31 Days To A Less Messy Nest Day 18:: Lower Your Expectations

I was watching an episode of Oprah the other day titled Are You Normal.  One of the guests cleaned her house in the nude and I could easily write a long post on why that is not appealing to me on so many levels but, one of her reasons why she cleaned nekkid was because she didn’t want to finish the cleaning and the laundry and then change out of her cleaning clothes and have one dirty outfit messing up her empty laundry baskets.  What?  It took me a minute to follow that logic and then I got it.  Her laundry goal.  It’s all wrong.

Her goal for laundry was to have it all finished.  An empty hamper.  No dirty clothes.

She’s a laundry perfectionist.

No wonder she cleans naked.  I hope she doesn’t take that logic to it’s fruition and figure out how to never have dirty laundry again…

My goal for my laundry is to have it under control so that we have clean clothes to wear.  I’ve accepted the fact that I will NEVER have everything clean at one time.  But, now I control my laundry, not the other way around.  Two of my boys wear uniforms to school and my husband has a dirty job.  We have massive dirty clothes.  But, I’m ok with always having a couple half loads waiting for their dirty peers to arrive so I can wash ’em up.  I do laundry almost every day. But it’s not a big part of my life. I rarely even think about it.  I’ve just accepted the fact that the best way for me to not dread attacking Mt. Washmore is to do a little bit every day.

{bonus idea, if you know you will ALWAYS be doing laundry and ALWAYS have your laundry baskets out, why not invest in beautiful baskets that you enjoy looking at?}

I think the goal for laundry is similar to how I think about having a baby.  The goal is to have the baby.  I really don’t care how one choose to birth it–in a bath tub, with every drug available at your local hospital, on the moon, whatever.  Have the baby.  Same with laundry, the goal is clean clothes.  Find what works for you and stick with it.  Once a month, once a day, on the moon, or even, yes, in the nude.

At least her laundry is done.

Are you allowing a goal of perfection to hold you hostage in your mind when it comes to thinking about household chores?

Be sure to visit the other 31 dayers::Life With My 3 Boybarians, Reluctant Entertainer, The Inspired Room, Remodeling This Life, Chatting at the Sky, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, My First Kitchen,  over the next 31 days. Want to read all the Less Messy Nests posts? Click here.


  1. Dirty laundry= dirty boys, which in my house = happy boys! I decided long ago that I will never conquer the laundry beast only tame it and since then I am one happy laundry Mama!

  2. I sooooooooo understand what EVERYONE is saying! I get in a rut sometimes b/c I get so frustrated with spending time cleaning & then by the next day it looks like I never cleaned at all. I have a 3.5yr old & 13m old, so I realize my house will never be “clean” like I want it to be. I just wish I could stay on top of things more so I am not scrambling when people are supposed to come over (like my house looks like a bomb went off & I have friends & kids coming over tomorrow that haven’t seen my new house…so it all has to be cleaned up). I’ve tried to do flylady…I just can’t seem to get on to the baby steps method. I’m a once a week cleaning kind of girl!

  3. I had to laugh at your once a month comment! :)
    Since my daughter went to uni in Arkansas our laundry for a family of 4 has halved… She plays soccer, so with 3 nights of practice and those oh so smelly clothes it had to be done almost daily . I sure don’t miss those sweaty practice clothes.. My son is only 13 so no smelly soccer clothes yet, though I am sure it wont be long until his laundry has smelly boy odor!

  4. This reminds me of what the pest control man told – They call it “pest control” not “pest elimination.”

  5. Yes. Amen. Clean laundry is not the whole of my existence. And now, thanks to your square not round blog – I understand why my round laundry baskets get only the dirty laundry. ;)

  6. Ha! I saw that episode and thought if all my laundry was done at once, I wouldn’t have room to put it away, my hamper acts as storage! A second closet per se! Everyone in my family knows that they must own at least 2 weeks worth of underwear!

    • haha Monica! That was my thought exactly! My son was complaining to his grandma that he could really use more underwear because he ‘hardly has any’. When she asked how many pairs he had he replied, “Only like 12!” :)

  7. Ha ha! I can totally understand where the naked cleaning lady is coming from. I feel the same way sometimes… Why bother cleaning something until it sparkles with perfection if a dirty sock or whatever is just going to mess it up in about five minutes? I struggle with this daily, but have not yet resorted to naked cleaning. I am still trying to get into the habit of doing laundry every day.

