I had a moment like this just yesterday. It was 11:15 and my son's birthday party was starting at noon. There were dirty dishes in the sink, the trash hadn't been emptied, and my son's Boy Scout tent was still sitting in the entryway. And I still needed to pick up the pizza and set up the extra table and chairs. So, of course, I did the logical thing and started running around like a chicken with my head cut off yelling for everyone to work faster and getting frustrated with myself for letting the house get that bad. Not a good scene, especially for a birthday party, which should be a joyful and fun occasion!
In recent years, I've gotten a lot better about stuff like this. Usually I start pulling the house together a few days ahead of time and start doing a few chores a night, but this was such a busy week, I didn't have one evening where I was home to do anything.
I've also found that my family takes it much better if I bargain with them instead of handing out assignments. Things like I'll take the kitchen if you'll clean up the TV room, or I'll sweep the floor if you'll get the food for the party. Or if they'll give me an hour of housework, I won't mind if they have an hour of TV or game time. I've also found that if I set a timer, I'm usually more focused when I'm cleaning and I can get more done in a shorter time.
I've also learned to be more realistic about what needs to be done and what doesn't. If things are picked up and reasonably clean, I don't worry as much about smaller things like dusting or cleaning the woodwork. I try to focus more on showing my guests a great time rather than fussing about my house. If people are my friends, I know they aren't coming to my house to judge me.
The one thing I don't do is let a messy house stop me from inviting people over. We love to entertain and we generally have someone over at least once a month or so. A lot of my friends don't have big birthday parties for their kids, but I still do and I always invite a mob. I invited ten assorted teens over here yesterday for my son's birthday party and that's a fairly small party for us. We've had up to 35 people for birthdays or holidays.
A lot of my Facebook friends seemed to think that was the equivalent of Bulgarian torture, but I didn't think it was all that bad. I fed them some pizza and cake, let them play some video games, and then took them for a round of laser tag (I had a discount coupon) and let them play in the park for an hour or so. I was kind of tired after all that, but that's not so bad, and the boys had a great time.
What ideas can you come up with to avoid the trap of "Hostess Neurosis"?