the lazy gals survival guide : a realistically clean house

Hello lovely friends! We’ve been in the throes of getting our home ready for a super fun magazine shoot here and I have more of the juicy deats coming up soon-it’s been a blast and we can’t wait to share!

Circa 2002: Once upon a time, we were newlyweds. We lived in a cute little apartment, and I cleaned almost daily. As in, obsessive keep it perfect beyond all rationality, over the top win an award for most time wasted cleaning my house… ridiculosity. Looking back, I think it was my version at the time, of making our little place a home. We couldn’t afford anything, so I cleaned. My home was spotless but I had the time to do so and needed a nice dose of reality, if I’m being honest.

Then I had three kids. Reality at it’s finest.

Fast forward to four days ago: About three days before this magazine shoot, in the wake of our new porch project…the one in which I should have been scrubbing the baseboards, but for some reason was more concerned with taking care of my root rot highlights and selecting coordinating colors for the fam to wear…I totally broke out the spanx. (I mean, root rot and tummy management are super important, right? The baseboards were still there when I got home…)

I had a little bit of this going on:

Sometimes, it can all be just a little much. The above photo is only a fraction…

If something’s gotta give so we can find the time to do that we do, sometimes the house looks like this. Sometimes, the sad truth is slobbery toys, forgotten art projects and halloween buckets.

Sometimes the house is a pile of mass chaos with completed projects askew, and overwhelming paperwork.

And sometimes, I just don’t feel like making their bed. Okay. Maybe that’s most of the time. They love this bed, but it’s an acrobatic feat.

Maybe the bed is made, it still doesnt’ look right because ten seconds after said bed is made, it’s wrestled upon in a crazed stampede of hyped up babes searching for an adventure.

Maybe that’s totally okay. Maybe it’s more than totally okay.

And I’m not even showing you guys the closet. Oh…the closet. I know. We’re getting there.

But really, I see a happy house. A bustling house. It is what it is.

Even if sometimes, the messes make me twitch.

It’s easy to get lost in ideals of perfection and a spotless house. Sometimes, there’s a little pressure in the land of keeping up that facade.


It’s easy to become completely overwhelmed by everything from the tracked in leaves to the sheets that need to be washed… and the toys that need to be put away… and the laundry that needs to be folded… and the… you get the point.


It’s also very easy to forget to live your life, because your caught up in all the stuff that needs to be done on that great proverbial never ending list.

How do you find the balance?

So here’s the big question on the practical side of things: What’s your cleaning schedule? How to you manage the ins and outs of the every day? How do you clean a home but keep it realistic?

We’d love to hear!

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Responses to the lazy gals survival guide : a realistically clean house

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh my gosh, Ashley, I was just talking about this yesterday with friends! Then it struck me..when you are visiting others,where do you feel most relaxed, the home that is so spotless you are afraid to set a glass down, or the home that feels truly “homey?” I know my answer 😉

  2. Gloria says:

    Well, I have a clean house all the time now. But what I wouldn’t give to have little kids again with all the mess that goes right with them! EnJoY!

  3. April says:

    Thanks for keeping it real and honest. I love the pictures of your house when it is all neat but I have to see it the other way too b/c that is what my house looks like. So thanks! I can’t stay on a cleaning schedule. Once a certain room starts to really bother me I just clean it so my mind will shut up. That is my basic routine. LOL

  4. Katie says:

    Bless you for this. Reading blogs all the time, I always wish my spaces were as nice and clean as I see on the computer screen. I am a neat freak, but I also have three kids, and keeping the house super tidy all the time is impossible. Although I could probably tie the kids up and shove them in closets. That would keep the house clean, but would probably be frowned upon.

  5. michelle says:

    Well your “mess” is still cleaner than my “clean” so don’t worry about it. :-)

    • Lindsey says:

      Agreed–your “messy” house is neater than my “clean” house. And I also agree that your home looks happy, which is what is most important.

      I don’t have a cleaning schedule, but the one thing I do every day is clean up my kitchen before bed so that it’s ready for cooking when I get home from work the next day.

      And can I add: “Cleaning your home while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing”

      Thanks for the great series!

