Up The Creek

I walk through the hallways of my house with a sense of purpose.  I swear, if it were an old house where the lights could flicker, they would. 

I enter each room as if I’ve arrived.  There to save it from its peril of random undoneness.  One would think misconstrued items would hop back into place and stand at attention at the seriousness of my arrival.

However, no matter what I do or how thunderously I choose to enter a room, the room itself always remains in the same state of affairs…undone.  My own house disrespects me.

The coats I hung up in the morning…back in a pile on the guest room bed.

The dishes, cleaned, washed and put away….back in the sink.

The bathroom, polished, scrubbed and tidied…miles of blue toothpaste in the sink basin, Kleenex that didn’t make the wastebasket,  mirrors sprayed with hard-water droplets.

The family room, vacuumed, picked up….suddenly returned to an endless sea of Legos, Hot Wheels and crushed cracker crumbs swimming under my feet.

The dust bunnies I chased under the couch…back out and rolling around as if on a furlough program. 

Let’s not even zero in on the laundry, my absolute personal point of weakness.  In all fairness, the act of doing the laundry is manageable while the machines do their part washing and drying it.  It’s when I have to fold it and put it away into drawers and closets already so overflowing with clothes that my end of the bargain…fails.

I can’t even begin to speak about the care and maintenance of the pool…it’s just too consuming.

And of course I don’t even want to mention the cleaning of the refrigerator, the pantry, the dusting, the floors, making the beds, the garage and the yard work..because it would really be too much complaining if I brought all of those chores into this.

I sit here supposedly working…researching information to further my ambitions…what fence posts to purchase for the vineyard.  Are they green?  Made from sustainable materials?  Locally produced?  However, as I contemplate my choices, I see a lone plastic army man out of the corner of my eye.  He’s under the couch, distracting me from my thoughts and ideas.  I can’t help not picking him up. 

So what’s the solution?

I don’t really want a housekeeper again.  We fired ours after we found they were stealing money from the kid’s piggy banks…pulling the dollars out with tweezers while they should have been Ajax-ing the bathtub.  It’s hard to trust again.

I don’t want a nanny or a regular sitter for the children.  It’s the mothering…the act of parenting…keeping me real, down to earth and laughing at myself.

What I really want is a “life assistant”.  Not a life coach who cheers you on, just a multifaceted individual who can pick up my slack…WITH EVERYTHING.

An organizer of the constant ebb and flow of distractions manifesting themselves daily.

Am I asking too much?


Post a Comment


  1. I totally remember those days of endless clutter and messes. The messes magically reappeared within seconds of me having cleaned them up.I know I am going to say to you what was said to me and I did not appreciate this until I was as old as the people saying it, “one of these days you might miss this”.

    No way, I thought…..but yes way. The house stays cleaner, well, grown up messes still abound. But yes, there are times I would love a few more days of my children being young and at home, building little people villages all over the house and the clutter and smell of little boys rooms. A day or two with the grandkids solves that and I then remember, I do love a clean and orderly home….sounds like you’re stuck cleaning for a few more years…the teen age messes are even bigger ! ( and smellier)

  2. Diane 2

    What you need is a clone! A clone of yourself so you know what needs doing and get can get on with it.

    Either that or go mad and write down every home task you do for a week and then highlight them into task groups for people in the house.
    And then nag and nag and nag. And then get frustrated because no one looks at the list.

    Or you could put post-it notes on everything and leave the things where they lay. Messages like “pick me up” and “clean me” will make you smile for the first few days until you realise you’ve written them in invisible ink.

    Have you seen “the breakup” with Jennifer Aniston? Watch that and then you’ll see that it’s not just you!

    You can in theory train kids and men to do housework. But it never seems to get them cleaning up voluntarily or even noticing when things need doing.

    Relax. No one dies if it’s dusty (Hmm, maybe not true if you’ve got asthma) – and no one dies from dirt … lower your standards to theirs and you’ll find there’s no housework to do!

    Or hire a cleaner. But don’t get into the habit of tidying up before the arrive.

