Something had to give

This morning I got up and went downstairs to make the coffee, and I stood there looking around at the complete chaos, and decided that today is the day I am getting it together. Now, this isn’t an unfamiliar thing to say to myself. My trigger threshold for cleaning the house isn’t super high – I like a tidy house, and I like to be organized, but I’m still me, and that means that mostly I wish it was tidy, and knit while I think about that and things slip farther out of control,  but today I realized that I’ve got to get a grip.  This happens all the time. I go to bed pretty regularly having decided that when the sun shines again in the morning I’ll be a completely different person. One who manages her time well, and cleans up messes as soon as they happen and throws in loads of laundry a long time before they’re wearing weird outfits because they didn’t, and is miraculously able to answer all her email and never runs out of tea, and I’m used to the disappointment of still being me at the end of the next day, but this time I really meant it.

Then I went and knit for a while.  Then I went to snuggle the baby and (rather ironically) wash Meg’s dishes and fold her laundry.

I know what’s happened here. I’m spending about 15 hours a week “grandmothering” (as my own mother so lovingly calls it.) it involves buying nursing pads and dropping off dinners and holding the baby and answering texts about his tiny fingernails and the way he likes to suck in his bottom lip when he nurses, and going to and fro from our house to his, and there is absolutely zero chance I am not doing even one of those things. He’s only going to be tiny for a little while, and I can see no universe in which me wearing a shirt that doesn’t have baby puke on it is worth missing any of that.

Also, I have a job, and I like to knit, and I’m pretty committed to the Bike Rally Steering Committee and Joe’s working long hours and should be able to snuggle a baby if he has a minute and … so something had to give and it was cleaning up, or doing laundry, or organizing anything at all, and now we live in a pit. There is not a single room that is acceptable. My entire nod to cleanliness has been to hang up towels after we use them so that we can go a week without laundry, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher yesterday – and I think Joe gave the toilet a swipe and took out the compost. He must have, because it’s gone.  (I suppose it’s possible the cat ate it as a signal of neglect.) You would struggle to find a clear spot on the coffee table to put down a coffee, there’s yarn everywhere, and the house is littered with post-it notes that say things like “BUY SOAP” or “10 MINUTES LAUNDRY.” (They have had little effect.)

leftoverbsj 2017-05-05

I thought about all of that while I worked on another sweater for Elliot.  Not that one pictured above, that one didn’t work out. I wanted to knit him a little Baby Surprise Jacket out of the leftovers from my cowl because it’s super soft and cozy, but the gauge was wrong and I don’t have enough and I was lying to myself for about 12 rows before I had to accept the truth.  I swished through the stash and found some stripey handspun I’ve been waiting to use, and now that’s on the needles.

handspunbsj 2017-05-05

Working out fine, I still might not have enough, but I’m going to worry about that later. Much later, because something’s got to give, and it’s me. I’m going to start with the kitchen. Maybe after one more row.


102 thoughts on “Something had to give

  1. I can’t believe I’m first. So for cryin’ out loud, hire a cleaning service. And find a grocery store that delivers. Being self-sufficient is fine, but there are limits.

    • Seriously. And subscribe to a meal service like Chef’s Plate.

      Honestly I’m not sure where the idea/need for one person to do it all has come from but it’s impossible and it’s painful to read when there are so many options out there. No one likes to do homework or grocery shop (well most people don’t) and if you are crunched for time you are crunched for time. Hire some help.

    • This!!!!!! This is what I came here to say! Because really, this is the time to splurge. For everything in your life, you need to spend time or money. Spend the money on a cleaning service, even temporarily (one or two cleanings), and enjoy that time with your daughter and grandson!

    • Here is my contribution to the housecleaner arguments: You are directly helping another family to pay for their groceries, housing, transportation, etc. It feels like a splurge for you, and yet, it is helping someone else make their ends meet. Seriously, my husband is the one who convinced me of this. For once, he is right 😉

    • I came to reply to say this exact same thing. Money is for hiring people to do the washing up for you while you snuggle that baby while it is still a baby. Problem solved.