    • Ha! This was just any given day… it gets worse… trust me! ;}

  6. Kat says:

    Thanks for posting those pics. Makes me feel more normal. With four kids 8,6,4 and 16 mos., I have a constant wrecking crew too. And let’s not forget my husband, and my constant need to make and craft. This makes for some mess. :)
    We all clean up before nightly snack and video. (Most nights). And every other Tuesday, I clean along with my friend who cleans the bathrooms and floors. So if you come by our house before 6am or after 8 pm, there is about a 70% chance it will be reasonably clean. Or if you hit that “every other Tuesday” at noon, right when we’re done. We just moved to this house in September, but the statute of limitations on the “we just moved in” statement pretty much runs out with 2013. It probably ran out at Halloween, but I’m giving myself til 2013. But thanks for being real!

  7. I’ve been struggling with this since we moved into our new home almost a year ago. It’s so difficult to constantly see styled photos of people’s homes & believe that’s the way you should live all the time. I suppose the reality is that it’s more important to have a happy, healthy family than a perfectly spotless house!

  8. Cate says:

    Oh man – You all just made my day!!! Its so nice to know you’re not the only one out there as its so easy to feel. We’ve also just moved and I love Kat’s comments – here’s to a 2013 of mmmmm we’ve been here ages now!!

  9. Omg, I love this post!! Haha I totally understand — even though I love cleaning & organizing, sometimes life (REALITY) gets in the way! We’re slowly figuring out ways to work with our natural habits to help corral some of the mess, and I try to do 10-15 minute clean-ups once or twice a day (could be shorter bursts for your kids, though). My biggest trick? Hide it! If it’s messy behind a cupboard door or inside a storage trunk, at least it isn’t staring at my face all day! I love this series you’re writing — and P.S., your house is beautiful!! :)

  10. Haley Morgan says:

    I’ve learned to take cleaning advice kind of like I take “How to Raise Your Kiddos” advice – what works for some people simply may not work for others. I learned this through painful attempts at having a daily chore list and pulling my hair out while looking at all the other moms on Pinterest and their perfectly penned daily task lists and pictured them all floating around in their little polkadot aprons with their dusting wands and their Clorox wipes. And usually that’s when I hit “Shut Down” on my computer. But I WILL say this: regarding laundry, I have found that doing it all in one day is what works best for me. I tried the “start one load every morning while you drink your coffee” thing, and while, sure, it makes sense for some (I.e. those who get up 3 hrs before their kids and Actually have time to wash, dry, fold and put up all those clothes,) for me I found that the daily laundry was just that: laundry EVERY DAY. Who wants to wake up and know that they have to do some sort of laundry EVERY.SINGLE.DAY? Not this mama. The reality is that I would start a load and then we’d go off to preschool or the zoo or get lost in a pile of Lincoln Ligs or a Doc McStuffins marathon and before I knew it I had forgotten about my ONE LOaD and had to re-wash it or start completely over… Leading to pile-ups and a never ending “I’m so behind on laundry!” feeling. So now, I do ALL of the laundry, like a well-oiled-mama-machine, on Fridays. The kids are out of school, we’ve usually been going all week long so it’s a good day to hang at home, and I’m happy to finally let my kids watch some cartoons while I get it all done. And the best part is that once I’m finished, I don’t have to TOUCH laundry again for AN ENTIRE WEEK! and just knowing that simple fact has made all the other cleaning tasks easier to accomplish… Cause in the back of my head, I’m like “Well, at least the laundry is done!” ha! Again, do what works for you, but this is just one way I (attempt to) stay on top of things. :)

    • Your comment made me laugh out loud. I picture people floating around in aprons, too. Especially polkadot ones. ;} Love this advice!

