Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I don’t know how people keep a nice house, ever.

My house is never ready for surprise visitors, as it is hardly suitable for those of us that live in it. For example, currently the island counter-top in our kitchen is entirely covered by random food and containers and odds-and-ends that came from our pantry because for some reason I spontaneously decided it was time to reorganize in the middle of both of my kids being home sick. So, because starting any kind of project when you are tending to two very sick and needy children is a bad idea, and because I fall asleep the minute my children are both asleep each evening, it doesn’t look likely that we’ll see the surface of that counter-top anytime soon.

There are tumbleweeds of dust floating down the hallway. There are layers of generic-kid slime on the coffee table. There are toys everywhere. There is unfolded laundry in the laundry room and the bedrooms. The beds are unmade. There is scum in the bathtub, and there are dishes in the sink. Recently bought boxes of diapers and baby wipes are stacked like a fort in the living room. The other day, I stepped over cat throw up. There are piles of unopened mail.  And don’t even get me started on the basement. (Where I work! Every day!)

I try to find time to do the cleaning. I even try to make schedules so that I just have to tackle it in small bits and parts. Yet somehow, I can never seem to catch up with it. Housekeeping and me, we’re just not very good bed fellows.

But there is housekeeping and then there is housekeeping. The one involves vacuums and dusters and the ability to put away a toy. The other involves what you do with your house—what’s inside of it figuratively, not literally. And I think this kind of housekeeping is sometimes overlooked, but it’s this kind of housekeeping upon which memories are built.  This is the kind of housekeeping that requires you to fill up tummies with yummy food rather than  fill the dishwasher with dishes.  The kind of housekeeping that asks you to ensure there is a maximum amount of laughter and dancing rather than a maximum amount of clean clothes.   The kind of housekeeping that turns your house into a “Yes, Please Come In! Have some chocolate! (Just watch your step lest you trip over a Lego or Barbie!)” kind of place rather than a “Come In But Take Off Your Shoes and Watch Where You Eat!” kind of place.

So for me, I’d rather have a messy house that’s filled with fun and laughter than a clean house that makes you worry about eating a potato chip in the wrong spot. I’d rather watch a show with my daughter than do the dishes. I’d rather build a fort than put away the diapers. I love this kind of housekeeping. (This may also be partly my own justification for my apparent inability to accomplish the first kind of housekeeping, and it might be that the memories my children build about their always-messy house may in fact send them onto some kind of bad reality show in the future, but, hey, I am what I am.)

How is your housekeeping?


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.