A few weeks ago, I was sick. I wasn't so miserable I had to stay in bed--just miserable enough not to do housework (and how is that different from every other day?).
So for the entire day, I didn't do dishes or laundry. I didn't make any beds and I didn't clean any rooms. The children and I watched movies.
Miraculously enough, the world went on. The house did not cave in from the accumulated dirt. The children did not turn into serial killers (just cereal tossers). They didn't say anything like, "Mom, I can't believe you can raise us in a house like this. I am ashamed to know you." In fact, they seemed to enjoy themselves.
But I didn't. It was a novelty to sit around and do nothing, but the novelty wore off quickly. I get grumpy when I'm surrounded by squalor. I don't know if this comes from a pathological need for control or if I just like things to look pretty, but somehow all seems right with the world when our clothes don't smell (and we have more friends).
Lesson learned: The kids don't care about the state the house is in. They'd be happy eating from plates with last week's dinner stuck to them. So when I'm running around the house finding more messes to stress out over (let's not even talk about how often I haven't cleaned the bathroom since we moved in), I have to remember this--I'm a neat Nazi just for me.