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You're Not a Bad Person if your House is a Mess

Updated: May 24, 2023

Let's all uninvite shame from the party of our lives, shall we?

I have two of the neatest, cleanest people I know coming to my house today. I told myself I wasn't going to care, but this morning I found myself running around cleaning, tidying, tucking things away...

And yesterday I went to a neighbor's house to talk about watching their pets and they kept apologizing for the mess, which I honestly did not see, promising to have it clean before I came to pet sit.

Why would I care if the house was clean to take care of their pets? I can get in the door, I can reach the pet food, I can find their leashes...everything else = not one care in my brain about it.

It reminded me of people who invite me into their homes to help them organize - I have in my contract, "Please do not clean your house before I get there" because so often they feel this compulsion to clean, even though I make it clear I'm 100% nonjudgmental and I need to see how they ACTUALLY live in order to help them.

Who says our house has to be "clean"?

Who says everything has to be tucked neatly away?

What is clean anyway?

And what does it mean if things aren't tucked away neatly?

What we often make it mean is that we get to choose from the Self Loathing Menu (often the biggest meal of the day, right?):


I'm not good enough

I'm not smart enough

I don't do enough, covered in anxiety (best at 2 am)


I'm lazy

I'm a bad person

I'm a failure


I'm never going to get my sh*t together

I'm stupid, with a side of who would want to hang out with me anyway

And for dessert? A nice big helping of I Must Be Sh*t pie.

No thank you.

The No Shame Restaurant

Let's start going to a different restaurant shall we? One where it's ok if there are spots on the glass, and it's even ok if the glasses are all waiting to go into the dishwasher and we have to use a mason jar. Or a sippy cup.

Seriously. A messy house is not a reason to mercilessly beat ourselves up.

Leaving your children in the rain overnight while you eat bonbons on the couch watching Netflix is a good reason to beat yourself up.

Burning the house down because you felt like it is a good reason to beat yourself up.

But having a messy house? Not worth it.

We have a major stress problem in this country that leads to alllll kinds of issues - heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia.

Home is meant to give us shelter and offer a respite, a cocoon from the wild world - why let home add to our already overloaded stress heap?

Who cares if it's a mess if you can sit on the couch, sleep in the bed, brush your teeth, eat food?

This is a big topic, I could go on for days about this (and I will over time!), but right now I just want to invite all of us to let go of what Kara Lowentheil calls "The Perfectionist Fantasy" where we have these neat and tidy homes with everything prettily tucked away and no secret hiding spots where we've dumped all the things we know we probably don't need but have anyway.

We're human. We're Americans. We've been raised on a steady diet of Buy This and You'll Feel Better.

We learned how to buy but we rarely learned how to let go. We learned how to fill the emotional hole with stuff, but who taught us how to drain the hole, patch it up and deal with the emotions in a different way?

If we didn't learn how to deal with our stuff, why should we beat ourselves up for not knowing? Do we beat up a child for not knowing how to use the toilet? (Hopefully not!)

And even if we know how to clean, how to tidy and put it all away and make everything look pretty, who says it has to be that way any time someone besides our home's inhabitants lays eyes on it?

Seriously, we DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE PERFECT HOMES to be good people! Pushing things out of the doorway so a friend can enter is not a sign of being an imbecile who doesn't deserve friends.

If you're really feeling bad about your home, watch for my post next week on shoulding on yourself, and go do something about it (as in start right now), but don't wallow in shame and guilt when I come to your door because your house is a mess.

If you want to use me as a catalyst to get things done, awesome! But please don't use me as an excuse to pound yourself to a pulp in your mind.

I'm there to hug YOU, not there your closets and kitchen counters, and I absolutely won't be judging you. If someone else does judge you, that's their choice and you honestly do not have to give one hoot about their opinion.

Just clear a spot for me to sit on the couch, pull out a mason jar (a sippy cup will do just fine), squeeze that cup between the dirty dishes for some water, dig out the tea from a random drawer, and let's have a jolly old time.

Shame is not invited to this party.



Please remember that I'm here for you! Reach out if you have questions and/or you feel stuck.

There's no need to struggle with clutter anymore - you're not alone and I can help you feel better right away.

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1 Comment

Great post Spring! I’m right with you :)

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