To Clean or Not to Clean?

Updated: May 18, 2019



Justine’s House


The house is a mess. I’m not exaggerating. There are piles of dirt up against the walls on the floor, food, dust, dirt. The kitchen is piled to the top with dishes and there is no food in the kitchen. I have laundry in various stages piled around me. It’s been weeks since I cleaned.

I look at the piles of crap on the counter, on the desk, in the living room, family room and do you know what, I don’t care. I just don’t.


Instead of cleaning and sorting through the mess I’m working. I write. I create content. I market for my clients to increase the traffic to their websites so they can make money. I am a lead generator. It challenges me. It uses my mind. I have to analyze data. Figure out how people interact with content. I have to engage others on my client’s behalf. This all takes time. Lots and lots of time.


I get Lost in the Work.


You know how people have junk drawers? Well I have a junk room. When someone is coming over for a visit I’ll run around the house at full speed, completely stressed out, in a panic of epic proportions. I’ll grab everything that’s lying around and throw it into the junk room, then I’ll shut the door. Once that’s done I’ll do a quick superficial clean so the house looks perfect. It’s not. If someone looked close enough they’d see the dust, the dirt, the grim.


My mother looks close and I’ve stopped even trying to get the house perfect for her visits, she is coming over tomorrow and will yell at me. How could I live like this? She’ll go on,

“This is how your aunt Meridith started out, with a house cluttered and messy like yours.  Now it’s so bad she has so much stuff piled everywhere there is no room in her house, no one will visit.”


My aunt Meridith is a first class hoarder, I don’t think she’s ever thrown out anything. I don’t know how she got so bad, mom seems to think it’s because she’s just lazy and there is no reason for it. I’m not so sure. There has to be more to why people end up like that. A deep sadness? Loneliness? A hole so deep that only stuff can fill it?


I don’t Shop. I Work.


No I don’t think I’m a hoarder.


My mom will come tomorrow, muttering about this and that. She will start cleaning and I’ll start feeling guilty because I didn’t get it done. I will feel inadequate because I chose to work instead of clean the house. I will feel like a bad wife, mother, daughter. I will feel like the failure that I am. All because I couldn’t keep the place clean.


How does one keep up a house with a family running it amuck? When I do clean up, two minutes later the kids have gone through and the place is a disaster again. What was the point? Where is the data that shows me I’m doing something right? That I’m getting somewhere? That each brick I put into the plans is building something?


I have two kids. Do you think they can help out? Clean their rooms? Change over the dishwasher? Pick up their toys? Nope. No way. No how. They just add to the mess. When it’s already a mess why bother?


I give them a list of chores. When I raise my head up out of my work I yell at them to get it done. They never do. The place stays a disaster and I somehow just don’t care enough to make them do it. How does one make a preteen and teenager do anything? When they were little I’d say do this, they’d either do it or went on time out. Now what?


Friends and family tell me to take their phones away, their video games, anything. I just don’t care enough to do it. I mean really. Is having a clean house that important that I have to punish them for not doing it? Where is free will?


I go Back to Working.


My husband, Gary, he does what he can. He either cooks dinner or brings home take out. He helps the kids with their homework and gets them settled while I work. I work all the time. I start first thing in the morning and I don’t look up until it’s time for bed. I work everyday.

I’m not looking forward to my mother’s visit. She’ll lecture me on how I have to have dinner ready for Gary when he gets home and how I need to focus more on keeping a clean house, an organized house, a perfect house. I know that I’m supposed to. I know that. I just can’t seem to care.


I tried cleaning up this morning. I started in the living room and all I could do was think of work. How to get more traffic to the contractor’s website. What should my next blog post be and exactly how could I motivate someone to stop looking and pick up the phone. That when the ideas came to me and I stopped cleaning.


I Started Working.


You’d think Gary would get mad. He doesn’t. He brings me coffee in the morning. He asks me how my latest campaign is going. He tidies up on the weekends. Once, he offered to hire a cleaning lady. The thought of it loaded me down with so much guilt, I cleaned for a week. The house was perfect and I barely slept, as I still had to work.


After a week, I got tired. So tired I couldn’t get out of bed for two days. I was sick. Not sick as in cough, cough, puke, puke, but sick in a different way. I didn’t care about anything. Not even work. Every muscle on my body ached and my brain was shutting down. I couldn’t hold a thought, I couldn’t string a sentence together without losing words and going blank. I couldn’t focus. I just couldn’t move.


Two days later, I woke up and went back to work. Sitting on my ass, at my computer, never moving. I should be the size of Rose by now, but I’m not. Thank you mom for a fabulous metabolism. I am completely out of shape, you just can’t tell that from looking at me.

One day I’ll get it together. One day I’ll be able to do everything. Work, keep a clean house, take care of my self and my family. One day. Just not today. I just don’t care enough to.


Rose is a doer, a stay at home mom, wearing herself out



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Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

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