Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A mothers' manifesto

HMS Queen Elizabeth currently undergoing sea trials along the Cornish coast







Hello friends.

This morning as I wended my blurry eyed way downstairs, I tripped over several pairs of shoes that had been abandoned by the front door. It would appear that Sam has made himself at home once more. Of course, this is his home, but it's gotten used to him not being here. So when he is, it takes a while to re-absorb him and all his stuff. For example, there are three bags for life full of books in the living room. I'm waiting for them to be taken upstairs and popped back on his bookshelves, but I fear that Sam may have decided that that's where they live. I'm trying not to put them away myself, because I've started this whole mid life mother's rebellion.

Let me enlighten you:

As you know, I live in a house of men. Apart from Honey, and she doesn't really count as she expects me to wait on her hand, foot and finger too. For years I've  prowled around the house, keeping everything ship shape, muttering all the while. Dirty laundry? Discarded mugs and plates? Mournful cardboard loo roll tube waiting to be dispatched? Load dishwasher? Empty dishwasher? Vacuum? Dust? Cook? You get the gist.

Now while I don't mind my role as chief cook and bottle washer, I have lately come to resent the complete lack of awareness that anyone has in this house of what actually goes into keeping their home looking reasonable. My guess is that they all think it just sort of happens. Or worse still, that it's a piece of cake to achieve. Quite often these men of mine will berate and mock me for trying to achieve it all. And let's face it, most of what I'm doing, I'm doing for them. Or because of them (except actually it's mainly because of them). And it's for me too. I need to have order around me to be able to function properly, and having a clean and tidy house is a big part of that. It makes me happy. I can let it slide for a couple of days, but then I get twitchy and irritable. Our weekends are usually knee deep in crap, and come Monday I can be seen frantically restoring order from chaos.

I have come to loathe the response "Yeah, I'll do it in a minute," to my " Do you think you could.." plea. It makes me look like a total nag, when in reality what I'm asking is a perfectly reasonable request. And let's be honest, doing it 'in a minute' usually means doing it in an hour, a day or not at all. Unless I eventually decide to do it, and am then made to feel guilty or unreasonable for doing it, when if they had done it in the first place, I wouldn't have needed to do it at all.

Are you still with me?

So, I have a plan. It's not particularly cunning. Or indeed subtle. But I have decided to stop doing. I shall do what I consider a reasonable task to do, and no more. It's a risky enterprise, and as I haven't declared my intention to the house, it may take a while to filter from their peripheral to their central vision. But I'm feeling smug in the knowledge that I am about to declare a Mum war, and they don't even know it yet. The domestic worm has turned friends! She is declaring war on those that would happily discard their pants on the bathroom floor! Or leave cereal boxes open on the counter. She is standing up for her right to be free from the clutter of men. Clutter that isn't at all photogenic. Mess that resists all attempts to look artfully abandoned. Down with balled up socks by the side of the bed! Down with towels in a damp heap on the landing! No more car parts under the bed! I have become the doyenne of domestic direct action.

This evening, I'm sat here surrounded by dinosaur toys, glasses of water filled with hydrophobic sand (yes really), toy soldiers, those books, Lego, a half eaten apple and what looks like a smear of jam on the sofa. I'm fighting the urge to clear it all away. I've promised myself that I shall instruct Olly to attend to his plastic multitudes tomorrow. Ditto Sam's bags of books and multitudes of shoes. Ditto Alfie's hoodies (three) scattered about downstairs.

I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.

No, I really will.


Leanne xx










21 comments:

  1. I totally understand what you are wanting and saying, as to whether it will go well is going to be a testament to your fortitude and their degree of cooperation. Maybe have a sit down with all of them to explain the new future !!! and you will not be taken for granted because that is really the issue isn't it? take care and good luck from Iowa , USA

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  2. Completely understand and if it's any consolation I've found living in a houseful of females is no better! X

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    1. Girls also have the dreaded ' floordrobe'. IE all the clothes they have tried on and decided not to wear, that now live on the floor.

