN!!! Oh my have you read my mind. You are so not alone and I want to “like” every comment above (except maybe Heather who has is all together LOL!)
    Let’s hear it for hubby’s who are laundry kings….and who tolerate non-put away laundry. (I do not put my own away either!) I also leave my 5 essential toiletries on my kitchen sink, never make my bed, and refuse to sort and organize my gmail because isn’t that what search is for?
    There is also a twin command central folder on my command central counter as well.
    When there is an area that really over-irritates my husband or super decreases my energy levels, then I tackle it with a simple solution. Latest example is the kids art work. I leave the most beautiful stuff on the counter for a day or two just to look at, enjoy their beauty intentionnally so I don’t stress over it. Long term keepers go straight into a folder I keep on the counter called “keepsakes” (no other organization by child so I just make sure their name and date is written on it). And short term (a few weeks) keepers cycle through the front of the fridge. And the kids and I agree together what goes straight to the trash as we empty their folders each day (or more likely, week :).
    Thank you for sharing this!!!
    Twitter: lorimercer

    • Alicia says:

      Precisely! They create things like “search” for people just like us! Who am I to render some engineer’s invention useless?!
      Oh no, I don’t make a bed. My six year old will make a bed quicker than me! Now my closet? All sweaters hung together, all jackets, all dresses- wildly organized! Towels folded precisely the same way & stacked in the linen closet. I am just not built to do it all the right way all the time.

      So glad to see all these people convincing me I’m not a slob:) hah!
      Twitter: mrshiggison

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Lori ; ) I may have it together most of the time when it comes to cleaning, but I am a mess in other areas. If I were in charge of bills, our check book would never balance and we would be broke from late fees. I am a spazz when it comes to grocery shopping and usually end up at the store at least 3X per week to get things I have forgotten (or we have frozen pizza like last nite). And my neat-freak tendencies somehow stop at my car, which is always a mess!

      • Alicia says:

        Isn’t it always like this? The yin & the yang?
        If you are an expert in one area you just can’t get the hang of another. I would just like to be perfect at ALL THE THINGS please. Is that too much to ask?

        (don’t answer that…)
        Twitter: mrshiggison

      • Lori says:

        ditto Alicia’s comment :)
        What I find quite funny is how many people at work see me as such an orderly, organized, on-top-of-everything kind of person! I’m glad they get that perception without the underlying reality that I’m some days barely hanging on by a thread!
        Twitter: lorimercer

  • Violet says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! I must say: the only time my house is clean and organized is during the school holidays. Since this teacher is totally Type-A, I’m spending all my breaks cleaning, organizing, etc. The minute I go back to work, however, my home turns into a Hurricane Katrina FEMA park. One day, when I’m rich, I’ll pay someone to care about the organizational state of my house.

    • Alicia says:

      Bwahahahahaha!!!! This cracked me UP!!

      Hey, if you make enough money can you pay someone to care about the organizational state of MY house too? Just tossin it out there…
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Is it sad if I think your counter looks not “just fine” but “in great shape”?
    Twitter: tragicsandwich

  • Ginger says:

    You’re my kind of lady then, because this is me. I just…don’t care enough to clean. I have to stay on top of the laundry (no, really, I have to. I only have 3 pairs of work pants and 2 bras. It’s a problem), but the rest? Meh. I’d rather do just about anything than clean. My husband does most of that heavy lifting, but even he has been too busy lately to care. I figure we’re not living in out and out filth, I’d rather play with my kid, or blog, or read a book than organize papers that are just going to pile up again tomorrow.

    Of course, I’m petrified of what’s going to happen when my kid is in real school, not just preschool. I can just see notes from school buried under last week’s mail in my future.
    Twitter: rambleginger

    • Alicia says:

      There are some days I get the urge to clean (these are few & very far between) and I have learned to take full advantage of these. But then? I find that as I sit in my squeaky clean house, the feeling of guilt creeps in that I’ve ignored my kids all day in favour of some clean banisters.
      That’s where I think Heather (commenter above) has a system that works- cause you’re constantly holding the middle ground. Right? At least I think that’s how it works…cause I’m clearly NOT doing that:) Hahahaa
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Jenny says:

    I so understand this. Especially when work gets really hectic, the housework just piles up. We still have 2 baskets of unfolded laundry from last weekend. There are dishes in the sink that are soaking, and my counter is cluttered. We do have some clean dishes. We ran the dishwasher last night.
    Twitter: jenrenpody

  • Brandee says:

