A few weeks ago I had a hormonal pregnancy moment.
(If you’re wondering how I know it was hormone related, I also almost cried looking at our oven thinking how blessed I was to have a nice new oven).
My husband is someone who will cook and clean and contribute where needed. But one day, in frustration with the mess starting to accumulate, I said to him: “Do you ever walk past (trip over) the basket full of clean clothes and think hmmm maybe I should fold them and put them away!”
I will admit he was a little taken back by my sudden outburst.
Days later I was sharing this now funny and random moment with my brother and his wife. My brother responded with something that actually got me thinking! He said: “We do think about it, it’s just that our threshold to when it actually starts annoying us, is bigger than yours.”
Meaning, that as women we may be annoyed when the first pile sits there for a day. Whereas a man may not find it a burden until 2 or 3 piles hug the floor, or….possibly when they realise they have run out of undies!
I started thinking about how each person expects those around them to live up to a standard that fits their priorities (or OCD).
As I was growing up, I had the floordrobe to end all floordrobes! You couldn’t get through the door and when I did clean it to perfection, give me 48 hours and I was back to where I started! (You may have a teenager like this yourself).
However, I really wanted the rest of the house to be tidy. When my mum was out, I would often surprise her by tidying up the house and placing items perfectly on tables and sideboards for an extra touch. Most teenagers couldn’t care less what the house looked like when friends came over, but for me, without any request from my parents, I would clean up and especially made sure the main bathroom was not an embarrassment!
Beware of the ‘Pop-Overs’
Married with kids and a house of my own now, I maintain this desire. I am not a neat freak. I’m not an avid duster or mopper, but I have a daily need to make sure the house is in a state that if someone was to pop round unexpectedly (which never happens), then I wouldn’t be embarrassed.
A little while ago, the Huffington Post posted an article on 5 things women are judged more harshly for than men. One of them was a messy house. They write: “Though an estimated 81 percent of men and 87 percent of women report feeling anxious about home upkeep, women still do the majority of the housework. Why? Because women are judged much more harshly than men for having a messy home.”
Now although this article is a few years old, it does ring true to me. Whether or not I will be judged more harshly, I have no idea. But I do feel that way. I am a stay at home mum and I take pride in my role. My husband does not expect me to have the house clean or the clothes washed or the dinner on the table when he arrives. But I appreciate how hard he works to provide for us which allows me to be home with my kids. So I like that my role is in the home and that I can contribute this way.
If someone comes over to our house unexpectedly, I AM worried about the mess in the bathroom or the crumbs all over the floor. And yes, I see that it is a reflection on me. But I put this expectation on MYSELF. When I go to someone’s house, stay at home mum or not, I do not look at their mess and think, “Gee the wife sure doesn’t keep a tidy home!” Instead, I feel at home in the crumbs and the unfolded clothes and am relieved I am not the only one and that it’s normal!
So let’s be a little easier on ourselves and understand the messy threshold of our partners. To help them achieve their standard if it gives them peace, but to back off if they are not as OCD as us. And hey, you never know what might happen if you just asked that he or she fold the clothes and put them away! It may feel frustrating that you even have to ask, but the messy threshold is real and lives on in each of us! Were all just that little bit different
How high is your messy threshold? Tell us in the comments below.