Messy, messy house

This morning Meg woke up at 6:30. Thomas was almost out the door to go on his run. He made her a bottle then left. By the time he came back at 8, she had systematically destroyed every room in the house as I followed her around saying “no” a million times and trying to put things away. Thomas got in the shower. I went in the bathroom to put in my contacts. Meg followed me and proceeded to empty every bathroom door. I tried to stop her while stuffing everything back in the drawers. Then she went to unroll the toilet paper. I said no. She didn’t listen. I said no again. Then again, louder. Then I shouted NO at her. And Thomas, from the shower, said “lighten up.” I started crying and didn’t stop for the next hour.

At first I thought I was mad at Thomas for going for a run at 6 a.m. (or a little after) every single Saturday and Sunday. I always have to get up with Meg. I cannot remember the last time I slept in. Which makes me very, very cranky. Also, marathon training means that he runs at least 10 hours a week. I spend those 10 hours at home with Meg. A lot of times, I feel like he’s always abandoning us to go run. After I’d been crying for 20 minutes, though, I realized the “abandonment” wasn’t really the problem. Its that he has a hobby that he gets to spent 10 hours a week doing and he always gets to leave the house to do it.

I don’t have any “outside of the house” hobbies and I don’t want any. “Relaxing” to me means I don’t have to make myself presentable and leave the house. It usually means reading a book. Or doing Sudoku puzzles while watching TV. Or doing stuff on the computer. Preferably, I’d do all those things while wearing pajamas and lounging in bed. I don’t want to go to Panera and work on my computer. I want to stay home! But home is no longer a relaxing place. Even if I’m in the bedroom and Thomas is watching Meg somewhere else, I can hear them. I can hear tantrums. Sometimes he’ll ask me to watch her for 5 minutes while he does something. Which is fine. 5 minutes is no big deal, but it means I never actually get AWAY.

Also, every last inch of this place gets destroyed by an inquisitive 15 month old on a regular basis. To relax, Thomas likes to run outside. Outside is the same as its always been. I like to relax inside a clean house. That doesn’t happen much. Even when I’m home alone (which I LOVE), I often find it hard to relax because the house is such a disaster. This is kind of weird, because I’ve always been a pretty bad housekeeper. I have a high tolerance for messes. But it turns out there is a huge difference between messes of my own making and messes made by someone else. Especially when I cleaned up that exact mess the day before and someone undid my work. I start to feel like the house is a hopeless mess.

Back when we lived in our apartment, before Meg, we would pretty much let things go during the week. Mail would sit, pots and pans wouldn’t get washed, etc. But most Saturdays we’d spend 2-3 hours cleaning and the place would be spotless. I had no trouble sitting amongst the mess on Friday night because I knew all it would take was a little work and everything would be better. I don’t feel that way anymore.

I can (and HAVE – twice in the past month) spend a whole day cleaning the house. All alone. (Meg was at her grandma’s). By the end of the day, things look pretty good. But then Meg and Thomas come home. Thomas makes dinner (don’t I have the best husband?), Meg gets to work dragging all the toys out of her room, and I fight a losing battle to keep the toys in her room. By the end of the night, the kitchen counter is covered with dishes and the floor is covered with toys and Meg’s dinner. A mere three hours after I finished spending a whole day cleaning, the house is once again a disaster.

I hate it when magazines (or people) say “to keep a tidy house, spend 15 minutes picking toys up after the kids go to bed!” Yeah right! Most nights after Meg goes to bed, Thomas and I BOTH spend an HOUR picking up toys, putting away leftover food, washing the dishes/bottles, unpacking the diaper bag/lunch bags, repacking the diaper bag/lunch bags, and on and on. Sometimes the house looks noticeably better. Sometimes it doesn’t even make a dent. And it never gets the house as clean as we want it. If we concentrate on one room (usually the kitchen), we can get that room clean. But there’s no way we’ll get the whole house clean. Plus, even if the house looks clean, every single low cupboard and drawer in the house is a big huge jumble of unorganized things, because (thankfully) Meg often puts everything back in the cupboard/drawer after she empties it. She just doesn’t put it back the way she found it.

Now, as I said, I do have a high tolerance for messiness. So I can live with my messy house for awhile. But eventually the mess gets to me. It becomes too much for me to handle. And since I prefer to relax at home, eventually I’m so bothered by the mess I can’t relax at all.

I honestly don’t know what to do about this. We do try to pick up every night. We do spend a lot of Saturday cleaning the house. We can’t hire a cleaning lady, because there’s STUFF everywhere and I hear cleaning ladies only CLEAN, they don’t pick up and they can’t clean if things aren’t picked up. (Not to mention we can’t afford it.) I try to get rid of stuff, but our biggest problem is the stuff we use all the time being used then not put back. What do I do???

Thomas told me I have to go to a movie this afternoon. And while I’m at the movie, he and Meg will clean. Hopefully that will help a lot. It’ll probably at least get me to the point where I can stand the house for another couple weeks before I fall apart again.  After that, who knows?