Saturday, March 21, 2009

When the House is a Mess

I am at my computer a lot, and when I am not writing, emailing, blogging, tweeting and facebooking, I am on the phone, running errands, at church, cooking and generally busy with my family. Keeping house is not my highest priority. My friends all know this to be true. It is not a virtue, I confess. To be so absorbed in one's children and one's projects that housekeeping falls by the wayside is a fault.

For my mother and both of my grandmothers, keeping the house in order was a top priority. My Irish grandma had a large family but kept an orderly home. She did not make having a lots of children into an excuse to be sloppy. But then, she did not have a computer and did not spend hours a day blogging, tweeting and facebooking. She organized her time and never wasted a minute.

Nevertheless, I keep coming across articles on the internet that give the impression that chaos and disorder in the home is a sign of true blue Catholicity. Sloppy living is not a virtue, no matter how many children one has. Having a messy house is not some sign of high spirituality. If your house is a mess it means you're a slob. Let us not glamorize a trait which might be an imperfection at best and at worst, the vice of sloth. Share


Anonymous said...

Elena...It is so true how the computer can lead us away from our duties...something I am working on this shut the laptop a little more often and realize life will go on even if I don't get on to write everyday. Life goes on...with more time to keep house, cook, and spend time with my husband and family.

Agnes B. Bullock said...

Ouch- so true. My mother despairs of me!!! And, to my shame, I have no children, so my "excuses", such as they are, are extremely feeble. AM guilty of the sin of sloth, to my shame. J(BTW- finally ordered your books at amazon!!!! Follow you on twitter too, but could not find you onfacebook)

elena maria vidal said...

That is all true, Carmelite mom, and I am trying to do the same.

Thank you, Agnes, for your kind words. I am following you, too, on Twitter. And you are already my Facebook friend~ I am there under my legal name rather than my pen name. You were actually one of my first FB friends!

Anonymous said...

My word of wisdom to you, Elena, and all moms who get swamped in household mess: get rid of as much stuff as possible!

Less stuff means less to pick up, less to dust, less to put in its proper place, less attachments. Before picking up that "neat little item" at the drugstore/Walmart/garage sale, etc., imagine yourself having to pick it up off the countertop/kitchentable/floor, and you will most likely put it back on the store shelf! (Works for me, at least! LOL) Saves lots of money too. The little things DO add up.

Oh and have you seen "fly lady"? she is great. It's online (where else? LOL) The site ( gives terrific hints at tackling that messy room, or messy house.

My favorite hint of hers is this one (which I attest has worked for me many times). Take three boxes or three large trash bags, label them: 1. Give Away; 2. Throw Away; 3. Put Away. Then just go thru the room (or portion of a room) and sort each thing into the appropriate box. You're done in no time! and you have quite a collection to give to the poor at St Vincent de Paul Society. You then take that "put away" box with you around the house, putting everything where it needs to go. That takes a few minutes only, I promise! ;)

All the best, and don't forget to often say, St Martha, pray for us.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Gette, that is exactly the kind of practical advice which I find immensely helpful!

Anonymous said...

This is something I have noticed for years now....we shouldn't be proud of our messy homes! I posted about it today at The Hidden Cottage because it is a struggle of mine as well. Lent is a great time for me to get cracking! :)

Unknown said...

"If your house is a mess it means you're a slob." LOL. Yes, I guess this is the bottom line, isn't it?! Dirt and clutter is simply dirt and clutter, and it's unhealthly.

This is the season for decluttering(the home as well as the soul) and cleaning your nest. I work at it in steps(one room, one closet, one bathroom at a time), a little at a time, but with a plan. If it's done a little at a time throughout the week, month and year, it's much more manageable.

Personally, I could not handle Flylady, but it does work for many people. I had to devise my own plan for those who enjoy chasing windmills(giggle).

Slicing it up into manageable chunks within an elastic weekly(or monthly) schedule is good for busy moms, especially if you have a lot of unpredictable events popping up.

There is no way I could count on having time on one particular day at a certain time. I need a week's time block to play with when I get my housework done. The children come first, especially when you have an adventuresome and curious three year old who gets into everything. The pets are no better - they are just like the three year old. It's a juggling act.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Margaret. I see it as the kind of problem that admitting it IS a problem is half the battle.

Those are great suggestions, Alexandra. Toddlers will be toddlers and when they are all little at once it can be a challenge. In our family and in other families I have known, it was a big help once the older children became mature enough to have little chores.

Brantigny said...

My mother being Irish kept and still keeps an immaculate house. If it is not picked up it is thrown out.

Maybe that is why being a Marine was so easy for me.

Even today at 76 she runs a tight ship. Dusting, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, I get tired thinking about it.

At least i know hoow to make my bed. As do my children, though I don't know if they do.

My mother puts marie Barone to shame.


elena maria vidal said...

My mom is the same way. She puts many younger women to shame, including myself.

Anonymous said...

Funny that this one would resonate.. Mea culpa-- and a half, except for the reason. I was thinking last night at the supermarket--for the 2nd time since the weekend, now that 6 *adults* live here, a 7th now and then, a wee fellow half the time and pending the addition of a young woman and her babe--that it is helpful (or, for some of us, crucial) to see housekeeping as a labor of love-- that will transform it into homemaking.

However, I was also thinking that having been here and done this twice already over 4 decades, now, I'd rather a paying job rescued me from all this love. :-)

I've been recalling an above-the-copier cartoon I saw long ago --apparently that resonated, too. It's the progression of a young girl through various stages of womanhood and then into fallen-bust shawlhood. Her concluding thought-bubble: "Well, that sucked." (New England humour, I'm afraid.) With any luck, and about 7 acts of God, I won't be that woman; my concluding thought-bubble will simply say, "Whew!" from aboard an Aer Lingus headed to the auld sod toward some of those non-messy Irish grandma houses.