Whole Parenting Family

4 Steps to Embracing the Untidy House

untidy house

If everything were picked up and put away and all the closets organized and the pantry immaculate, I would be happier.

True or false?

Deep down.

I wanna scream TRUE and run away until someone comes and either does this to my house permanently or whisks my kids away so I can do it for the hot second they’re not in that room.

But really? Maybe it’s my acceptance of lowered expectations as a mom of three, but it actually is possible to be at peace when your house is in disarray. I mean, like truly, at peace. Not furtively making lists on any available writable-ish surface about all the ways to make it under your control.

1) identify emergency areas and address them first

Soggy dish cloths on the floor of the pantry must be laundered by the end of the day. Where their basket grew legs and hobbled off to I have no idea. But I do know that if I don’t run that laundry, the mildew and mold and little toddlers who attack said murky cloths will come.

Dishes have to be cleaned. I try to never go to sleep with crusty dishes. Wiped countertops & clean sink are a must for me. I cannot bear that morning breakfast whilst parenting solo with the kids if I’m facing last night’s lasagna pan.

Cloth diapers must be tended to. If I’ve stacked a few poopies on the back of the toilet for AA to flush and it’s day 2, I have to girt my loins and just do them and get the covers back to wear I can access them and the dirties in the pail. Cannot let that go.

She totally has her loins girted in this pic, btw.


2) all toys and kidstuff must have a home

When I do pick up the breeding piles of child related stuff that pervades our every flat surface, if it doesn’t have an actual home, like a box or a shelf it lives on, I literally throw it away.


Because unless those blocks or papers or squashed plastic balls have a place to go at the end of the free-for-all, they will simply get shoved into a catch-all box and that is not the same for me as actually being away//clean//cleared up.

My daughter is a classic hoarder and magpie and I have to sift through her sacks upon bags upon ziplock baggies that inhabit her bedroom and surrounding land on a weekly basis. I literally sweep it all out into the hallway and then put the pieces to the Clue board game, the hair binders, the little bits of unused toilet paper, and the baseball cards {oh! a mere fraction of her treasures!} back. BACK. Back to where they belong.



whole parenting family

3) set a cleaning schedule and then don’t fret

If I know that I will indeed scrub once a week, I’m not going to really drive myself insane about that blueberry stain on the granite floor in the kitchen, or the mound of cobwebs in the window in the Music Room.

We haven’t found our rhythm with this yet. Sometimes it’s Sunday afternoons when the kids nap//stayouta my way. Sometimes it’s Saturday mornings. We’ve traveled a lot and had visitors lately so the house hasn’t had a scrub in well let’s just say weeks a while.

Just knowing that it will happen because it’s on my schedule for the house makes me feel less insane when I look around and see dust and dirt all around me.

4) accept it will all get untidy again

I can go on serious binge tidying and cleaning weeks where phew! finally everything is just right but then OHMYGASH the kids wake up and guess what?

In a blink or seven you wouldn’t know I had truly tackled and purged and cleaned and striped.

Because they live here.

So ultimately, I’m trying to set myself up to have a fall-back that’s relatively organized so every time I tidy it’s not hours upon hours but rather more like a 30 minute quick reset button.

And the closets that I cleared and cleaned before I had this almost one year old? They’re terrible. Again. And it is o-t-a-y.

whole parenting family


  1. Laurel on May 5, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Going to read this a few times, tackle a few chores, then find peace in the rest of the mess (and the undoing of the few I accomplished). 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Sending you an internet squuuueeeze.

  2. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on May 5, 2015 at 11:45 am

    First of all, you are beautiful! Love your glasses 🙂 Second, LOVE the new look of your blog 🙂 It’s so clean and tidy looking (we can control this space right haha).

    I was reading somewhere about getting the three d’s done (dish, dinner and dirty laundry) and then not stressing about the rest. I’ve become a master at speed cleaning but not actually cleaning lol At first glance, it might looked picked up…but don’t look behind my toilet or behind the faucet on my kitchen sink.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      You’re so kind!!

      Oh–three d’s–I like that!!

  3. Abbey @ Surviving Our Blessings on May 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Oh, Nell, I wish I could convince myself that this were true. It sounds so good when you say it…but then I look around the kitchen, and I just…frenzy.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Abbey. Pour yourself a beverage. Survey the frenzy. Separate yourself from it emotionally. Now drink your drink. Then do one thing at a time. {taking my own advice over here!!!}

  4. Geena Harrington on May 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    i just need to reread this post later on, when I’m freaking out. I’m so OCD freaky and this babe on the way is going to be a serious adjustment! Ha. Bookmarking…

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 5, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      hahaha I know!! Me too. Just thinking calming thoughts. haahah

  5. Geena Harrington on May 5, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Also, ditto comment above.. You are beautiful!

  6. Mary Virginia on May 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I wrote on my chalkboard once, “Good Mamas have dirty floors”. 🙂 hah! But seriously, I just did all the dishes… now to bed with me! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 6, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Yes! Just one thing like the dishes and forget the rest. You’re a great mama.

  7. Rachel on May 8, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Love your glasses! Super chic and cute. My Mom had the same rule about dishes when I was growing up and I am the same way now! I physically can’t go to bed with dishes in the sink and dirty counters!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks, lady! Moms are the best.

  8. Patty on May 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Helpful tips for any woman!! My Mom always had simple things to do right away that instantly helped:making the bed first thing, get your machines moving (ex. dishwasher)
    I am learning bit by bit that even if the cleaning schedule gets off it is worth it to really enjoy life and the people in it:)

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Smart mama!

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  10. Anna on July 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I go through waves. Sometimes I am totally chill about the mess. Then I go to tidy up one area and freak out: ugh, gotta just get the counters, oh no the floor really needs help ahh the oven is a mess, and that poor neglected fridge…. Then I tell myself it would be better if next time I just worked on a little at a time, every day. But I don’t, becahse life happens. Cycle repeats. I have begun to accept this cycle as the way it will be in this phase of life at least.

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 18, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Totally cyclical for me, too.