It's called housorexia.
This is what I do: I look at the staged clean countertops, the perfectly coordinated couch cushions, and the unstained carpets in the glossy ads and think "Why doesn't my house look like that?" The children in the ads never have poopy diapers or holes in their clothes. The mommies are always smiling. And their kitchens are always immaculate! And instead of thinking something intelligent like "Those pictures were taken on a photo set where no children live," I think, "My house could look like that if I cleaned it up every night at midnight."
And how is that any better? We teach teenage girls that they don't measure up if their waists are more than twenty inches wide, and we teach grown women that they don't measure up if there are more than two crumbs on the floor. And the silly thing is that we fall for it.
Instead of thinking that I'm great for what I've done that day (kissed the kids, wrote a blog post, got the kids dressed and fed), I think I'm deficient for what I haven't done that day (didn't have dinner ready, didn't clean the toilets, didn't dust the picture frames). That's what makes it so pathological, just like the anorexics who are never skinny enough. The house will never be clean enough, no matter how clean it is. The distorted lens we see it through keeps telling us we can stop cleaning after we dust just one more shelf or scour just one more bathtub. But we never get to rest even then, do we?
My body is not starving, but my house is starving for some serious sanity. Next time I think something like "I'll never get all this housework done", I'll make sure to mentally add, "So what?"
That's a good question, by the way. So what? My house won't make the cover of this month's Better Homes and Gardens? My child's friends will go home and tell their mommies that I have a messy house? Or (gasp) someone might come over and see the squalor? I'm not going to be a slave to anyone else's (imagined) judgment of my housekeeping skills.
I've got other things to do. Like have a life.