  2. Or if not a weekly service, a one time sanity treat. Yes, I know it won’t be exactly how you would do it but sanity in a grandmother is a good thing (though laughter and eccentricity are also highly prized too).

  3. Enjoy it. All of it. Even the cleaning, when you get around to putting down the needles, will be satisfying, because you will SEE the difference, and then it’s done, so you can go back to grandmothering. Bliss.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly on the cleaning service at least once. And yes, grocery delivery. And a laundromat that will wash, dry and fold your clothes and linens. No. It won’t be just the way you’d do it — not the laundry, not the groceries, not the cleaning. But it will be done! And you won’t be cross-eyed crazy trying to do it all.

    Heck, I’d start a GoFundMe for you, if I could figure out how.

    • Seriously, does anybody know how to do this? I’d contribute and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Look what the Blog can do for the Bike Rally. I’m sure we could do it for Stephanie and Meg too.

      • No, don’t do it without asking. Many people do not like other people coming into their homes to clean. I get the idea that Steph is telling us that life is busy right now, and that she is letting certain things slide. That doesn’t mean she’s not OK with that. She has picked her priorities. I’m getting the idea that twe think she still has to do it all or get it all done. Instead of thinking that it can’t all get done at this moment. It will all get done, in Stephanie’s own time.

        (And I had to click on the sunglasses. They’re great to put on when you don’t want to see the dust bunnies. 🙂

        • Agreement!
          By the way: this woman is self-employed. She knows a piece or two about how to handle with busy and rushy times in Life…
          It feels like yesterday: household (there is never an end to see, lets’ be clear…), little / teenage kids (sometimes out of control), brocken Mr. Washie (no Budget to replace it – must be Murphys’ Law…), no coffee in the house, and on and on!
          Hey, this woman knows how to solve all the daily tasks!
          The first six Weeks should be resting and snuggeling time for the young family, time to become a strong family and getting a Good Start. Stephanie has become a Grand-Mother, of course she needs time to settle in, and she is doing Care-Work for the baby, her daugther and son-in-Law. And she is giving care to herself: Knitting!

  5. I agree that a cleaning service at least once, grocery delivery where you can order online and laundry service at least once so that you can get your house organized would be a short term solution and then maybe it would easier to keep up.

  6. I’m with them – was thinking of it as I was reading the blog. Cleaning service and you stay there and direct, they can do the laundry drill as well. Time is precious and this is the first grandchild. Beeeautiful handspun – what a lucky lad he is, in so many ways.

  7. Came across this gem a long time ago …
    Dusting and cleaning can wait til tomorrow
    For (Grand)Babies grow up, I’ve learned to my sorrow
    So be quiet cobwebs!
    Dust, go to sleep!
    I’m rocking my (Grand)Baby
    And babies don’t keep!

  8. What they all said!! In your city for a blessed 6 weeks of grandchild time and my darling son-in-law has already booked the cleaner “because we don’t want you to do that instead of playing with the little guy.” Of course, if your life was organized, it would be hard for the rest of us to like you as much as we do!! But still: cleaning service=less crazy + more knitting time.

  9. I was going to apologize for sounding so harsh. All I meant was that sometimes you have to let go of your pride and independence and accept help when you can find it. Grandbabies grow up fast, and you don’t want to miss a moment. So pay someone else to do the boring stuff, and knit that boy some sweaters!

  10. I just found what looks like a stone hard orange next to someone’s computer….
    We have a crash of dust rhinoceros in out house.

  11. I agree – hire a cleaner this one time. I’m about ready to and I don’t have nearly the excuse you do. If I lived in Toronto, I’d come clean for you!! Enjoy Elliot and stop worrying about your house. Just sayin’

  12. The dust bison will keep, but that little munchkin will grow so fast… There’ll always be time for cleaning. Cuddle while you can!

  13. Cleaning…baby. Cleaning…baby.

    No contest. Hire somebody to clean while you go fuss over the baby and his mum and dad.

  14. Must give yourself permission to let go and hire the cleaning service–and,oh, yeah–don’t do the guilt trip thing and tidy the place up before they get there. Trust me, they’ve seen worse! Enjoy the visions of Elliot in all those wee knitted things dancing in your head and on your needles.

