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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Recipe for a Messy Home

At one point this kitchen island was beautiful and clutter free.  That was the day it was built.
by Tina Case

I stopped subscribing to any magazine with the word “House” or “Home” in it.  “Better Home and Garden,” “House Beautiful,” and “Home,” were all giving me OCD, Obsessive Cleanliness Disorder.  For you see, no matter how hard I try, from building a mudroom with individual cubbies to purchasing nice decorative baskets to organize clutter, I have never been able to achieve that “House and Garden” perfect look.   

Even the photos that feign to show clutter in a magazine show beautifully crafted clutter.  My clutter never looks like the clutter portrayed in a magazine.  I would need a clutter decorator to achieve that polished clutter mess.  When you have 2 dogs, 3 kids and a “here, there and everywhere” husband, what do you expect? 

Real life is about clutter.  Achieving it is simple (see my family’s recipe for clutter below).  In actuality my kids do clean up on a weekly basis and do a pretty darn good job.  They do their own laundry, make their own school lunches, do the dishes, take out the trash and recycling and help with the dinner-making process.  They are great kids.  But, they are messy kids. 

What I realize is clutter isn’t completely about a messy house.  It’s about being in a well lived-in house.  The clutter morphs as the children grow up, morphing from large bassinettes and big plastic toys to school books, homework and computer gear.  By the time my house is clutter-free I expect it will be because I’m in the empty nest phase.  Think about any home you’ve been in that is clutter free and I’ll show you a kid-free home.  So while there’s clutter, there’s family.   And that makes me appreciate what I see before my eyes every day.  Yes, moms, clutter can be a beautiful thing. 

Recipe for Home Clutter: 

My kid’s morning clutter routine:

1.      Take 3 kids, wake them up, and watch them not make 3 beds.

2.      Observe kid 1 leave 1 cup of water all over bathroom sink.

3.      Squeal as kid 2 forgets to flush the 1.6 gallon toilet.

4.      Roll eyes as kid 3 trample out to the kitchen and each makes 1 bowl of breakfast and leave open cereal boxes on the counter.

5.      Sigh as kid 1 spill 2 Tbs. milk on the kitchen counter, and doesn’t cry over it or wipe it.

6.      Combine all kids and have them surprise mom by putting 3 breakfast dishes in sink or dishwasher, but randomly leave school work on counter to keep her picking up. 

Afternoon clutter routine:

1.      Take 3 kids plus 1 husband, have them come home and plop school backpack and briefcase in the middle of the main thoroughfare at home.

2.      Watch 4 people get a snack and leave tell tale signs all over the kitchen island.

3.      Glare at kid 3 as they leave greasy finger prints all over stainless steel refrigerator.

4.      Watch kid 2 get multiple pieces of mail and leave it on the counter with the pile that has been accumulating since last week.

5.      See 3 kids play with 2 dogs and leave their toys and furminator brush wherever they may be for mom to step on with her bare feet.

6.      Growl at 3 kids who leave 9 pairs of shoes wherever they take them off. 

Evening clutter routine:

1.      Sneer at 2 kids who leave their laptops on the sofa.

2.      Put 10 remote controls in a different spot each time.

3.      Leave 9 sofa blankets, 4 weeks of newspapers, and 8 jackets all over the coffee table and sofas.

4.      Leave 5 late night drinking cups on the kitchen island which leave a nice condensation mark on the counter. 

Tina Case is a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru.  She blogs at Parent Grapevine and Moms Who Click.  You can also find her writing on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.


  1. That room is a trainwreck. I hate seeing paper clutter. Your tips are really effective in reducing clutter at home.

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