    • Chrissie says:

      This is me! I tried the “little a day” cleaning approach and it jus doesn’t work for me. Obviously things like the dishes and benches get done daily(ish…) but for everything else I prefer to get it out of the way in one or two big chunks. No polkadot aprons here (although I do have a floral one – it was my grandmother’s)

  11. Krys72599 says:

    I don’t manage.
    There aren’t even any kids in the house. It’s just the two of us, supposed adults.
    His weakness is paperwork, all over the dining room table.
    Mine is clutter: I drop my bags and my jacket on the sofa on the way into the house, after passing the coat closet on my way into the living room.
    I am an addicted reader: there are books all over, and I really need to cut back.
    A holiday, a special occasion, planned company – THOSE are the three things that make me jump through hoops to clean and straighten up.
    I have to start decorating for Christmas so I’ve started making my piles: a pile of books to sell on amazon, a pile of stuff to go to the lake house, a pile of books he can burn in the fireplace ’cause they’re only galleys and can’t be resold…
    You get the picture.
    We leave before 7am and get home by 6:30pm. I’m just too damned tired to do much of anything after we have dinner, so we live like we do until we can’t anymore.
    I SO want to retire so I can keep on top of things in my house!

  12. Lynsey says:

    Love your post!
    I’m a stay at home mom of three too. My first two are older than the youngest, so they are in school. Which helps with me getting housework done a lot! Although, my youngest is 6 months old, so she’s a lot of work, but love it!
    I try to clean everything downstairs on Monday. And upstairs on Tuesday . Our house is a little different. All the bedrooms and laundry room is upstairs. Wednesday, pay bills and make any phone calls needed, also make grocery list and plan for shopping on Friday. Thursday I try to attack clutter somewhere in my home. Which is not hard to find and Friday grocery shop and run the vacuum again and straighten up for the weekend. I try to stay away from cleaning as much as I can on the weekends so we can just enjoy those days together.. It doesn’t always work out like this, but this is what I try for. I do not enjoy cleaning so it’s Definatly something I force myself to do!

    • Bets says:

      Hi Lynsey,
      I love your schedule! It seems really simple and doable. I’ve tried following the FlyLady dot net and while I love her 15-minute approach, I find it difficult to break everything into such small chunks (the hallway one week, the kitchen the next, etc.). I kept finding that the room that bothered me the most was never the room she was focusing on in her emails! I love your upstairs one day/downstairs the next. So simple but so brilliant!! Why didn’t I think of that, lol!?!?! I am going to try your whole approach this coming week and see how it goes! Thanks again! xoxo

  13. Amanda W. says:

    I’ve really been searching for a balance since I moved in with my husband. I’m (typically) a neat freak, but my husband typically doesn’t bunker down and clean unless things have gotten totally out of control. The first thing I did when I moved in was to remove the mountain pile (I’m not exaggerating) of clothes that he had had on the floor for about a year. It’s been an ongoing battle with his stuff on the floor ever since.

    Rather than drive myself crazy with “stuff” around the house, I’ve learned to compromise, pick my battles, and be more patient. I’ve seen that if I organize a space for him, he actually uses the system (and thanks me for it). If I start cleaning out a closet/drawer, he’ll follow my lead. And our compromise now is that he takes one day a week to pick up/put stuff up so it doesn’t get out of control.

    As for myself, I’ve relaxed a lot and am willing to let things stay messy a little longer if it means a litlte more time of relaxation/time with the husband. We still have a way to go because he forgets the clean up day, leaves multiple cabinet doors open, or leaves a pair of underwear on the floor… but its manageable.

    • Katelyn says:

      Boy, can I relate! My boyfriend and I have lived together for two and a half years, and share the same issues you face! I am a complete neat freak (I KNOW that I’m a little extreme, but we don’t have kids and I have the time to do it, so I’d rather do it my way and be happy) and he could care less if he was surrounded by dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and a floor that hadn’t been vacuumed in six months!

      I, like you, have learned to relax a bit but I still like my house to be clean at all times. He has learned that that’s what makes me happy, and I have learned to live with the fact that he couldn’t care less either way!

      I know there’s more to life than keeping a neat house, but if it’s not taking away from other things (ten minutes here, ten minutes there, on a daily basis, really doesn’t add up to much – I never let things get away on me) then I don’t see a problem with it.

      I guess it’s just one of those things – everyone has a different situation so they act accordingly. If we had three kids running around, I would undoubtedly spend time with them vs. running around picking up after them, but we don’t, so I’m happy doing what I’m doing :)

  14. JEN C says:

    I don’t have any suggestions, but it’s nice to know my house isn’t the only one that looks “lived in.” I think I have reasonable expectations for a clean house, but I feel like achieving that requires far too much time.

