Sorry The House Is In A Mess

sorry the house is in a mess

A friend dropped over. I knew this friend wouldn’t care about the state of my house but I heard myself say, “Sorry the house is in a mess.”

I hear the same phrase when I visit friends in their homes.  Why do we do it? Why do we apologise?

Personally, I feel embarrassed when my house is messy — which is often.  I worry people will think I’m lazy or am running some sort of zoo (it certainly feels like it at times!). I also want people to feel comfortable in my home.  (Excuse me while I wipe the weetbix off your chair).  You see, I have great plans for neatness, but in reality, I can’t sustain it.

When I do manage to have the house clean and tidy, I decide things will change. I WILL STAY ON TOP OF IT!  But I don’t.  Why? Because it rains. And I can’t get the washing dry. Because my children get sick. And in a moment my children can make the mess in the picture when they play wonderful games around the house.  Because I’m out of the house four days in a row.  And I get weary. Because I’m a taxi. And my daughter forgot to take her lunch to school.  Because my husband leaves his shoes and socks in various places around the house.  And — why, why, why — would someonetell me why the floor next to the washing basket is closer than the basket itself?

I wish I was a better housewife — I really do — but I do my best.  Sometimes my best is fairly passable. Sometimes my best a I-managed-to-shower day. So be it.

On the flip side, I never want others to feel embarrassed about their homes.  So, when I hear the words “sorry the house is a mess” I say, “Don’t you dare apologise.  I couldn’t care a less.”  It’s probably time I take my own advice and stop apologising.

I want a nice neat home — you know — like the magazines with glorious storage and no dust.  Come on Kelly, is that what you really want? Ah — yes. Yes I do. However, this is what I’m thinking about: My children have clothes and love;  my family has food and shelter; my husband has comfort and support; my friends can come to my home and not feel stressed about spilt milk. These things have to be better than a neat home — right?

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. says

    Love it Kell! And love you & your honesty! We are so similar haha! I often say to myself – “If I had to die right now, I would rather leave behind 3 baskets of unfolded washing than not have created memories with my beautiful children” Which can be substituted for anything really! “I’d rather die & leave weetbix all over my chairs…”
    I no longer apologise anymore. It’s taken a while though! 1, because my friends know me and come over for company, not to analyse my home and 2, because by not apologising, it comforts them to know that I will love being in their home regardless of the state of it also! The things you pick on in your home, they’re going to think you notice in theirs. Oh even, I had someone apologise for her boy’s crinkled clothes! I said, “Are you serious? I had not even noticed! I rarely ever iron my kids clothes!” Then I got to thinking, “Is she looking at my 3’s clothes everytime and thinking they’re poorly dressed because I don’t iron??!” So yes, same goes for our homes I think.
    Great topic to bring to the table :)

  2. says

    Kelly, this is lovely.

    It has taken me years to “let go” and just relax and let the house “be”.

    It has also taken me years to let go of some people – the ones I would frantically clean for (and feel judged by) are now very very infrequent visitors to my world – the people who come to my home now are the ones that cheerfully peg out washing for me as I play with their kids. We revel in the mess together.


  3. Nicole says

    Welcome. Today my house is lived in. It’s the look I’m going for. I hope it catches on.

    Now I wish I could say that.

  4. says

    Oh Kelly, we are so alike! My house is usually messy with cars, duplo, trains sets, dinosaurs and such all over the floor, along with pillows, shoes, discarded clothes etc. I aim to be neater, but I would rather play with my kids (and sew) than tidy the house. I do try to get them to help me tidy up when we do a big clean up, and they love it. My husband is a neat freak, but has learnt to live with me. He occassionally gets in his ‘cleaning mode’ and can block out screaming, hungry children and any other noise. I think my mess is ‘clean mess’ meaning that it’s not rubbish and stuff, it’s toys and things that get put on the sideboard or bench rather than in the right spot straight away. But my children are happy and healthy and enjoy life. Thank you for a wonderful, true post :) Now, I really should tidy the house today 😉

    • says

      HA! I used to be a neat-er freak and my husband the messy one. Now we’ve sort of both met half way. I’m more relaxed and he’s more ordered. That’s what’s it’s all about.

