Friday, October 28, 2011

That there is more than one standard

Rental inspection is over for another four months. Oh boy, sometimes I wish we were still home owners but about eight years ago, when my husband decided to quit work and study, we found out we had a little baby #3 on the way and wanted to take the kids traveling, the rental option seemed like a good temporary one. Now it has stretched into something that feels permanent and definitely has its down side. Not only do we have to wait for problems to be fixed up in someone else's time schedule but it hurts my homeschooling sensibilities to be 'assessed' The lady who comes is the type who notices such trifling things as dust on skirting boards.

So all week I've been rushing about like a hyperactive Siberian mountain goat washing windows, clearing ceiling cobwebs and tidying the garden. This time she wrote that the condition of the place is 'fair' making me feel like a C-grade student. Then I remember that the "Home Beautiful" magazine judging criteria she uses for her rounds aren't necessarily reasonable considering all that goes on in this house. I look around our four walls and, hey, I think it's great. These are the bodies we have crammed beneath a reasonably small roof.

a) University Music Student for a hubby, who seems to have loose sheet music trailing after him like homing pigeons.
b) Avid 16-year-old gamer for an oldest son, whose corner gets stacked with dirty dishes, bedroom gets piled with clothes, and who skilfully blocks out the first 100 requests to tidy up.
c) Almost 13-year-old girl whose favourite pastimes are gourmet cooking and the visual arts, and who gets stuck into both with gusto and enthusiasm.
d) Active 7-year-old boy. I need say no more.
e) Oh, and then there's me. Well, I like to get a bit of writing done.

I think that given our blend of homeschooling personalities and well-used furniture which we can't afford to replace, expecting a "Home Beautiful" A-grade from us is a bit of a tall order. Instead of a wing of Buckingham Palace, our home looks more like the Weasley family's house, "The Burrow", (pictured above) for anybody who has seen the "Harry Potter" movies. It's an interesting, colourful place where books get piled on shelves, saxophones and art canvases abound and current projects get spread across the table tennis table. It's the sort of place where you can kick back to see where your heart leads you. If our home was to be judged on cosiness and creativity we'd surely receive an A, but that's not the way the real estate offices do it.

I must remind myself not to buy into other people's grading systems. Having her come through is a bit like like being assessed for a subject I never signed up to study. I keep it clean. There's always a basic order that we all understand. When the day arrives that we leave, they'll find it ship-shape. We're happy. And as a sentence on Face Book reminded me, women whose homes are always impressive and immaculate don't find time to write books.


  1. I empathise fully! We are in the same boat. Having immigrated eight years ago, we are still renting (and probably always will be). Although two of our three children have left home, 'inspection day ' is always dreaded!
    Your home sounds wonderfully creative and inviting...


  2. I remember the renting days. Once we lost our bond because we hadn't cleaned in places I would never imagine to clean normally! My house is probably similar to yours. The only positive thing about those inspections is it motivates you to get rid of junk - whereas now it begins to pile up. :)

  3. Thanks Mandy and Amanda :)
    It's good to know others know what I'm talking about. I think my family has been moving backwards. Most folk go from renting to a mortgage and we did it the other way around.

  4. I've tried to do the house constantly immaculate thing, and found if I do, that's ALL I do! What kind of life is that? And yes, I am definitely not a fan of rental inspections. I hate someone coming into my own home and judging my way of life.

  5. Well said, Helen. I found exactly the same. If I want to put my best into writing and homeschooling, I have to learn to live with a little dishevelment.

  6. I loved the little peek into your "cozy" home. Got time for a coffee?

    I am a perpetual renter as well as my husband and I live in a parsonage. Since inviting babies into our lives 16 years ago I have lived by a statement my sister printed out for me.

    "Organizing your home while your children are young is like shovelling your walk while it's still snowing."

    You may only fully appreciate that if you live in Canada like I do. Besides I tell people, my house is clean but well lived in!

    Hang in there Paula! Live by your own heart's standards. That's what please God.

  7. Hi Jody,
    I love that statement about snow shovelling. I can see how it would be particularly appropriate for you, living in Canada :)
    Mine is clean but well lived in too. She'll always find a spotless kitchen, bathroom and laundry and workable appliances such as smoke detectors on her inspections. I don't think the lived-in look should make a difference at all.

  8. Haha..I have a real estate inspection coming up on Monday for our home. I find it quite freeing to rent. We don't have any debt to pay and we quite like our home.

    I love that our house is definitely our home :) Great post Paula.

  9. Hi Nicole,
    Yep, there are advantages to renting, to be sure. That's why many of us do it, despite the regular inspections. It does make you feel 'freer' in many ways.

  10. Paula, your home sounds like a welcoming place to visit. I can't imagine the stress of having to clean to meet an outsider's standards, but I suppose it does prompt a thorough annual cleaning and clutter-culling.

    I'm in Canada and have only rented an apartment in the past. I don't know if they do inspections here, but they probably should, given some of the horror stories I've heard about discoveries made when people move out. Not people like you!

  11. Oh, Paula, you help me continue in this house we call home!
    We often think about renting something larger ... but then I'd have the inspections and we run a business, home school and have a less then efficient housekeeping pattern.
    So thank you for reminding me that it's ok to be cramped and not have the inspections! xx

  12. Michelle, we used to be in your position, cramped space with no inspections. Ah, the good old days. I wish someone had thought to warn me too :D


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