  15. Stores deliver and there are plenty of house cleaning services that you can have come every couple of weeks to give things a once over (maybe a good gift for Meg? Baby’s first year is chaos anyway….)

    I agree with you that babies don’t stay little very long… my “baby” has grown up… i blinked and he went from an 8 pound, 8.25 ounce 22 inches long tiny sweet baby to a 6’6″ 250 pound soccer playing high school Junior looking at which college to attend…. only babies I get to knit for now are my cousins’ infants and donations…

  16. I spent 6 lovely weeks with my granddaughter and her poor C-section mother, and nobody’s house was clean. I feel you. Hang in there.
    Joe probably loves you and Megan and Elliott more than he dislikes cluttered surfaces and a few dust elephants.
    PS I did get diaper service for the baby, and that was a godsend. (LOL I have to touch the house!)

  17. For Godssakes, Steph, get the cleaners in before the Blog has a collective nervous breakdown. Do it for us if not for yourself. It’ll really be okay. I promise.

  18. I wash our towels after about seven uses. There are no babies here. We’re fine. You’ll be fine. People in the West wash their clothes (and themselves) way more than is usually necessary, anyway. Think of it as living a more eco-friendly, time-efficient, natural life.

  19. I’m with everyone else. Hire someone to come in couple times a month. When we both work full time, we have thee cleaning fairies in regularly. Life is too short to be spent cleaning toilets.

    • Really? To short for cleaning my own toilett? I’m sorry, I really don’t want to sound rude, but this is too strange.

      I do not know you in person, and am giving my appologizes right now, but on this Planet there is no evidence for fairies of any kind.

      By paying somebody to do my tasks, in reality, I am externalizing my problems and hassels of Life to somebody to do my “boring work”. This People are allways underpaid, if not worse.

      • You can always pay them more if you like! I personally don’t like people to clean my toilets, but I don’t mind them vacuuming. Cleaners through an agency often don’t get a good deal, but self-employed people can earn good money. I’ve been a cleaner, too, so I don’t feel so bad hiring one….

  20. EZ’s BSJ does well with lots of stripes. If you combine the 2 yarns, you will surely have enough. I think they look nice together.
    Julie in San Diego

    • Oh, this is genius! Elliot needs woolies! 🙂

      Also, Oh give me a home, where the dust bison roam, where there’s knitting and coffee all day, where seldom is heard, a non-Elliot word, and the Blog likes to read and shout “Yay!” 🙂

  21. I guess everyone is with me on hiring a housekeeper or cleaning service. Knowing that my housekeeper is coming forces a level of organization and tidying on us so that she can do her job. Probably I could have an imaginary housekeeper and get half the job done, but it’s really nice to have someone come in for a couple of hours and do the kitchen, bathrooms, and floors.

  22. I try to clear the clutter (paper, mostly) off the horizontal surfaces and leave the dirt for the cleaning person. I only have her come sporadically, but I have to say, coming into my house and smelling the fresh lemon scent, seeing a shiny stove and sink, and having a clean bathroom is the biggest treat ever.

  23. You said it yourself — he’s only going to be little for a short period of time, and there’s no sense in missing it if you don’t have to. As long as you aren’t in risk of being featured on an episode of Hoarders, I think you’re fine.

  24. It is SO true. You tidy for the housekeeper(s) knowing that they are coming. It helps to keep everyone sorted (and the housekeepers sane).

  25. I totally grok your state; my dear daughter in law got me the cutest little puppy for an early birthday, (after I recently said goodbye to my senior teacup poodle buddy). Crate training has become my mantra.
    And just a quick question: When you start a baby sweater does is have to be in a super-wash? Thanks

    • Not the Harlot here, but a Nonna with nine grandchildren. I would NEVER make anything for a child that wasn’t able to withstand the washer and dryer. Busy Moms won’t bother to handwash (nor should they), so if you want your knitting to last past one puke or spill, use super-wash.