  15. MaryE says:

    Cleaning schedule? Huh? Most days our little abode looks like your reality except it has more dust and crumbs and where is that smell coming from?! Oh, we’ll! Thanks for keeping it real! :)

  16. Dirose says:

    Love your house whether it’s messy or straightened up. Gorgeous home! Nothing like a magazine shoot (or company) to get into gear.

  17. Stephanie says:

    I can totally agree–paint can and caulk gun next to my kitchen sink as I type at the counter. Before kids my house was spotless, like you. Since parenting everything is cleaned as needed it seems. I do dishes each meal, laundry everyday, and sheets every Monday, wipe the bathrooms down every day or so and clean them all once per week. Vacuuming seems to happen often just due to kids and a dog, so no real schedule. I have a friend with 4 kids who used to get up every Monday morning at 4am and clean for a solid 3 hours like a mad woman. She did this even when her kids were 5, 3 and twin babies. Her house was always spotless. She had a system for everything and was miss crafty to boot. Since she cleaned thoroughly each Monday morning and picked up each afternoon with the kids her house stayed company-ready always. She’s been my goal, but I’m not willing to let it ruin my day when I’m enjoying my projects and my family.
    Thanks for your blog and the real life confirmations :)

  18. I love your reality and it’s so much like mine!!! I also love Oreos! :)

  19. Love this!…as I sit in my unmade bed!
    Have a great week!
    House on the Way

  20. Zoe says:

    I am so with you on this!!! I have spent far too long striving for everything to look perfect as much as possible… You know as perfect as they always look on these blogs 😉 and I have been one grumpy Mamma because of it. Soooo I have (take a deep breath here!) SHREDDED yes you read that right… Shredded my “housework to do” list and am doing things as and when I have a mo. So my house is not show home spotless but you know what the world didn’t end! Thanks for having the courage to post the pics on this blog. We could all do with a dose of reality that everyone else’s home is not perfect all the while :)

  21. As I tell my clients, nobody lives in a magazine photo. That said, I do require that floors are clear and laundry is put away in my house. However, you won’t be able to eat off those cleared floors and anyway, who would want to?

    Living life creates mess; do a little each day to keep it from overwhelming you. Or, if you’re going to be featured in a magazine, spend three days putting everything in order. By the way, no one looks at the baseboards.

  22. Jane says:

    What a great post and I really loved seeing your home since I’m a new follower. I wish I wasn’t such a neat freak because I think I bring on my own stress. But since I am a SAHM, I truly feel like it’s up to me to keep everything neat and clean. It’s really hard with 4 kids and my house looks worse than your pics on any given day. I just try to relax and clean up as I go along. And you have to lower your expectations a bit.

    BTW…I hated making bunk beds!


  23. Pamelotta says:

    Oh, boy, I don’t know if anyone has said this yet or not, but most of your ‘reality’ shots are what I’m striving for. In fact, my mouth is so stuffed full of oreo’s that I’ve stopped brushing my teeth all together! 😉

  24. Shelly says:

    Thank you SO much for this timely post! especially as I am in the last minutes of chaos before having out of town family and Dinner for 30 :)
    Wishing your family and all your readers a slightly messy but Happy Thanksgiving! {{I think I will leave my baseboards keep their dust}}

  25. Ginger says:

    Thank you for posting this. Many times I have read mommy blogs where the home appears to be in perfect order in each blog post. I often compare myself and don’t feel like I will ever measure up. Your reality photos are my everyday photos. I think I just need to bring my expectations down a few notches.

  26. melissa gray says:

    We try and keep things “tidy” but I definitely have my piles that are all throughout the house. I feel like even if I straighten those piles up a bit, I feel better. Plus, all the kid stuff is in the basement, so when I want to escape the clutter I just come upstairs and feel much better:) The kids rooms don’t have too many toys in them and the ones that are in there all get dumped into one big bin so clean up is super easy. I’ve tried to keep everything super organized and have just come to the conclusion that being put away, no matter where that is, feels just as good when it comes to the kid stuff!