  8. how can you aspire to be perfect if you never start/try? I would love to be perfect but at least I get 75% of the way there most days. I get up, work hard and then poop out sometime after dinner. And if you all think parenting is hard try changing diapers on the same kid for 38 years! I had 2 in diapers three times. I would view it as perfection if I could just sweep the floor every day.( I usually do other stuff first.)

  9. Colleen P. says

    LOL-well, say what you will about her penchant for nudity, but you know what? Her laundry is all done and her house is clean.

    I have to say, and I may get flamed for it, but I see a lot of moms doing a lot of things for a lot of kids , things that said kids could easily do for themselves or at least help with, and I have to ask-

    When and how will your kids learn to care for their own homes, wash their own clothing, cook their own food, and wash their own dishes? Anyone old enough to drive or within a year or so of it is already most of the way to adulthood-shouldn’t they also already know most of what is required in running a household?

    Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot mommies! They really do need to know these things, and frankly you deserve some help! It CAN get overwhelming when you’re the only person doing anything but unless you have a house full of infants (in which case I have no advise to give except sleep whenever you can), the other people in your house can and should be helping out and you SHOULD NOT be doing all of the cleaning yourself!

    • rosebriars says

      Amen…althought it is REALLY hard to get through that training them to do things stage if you’re a perfectionist. Worth it, but hard. Because I have so much to do that the extra 5-10 minutes to teach/supervise/encourage a toddler/pre-schooler doing a job seems huge…but I know it’s a long-term investment.

  10. Hectic Haven-Every woman dreams of the perfect laundry (among other perfections). Folded down clothes perfectly stacked, color coordinated, and by season. When working with clients I always suggest- find your “nesting instincts” if it makes sense to do laundry once a week then do it- or once every three weeks go for it( just make sure you have enough underwear!) Push out those I need to thoughts…go with the flow. Same thing with your home..is it more important for a perfect house? or a home that looks “lived in” – “loved in” – and “worn in.”
    Don’t surrender to those unrealistic expectations-stay “your” course. If life gets overwhelming call in the reinforcements-friends, family,neighbors. But most of never compromise your greatness to be you, if that means not doing laundry for a few weeks – go for it! My hat off to you!

  11. Wow, what a woman. And I feel victorious if I can match at least half the socks in any particular load…

  12. Laundry is my thing. It was the first room I decorated in my house. OK, also because I got a deal on a gallon of paint and I’d never painted before. I figured if I screwed up on my first paint job, no one would see it :)

    To keep my laundry manageable, I have three matching laundry hampers marked for colors, darks, and whites. In theory the family is supposed to separate their clothes when putting them in the hamper. That way I make sure I do full loads when I do clothes. That saves on water and time!

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this. I REALLY needed to hear it, as I have been feeling very defeated by laundry lately. What a silly thing to be defeated by, but it’s true. Every time I saw the bottom of a hamper, there would be a wet bed or a pukey baby or something that would immediately fill it up again. And then looking into the future, I couldn’t see a day, ever, when I wouldn’t have to do laundry. Hence the feeling of defeat.

    But you’re right — I had the wrong goal. THANK YOU.

  14. I can understand the need to have all of the laundry done at once. The problem is that goal only lasts one day because the next day you start making it again so the “high” doesn’t last long enough to stress about it. Not to mention it takes me days to do laundry not a day! And call me crazy but I used to clean naked – before kids. My husband loved it. I’d clean on a Saturday before hopping in the shower for the day.

  15. I’ve adjusted my goals over time. Now I feel I am doing well if that morning no one came to me in a panic about not having socks or gym shorts or whatever.

  16. The single most helpful realization I have had about housecleaning was that I am not striving to have things DONE. It’s maintenance, which means it will never end. If you want something done, do a puzzle. ;)

  17. wow. This makes so much sense.

    Also I will never clean in the nude.

  18. Anna- I posted your comment as my fb status because I need to learn that lesson so very much and this blog and your wording made me have an “ah-ha” moment =)

  19. I am sure my children will quote me one day. I always say that laundry is your best friend. No matter where you go, or what you do, it will always be there for you.

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