When Mom’s the Messy One


Sometimes dads get a bad rap. They are teased for their inability to remember which brand of yogurt to purchase at the grocery store. They are chided for not spending enough quality time with their kids. And sometimes they get pegged as the messy ones, who can’t find the laundry hamper to save their very souls. I’m sure that in some cases those things ring true. And other times those stereotypes are just dead wrong. Sometimes mom is the messy one. 

That is definitely the case in my household. Read on and see if you identify with any of the areas below:

1. The Closet

Perhaps you have two closets in your bedroom.

Perhaps your husband’s closet is neat and orderly, with clothing categorized by color, season, level of activity, and even brand. The hangers are all facing the same direction. Shoes are still in their boxes and are kept in pristine condition with cedar shoe trees. Foldable items are actually folded on the shelves. It’s a marvel, I tell you. 

That would make the other closet yours. If J. Crew and Target had a love child, this delightful explosion of color and style would be it. Some shoes are in their boxes, but others have unwittingly escaped and are separated from their mates by a pile of ironing and a few “fold up” clothes that have tumbled from the shelves. Some items have not made it into the closet at all and are hanging out under your side of the bed with a lonely ironing board and a couple of errant dust bunnies. 

2.  The Car

Perhaps your SUV or minivan resembles Oscar the Grouch’s rolling trash can. You never know what you may find under the seat. When you know you will be driving co-workers or carpool around you scamper to your car a few minutes in advance to lift a booster and rake out the week’s supply of snacks and gummies. And if your kids are missing a headband, clip, notebook or toy, they immediately ask to check the car and come back wide-eyed with a bagful of missing treasures. Your survival rating may increase three points just by having all the basic necessities for a week in the wild at your fingertips. 

Your husband’s car? One overturned lemonade on a road trip four years ago has resulted in zero eating or drinking in the back seat forevermore. And he’s really great about making them leave the car with every notebook and headband that entered it. Oh, the resolve!

3.  The Instagram Account

Your Instagram proves that you are trying. You might even follow several big-name design and organizational experts, wooed by their color-coded life; their file folders, wire bins, and racks holding perfectly sorted mail and coupons they will actually use. Every once in a while you will get to the point where you will actually purchase those baskets with the little chalkboard tags for kids’ toys, drawer-sized plastic trays for your cosmetics, and large rubber bins for outgrown clothes.

But somehow in three months’ time, the little plastic trays start overflowing and the giant rubber bin is “borrowed” by your kids to pull somebody’s little sister around in the front yard. Then it promptly splits down the side and there are the outgrown clothes, heaped on the floor of the closet once again.

4. The Laundry

Perhaps your husband is the one who makes your laundry lives go round. He separates the lights from the colors, starts the loads, and shuttles the clothing from the washer to the dryer. Your job is the folding. Except sometimes that means transferring piles of clean laundry from the bed back to the baskets at bedtime, then back to the bed to fold the next morning. Repeat … aaannd repeat. Hey, at least they’re clean.

5. The Desk

Perhaps you don’t have an office in your home, and your command center has become your (rarely used for dining) dining room table. Piles of papers related to the kids’ activities, a few stacks of mail, about 63 passcodes for various online logins on sticky notes and a barely-charged iPad cover your post. But you know exactly where everything is. And you are running your world from that table like a boss babe.

And perhaps that’s just it. Messy moms are good moms, too. Just because we happen to leave a little bit of a trail in our wake as we move swiftly, albeit haphazardly, between work, family and fun doesn’t mean we don’t have our stuff together. And while nobody will be following me on Instagram for organizational tips, the kids have plenty of clean clothes. They might just have to dig for them. Perhaps that will increase their own survival rating by a point or two.

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Kelly Barbrey is an early riser, old soul and retail therapy expert. She is a wife to Jonathan and a mom to two strong-willed daughters, born in 2007 and 2010. Kelly grew up in Atlanta, GA and earned a degree in magazine journalism from The University of Georgia. She has worked full time in tourism marketing for Experience Columbia SC since 2004, where she loves to share all the exciting things happening in Columbia, SC with potential travelers. When she’s not working or wrangling kids, she enjoys date nights with her husband at local restaurants, exercise, reading and sharing real and humorous accounts of life, motherhood and nostalgia on her blog, Up Early + Often.


  1. Great article! I often times wish I was a neater person, but I have to remind myself that it’s just not my strength, and that’s ok!


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