      • Well, as a mother, I will never use superwash or acrilyc near a baby skin and lungs. Too many issues with petrochemistry.
        A good washing machine will be gentle with your knitting.

    • As you can see from the replies you’ve already gotten, there are divided views! My recommendation is always to think about what the baby’s mother would prefer.

    • If my gifted knitted item is not superwash, it comes with me telling that person it comes with free laundry service for life

  26. So, I haven’t seen a picture of Joe with the baby. I am not trying to put him in a position where he is not comfortable as not everyone wants their picture taken! Or posted on the Internet either. I just imagine he is as smitten as can be with this new so adorable little human.

  27. Let me join the crowd. I feel this may come off as snark but I do not ever recall reading that your family ever helps you with the cleaning. I have a full time job and a cleaning person. I’d throw myself out a window if I had to do all that you do. The idea that you alone are responsible for the cleaning, the laundry, the dishwashing metal strikes me as
    quite a fifties notion of “women’s work.” I would be happy if you had the time to write every day or show us what you’ve been able to knit with your freedom. Thank you for the blog.

  28. Oh! My! Goodness! My thoughts exactly! My house exactly! Except the laundry is pilled in the living room and there is no room for people. I think if I knit a bit then I will be ready to attack the CHAOS! Where are the elves when they are really needed?

  29. This sounds like a crisis. If you don’t want to hire a cleaning service, there are some other things you can do:
    1. Send Millie to her Uncle Ken’s. She’ll get fed and her litter box WILL get cleaned.
    2. Bribe Hank to do laundry. (What? He’s old enough to reach the controls! He can play video games while he waits for each cycle to finish.)
    3. One of The Ladies just gave you a grandson. Did the other two fall off a cliff? If they want another handknit….!
    4. Have the lawn service guy use his leaf blower to herd the dust mastodons and move them outside.
    There! A reasonably clean house!

  30. It sounds so fantastic and like such a great start to everyone’s relationship with Elliott. My smallest kid is 8 and I am still dealing with the fallout of no support ever for anything of any kind. Kids seem fine though!
    (ps. when I had my first kid I think I came on your comments and whined and you gave such great advice I have never forgotten it. You really are the best!)

  31. I think we have this in common, this need for tidiness but actually carrying out regular cleaning tasks just takes the back seat to more important things like family and work. I’ve been fighting strep all week and couldn’t afford not to work, so now my own house is a pit, but at least my family is healthy and the weather is nice. That little sweater is gorgeous!

  32. I’m tempted to text you a picture of any random room in my house (pretty good description of them right there) but the camera would jam and I don’t have a baby as an excuse, just a new bizarre spinning project (see December Spin-Off) with two friends, just to mix it up, and I CAN’T STOP. Flamethrowers are an option. (But neither of us will hire a cleaning service because we’d have to clean first, right?)

  33. 10 MINUTES LAUNDRY reminds me of the joyfully incoherent times following the arrival of my children. The days when every possible moment was spent in baby bliss. For everything else in life the deal was choose two: eat, sleep, shower, shop, tidy. I’m imagining that welcoming grandchildren will be just as joyous and even more wonderfully exhausting.

  34. Clean houses are overrated. Tiny babies are necessary stuff of life! Give yourself a break, hire a cleaning person 1x a week for a month to get you all back on track… then snuggle the baby while someone else cleans the house.

  35. I’m reasonably sure no gravestone ever had (or will have) the epitaph: “I wish I’d done more housework”

  36. Ok, first a new baby in the family should STOP a family and person in their tracks. Don’t fight it, instead prioritize that unabashedly. Do the easy thing, hire someone to do things you can’t get to at this transition. Like cleaning the house, doing the laundry, organizeing the yarn etc. for a month or two. DONT FIGHT IT….

    • Several Yarn Harlot Blog Volunteer positions are open immediately:
      1 Organize & catalogue The Stash according to Harlot guidelines
      2 Catalogue all patterns
      3 Weekly Dust Bison control management
      4 Weekly calls to Harlot family members to prevent health code violations from occurring (laundry, cleaning)
      4 Weekly Harlot sanity check to ensure all needs are being met during New Baby period
      Applicants must be approved by Stephanie & Joe.