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  3. While I admire your stand, lovely friend, I fear boys have a chaos capacity for their immediate home environment that exceeds women’s and might live quite happily with pants on the floor, cereal boxes on the side and half eaten apples on the table. If here is anything to go by they won’t notice these things at all (or copious quantities of crumbs on bread boards which is my own particular bug bear). Might I suggest the drafting, in agreement with and signed by said offspring, of a personal responsibility job list? My advice is start off small with one or two items on it so as not to frighten them, then gently extend it but by bit so they don’t take fright. It is working here. My downstairs floors are now hoovered for me once a week and bread is produced for lunch from the freezer on a daily basis. I’m still fighting pants migrating from bedroom floor into washing basket and we have yet to advance to crumb clearance but it’s on the horizon. Good luck! Xxx

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  4. I suspect many of us will have identical situations going on (don't think that if you had a daughter it would be any different – mine is shocking!). My tolerance for disorder and mess is low so, like you, I usually give in and just get it done. Feeling like a perpetual nag is somehow worse than just doing it. Sigh. I have cut my boys a load of slack while their exams are on but that will stop once they're over. I do find that paying £x per hour for cleaning, tidying and general helping around the house at the weekend works with the youngest. Bribery; I know... Good luck, my friend! S x

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  5. I was nodding all the way through, it is exactly the same here. The same lack of awareness, the same idea that I don't really do much, the same expectation that I will do everything for them. And like you, I just can't stand mess. I am like a maniac rushing around picking things up and putting them away. I admire your stand. I fear mine would not really notice or care, and I would be driven insane long before anyone picked up their pants. I honestly can't stand it when things are out of place, it's a problem for me. But know that I am stood on my chair, waving and cheering you on. Maybe you'll start a nationwide movement. CJ xx

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  6. I. like so many others, am in complete agreement with you ...... and I had girls! I can't bear clutter - I'm a stranger to a mop, but I can't bear clutter and it makes me stressed. I feel that you may be the same and will give in before your family even notices that anything has changed. Good luck though; we're all behind you cheering you on. xx

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  7. Ah yes, the pants. It is mostly socks here. I left the back door open earlier because I believe that if socks are left lying around outside long enough and get rained on, they eventually come to live and slowly crawl towards the laundry basket. It doesn't work with indoor socks, or pants. I am sharing a the chair with CJ, waving and cheering you on. It is going to be a tough battle. I have fought it many times, made small wins and lost hugely, too. I am currently in a phase of resignation, realising that eventually we'll drown in crap. I have tried to move said crap strategically without nagging anyone, for example on the door step of a teenager The result is unequivocally disappointing. The targeted child/husband has never noticed and happily steps over the crap. I am thinking of placing a couple of sharp pieces of lego in strategically useful spots (just in front or behind offending items). What makes me most cross is the empty cereal boxes in the cupboard and the freshly laundered clothes discarded on the floor and changed for something else. I have already found five school polo shirts on the floor this morning, after two days of school and only two children wearing them. I have stopped counting the pants. But try we must! Good luck, you will succeed. xx

    P.S. we are not visiting Cornwall this year :-(

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  8. Good luck Leanne. Our daughter was dreadfully untidy, treating our home like her personal art studio. She left home for a while and when she came back was so much better, apart from her own bedroom, which always looked like a skip. She now lives with a tidy freak and has had to up her game. Loving the colours of the sky and sea in your first picture.

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  9. Good luck with your strike Leanne. As a mum to 3 boys and a daughter who is not much better, I am afraid you may find yourself caving in before the boys notice anything. Over the years I have tried the same tactic with my children, but the mess got me down first. I have also put things in a box in the garden when I got fed up tripping over them, but it was me who moved it back in when it started to rain, given that it had some expensive shoes in it. Children seem to have an innate capacity to live in a mess and simply move the clutter aside. In my experience this only changes when they have a proper place of their own (student accommodation doesn't count, I'm afraid, particularly as they say 'if you think I'm bad you should see how my housemates leave things'). No 1 son is now exemplary, having been as bad as any of them, now he is in own home- married too, so that helps. No2 son is now finished uni, and will be moving to a flat in London with his girl friend, which is a new build supplied by his girl friend's mum (extraordinarily lucky chap) and I expect that to be a lot tidier than his bedroom here (which will house all the junk that doesn't travel with him...) However his girlfriend has been summoned home from here to tidy her room, so who knows...No 3 son has a certain way to go....I wish you strength with your campaign and hope it proves more successful than mine!!

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  10. Very relatable...very. I've pitched various wobblies over the years regarding the assumption that I'm some sort of tidy-up fairy...because, I too, am happiest and most peaceful of mind when the house is in order....but it rarely had any effect. A few bewildered expressions, a promise to try and do better....hmph.

