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  • Niamh

How I Went From Rage-Cleaning to Embracing The Mess

Having a baby changes you in so many ways. I’ve written about how motherhood has impacted on my own identity, my mental health and my body. It’s had far reaching consequences that I’m still getting to grips with and indeed I’m still trying to figure out this new person I’ve become.

But for all the really deep and meaningful changes motherhood brings, why the hell did no one tell me about how it would turn my house into a cesspit of perpetual mess and rubbish?!

Honestly, since my baby turned into a toddler the house is permanently destroyed and littered with everything from Lego, to empty yoghurt pots, a million little spoons (so that’s where they went), water bottles, Liga mushed into the carpet, ketchup on the wall, blocks, balls, little people, teddies, dried up wet wipes from months ago and a million and one unidentifiable stains on the floor (could be poop, could be chocolate I’m just not sure).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

You’ve heard the expression ‘a messy house means a happy home,’ well it might be happy for my toddler who seems to thrive in absolute disorganised Lego chaos, but as someone who is fond of rage-cleaning, it has been a hard transition for me to embrace. Part of the problem is that I’m a stay at home mum, who works from home, so I spend a hell of a lot of time in this place. It’s also a small house, so I don't have the luxury of shutting the door on a playroom to contain the mess. So having it be a tidy, pleasant environment is not just an aspiration, but it genuinely effects my ability to work when the place looks like a Lego bomb went off in it.

There was a time when I hoovered every day… several times a day. I’d just finish hoovering and the floor would be filthy in a matter of micro seconds. He’d have gotten the baby powder and thrown it all over the place as if Pablo Escobar had just been through with a job lot of cocaine. Or he’d throw his smoothie or snacks all over the carpet and delight in mushing them in so hard the stain would never come out. It would bother the hell out of me. I’d bloody kill myself trying to just keep the place relatively clean throughout the day. I was getting angry, hot, bothered and overwhelmed by it.

So I stopped.

I stopped cleaning up during the day.

Now I’m not saying I’ve turned into Waynetta Slob here, but I can also admit that embracing the mess has done me the world of good. I don’t try to clean up his toys before we go out for the afternoon. I leave the empty yogurt pots on the ground until the evening time. If there’s a huge spillage of liquid I clear it up, and I still keep the kitchen surfaces cleaned and tidy, but when it comes to food on the floor? Well thankfully my now chunkier cavalier Lily takes care of that end with lightening speed.

It’s not ideal, I mean I still itch to have the place tidy, but I also have to admit that my gross-o-meter has become a lot more robust these days. I guess that’s what happens why you’ve got to scrub human excrement off the landing or deep clean the bath after a pre-bedtime pooping incident that seems to happen with more and more regularity these days. Pre-kid me would have been horrified, now? It’s par for the course… I’ve had toddler shite on my hands and under my fingernails so many times it has lost all semblance of revulsion for me.

Similarly I look at his high chair… I’m pretty sure there is dried Weetabix that’s been on there since we started weaning. Probably gross to an outsider, but for me I don’t even see it anymore.

The point is, motherhood changes you irrevocably and sometimes that includes changes you don’t want to have to make. I don’t like living in a pigsty, but for the sake of my sanity I let the place pretty much go wild during the day. Then when daddy brings him up for his bath in the evening, I get a great sense of satisfaction when I put away the toys in the evening. It’s like the mammy shift has ended and I can be a human being again.

Kids are messy, parents are short on time and sometimes you do just have to embrace the mess and stop beating yourself up about it... that said I am still partial to an aul rage-clean now and then!

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