  37. Like you said, he’s going to be little for only so long. Enjoy him and his momma and daddy. There’s nothing like it it the world. The rest of the stuff will work itself out. And yes, I agree completely. The baby needs more knitted things. Absolutely.. It sounds to me like you have everything that matters in control completely!

  38. Housework is never done. Martha Washington has been dead for over 200 years and someone is still cleaning her house.

  39. I need to get a handle on things as well, but I haven’t the excellent excuse that you have. Do the bare minimum necessary and leave the rest for another day. Cuddle that baby as much as you can!

  40. There is nothing more satisfying as ‘grandmothering’ or in my case NeeNa-ing. It is the best! Enjoy Eliott. (but keep writing your posts, I love them

  41. I’ve been a grandmother for six years, and my house has never been the same – and I don’t care. I will take any chance I can get to be with my little ones. Any time spent with a grandchild is a special time.

  42. I welcomed my first grandchild, a beautiful little girl, in February, and I felt a huge stab of jealousy when you mentioned your 15 hours/week of grandmothering. I would love to be able to do the same! Fortunately my daughter and her husband live only a couple of hours away, but the distance combined with a job that holds me down on weekdays means that my grandmothering is done in 12- or 24-hour stints every two or three weekends, all except the block of time I was able to book off work right after the baby arrived. How I would love to be able to do the quick popping-in that is part of your life with your daughter and little grandson.


  43. Wearing a shirt with baby puke over the shoulder provides a great excuse for showing off the baby pictures to anyone who notices the shirt!

  44. I realize this is only corollary, but these are so fantastically awesome/worth it I would be remiss for not recommending them: Lily Padz. They are a washable, reusable silicone shield that goes in the nursing bra: they hold back all but the most torrential leakage, keep nipples discreet in a sheer top, can be worn while swimming, etc. – they’re amazing. Mine were about $20 US a few years ago and I wore them more or less continuously for a year. Get two pairs and Meg will never need nursing pads again, and they really are superior. Truly.

  45. I’ll 622nd everyone and say get yourself a housecleaner. It’s what money is for. Anyone can dust. No one else can be grandma. You know, he might need socks. 🙂

  46. I have sooo enjoyed your posts and resulting comments during the last couple of weeks. I re-read them again this afternoon (while waiting in the truck, in the field, to bring my farmer home for lunch) and I got wondering if Joe has recovered from all the excitement…every time I read that post I get choked up. When our daughter made us grandparents for the first time, my farmer’s reactions were similar…he isn’t her biological father but the love he showed those days just got me, and still does 🙂

    Anyway, while I was reading I noticed your tweet regarding Canadian online yarn sources…I don’t do Twitter so thought I would broach the subject here. That would be a wonderful topic for discussion with the Blog. I don’t have a knitting community “in real life”…I always laugh and say I’m the only knitter in a hundred mile radius. I was stung once ordering yarn online so haven’t done it since…it would be great to get some site reviews from people I trust :))

  47. Why not employ someone to help with cleaning at home? Swallow your pride. You can pay a decent wage and offer a decent job to someone. It would be a win-win situation.

  48. Everyone here is right! Unless you really wanna clean. But yeah he needs a sweater. And a scarf. And a hat. And some booties.And maybe a toy. And oh some diaper covers……

  49. Life is too short to put cleaning before anything at all!! Enjoy your grandbaby and knitting and family. The dust and clutter will be there when you’re ready. Or maybe the cat will take care of all of it like the compost?

  50. Your priorities are perfect. Just don’t invite anyone over until after Elliot’s first birthday.

  51. It’s so great that you are in the same city as your daughter and her family!
    My parents were three time zones away from their parents and siblings when my sister and I were born. I often wonder how they managed.
    Enjoy the baby time! It is a one-time situation indeed.

  52. One bleak day after I scrubbed the toilet and its vicinity (because, yes, my son was a baseball pitcher…but that didn’t mean he could hit the toilet…and his Dad was worse), the decision was made to have a housecleaner come in once a week to dust, sweep, and clean bathrooms. Household is much happier.