  27. Tammy in Ca says:

    Thanks for showing us your dirty laundry.LOL You know I look at these perfect houses and perfect kids and I feel like I’m failing. Like I can’t get a a grip on it all. I’ve been married 30 1/2 yrs had 3 birth kids which are all grown up and now for the last 7 yrs we have a sib set of 4 we have adopted a second time around mom.I hope to get to one day your expectation house . I have a dream…….LOL

  28. Anne says:

    Thank you! Thank you so much for sharing those pictures! I knew I couldn’t be alone!

  29. Sara R says:

    What you call “clutter” I call “lived in”! Your home is absolutely charming and cozy, what I hope I accomplish in my home as well :)

  30. I try to do deeper cleaning once a week (which entails actually vacuuming the house and making the kids clean up their room completely so I can vacuum in there) but most other days I just barely get laundry and dishes and homeschooling done. There’s totally a balance.
    I love that card floating around on Pinterest that says, “don’t you just love the 12 seconds when all the laundry is done?”
    I feel like that most days. :)
    Thanks for letting us see your REAL house, not just the magazine-ready one. Both are gorgeous!

  31. Enjoying this series! :)

    Even though I’ve built a business on organization I’m always keen to share with clients and seminar attendees that I only strive to be as organized as I need to be (with realistic expectations while living with little people)
    My goal is to have several 5-10 minute general tidy-up sessions each day in the main living areas of our home, then intentionally focus a little extra attention in one area of my home a day (for example, just had a big clean-up with my eldest in his room over the weekend, but I don’t expect it to be picture perfect every day – then another day I gave my office space a little extra TLC)

    It’s my personal aim to focus on progress over perfection.


  32. Christy says:

    First of all, I have only recently found your blog and have been so inspired and encouraged by your photos and words. Ya know, I don’t think balance really exists. I think something always has to give. The hard part is deciding what can give and then accepting the results of that choice. Sometimes it’s choosing a date night in with the hubby instead of catching up on the laundry (easy choice) and then not being grumpy the next day when the laundry room is out of control (harder choice). lol. It really has been a daily renewal of not allowing exceptions and perfection to steal joy from my life. : ) BUT, on a practical level, I like having a list of cleaning that needs to get done in a week. Then I set a 15 min timer (2/3 times a day) pick something and speed clean (no order to it, just clean until the timer dings). Grabbing a small chunk of time has been working for me. It helps me avoid becoming overwhelmed or disappointed if not “everything” gets clean. Those small chunks add up too.

  33. I recently found Smarties in our 9 year-old’s bed, which But then, when I spun my head back around, I realized that the Smarties in her bed means that she was probably having a grand ol’ time cozied up and watching her favortite show. Big deal – no harm done.
    I absolutely love, no, REALLY love this post because ‘catalog living’ isn’t doable all the time. I have vowed to myself this Christmas that I am going on a stress strike, which may mean less shimmer, less lights and less ornaments hanging over the guest beds, but the smile on my face Christmas Day will be genuine.

    • OH, JENI! I am with you. We’re coming down from this book, a back yard overhaul and this shoot. In preparation, I ironed Emerson’s sheets because the back light picks up on every little wrinkle on them, and when we were ready for the shoot the next day, I found her bed (She’d slept in ours) askew with her baby doll tucked in. How could I be frustrated when she did something so sweet? I asked Jamin if it made me a bit bah humbug if I wasn’t ready for Christmas. While I won’t do that to our kids, I just want to have a few days laying around in my PAJAMAS!!! And I don’t want the holidays to be a stress fest! I want to enjoy my babies. So I’m glad I’m not alone!!!

  34. Megan B says:

    I’m not a cleaning schedule type of person. I have a friend who is super scheduled and won’t hang out on Wednesdays because that’s when she goes to the grocery store. Personally, I’d rather hang out with friends and eat a PB&J for dinner that night! I always clean before people come over, and that seems to happen about once a week (babysitters count as people to clean for too). I can always tell when I haven’t had a sitter in awhile because our toilets look like they need a scrub.
    I do make my kids get their toys out of my room at the end of each day so that my room is fairly clean. But I have to say that lately, I have found myself cleaning up a lot of clutter. Then I realized NONE of it was mine, and that drove me absolutely nuts. So I might need to get the rest of my family on a cleaning schedule!