  3. deeba 3

    Yes, a clone it has to be. No one can do it like me, & sometimes I think it’s me who ruined it for myself. Some dust is good, because then ‘they’ notice that maybe someone cleans up. I leave the kids rooms messy somedays…& they actually come back & say “why is the place looking so cluttered today?”And Cathy, yes, it’s universal! Mark one day to unwind, ignore dust,laundry…& pamper yourself!

  4. Cass 4

    Ah housework … it is like stringing beads, with no KNOT at the end of the string! As soon as something is done, it needs doing again. My sympathies! — Cass

  5. Tina 5

    I used to be a “mother’s helper”- basically, I would help out with the kids and some minor housework as needed. Sounds perfect for what you need!

  6. Ross 6


    My wife and I were both commiserating about the same issues last night. I think this time of year just amplifies despair (with less sunlight and all to cheer us up). Hang in there and know that you swim in good company. (Oh, and didn’t you know that dust is a protective covering? :-)) – Ross

  7. Well, at least you are not alone. There is comfort found in numbers.

  8. HoneyB 8

    How funny…I actually just hired my aunt to clean for me every other week for 4-5 hours, to get to the things I can’t get to anymore!

  9. nina 9

    I thank God everyday for my housekeeper…she is a friend, confident, help, mother to my children when I am off catering somewhere and she is an awesome house cleaner/organizer. I wish all mothers could be blessed with someone like my friend Zuki!

  10. Rindy R 10

    Where is the line to sign up for one of those – I need to get in it! 20 years from now your kids will remember the fun and the love – they won’t remember the loads of laundry you didn’t do (and in 20 years you won’t remember anything – so see it will all work out in the end!

  11. We all go through this, Cathy. I actually had my aunt (who cleans houses for a living) come once every two weeks when my son was growing up, but then I found I was working like crazy to get ready for her. LOL Finally, I started following Flylady’s principles (flylady.net) and it’s made a big difference. I do laundry about every other day and as soon as it’s out of the dryer I put it away. Very manageable. And, we have gotten rid of tons of clothes so there is room in the closets and dressers. How many clothes can one person wear anyway? Same goes for toys, etc. Decluttering helps a lot … and getting into some kind of routines like Flylady teaches. But, this stuff will still happen from time to time and you just have to sigh, smile, and take 15 to 30 minutes to regroup. Most of the time it’s just the feeling overwhelmed that gets to us. BTW, I always wished there would be some kind of house pet that would eat those dust bunnies–doesn’t that seem reasonable?


  12. You should have the housekeeper come while you are at the house, and accidentally pop in on her every 15 minutes or so, so that she knows you are watching. I’m paranoid about them too. Our friends had one that they caught trying on their clothes, cleaning with the clothes on, then putting them back in the drawers! YUCK!!

  13. Much to the annoyance of every housekeeper we have ever had, I have ALWAYS been at the house when they’re here. I have never been able to trust anyone to clean my house when I’m not in it, unless we’ve moved out and the home is empty and they’re just there to do a “move-out” clean.

    We stopped out housekeeping service about 2 months ago, but I’m so tempted to pick it back up again…the messes seem endless and I am totally unable to keep up…*lol* Alas, laundry is my biggest failing and I’ve yet to find a service that will help me with that…especially the folding and hanging up part of it!

  14. kayola 14

    oh do I feel your pain…I swear I’m in LAUNDRY HELL! I tease my hubby that next time I marry…I’m getting me a wife…cuz the three guys here are killing me! LOUSY HOUSEKEEPER’S STEALING $$$$ FROM YOUR KIDS…that’s pretty low! I do love the idea of everything standing at attention when I enter a room….I guess I always have my dreams…

  15. I hate cleaning. It the bane of my existence. I can do the dishes and the laundry (even putting it away), but I get so distracted by the billions of things on TV and the internet. My husband threatens to take them away and that usually kicks my butt into gear. My mom offers to pay for a housekeeper for me, but I would feel awkward having someone else in my house cleaning things I could clean, but don’t feel like. Short of “Donna Reed” pills, I don’t know what to do!