    I try to spend about 5 minutes sorting through refrigerator and tossing items whose time is up on Friday afternoon (because my husband dumps the trash on Saturday am).

    If I know I will be home on Sunday, I also try to get grocery shopping done on Friday…then cook meals that will serve for more than two days during the week. And, we do takeout (we are somewhat rural…so we don’t have the choices that must be available in Toronto.) And I usually make a salad that will last several days as well.

    And, in the name of helping the new family, you could also cook at their house…and take home servings for you and Joe…

  53. Oh give me a home,
    Where the dust bison roam,
    Where cashmere and merino play,
    Where seldom is heard
    an unknitterly word
    and the kids allow grandma to play

    Home, home on the range…

  54. I don’t think there has ever been a woman who, on her deathbed, regretted not doing more housework. You are so lucky to have Meg, Alex and Elliott near enough to pop over and snuggle, help, and visit. The vote here seems to be nearly unanimous–get a cleaning service and order groceries online for awhile! You can’t hire someone to do any of your other work, but this, you can, so give yourself a break–you’ll not only help someone who is working to support_their_ family, but you will also gift Elliott with a calmer, saner, less stressed Grammy. Worth every penny!

  55. To me this post was all about JOY, in all caps,
    and not complaining about housekeeping. Steph, enjoy every moment right now. If you want to hire help, the Blog has your back. As long as the cat isn’t stuck to the floor you are doing fine. I will tell a tale from the second day home with second kid and a planned c section. It was about 5 pm, the hungries were setting in and neither hubbs nor I had a plan for food for the three of us with teeth. The door bell rang and it was a gift package from Omaha Steaks. The most welcome baby gift ever. In an hour we had a lasagna on the table. I still remember the tears I shed when I opened the box. You are a gift Grandma.

  56. Hire a cleaning service! There is no shame in hiring someone to clean your home. Anyone who pulls that is jealous. I’m single, no kids, one cat, a full-time job, and a part-time job, and I have a housekeeper. Why? Because when I have free time, I want to spend it on what I want to do, not cleaning my house. I also have a yard guy. Again, so I don’t have to spend what little free time I have doing yard work.
    If you need justification, here it is: By hiring a housekeeper, you’ve given someone a JOB. That person can now buy food, pay rent, clothe themselves and their family, pay taxes, contribute to the community… You’re not being lazy, you’re stimulating the economy.

  57. I applaud your sensibility on what is important, babies, first time mothers and knitting. The house is fine and will be there when Elliot is grown. My mother died young and my MIL could have carried less for babies. I hope when my time comes I can do Grandmotherly things.

  58. I think everyone’s already said it, but I’ll agree – hiring someone to do some cleaning is well worth it. You don’t have infinite time, and sometimes it’s worth trading in some money to make a bit of time for yourself 🙂

  59. Congratulation on your new grandson! Since my daughter had her daughter just a few months ago, I have also been very involved in her life. What joy! Yes the more mundane chores in life have gone by the wayside to make room for snuggling, kisses, playing, and singing. She is also my favorite model, and my daughter has dressed her in handmade sweaters and hats since birth. Have a good time. The cleaning will be there tomorrow.

  60. I frequently write this in cards for new moms – and I’m going to start doing it for grannies, too:

    Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow
    For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
    So quiet down cobwebs, dust to go sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    Keep right on with what you’re doing, Steph, it’s the right thing!!

  61. I’m just going to agree with the group on this one – babies don’t keep, and there are plenty of nice folks out there who would happily clean your house for a small fee. Enjoy the baby (and your girl as a ‘new mommy’) as much as you can. 🙂

  62. I go to bed thinking the same thing! It doesn’t usually work out for me either. I’d definitely choose snuggling a baby and knitting for him too. Enjoy it!

  63. I agree with most of the replies and your priorities. Babies grow up fast and you don’t get that time back. Use the outside services you need for at least for a little while so you can enjoy this precious time with the baby and family.

  64. The cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow
    for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs: Dust, go to sleep,
    I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.