Please Take My Messy House as a Compliment

Our house isn’t always a mess. It’s just usually a mess. With three kids homeschooling and two parents working from home, our house is well-used, and it shows.

However, when I know company’s coming, I turn into Mary Poppins on Red Bull. Thanks to my philosophy of purposeful slacking, we can whirlwind this place into Perfectly Presentable in 30 minutes tops. If we’re hosting a gathering, or if people are coming over for the first time, we put on our “clean-and-tidy-and-tastefully-decorated” show and no one is the wiser. I love it when that happens. For a couple of hours, I get the Pinterest-perfect home I desire.

But the truth is, that’s not what our house looks like most of the time, no matter how much I wish it was. And as much as I believe in cleaning the house as a courtesy to guests, and as much as I enjoy the effect of that formality on my living space, sometimes I just want to live in reality. Some days I just want to have someone over for coffee without stressing over the state of the house. There’s something very freeing about letting that go.

But my inner Type A self won’t let me have just anyone over on an average day — I only allow people to see my messy house if I know them, trust them, and think of them like family.

So if you come to my house and wonder if a natural disaster hit, don’t be offended. It’s actually a sign of how close I feel we are. If I’m letting you see our dirty dishes, our piles of schoolwork, our unswept floor, our cluttered coffee table—that’s a sign of love. It might sound backward, but really, I’m honoring you and our relationship by showing you our mess. I’m basically saying, “I trust our friendship enough to let you see the disheveled beauty of our real life without worrying that you’ll judge me for it.”

So while I’d like to have my house clean before you come over,  if it’s messy when you arrive, please take it as a compliment. If that’s what you’re seeing, that’s what it is.

Laundry baskets say I love you.

Clutter means closeness.

Dirty dishes are signs of devotion.

Just look past the piles, and feel the love. And the closeness.

My mess is my gift to you. It means you’re welcome, friend. Any time.


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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 21

  1. I agree with this completely. I have a one year old and I work from home, so it can be hard to get cleaning done all the time. My thought is, if you are coming over to judge how clean my house is, then stay home, if you are coming over to see me and my family, great come one over, just ignore the mess!

  2. We went through a series called “A Beautiful Mess” in our mommy group last year. I used to be just like this, but ever since that series I’ve learned you make better friends when you leave your house looking like a home 🙂 right now I’ve got our Friday morning waffle mess all over the table complete with sprinkles and a friend popping by any minute… and not a care in the world! Lol

    1. Jasmine,
      Can you tell me the author of the Beautiful Mess series you went through? Did a quick search but didn’t find anything regarding the keeping of the home.

  3. So. True.

    I identify with every word. Thanks for your honesty–and making me feel a little less like a fruitcake. This post and the “Purposeful Slacker” one just made my day.

  4. This resonates with me as recently I mentioned to a couple I’ve known for a long time that I was planning to drop in and visit some time soon – I was unprepared for the adverse reaction to what I thought was a loving gesture of wanting to spend time with them…..their reaction told me more than I wanted to know about our friendship….in fact , I believe there was an audible crack in my universe

  5. Amen! Some days it looks like a tornado, hurricane, earthquake and a political riot occurred in my living room…at the same time. If I allow you past my front step and allow you to SEE that it means I love you.

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