  16. Debbie 16

    I had a housekeeper years back when my older boys were little. I found all they do is surface clean. Not really deep clean..not my definition of clean anyway. It’s hard to keep a home always straightened up when you have kids. I found the less I had the easier it was to keep clean!!! Enjoy your kids…you’ll have plenty of time to clean when they are grown….

  17. I feel your pain. But I wouldn’t have it any other way;)

  18. Barbie with a T 18

    Your home is your domain and how you manage it is your choice, and there is no law that says you have to follow anybody else’s rules. I think you have a busy lifestyle, and things like “picking up” will not be on the top of your priority list for as long as you live. But don’t worry about it. I am with you, I really do not want a housekeeper as long as I can live with my house the way it is. I am lucky to be living in a brand new home, and you will be too one day. That will make things easier for sure. My advice to you is to plan ahead when building your home and provide yourself with plenty of storage space, lots of tall cabinets in the kitchen, big closets, plenty of drawers in the bathrooms, etc. They can hide a multitude of sins. I can imagine you have a very large amount of laundry….remember to build yourself a wonderful laundry room, big and spacious, and furnish it with all the accessories of a laundromat, folding table, hanging space, etc. All of these thing help when it comes to keeping a tidy appearance. Keeping grout and mirrors clean in the bathroom is a very tedious task, because they get used several times a day…keep grout to a minimum by using large slabs of marble. I have all that figured out, and that is what I planned when we built this house we are living in and it is very easy to keep clean. Go to your favorite hotel and just take a look at the way they design their bathrooms. I don’t see anything wrong with using paper towel dispensers in the bathroom, and a hole in the countertop with a trash can underneath in the cabinet. If you have to deal with a lot of people using the bathrooms, that is the most convenient way to do it. A wonderful invention are “clorox wipes” which are perfect for daily swabbing out of the lavs and wiping off the countertops. A real timesaver for sure. I could go on for hours, but I won’t. Sorry I got carried away. I wish I could go personally and help you, but I can’t. Sometimes I feel like there should be a AHA degree, (approved housekeeper assistant) just like you need. Someone to pick up the slack.

  19. I, too, feel your pain. The laundry pain especially. I am somewhat of a life assistant with my boss. It started out just office work and now, I’m grocery shopping, paying his wife’s bills, etc. But I definitely draw the line at doing his laundry.

  20. Nope – I don’t think you’re asking for too much AT ALL. LOL

  21. Becky 21

    What you need is another you. And I could use another me. But with my luck, if I tried to split myself in half, I would end up with a good and a bad me. And that’s not a good thing.

  22. snowmoonelk 22

    All I can say is FLYLADY!!!! Do it, please! You will be glad you did. Google this angel and your life will be transformed.

  23. vada 23

    Cathy, give yourself a break and visit the neighbor with the vineyard…

  24. I know exactly how you feel.

    When Michael and Shannon leave for school and work in the morning, I get started on straightening up the house, putting things away, doing dishes, laundry, you name it. By the end of the day I’m tired and the house is a mess again. I often ask myself why I bother doing anything at all, but I know the answer to that.

    I saw someone mentioned Fly Lady…I’ve heard it’s great and works really well. I plan on checking it out myself, just to see what it’s like and all about. Maybe it will be just the miracle we need, right? Yeah, right!

  25. I feel your pain… As the woman who cooks, cleans, is in charge of the yard, the trash, etc.. I feel your pain.
    I have a big house and a big yard and often feel I am married to my house…
    But, it’s a gorgeous house and a gorgeous yard…
    And, I have had housekeepers before and often felt they were amateurs (always some woman with her own house cleaning business and not really a deep cleaner) I could do it better, and use the money for something else.. fun stuff…
    It’s true.
    So, I clean. Sometimes regularly sometimes not.
    And laundry?
    Least of my troubles!
    I have a system… and with a rancher husband and 2 kids, it works!
    In our room there are three baskets: one for whites, colors, and ‘work clothes’. The kids also have a hamper. Everyone must get their clothes into the hampers…
    And, I do laundry often, take it to my bed, fold it right away, and put it either away in our room (his and hers) or in a clean hamper for the kids.. in our room.. each kid has a side.. and they have to come get their clothes and put them away….

