It's called co-habitation.
When I first became a mother, I put a lot of emotional and mental stock into the cleanliness of my house. If anyone were to drop by when my house was ransacked, I would be so embarrassed that I wouldn't let them inside. When someone would drop by my house unexpectedly, I would feel relieved that I had cleaned it recently so they would go home thinking what a clean person I was.
There is a lot of pressure placed on us as adults (and by here, I mean women*) to keep our houses pristine. Millions of dollars are spent every year on marketing research by cleaning product manufacturers, to learn just how to tap into our insecurities enough to prompt us to buy their goods.
I used to get extremely upset if my children made a big mess, or got themselves filthy and I would simply go nuts if one of my kids intentionally trashed a room. As they got older, I had the expectation that they would learn to keep the house clean and if I yelled and punished enough, they would eventually become trained to pick up messes automatically.
I know, that sounds really crazy. And as any parent of an adolescent and teen will tell you, completely unrealistic! Most kids are lazy, that's the plain truth of it. You can argue that they are only as lazy you let them be, but I was making myself completely crazy trying to MAKE them not be.
I have finally realized something. Keeping my house clean - even though I am a home-maker - is not entirely my responsibility. There are some things that are, of course. I do scrub and clean the bathrooms weekly (or at least, I mean to), but I no longer get livid about the fact that on the weekends when my kids are home from school, the house gets messy. Really, really, messy. I fought it for years, and would feel just plain awful about it and pray nobody would come by. But then it hit me. I am co-habitating with five other people! And yes, they are all lazy! So why am I placing unrealistic expectation on myself, and assuming responsibilities for messes that I'm not even making?
Realizing this, I stopped taking the messes they made as reflection upon myself, or a show of disrespect. If someone drops by my home on a Sunday and finds my floors dirty, grime on the stove, and kids belongings shoved into corners or cast aside, I'm fine with that. If they want to nit-pick my presumed lack of cleaning skills, that's their problem. But I no longer make it mine.
Releasing this expectation on myself, I no longer pitch fits or become so very flustered when the house isn't completely tidy. Not only that, but this realization spawned right about the time I began to look at my children differently than I had before. I think in our society, we place so much emphasis on parental control, that when children act in undesirable ways, we blame the parents. Or as parents, we blame ourselves. This is not realizing that children are people in their own right. By taking responsibility away from children and placing it on the parents, we are not teaching them to be responsible at all.
You can see here, that I was being counter-productive. By assuming responsibility for my childrens behavior, I was not only putting too much expectation on myself and therefore trying to force them to behave the way I wanted, I was failing teach them that they are responsible for themselves.
I have since given up feeling like I have to control my children - not only the messes they make, but all of their behavior. Now that my two oldest are teenagers, I can look back and realize how little control I had over them in the first place. I have redirected my energy from trying to control, to teaching and guiding in a mutually respectful way. I am not only enjoying a much more peaceful household, but my children are so much more responsive to me now and take my requests (notice I do not say demands) without resentment... most of the time, they are still teenagers, after all! And I can relax on the weekends, let things be, rather than walk around like an angry shrew, bitching at every little mess I had to clean up.
*I say women, because men are not taught that cleanliness is an aspect of manliness. It is not only fully acceptable for men to be "dirty", it's practically expected. Cleaning commercials which depict or target men are incredibly rare, while women are taught from childhood that cleaning comes with the gender and they are expected to be good at it.