    Eventually i just accepted that the need for a tidy, clean house is mostly *mine* and so tell myself that I do it *for* myself...and aren't the rest of them lucky that I do?

    The deeper issue, though, for me is really one of consideration and respect. When i approached the 'conflict' from that angle, that's when things shifted a bit...it became less about keeping the house tidy and more about respect and consideration for other people, namely me. :) They're still messy and I still find myself muttering whilst wiping crumbs left on the counters, and bemoaning the lack of ability to change loo rolls or close drawers....but it's a far cry from the mindless mess-making that it used to be.

    I'm cheering you on....the time to take a stand has come!! xo

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  11. I really hate to say it - but you wont win... My daughters idea of tidying her bedroom is still to move all the muddles out into every other room in the flat... I have now learned to shut her door and pretend there is nothing going on in there... ( until it starts seeping out )

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  12. I feel your pain, honestly I do, but.... you are doomed to failure, sorry Leanne!!
    As someone who has tried this, I can tell you that you will cave first.
    They don't care, and probably don't notice that half-eaten apple and the jam!!!
    Meanwhile you are going to be driven batty by it all.
    I've resorted to the fishwife approach, all the while hating how I sound carrying on about socks, papers, wet towels, etc.
    Sandra

    Been there, tried that. I will applaud loudly if you can hold out long enough, but my money's on the boys.

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  13. I feel your pain, and live much of it on a daily basis. Like you I need, no make that NEED, order and tidy. He with whom I share my life does not. Nor does the dog - she doesn't give a stuff as long as food turns up regularly . . .

    As Countryside Tales said, sadly the capacity of menfolk to live with chaos and mess generally far exceeds ours and there is a chance that you will suffer by this far more than them. Can I suggest some sort of middle ground? One where you keep the areas which matter to you as tidy as you need them to be in order not to have a complete melt-down. But take the junk, clutter and mess and place it firmly and squarely in the middle of the private space of He Who Caused It.

    That, and the complete absence of the Laundry Fairy, might just get some attention.

    I am reminded of a lovely lady I used to know who, when asked why she made patchwork quilts, replied "Because everything I do is undone; I fill the fridge - they empty it. I wash their clothes, they dirty them again. I clean the house, they mess it up. But when I sew two pieces of fabric together, they stay sewn".

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  14. ‘Car parts under the bed’??!

    I am also nodding sagely as I read your words. Alex came back from uni ten days ago and alllll his stuff went into his room: yesterday the bags of kitchen items and bedding went in the loft, whilst the rest has stayed put, along with the dirty washing from the past few days. I have just told him I would like it sorted today, please - it’s his bedroom but it’s our house.

    Am not holding my breath. Harry comes home today (more bags of crap) He’s not usually as messy but has lately shown a tendency to living out of a bag, just like his brother.

    So good luck, Leanne! I have tried this before but failed - think I might follow your lead and wage the War of Domesticity again!

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  15. If nothing else, you've discovered from the comments that everyone else has the same battle! I tend to scoop up other people's belongings and put them in their own rooms for them to tidy away (or not) and this might be something for you to consider, otherwise your family's tolerance for the mess will begin to drag you down when you need order. I don't wash clothes unless they're put in the washing basket which generally works quite well - once they start to run out of them it's surprising how fast the dirty stuff makes it into the basket! :) xx

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  16. My dear Leanna, I feel your pain living in a home with a husband, three sons and two male dogs. I am outnumbered 6-1. I think none of them have an idea how much time it takes to just putting things away, it never ends. They do do their own laundry, well minus the little one but that still entails me moving it from washer to dryer, as they have left the house for the day and I have laundry to do myself. Still I am asking more of them just so they know I am not the keeper of the house, I have a full time job, also! Best of luck, I hope you can teach them to help, they will need it when they are on their own.

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  17. an inspiring post, you are wondeful and they know it!

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  18. I don't know whether I'm dreading or looking forward to the teenage years. I don't mind cleaning up after my two now because they're younger and I have more time. And anyway Bella is no bother (she makes all our packed lunches in the morning!) but Angus leaves a trail behind him wherever he is. But when I'm working full time and they're older I am hoping they will do more, like walk the dog for starters, but what if they don't? Should I insist? Should I pay them?

    But what I really want to know is - how long was is before you cracked? I reckon it would've been a couple of hours for me.

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