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Cleanliness Is Next To Craziness

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The laundry is not done, and, funny, neither are the dishes. Your dog has created a new kind of carpet on your hardwood floors; a brown one that somehow only reaches the edges of the walls.

The kitty litter stinks and your children whine that they have nothing to wear. The unmade bed rivals the shower as the most disturbing sight in the house.
You vacillate back and forth between thinking of how much of a failure you are at "having it all" and how pissed off you are that no one else (especially the dog) ever bothers to clean up after themselves.

Cleanliness is next to craziness. We all do it - we drive ourselves crazy trying to think of ways to clean while we're doing other things. Before I had a family, back when I was wild and in my twenties, cleaning could be actually fun. I would put on music, dance around and clean till I felt brand-new. No longer. Now I feel dread verging on panic as I pace around picking up socks and scrub the shower while I'm actually taking a shower, just to save time. I do the dishes at 4:30 in the morning after the dog has woken me up, and laundry is done at midnight while I fall asleep on the couch.

Every few weeks my adorable husband goes crazy with cleanliness and scrubs the entire house from bottom to top, removing items from counters, Windexing windows, and scrubbing doors, until he collapses in a heap and we both look at each other with disbelief as, the following week, everything is just as dirty as it was five days earlier.

What is the solution?
As with everything in family life, there is no perfect way to do this. Kids should be encouraged to manage at least part of their mess - of course, bringing their dishes to the sink and, depending on their ages, washing them, putting some of their laundry in the wash, learning to do their own laundry, taking out garbage, doing some vacuuming. Aside from this, which may take years to accomplish, just having a weekly sweep through can help your state of mind so much. Leave the deeper cleaning (bathrooms, floors, windows) during the week and just do dishes, pick up items off of the floor and keep everyone with things to wear during the week.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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