Neat Freak Mom vs. Messy Family: What to Do?


I am a neat freak. My husband is not. You would think that we would have had at least a one in four chance of producing one child who took after me. Unfortunately, this is not the case. All four of my kids are, well, untidy, a kinder gentler way of saying “slobs.” They don’t care, but I do!

I am alone in fighting this battle because my husband doesn’t even notice there is a problem. He is “untidy” also. Recently my younger daughter and I were away for ten days, leaving my older daughter and husband to fend for themselves.

I am surprised the house wasn’t condemned while we were away.

I walked through the door jet-lagged and tired from an overseas flight and three hour drive home from the airport. My nose could immediately detect the fact that cats live in our house. The litter box was overflowing and the cats had used several other choice spots in protest. And apparently, their diet hadn’t agreed with them either, as there were several clumps of evidence pointing to food intolerance.

Mail was scattered everywhere along with school papers, missed (no doubt) permission slips and photo forms for dance pictures, come and gone.

Next I surveyed the sink, or rather the dishes in the sink. The truth is, I couldn’t see the sink.  Oh well, at least the dishes in the dishwasher were clean. It appeared that the two “missing” family members had been living out of the dishes in the dishwashers as it was in the open and unlocked position.

I suppose if the cats had run out of water, they could have licked the droplets from inside the dishwasher door. The cats have been known to drink out of the toilet, but that wouldn’t have been such a wise choice this time. Of course, that could have been what was responsible for their GI distress…

Then there was the laundry. It was impossible to tell what was clean and what was dirty. The predominant wisdom governing laundry in my house seems to be, “If in doubt, throw it in again.” Then it sits, the cats use it as a litter box, and it needs to be washed again.

I stumbled up the stairs and was not any happier with what greeted me in my bedroom. Covers disheveled, several towels strewn between our bathroom and the two occupied bedrooms and what looked like my husband’s complete wardrobe hanging off the far bedpost.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, or simply die.  Not to mention how to figure out how to prevent it from happening again…

I’d had a lovely time away and my daughter had a great time with her dad (why not? He didn’t make her clean up a thing!) But how do I prevent this from happening again? Is it worth having hysterics over a husband who doesn’t get it?

How do you handle this issue?


Kathy has four children, aged 9, 12, 24 and 26. Her second son was seduced by marijuana when he was 16. Kathy is now a published author of "Winning the Drug War at Home". She is also a childbirth educator and is writing a pregnancy and childbirth book. Kathy graduated from Brown University with a degree in Health and Society, and also has a BSN in Nursing.

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