  35. My days of cleaning up after others are long gone. But I make a mess all by myself, so I guess the system I developed when raising my kids is still a good one, at least I sill use it. It is called The Good Enough System! Decide what is good enough, and accept that it is just that, good enough. Don’t strive for perfection, as you will never attain it. Some things, such as a special meal for your family, requires your best effort. Other things simply are not important enough to waste your valuable time and energy on. My mother always said “anything worth doing is worth doing well!” I disagree. Some things have to be done, but are not worth doing the best possible job!!! Of course, only you can decide what is “good enough”. I don’t consider the beds made to be important, nor ironing sheets, nor putting canned veggies in alphabetical order. You might. But decide what is “good enough” and embrace it. Use the extra time for something really important, like spending time with your kids!!

  36. Kendra A. says:

    It’s always encouraging to see other people’s mess. Because CLEARLY we all have it.

    After reading Simple Mom’s “Organized Simplicity,” we cleared out a ton of stuff. So much that we ended up buying a smaller house. Legit. Now I have a ton of baskets that the toys go in at the end of the day, and I make sure my kitchen counters are cleaned off. That’s all I can commit to on a daily basis. Then once a month, I send my kids off with the grandparents for several hours and CLEAN. MY HOUSE. I pretend like I’ve hired myself and that I need to keep the job. Because if I were to pay someone to really clean, I wouldn’t do it more than once a month anyway. Why not just do it myself? And then I release myself from the obligation to clean until the next month’s schedule date. Sure, if the toilet gets a ring and is nasty, I’ll give it a quick scrub, and I’ll run the tiny vacuum under the kitchen table every couple of days. Other than that? Let it go, baby. Just let it go.

  37. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am glad to know I am not the only one who struggles with this. Recently I have had to work extra hard to remind myself that my family and my life are more important than a messy and (kinda) dirty home.

  38. Jen says:

    Your reality is just that. Real! And it’s really not all that bad?! Your house looks like a beautiful, loved and lived in happy place and at the end of the day, that is what matters. I bet it shaped up perfectly for that photo shoot which I am itching to know more about! <3

    I thrive on order and cleanliness, but sometimes it can be so tiring with everything else in life. I have to remind myself, I don't have to be supermom, just a super mom. I let the fingerprints stay for a few days and let the fur-balls form on the stairs to spend those important moments with my family, and I never, ever regret it.

    As far as our cleaning plan, I have found that spending just 15-30 minutes in the afternoon with the kids, blasting some tunes and working together, can keep the house in fairly working order {they put away some clothes, take out the garbage and empty the dishwasher} while I do some vacuuming and picking up. They never mind helping when I am doing it with them. Then, we spend time together as a reward. Sundays we all work together to get a few of those extras done since it's nice to start the week off fresh, I know that inevitably the house will get dirtier and messier as the week goes. I also multi-task. I always clean the bathrooms while the kids are in the bathtub or while I am taking a shower. Whatever gets the job done I say! :)

    Love ya girl! <3


  39. Katie says:

    Thanks for this post! I try to clean up the house around naptime and before bed each night but most of the time it looks like Toys R Us exploded all over the place. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a “perfect” home. :)

  40. SJ says:

    I recently found your blog via Pinterest, and have been reading daily ever since. Today I felt compelled to leave a comment and let you know how much I appreciate this post ! It spoke to me — my life exactly! :)

  41. Marbara says:

    Cleaning schedules change w/your season of life. When the children were home, we practiced CAYG (Clean as you go) so messes didn’t get overwhelming. It may have been your “reality” pic during the day but it became the “expectation” shot before bedtime so we could wake up to a neat home. When the children were older, I closed the door to their rooms but the public areas of the home stayed neat because we straightened up every evening. Now, it is easier to keepthings clean all the time but I still watch episodes of “Hoarders” to remind me to not let things get out of hand :) (P.S. Norwex products have cut down on my cleaning costs and the time it takes to clean)

  42. Paula says:

    Thank you so much for demystifying those glamourous family homes we see in all the latest trendy magazines, the ones that make me feel totally inadequate and disorganized, that push me further to strive to get all the housework done when the kids just want my attention. I feel like you have made me realize we have a family home that is bustling and full of joy, and the house doesn’t have to look spotless to make me a good mum. So, I am going to leave the breakfast dishes for a little longer, my girls are putting on a show – how proud am I, and how excited are they. Thank you!