  26. I feel your pain. When I was home with my girls it seemed like I was always redoing what I’d just done. And I didn’t mind the tasks, but there was no pause between doing them and then doing them again… and again…


  27. Cheryl 27

    Can’t we just say we’re focused on the family love…and aren’t obsessed with the superficiality and time-suck of housework? That’s my angle….

  28. imom 28

    You are not alone. Those of us that chose to care for our children and home ourselves have all been there, over and over and over.

  29. I checked out the flylady you all were talking about – even watched a sink video – I wont leave comments about that site here, and I know it helps many people…BUT – Cathy, there are boys who can help put their toys away before they go off to something else, there are hands available to put those coats back up where they belong when not in use.

    You cannot do it all alone. Though you may simply be ranting here – Andi and Diane had some wonderful suggestions.

    Even if you lived alone, messes would pop up – but be thankful you have the love of your family – let them know, honestly how it makes you feel when you see laundry on the floor for example – let them know to help you help themselves – you will teach them self-reliance – a very much important tool for success in life.

    Your boys are old enough to do chores around the hose for their allowance – let them know its expected of them – or reduced allowances will be expected – heck for every item of clothing, every sock on the floor – a dollar (or 50 cents) is removed from their allowance. Or figure out some other reduction of bonuses they might receive – time in front of TV or computer…

    As soon as they see their personal dollars dwindling due to their own negligence of toys and clothes left on the floor – they will rethink –

    Also provide them with earning money chores – maybe teach them how to do their own laundry – heck… why not? You have only so much time in any given day – having time and making time to spend having ‘fun’ with one another is all worth the little extra effort everyone can put in to making a successful household run smoother!

    Just one suggestion….hang in there! Let them know you want them to succeed…- and yes, it all starts with responsibility, even picking up socks from the floor is a sort of responsibility…

    You are brave to share, you are not along in your struggles – and you are so creative, I am sure you can figure out different ways to get those wonderful boys of yours and your fellow to help you out more.

    I look forward to learning how you get them to assist you in running your household a little easier – !

  30. I also wish someone would come and help me with my house chores – especially dislike washing dishes!

  31. Trisha 31

    Just remember that the important things in life are not a clean house and perfect organization but, rather, good memories and love.

  32. dawn 32

    It took me almost a year till I found a housekeeper I could trust. Now, we do not have a lot of money, but I do set aside money for a cleaner every two weeks. It has made all the difference for me. So, I would say to you, hire a cleaner for once a week, and remember it might take some time to find a good one. I found mine via friends, and word of mouth. My cleaner got the edges of the walls, under the beds, dusted in places I never thought too, I love it.

  33. Kristin 33

    I stumbled upon your blog and enjoy reading it (mostly for the yummy recipes) but this one cracks me up! Is it not the same for everyone??? Thanks for making me feel better about my clutter!

  34. krysta 34

    what you need is a mom! not your mom or another mom but someone who is just like you. someone who knows all your pet peeves, what to let slide, what to do… swear to god, i could make a ton of money if i can train people to be MOM’s!

  35. Marjie 35

    I grew a thick skin for some things. Legos get cleaned up with a snowshovel, and the little handprints on mirrors get ignored. They grow up too fast, and time gone can’t be gotten back.

    I won’t even go into housekeepers. I dumped them in 1985, after too much incompetence.

  36. krysta 36

    it’s time for your kids to start doing chores. sorry, it’s the only way for you to keep your sanity. and not chores for allowance either, chores because they need to learn mom or wifey isn’t going to do it for ’em. i haven’t taken out the trash in years, the kids fold their own laundry, make their own lunches, and help mop floors and what not. it makes you a better mom because your teaching them something. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY!

  37. Candy 37

    Your house sounds just like my house. I think it’s one of the reasons I hate cleaning so much. It never ends. There’s no sense of accomplishment.

    Do you have help with yours? I never had any, maybe that’s what made it so hard.