  5. says

    I’ve come back to this one because its currently such a big issue for me. I know I’m naturally messy (although like Kathryn its “clean mess”) and that this is going to be a messy stage of life and I think I could live with that BUT a lot of my friends somehow seem to manage to have happy kids, immaculate homes and still do things like scrapbooking! I genuinely don’t know how they do it….is there some big organisational secret that I’m missing out on? And why is it that its the friends with immaculate homes who always drop in without phoning first and ALWAYS when the mess in my home is at its worst! Aaarrrgggh!

    • says

      Robyn, I wonder this too. What am I doing wrong? WHY? WHY? Why can’t I seem to keep on top of the house like other mums? I was thinking about you when I wrote this post. Not because I remember your house being messy but because you had a profound affect on me. I remembered when I first visited your house (8 years ago or so) and A. spilt a drink. If you were stressed, you didn’t show it but made me feel really comfortable. I remember thinking, “I want to be relaxed and warm like Robyn.”

      I remember you being so patient with your own girls as they learnt how to do things like drink from a cup etc. When I was feeling much like a control freak I learnt off you.

      That’s what I remember about you Robyn. Nothing about your home but your capacity to love, be patient and your giving spirit. You are just so beautiful and you taught me so much for the time we lived close. Know that. xx

      • says

        @Kelly B, Really??! I’m a little floored but very touched. Thanks Kelly, thats a lovely thing to say and I’d much rather you remembered something like that than if my house was tidy!! :)

  6. says

    Kelly! You are so ‘on the money’ with this one!!!

    Welcome to my world :)

    The dust can stay – it just comes back in a few hours anyway, the toys sometimes get put back where they should be, most of the time the kids beds are made (but not mine- too busy for that!) and the washing and folding and putting away is a never ending snake that starts at one end of my house and ends at the other!

    As long as my kitchen and bathrooms are clean, I’m all hunky dory. I don’t care about the rest so much, anymore. I used to. But I have had to face the reality of three small children… They are my reason (excuse!!!!) for our house being the way it is… for now!

    I’m sure it gets easier/better/simpler when they get older… Doesn’t it???? :)


    • says

      I try and have my kitchen clean and toyless… try. The rest I just do what I can too. And that’s a good question: does it get better when they are older?

  7. says

    I love what Lucy said – let’s all revel in the mess together!

    I never mind other people’s stuff, but sometimes I feel guilty about the dust bunnies proliferating at my own place. I recognize how corrosive and useless guilt is, but alas, I still put myself through it. I think we learn these sort of messages when we are young and it’s very hard to break the patterns. Congratulations to all those who have. Me, I’m still tryin’!

    • says

      Very hard to break the patterns. You see, when I said it this time I had an argument internally. You HAVE to say it. But I shouldn’t say it. But you WANT to say it. Just say it! I said it.

  8. Marcia says

    Great blog post kelly!

    I was just looking around my home thinking….
    What exactly happened here two days ago it was spotless!

    Then I remembered I had been so busy with errands, helping with homework and baking I just hadn’t had time.

    So I’m going to put the kettle on and ponder if it really is as bad as I’m telling myself it is!

  9. erin says

    People who live in picture perfect homes and have children makes me feel sad. No fun to be seen or love shared displayed, its all about the “make up”.
    There is nothing better than a home that looks lived in, enjoyed and where the love shines through. Other wise, its just a house isn’t it?
    But yes I am guilty of saying please excuse my mess but am often asked, ‘what mess’? Don’t worry you should see my place. I never go visiting and judge a mummies ‘messy home’ there is a difference between messy and dirty, messy = fun and love to me and who needs to appologise for that?
    Thanks for another great one Kelly. I loved reading this.

  10. Emily says

    I LOVE this post. Thanks Kell, my house looks identical today. And most other days. (despite my secret wish to have a house that looks like Bree’s does from Desperate Housewives)

  11. Ella says

    Love this post too! Im sitting here at my computer looking at my messy lounge & dining room! I too used apologize for the state of my house but its unrealistic to have kids and a tidy home all of the time. A good friend of mine said to me when i had my last baby that its impossible without help to have everything perfect. As long as my house is hygenic i dont get too stressed about it all. Having said that we have just listed our house for sale so until it gets sold i have to be on the ball a bit more with everything.

