Monday, February 2, 2015

Why a Messy House is NOT a Happy House

This blog post may be one that some will disagree with. I am sure that it will offend some people based on other articles that I have seen circulating of an opposite nature.

But, I feel that it's important to give an alternative opinion.

There are many popular quotes that have to do with having a messy house:
  • "A messy house is a happy house."
  • "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens & happy kids."
  • "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life."
There was an article that I read recently about what a "normal" house looks like. Now, while I understand that  "normal" house is a lived in house, I felt that it glorified having a messy house as though it was a badge of honor.

I told my 9 year old son about this blog post and read him the quotations. When he heard the quotation, "A messy is a happy house" he said "That should be a fact that a messy house is not a happy house. When you're done cleaning, you can still hang out with your kids. Plus, you don't have to clean every second."

I have had friends in my life make comments similar to these quotations. They have said things like, "I would rather spend time with my kids and have a messy house than spend time cleaning."

I disagree. I would rather be a good Mom and spend time with my kids AND have a clean house.

Now, this is not to say that my house is always clean. In fact, it gets messy every single day and is a constant battle to keep clean. Laundry piles up and floors get sticky.

But, I don't think a messy house is a "happy" house. And, I don't think that having sticky floors, messy kitchens and laundry piles is what makes you have happy kids and makes you a good Mom.

In a way, I think it is insulting to insinuate that spending time cleaning your house takes away from being a good parent.

Before I was a parent, I was quite a slob. Growing up, I lived in a tiny house that was over 100 years old. My Mom was a single parent for several years and myself and my siblings always had friends over filling up the house. My Mom even let those who needed a place to stay live with us, and so we usually had at least one extra person living at our place.

By the time I was in elementary school, we had a house full of teenagers that were dirtying dishes, leaving their clothes and junk everywhere and were too busy having fun to do chores. Along with that, our house was very small.

Growing up, I did have friends over, but I was a bit embarrassed of our house. I went to other friends houses that had stay at home Mom's and clean, orderly newer houses. Those were the kinds of homes where the kids were used to homemade bread when they got home from school and making their bed in the morning.

I had a fantastic childhood and I would not trade my family for the world. But, when I became a parent, it became more important to me to have a nice, clean place for my son to grow up in. I never wanted him to be embarrassed to have friends over.

I'll admit, that when I was in college, I was still a pretty big slob. Messiness didn't really bother me that much and I was too busy with other things to stress about cleaning. I liked the beauty of a clean space, but had not discovered the mental health benefits.

Over time, I have moved to the other side of the spectrum. Though I am still lazy at times, messiness stresses me out. I appreciate the zen, therapeutic feeling of a clean and organized space. I take pride in my home and in having a space that my son can feel comfortable in and enjoy his childhood in.

I also strive to teach him about organizing and cleaning so that he carries on good habits when he grows up and has a place of his own.

I understand that what is important is our children and the relationships that we have with them. My Mother was a fantastic Mother who baked cookies, sang to us and taught us so many great life principles that we have carried on to share with our children.

But, to me, a messy house does not make a happy home. You can have a clean house and have an unhappy home and you can have a clean house and have a happy home. Working towards having a home that I can be proud of and feel relaxed in is part of what I do to be a good parent.

Some parents don't prioritize cleanliness or order as an attribute that makes a happy home and that's okay. To each their own. But, children don't have the option of the house that they grow up in. 

And, I don't agree that a clean house is a sign of a wasted or unhappy life.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Epic Blanket Fort Party

It started with a dream. For the past several years, my husband Brian and I had joked about having a party and building the blanket fort of all blanket forts. We'd brushed it off as a childish notion that would never become a reality. It sounded like a lot of work.

Until now. We had planned on having a New Year's Eve party. A typical party where you dress up and have hors d'oeuvres. But, we ended up having to cancel. Brian's birthday was coming up in January and so I asked him if we should throw a blanket fort party. We wondered, "If we had one, would any of our friends actually come?"
It started off as a joke, but the more we talked about it the more we thought we should do it. And, once we get a crazy idea, it usually just snowballs from there.
Brian started contemplating the fort construction. We did not want it to be a traditional low lying fort. It had to be epic. It also had to be sturdy. I started talking about what types of food and games we should have at the party.

First, we went to the fabric store. We knew that we wouldn't be able to pull it off with blankets and so we decided to get a ton of fabric that was $1 or less a yard. On the first trip, we got around 50 yards, but he had to go back to the store after we did a trial run to get 25 more yards.
Brian came up with the system for assembling the fort by anchoring it into the studs in the wall and using clothesline. He had to modify it a few times during our trial run to reduce drooping and also anchored it to the ceiling.
We did a "trial run" the weekend before to make sure that the method for assembly worked.

This is the first run when Brian decided that we needed to anchor it to the ceiling also to make it higher.
He built a wood piece to go around the chandelier in the dining room and lowered the chandelier so that it would hang down into the fort. Awesome idea.
Our son Evan had fun during the assembly process and got to sleep in a test fort with his friend.
Once we had the method down, it was all about the final execution. We'd already thought about all of the details for the food, games and setup. The party was on Saturday and we assembled the fort on Thursday. It took about 5 hours to get it setup.

This is our living room after the fort is setup. The middle was over 6 feet so you could stand in it.
We had planned to extend the fort in our hallway and part of the kitchen. But, with two full rooms, we ran out of fabric and had to improvise with sheets, tablecloths and pillowcases to extend the fort down the sides. We decided to scratch the idea of extending the fort out into the other areas to be able to have enough pillows and blankets to make the existing fort as awesome as possible.
I was most excited about setting up the inside of the fort with pillows and blankets. We added Christmas lights for ambiance and planned to have a fire in the fireplace. The dining room was completely covered with pillows.
The menu for the party included a selection of favorite "kid's" foods: Kraft mac & cheese, pigs in a blanket, dinosaur chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, smily face fries, goldfish crackers, pb & j with the crusts cut off, teddy grahams, pudding snack packs, funfetti cake and an assortment of sugary candy. We tried to make jello jigglers, but they didn't turn out.
We made a "koolaid" type punch with fruit punch and rum and drank out of cups with bendy straws.
We chose some classic childhood games and a 64 pack of crayons and coloring books.
Of coarse, at a blanket fort party, everyone must wear pajamas. There were some pretty awesome pajamas sported at the party that I neglected to get good pictures of. From, footie pajamas, to zombie slippers to Batman legging type pants that were extremely small (on one of our guy friends).
The "pillow room" was the gaming area. We setup our friend's Super Nintendo and played Mario and other games.
The living room was the spot for activities like coloring, playing games and girl's gossiping about going to second base. We planned to play the movie "Big" on the TV, but had trouble with the Roku.
Later in the night, the games got more grown-up as we played Cards Against Humanity.
Our friend Tony brought a classic game, "Double Dare."
It was definitely a party to remember. I'm glad we have friends who are kids at heart and could enjoy the fun.

One of my favorite parts was seeing everyone's surprise and reactions when they arrived and stepped inside the fort. Some of them seemed to have a childlike gleam in their eyes when they saw the fort.

It was fun to get to relax in our pajamas and go back to our childhood for the night.

After all of the work of assembling it, I'm not ready to take it down immediately. I'm taking bets on how long it stays up before we take it down. It's assembled in the two rooms we don't really use much as we have another family room.

Last night, Brian and I slept in the fort in the pillow room. It was around 2:30 a.m. when we finally went to bed. We were so tired, we didn't even make it to second base. It was the perfect end to the night.