  38. We fired ours for financial reasons … and I’ve had to learn to turn away so as to avoid the distractions. It’s tough to work at home and see all the things that need to be done all the time. There are times I just can’t stand it … and there are others that I say … ok what’s more important, making money or cleaning the dishes? hahahah

    Yeah … call before you come over so I can whip the family into a cleaning frenzie 😉

  39. I thought I was the only one! I am always thinking why do I even try it is just going to be a mess in 4 hours!

    That stinks about the piggy banks!

  40. Lisa 40

    I can relate. Now that the kids are older it hasn’t really gotten better either. Maybe orderly is overrated….but then a neat house does feel inviting. It’s just that it is so unsatisfying to do what so quickly comes undone!

    If you figure out the solution I’m counting on you to let us know!

  41. Alisa 41

    You have oh so eloquently described my life. You are a wonderful writer.
    Good luck with that life assistant, actually, give me a couple of your acres to live on and I will gladly help you out there! :)

  42. Katrina 42

    Hey, did I say you could write all this stuff about me? !!! Ditto it all. Great writing.
    I just need to sigh a little and take a break from it all. I’m tired.

  43. dawn 43

    “Dust bunnies on furlough”, okay seriously that is THE BEST LINE EVER.

    Piggy Bank theifs? What total jerks.

  44. Jill 44

    My own house disrespects me too…what’s up with that?

  45. Oh heavens. I could have written this. Only not as well.

    I’m right there with you. I gave up on housekeepers when I stayed around a few times to see what they really do. I call it “middle of the room cleaning.” It looks clean, but it really isn’t. She flew through my house in an hour. Sorry. Not worth the $$

  46. I just tell everyone that my house looks lived in! It is clean but we do have our messes and I have learned to live with it. Realize that you do a lot already and it is enough, enjoy your children and husband. You can clean later. Oh and kids can help out too! Mine have chores to do and no they do not get paid for them- they eat and sleep here for free!

  47. Louise 47

    In our casa, with two adults who work pretty strenuous hours, and with the husband who is a better cleaner than the wife, and kids who do almost their fair share of the chores, there is still always much to do. Just keeping food in the pantry and enough socks without holes in the drawers can put me over the edge.

    My wishful solution? I want a wife of my own. Someone to share the work with … someone for conversation … someone to share with. It could be so nice!

  48. Bob 48

    If you lived around here I would offer my services! I don’t steal and I’m very useful. 😉

  49. You’ve just described the state of our house 99% of the time. To keep house is to be perpetually vigilant: it really never ends. I just try to live with the state of undoneness most days to keep my sanity.

  50. Helene 50

    The same thing here. My teenage sons are in and out with friends. Once in a while I do a little crisis and they have to clean, vacuum etc. I know that in couple years, they will be gone, I’ll have a clean house and I will be missing them.

  51. Rebecca 51

    You have so eloquently described my life everyday. Keeping up with chores just makes my skin crawl because I fail. My house disrespects me too.

  52. shonda 52

    After the second kid was born, I finally broke down and got a little outside help. And then she stole my wedding ring and my mothers ring, so I am in the same tough spot you are. Let me know what you come up with.

  53. Laura 53

    You need to find a nice college student in need of some extra cash(that you will pay her, not steal from piggy banks of children, really people?) I currently work for a family of 2 doctors who have one 2 yr old and another on the way. i go to their house every day during the week for 2 or so hours and tidy, feed the kiddo dinner and help her get ready for bed, do laundry, and put away dishes among other things. On the weekends she’ll have me to projects like cleaning/organizing closets, hang out with the baby while she does things, or clean out the pantry.

    If there is a college in your town, put an ad in their paper and do some interviews. I bet there would be someone who seems trustworthy!

  54. Will work for food. Seriously. :-))

  55. Nell 55

    That’s exactly how I feel. I never seem to be able to get everything done.

