Code Red: The Mother-in-Law Home Inspection
~By Sarah Welte
Crap! My mother-in-law is coming over tomorrow. The problem isn’t my mother-in-law, however—I actually really love her. It’s this disaster of a house. There is no way I can let her see our house looking like this. We are officially in a “code red” situation, which usually involves me repeating “Crap! Company is coming and we need to clean! Stat!” over and over at the top of my lungs.
I readily admit that I am no neat freak. Never was. But now that we have four children and their stuff is everywhere, I find myself caring even less than I did when it was just the hubby and me. This seems backwards, I know. But really I see a constant, diffuse stream of toys, clothes, and diapers (I do take care of the diapers) without having a strong desire to pick them up. We have an almost 6-year-old, a 2-year-old, and 6-month-old twins, so I really should expect the older two to help pick up after themselves. But clearly they have taken my lead and leave a path of mass destruction in their wake.
Since I do not have a strong aversion to a messy home, why is that I care so much when someone is coming over? Because I would be extremely embarrassed if anyone came into my house right now. If a home is a reflection of the people who live there and I obviously care about what people think, why can’t I keep our house at least “picked up” if not “perfectly presentable” most of the time?
I would love to be able to use the excuse that we just found out my mother-in-law is coming down. But we’ve known for more than a week that she’s coming to see our oldest off for his first day of kindergarten. Seriously, more than a week! This house could totally be acceptable right now if I had done a little bit each day. Isn’t that what we tell our kids about keeping their playroom clean? “Put away one toy before you take out another.” Or “Pick up for 10 minutes today and then you can play.” Clearly I don’t know how to listen to my own advice.
So now we really are in a code red situation. And this is just par for the course in our house. We never work as hard at cleaning and organizing as we do in the couple hours right before a party that we’re hosting. I guess you could say that we thrive under pressure, but the truth is that the stress this creates only leads to arguments and dissent, not a collective family adrenaline high.
So are we going to start cleaning today? Probably not. It’s my husband’s birthday, after all, and we have more important things to do.
Sarah Welte is the brains behind Mommy and 4 Peas in a Pod.