  43. Thanks for keeping it real. I wise woman once told me that there will always be laundry but babies are only babies for a short time!

  44. Jeanette says:

    Thank you! Thank you! So happy to see the blog world homes really look more like mine. Love you home. Happy Thanksgiving!

  45. Maria Smith says:

    Such a great post! I can so relate. It’s not easy to find the balance between kids and keeping a home clean. When I can squeeze it into the budget I get a bit of help from a good cleaning service, but a lot of the time it’s just me, juggling 😛

  46. Candi says:

    Thank you for this posting…I have a constant battle of expectations and reality. Good to know I’m not drifting out here in the battle alone.

  47. Candi says:

    Thanks for the post pics…I battle with expect and reality all the time. I always try to remember when I get to stressed that my house should look a certain way is…are my kids going to remember the picture perfect house or the forts I let them make in the living room and the stuffed animal parade they made on the stairwell. Love your home, thanks for keeping it real 😉

  48. Sadly (for me) I’m thinking your messes aren’t too bad!! I could show you some MESSY pictures!!!!! 😉 no really, we are trying to continually simplify our cleaning load by simplifying the “stuff” – as in ‘Do my kids each really need a closet full wardrobe?’ Of course, No. Sometimes this means finding creative ways to let gramma know when to ease up on the shopping for the kiddos (in regards to clothes AND toys!). And things like, ‘Do we really need to hang on to toys, kits, sets of stuff just for the *rare occasion* some of these items get used?’ Not really. Since my olders got older and the next babes arrived – the littles aren’t into the new-fangled toys that my olders were. They want to be doing what big bro and sis are doing! Easy enough reason to donate the unused. And this declutters my brain, as well!! Amen!
    BUT, no matter what we have or don’t have anymore – I still despise dusting. Ha!

  49. Thank you for posting this. No really….THANK YOU!

  50. sarah pence says:

    MADE MY DAY to see that im not the only one with a “real” house! i’ve got three little boys (3, 2 and 6 mos) not a day goes by that i don’t find imaginext in the couch, on the counters… even in my room. my strategy for survival is work as much as is realistic while the kids are up and about but when nap time comes DO NOTHING! it helps me to not feel overwhelmed : )

  51. The kiddo and I are in the middle of surviving the flu right now, but normally I try to keep a tidy home. Since taking the plunge and becoming a full-time-mommy, I’ve tried to keep this cleaning schedule up:

    It really helps me to keep the house spotless, but it also reminds me that dedicating an entire day to cleaning doesn’t make sense.

    Gotta love that. :-)

  52. Kristen says:

    It has been a bit crazy around here with a family crisis, the 2 cars on the fritz…. Add in three children (who are blessings), a dear husband (another blessing) and our home is a bit chaotic right now…. This post was just what I needed to see :)

  53. Erin says:

    It’s nice to know I’m in good company in the reality-check of what a lived in house looks like! You have a lovely home – magazine shoot ready or not.

  54. Mary says:

    My grandmother always used to say, the only way to keep a house clean is to leave :)

  55. Summer says:

    I’m just curious, what is the name of the color on the walls in the playroom? LOVE it!

  56. Brenda Hamadeh says:

    I saw your playroom with the little one’s “kitchenette”…I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you made it or bought it? I am trying to re-use furniture to make such items…thank you for your time…

    • We made it. ;} The kids love these pieces. This was a few years ago before I really blogged full time so I don’t have a good how-to on them. Let me know if you have any questions, but we basically just purchased various side tables/night stands and embellished them accordingly. ;}

  57. Stephanie says:

    This post is making me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzies, but the biggest emotion I’m feeling is relief. I love to decorate, I love to organize, I love pretty bright mismatching colors that make me happy. And I read all of your blogs frequently for inspiration. It’s a relief to know that your homes don’t always look like the pictures. Like my home doesn’t have to be ready for a photo shoot every second. I’m slowly learning, but this post definitely made me smile. And breathe.