  56. Mrs. L 56

    I have been wishing for a “home assistant” for quite some time. Someone to get all the little stuff done that I never seem to have time to do. “Dang, I need thank you notes, can you run and get some for me?”, “Man, I still need to clean the sticky stuff left by Christmas snowflakes off the front windows could you do that for me?”, or “That pesky squirrel got into the planter again, can you research how to get rid of squirrels and also clean up the mess and re-pot the plant?”…all while I’m doing the million other things I seem to have to do every day. Sigh.

  57. Pam 57

    I would like a life assistant too – hopefully one that cleans toilets. 😉

  58. Ah, so you want a wife, do you?;o)

  59. Lynn 59

    I would love to have a pick-up-the-slack kinda person on the household payroll too! Then, @ the end of my day, anything not accomplished – I can share the blame with someone else!

  60. ELRA 60

    Cathy my dear….
    you can hire me! he..he..he…
    I wish I live next to you, we can share my cleaning lady. She is beyond excellent. She’s quite, and never break things, never bang things, everything she does always carefully and quitely. She is so trust worthy, discipline and very responsible. She is super clean, I mean her toes, her nail, her face, her clothes, everything is super clean and neat. Even her car is spotless inside and out. Now, you need a lady like that. That’s make your life much easier.
    Good luck dear.

  61. Linda 61

    As someone mentioned on my blog … we need a wife of our own. And you may not realize this, but you’ve just described my house. To a tee!

  62. If you find one, let me know!

  63. If I was single I’d take the job, just for the food perk.

  64. Melynda 64

    Too bad about the piggy banks, but if you need a life coach when you get to the wine property, call me. We are only a few miles away! There isn’t much we can’t do.


  65. Christie 65

    De-lurking. I really enjoy reading your site. Thank you for the wonderful receipes!

    The type of person is out there. I used to be one for a wonderful family. She worked out of the house a few days a week, but she had me full time to help out with the kids, cooking, cleaning etc. I was her other set of hands. We became great friends. Maybe put an add out, interview until you find yours! Good luck!

  66. Dragon 66

    The cleaning cycle never ends, darling. :) What terrible luck you had with cleaners. Unbelievable!

  67. Paula 67

    Oh my gosh, how did you get inside my house!!! Cleaning crews are a part of my past, not present. Plus, I hate to admit this, but I tended to clean before they arrived, so what’s the point? Anyway, my goal is to find a magic wand. I think that will help just a bit. :-)

  68. Sandie 68

    A life assistant. Too funny. If you happen to find one, let me know too. I’m hiring 😉

  69. Laura 69

    You could be describing my house… well not my new one, we haven’t broken it in yet, but we will.

  70. tipper 70

    Keeping the house tidy is an never ending job-even if there were no laundry, mothering, and jobs to go along with it. I wish I could afford someone to help me-or just learn to be a slob :)

  71. I’ll be your life assistant and I’ll only asked to be paid in food and wine, m’kay?

  72. Egghead 72

    I remember those days and I still have them when the grandkids are there. Which is a lot. Oh and stealing from the children? I can’t believe that. Maybe hiring an outside person for the pool and yard would help without worrying about stealing from your kids.

  73. Ooh, sounds good, I’ll take one too!

  74. Biz 74

    If you lived closer to me, I would gladly send you my Hannah – refrigerator cleaning and pantry organizing are her two favorite hobbies!

  75. Erin 75

    I feel your pain. I really, really do. I feel like I just can’t get on top of anything lately. So I decided to have another kid to help out . . . LOL.

  76. I’m no expert Cathy but I suspect that while having someone handle many of your day to day chores would at first be a pleasure you would ultimately miss them…

  77. Liz C. 77

    Cathy, I will pass on a piece of wisdom my hubby’s aunt gave me years ago… Who cares if your house is clean as long as your children are happy & well nurtured?

    When the boys are grown, you’ll have many years of a clean house. Trust me on this. Just enjoy your family as much as you possibly can during these growing years…

  78. Lisa 78

    My DH syas I’m crazy to think I’m the only one living like that. Thank you for a glimpse into reality. Your writing is wonderful, and your photography so great! Love it!

  79. katie 79

    I have been thinking about this lately as well. I think I will try the fly lady method for a bit to see if I can get on track. We could do it together and maybe keep it going!

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