Confessions of a (Closet) Terrible Housekeeper

Confessions of a (Closet) Terrible Housekeeper

I like things neat and clean. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me in real life. The About page on my website describes me as a “recovering perfectionist,” among other things. Some of you might wonder what this actually means. Tidiness is just one facet of my perfectionism that has driven me (and my family) crazy throughout the course of my life.

Photo by Karolina Szczur on Unsplash

Early in our marriage, my preference for having things clean and tidy ruled my life in ways that were remarkably unhealthy. I was so caught up in appearances—especially the appearance of my home—that I spent an obscene amount of time cleaning and organizing. I could have been working on a master’s degree, or finishing my debut novel years earlier than I did, but instead I was organizing my files, purging the junk we’d collected over the years, and reading books about the proper way to maintain a home. I wanted everything to be perfect. My reputation was riding on it. Everyone knew I was a clean freak. God forbid something was out of place when someone came over. The illusion would be shattered. I was going to keep up that façade, even if I killed myself in the process.

I’ve been known to say that after my first child, I lowered my standards a little, and with each successive child, I lowered them a bit further. That may be true in some ways, but it just got harder to keep things the way I imagined they ought to be.

The underlying issue is that appearance and reality have never truly matched up. If you just drop in on me and tour my home, you’re more likely to find things a mess than not.

Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

I want a clean, tidy home, but I’m unable to achieve that without running myself ragged. So . . . I let things slide. For the most part, I keep the main areas, the things that affect our everyday lives, running smoothly. We wash the dishes every day and I usually wipe off the counters after meals because I hate putting my hand or elbow on a counter covered with crumbs or smeared with butter.

When it comes to the mess that isn’t affecting my daily life (and the mess you’re not going to see if you pop into my kitchen) that’s where things might not be so spiffy.

Now it’s confession time . . .
  • We bring in our mail every day, and it goes into a pile that typically reaches a height of two feet before we decide to do something about it. At the time of this blog post, I haven’t had any bills turned over to a collection agency . . . yet.
  • The laundry gets washed and dried with regularity. However, there’s a very good chance of it sitting in the baskets in our bedrooms until we wear it.
  • I always, always, always have at least one pile of papers to deal with (even after we go through the mail). It sits on my desk forever! I am horrible at keeping up with this. Paper is my nemesis.
  • In the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017 I did a lot of painting in our house in Pennsylvania. It was a great time to listen to audio books, and the walls look fantastic! I planned to do more painting, though. I had a few touch-up projects I wanted to accomplish. The baseboards and trim needed a fresh coat, too. Why put away all the painting supplies when I wasn’t really finished yet? The brushes, rollers, and paint cans (maybe even some drop cloths) sat in our laundry room at least until November. I think I put them away before we moved to California. I’m pretty sure I did, but there’s a chance they’re still sitting in the laundry room waiting for me . . . I hope not.
  • At Christmastime, we generally set up a train underneath the Christmas tree. We have a huge, fabric-covered, piece of plywood on which we erect our tree so the train has a base. The year before last, that piece of plywood sat, leaning against the wall in an out-of-the-way corner of our bedroom, for eleven months! I kept meaning to take it up to the attic, but it was so big and unwieldy. And then, before I knew it, it was time to bring it downstairs again.
  • When we are living in Pennsylvania, I hire someone to clean our house twice a month. I just can’t seem to do it myself. I love our cleaning lady! I really miss having the help since we’ve been in California, but we spend way too much money living the high life eating out and sightseeing, so we can’t afford that extra expense at the moment!
  • In the house we’re living in here in Ventura, I find our floors impossible to keep clean. I think it has something to do with the material they’re made of, combined with the lack of a good vacuum cleaner and the presence of our dog. It couldn’t be my laziness. If I walk around barefoot, I feel the sand and dirt on my feet. It drives me bonkers. So, I wear socks around the house! Problem solved.


These are the only confessions I’m willing to make at the moment. I’m still recovering, people, so it’s not easy for me to put this out there on the Internet. I listened to a podcast recently in which the podcaster said she felt we’ve gone too far to the opposite extreme of “Pinterest Perfect” posts. Everyone is proud of their mess and embarrassed to show when their homes are clean and shiny.

This is not the case for me.

I still feel pressure to have my home perfectly clean. I don’t know about you, but I feel more comfortable if I stop by a friend’s house and it looks like people live there. So, while I want to keep my household running smoothly, and occasionally make everything (or maybe at least one room) clean and shiny, I am also done with pretending it’s always that way. In our real life, sometimes we ignore the growing shoe pile and leave toys lying on the floor.

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

At the end of the day, once the dishes are clean, I just want to flop on the couch and watch TV for a while. Even if the rest of the house is a mess.

Do you have any confessions to make? Are you a recovering perfectionist, too?
  • Aimee Denzel
    Posted at 00:16h, 20 April Reply

    I don’t even think I’m recovering, i think sometimes I’m diving deeper into the perfectionist madness. 😂😂 Sigh…

    • Alison Treat
      Posted at 12:35h, 20 April Reply

      Nooooo . . . It’s not worth it! Fight it with everything you’ve got! 😜

  • Debra D'Amico
    Posted at 06:38h, 07 May Reply

    I am definitely a perfectionist! I’m also OCD and ADHD. I tell people don’t pray for anything to change because I get things done 🙂

    • Alison Treat
      Posted at 18:17h, 23 May Reply

      Ha ha! I’d rather have a little peace of mind, though. I used to complain that I wanted things to be perfect, but I didn’t have the necessary energy to make it happen. Now I believe that was God’s design, so I could learn to let things go.

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