  12. Katie says

    Kel, you took the words right out of my mouth, I hear ya sister!! have been strugglng with this myself over the last few weeks. I like to keep on top of everything and have a neat clean home but these days it just feels like an uphill battle and I find I am constantly questioning myself as to why this is so important to me. I think it has something to do with my own crazy dysfunction and my need for control and organisation 😛 Thanks for the timely reminder of what really matters. x x

  13. Mon says

    When I visited your darling sister (and met another of your sisters) today she apologied for the mess. I told her to stop being ridiculous and to check out your site. :-)

    There is nothing wrong with mess that is made with love. It’s the best kind. My house looks like a hurricane has whirled through (I call her Cyclone Gabriella) and I couldn’t be happier. I still apologise when people come to visit but follow my apology with “Gabby has been having a lovely time playing”.

    What annoys me is when I go to visit someone and their house is immaculately clean with not a cushion or doiley (lol) out of place and they apologise for the mess. WHAT MESS??? I can see you’ve been frantically cleaning and are fishing for compliments. I feel like saying to these people… “Mess? I’ll show you mess! Come and see my house or let my girl loose in yours for half an hour.” :-)

  14. says

    I worry about mess if I’ve got friends with young children coming over who are still at the crawling / putting stuff in their mouth stage. So I try to tidy and make it safe for the little ones.

    My in-laws come over and start cleaning when the mess bothers them. Which has thus taught me that I should always have a super messy house before the inlaws come over because they will do my dishes, clean my floor and fold my washing for me. 😀 Suspect it was meant to shame me into doing those things myself but I have no shame ROFL

  15. Emma Dennehy says

    Kel love this one and i agree is sooooo true i need to stop saying sorry too and just be who you are who ever that is.
    loved itxx

  16. says

    I am a terrible housewife. I make sure that the house is mostly organised and provided that the floor underneath the toys is clean, I try to ignore the rest.

    But – I appologise for the mess and frantically tidy before people come over. I hate having ‘drop in’ visitors because of this.

  17. says

    You’re right – we all do it. And I never even notice the state of other people’s houses when I visit… until they start apologising! Seriously, though, if people are coming over to inspect my house they can think what they like. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t stop me apologising!

    I feel a blog post coming on… 😉

  18. says

    great post!! if I see a messy house then I know that the mum loves to spend time with her kids! plenty of time for housework when the kids move out.

  19. says

    I thought it would be wonderful to have a day without my girls underfoot so that I could get the house in order. But, if I did have a day like that, I dare say housework would be the absolutely last thing I’d do. I describe my house as ‘comfortably lived in”. Others may call it messy, but that’s their problem.

  20. says

    That’s the perfect thing to say! ‘Don’t you dare apologise’
    Please come and visit me :)
    I do a ‘hidey up’ (Childhood 101’s term) every now and then if there are people coming, otherwise step over the shoes and find your way through the fabric and come and take you as you find me! Sometimes it drives me nuts, because I’d love a perfect looking, organised house, but I think it would only look like that if we didn’t have any fun! xx

  21. says

    I do this OFTEN! I get the dks to help me clean and tidy up their room but I still do most of the work. Sometimes the messy rooms is another thing on the list of things to tidy up before I can continue with the other cleaning; like vacuuming, dusting etc. Another reason I help tidy up is because it’s obvious how my kids tend to play better or have the desire to play (more imaginative play) when their toys are tidied up and “waiting” for them! Some of their fun is probably also derived from making the mess.

  22. says

    I want you to know that my husband and I preayd for you last night, that God would take your pain and heal your wounds, that He would sooth your soul and mend your brokenness. I believe that He is willing and He is able and He will not cause those who wait, hope, rest and trust in Him to be put to shame. Your pain is not meaningless neither your todays futile, God has a great life for you.Love you in Him xxx

  23. says

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