    Totally me. Totally 100% us. Also? I lost my entire box of cheques, because who uses cheques but now I need them and I CANNOT FIND THEM IN THE MESS. I should take a photo of my bedroom, it is MORTIFYING.
    Twitter: Babe_Chilla

  • Courtney says:

    My counters look the same way! It totally drives me crazy so I’m constantly buying letter boxes to organize except that all the paper ends up randomly stuffed into various boxes and I can never find anything. My random “stashing” drives my husband crazy.
    Twitter: CourtneyMarie35

    • I keep thinking “Oh I should get something to organize that” but then I just end up with a bunch of organizational tools that don’t get used. Not that my current state is (obviously) working out any better…hah!
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • LauraC says:

    DUDE.
    I totally did this same post in Sept of last year.
    Except I am a CRAZY person and I can not stand having anything out so my pictures are the opposite of yours. I actually had anxiety before having 7 internet friends to my house this past weekend bc I didn’t want them to judge how neat and organized everything is.

    Brandy can tell you, I am a crazy person.
    http://jonandlaura.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-you-can-judge-me.html

    • Brandy says:

      It’s true but working from home has to help. Don’t lie. You can multitask a lunch break. You can do laundry when the rest of us are walking to the bathroom on the other end of the building. But yes. crazy. That house is fucking immaculate. I am not worthy.
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Donna says:

    Great post… When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is clean. I do manage dinner and getting the kitchen cleaned up afterwards. Sometimes I look at my house and wonder what happened, how did it get this way? Before kids my house was always clean. Now it is “lived in.” I just do what I can do… and when I start thinking it is bad I will watch Hoarders and realize its not that bad.

    • Yes- this exactly! It’s “lived in” and that’s good enough for me.
      I would love my house to look model-ready at all times…but I’m not willing to give up all the STUFF that takes place within my four walls to get it. So, I’ll tidy and hope it’s good enough for now. Because I’m sure when my babies are grown I’ll be longing for a stray finger painting on the counter…sigh.
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • KeAnne says:

    I almost thought you had sneaked into my house and photographed for a brief moment :-) Yes, my house is just like yours. We have piles all over our counters. Once a month, we’ll clean them off and swear to keep them that way and slowly the crap builds up again. I sorely wish my three cats had thumbs and could clean during the day to earn their keep.
    Twitter: KeAnne

  • Brandy says:

    HIVES! Nah for real. My husband’s OCD has transformed me. I am an organization Nazi. Even Landon is showing signs of it. He knows where toys go. If you try and put them somewhere else, he is not happy. It’s all genes girl. So work what you got.
    Twitter: mannlymama

    • I’m hoping Mae rubs off on all of us, she’s got herself a little OCD: a place for everything & everything in it’s place. And guard your loins if you move it. Yikes.
      I think you’re right- it is a lot about genes. My mom kept her house much like mine when we were little, much cleaner now that we’re grown. So there’s hope! Just wait a few years before you come visit!

      (I’m totally kidding: COME VISIT RIGHT THIS MINUTE! I’ll totally clean within an inch of my life to make Kevin feel better! LOL)
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • I wish so much that I could adopt your attitude! I’m just too uptight for that to happen. Plus, I do a lot of work at home, so if things are messy I feel… I don’t know, internally messy? I got around the time crunch by ditching a whole lot of stuff. And it’s just about time to ditch more. Luckily, though, my P. is only 3 so she doesn’t always notice when things disappear. I mostly cull my own things, but I can’t be the only one! Less stuff means less clutter means that the clutter that is there looks less intense. Worked for us!

    (And just so you know, I only judge my own space. I never notice the mess in other people’s houses.)
    Twitter: mommeetmom

  • Lora says:

    I can’t believe what I just read . . . every single thing you wrote could be said about me, my family, and the state of our house. My husband and I both work full time, we have three daughters, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve gotten tired of the “mess” and vow that I’m going to get organized and keep things clean and have these visions of how smoothly things will run. Cleaning and organizing are the last things I want to do after a day of work; I’d rather focus on getting supper fixed and playing with my kids (or even locking myself in the bathroom to read a book). You are not alone!

  • Cherlyn says:

    Yep, same here. COMPLETELY. SO TRUE – It does do wonders to my mood, and it does feel nice, but it is hard work to keep it tidy. If I make my bed, I call it a win..and by make I mean cover the bed with the comforter.
    Cherlyn recently posted..Toddler Tuesdays – PhotosMy Profile
    Twitter: ourbabywagners

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