Do you ever visit other moms’ homes and wonder how they keep it so neat? Do you ever sit around in your own home with toys strewn over the floor, laundry piles (both clean and dirty) beckoning for attention, and three meals worth of dishes stacked next to the sink and wonder why you are the only mom on the planet who cannot keep up with her home? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you may be suffering from “TOMHANTY” Syndrome (Thinking Other Moms’ Homes Are Neater Than Yours). The symptoms of this terrible disease are guilt, envy, stress, and even withdrawal (did I mention guilt?). You look around as you walk from room to room wondering how it could have gotten so messy since yesterday. You believe that the new friend you just made from your weekly visit to the library could never let her house look like a tornado just went through it. You are sure that your friend whose house you visit occasionally for a scheduled playgroup would never have dust bunnies the size of . . .well, a bunny.
Welcome to the Real Moms Club, where it is not just about being a mom, but being real and knowing that you don’t have to be a perfect housekeeper. Maybe in the days of our grandmothers when society said that kids could roam unsupervised and free around town, but a mom’s house was a reflection of who she was as a woman. Today, there is a different set of priorities for many moms, and a perfect house is not usually the highest on the list, although we still imagine we are being judged on everything from how we raise our children to how much education we pursue to how great a job we land and finally to how tidy we keep house. Moms of today are stretched and pulled in many directions. Life is rarely as simple as a clean house. Stop telling yourself that you are not a good mom because your house is not always as neat as you think other moms’ homes are. Most moms are struggling to keep up as well. What is the cure to TOMHANTY Syndrome, you ask? Well, you could drop by a friend’s house unannounced with the pretext of delivering some home-baked cookies; you could watch her face turn beet red with shame as she turns to survey the wreck of toys, laundry, and dishes behind her; you could listen to her offer up every reason why her house is in such disarray; or maybe you could just take me at my word when I say that you are not alone. Release your guilt by making a list of what you DID accomplish today: got kids dressed, dropped kids off at school and picked kids up after, washed and folded a load of laundry, paid bills, took dog to vet, fed family for the day. It all counts toward making your house a home in which your family can grow and feel loved.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find 400 lists and planning pages including cleaning schedules, daily to do lists, grocery lists, and holiday/party planning to put your world in order.