My House is a Home, Not a Museum

I constantly teeter on the edge between trying to be the “all together mom” and the “realist.” I read a book a month or so ago where the protagonist visited the home of someone that could be described as “royal” or “important.” The writing portrayed awe and astonishment because the home appeared “lived in.” The furniture was comfortable and broken in, the table and chairs well used, and the atmosphere comfortable and homey. There were actual things in the home to be used and not just put on display. I want to get to a place where that is more impressive than a house that is put together and Pinterest-perfect.

It’s funny that I’m writing this article because I am not a neat freak.

Not even close. I’m kind of messy and I have always thrived in chaotic organization…but I know how to put on a good show. I like for my house to look put together and presentable. I cringe when there are toys out in the living room, when there are things on the counter that do not belong on the counter, or when there are baskets full of folded laundry in my room…but only if someone is going to see it. Otherwise, the only thing that really bothers me is stuff on my counter. 

If I’m being honest, I used to judge people unfairly for not having a place for everything in their house. Not necessarily for dishes in the sink, but for stuff without a real place. Like books stacked in a corner, pots and pans on the counter, or toys piled into a random basket. I was the type of person who had to have everything clean before anyone came over. Have you guys seen that video of someone impersonating a mom trying to clean before company comes over? That. Is. Me. 

“There can’t be any sign that we live here!” 

We host and lead a small group of about 10 young adults at our house on Mondays, and when we first started doing this over a year ago, the house had to be spotless every time, everywhere. All of the laundry put away, no toys on the floor anywhere, every shoe in the closet. Once, a few months ago, the toy room/office had toys everywhere and that’s the one time that someone walked into that room and I felt mortified because I didn’t want them to think I let my house be a mess. 

What I have come to teach myself is that having a perfect home is not synonymous with being a perfect wife or mom. 

It’s a struggle, but I’m making small strides that are contributing to my overall well-being and how I perceive my place in the home. I’m trying to be more of a real person, showing others a real life. If I am going to be a leader to those around me, then I am going to be an honest one. The reality is that we live here. We’re here more than we are not and we have this home to house us and our things. Some might say it’s more of an issue of minimalism than being neat, but I disagree. Sure, we could minimize — most people could; but we’re still going to have things that we use on a daily basis because we live here.

My husband has instruments and it’s not fair for me to ask for those to all be stored in a closet or the garage each time someone comes over; instead they share some space with the dining room, because it works for us. That’s where we play music now. I am not putting every toy that inevitably lives in living room into the toy room because there will be people here for a few hours. It is unnecessary work to lug ten toys upstairs all the time, only for them to come back down the next day because the toddler likes to play where everyone else is. Yes, there is mail in my mail holder that still needs to be opened and organized. The dog treats can stay on top of the fridge where my dog can’t reach them. The Miralax bottle, the Ovaltine, the coffee — they’re all staying out because they’re used daily and I’m going to get them out of the cabinet I placed them in when you leave anyways. 

Our house is warm and safe; it’s not dirty or unlivable. It’s never going to be featured in a home magazine and I don’t want it to be. I hope to be alone in this constant stress and anxiety to present a flawless home, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. Can we decide together to let our homes be homes and not displays of stuff? 

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