My TikToks showing my messy house went viral. Sharing them has kept me accountable to better housekeeping.
- Brianna James' videos about her messy house have been seen by millions.
- The mess is driven by four kids, two dogs, and health challenges.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Brianna James. It has been edited for length and clarity.
In fall, my whole family got the flu. For days, we didn't pick up a thing. When we started feeling better, I shared the devastation in my house — dishes piled up, clothes strewn about, and general chaos. It was motivation: I figured if I showed everyone how bad it was, I'd have to show them how good it would look when it was clean. I never imagined that more than 18 million people would view the video.
Since then, my messy-house videos have gone viral multiple times. I've even changed my TikTok handle to @themessymama4.
I'm a mom of four kids, ages 7, 4, 2, and 1. My husband is on active duty in the military. We have two cats and two dogs, including a puppy. I'm the first to say I'm lazy.
My messy house is cleaner than ever
Since sharing on TikTok, my house has never been clearer. And let me be clear: It's still very, very messy. I know that I could just pick things up the moment I notice them, but most of the time, I'm exhausted from kids screaming at me since 5 a.m. So I'm just going to step over it and deal with it later.
But now I have a community that relates to me. I share time-lapse posts of me cleaning our home and live videos of me doing the dishes. People will message me saying they're doing their dishes while I do mine. Together, we can tackle these house projects that otherwise feel overwhelming.
Now my family isn't just sitting in our mess. We're actively trying to get better. Every day, I challenge myself to be better than the last.
Bipolar disorder and autism make things tough
I've always struggled with depression and anxiety. Some days, I'm in survival mode just to keep four kids under 8 alive. My mental health affects my functioning, so sometimes I can do only the bare minimum. If I'm feeling OK, I do a bit extra on top of that.
About the time that the first video went viral, I realized I was sick. I needed help. A few months later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At nearly the same time, my 7-year-old was diagnosed with autism, in addition to a few other medical challenges.
Now I have a platform where I can normalize mental-health care and raising a child with disabilities. I say exactly what's on my mind. It's exhausting to think about how something might sound or plan your comments ahead of time.
While some people have been negative, I have the support of my community. My autistic daughter loves to participate in cleaning videos, and it's a reward for good behavior. It's been helpful for all of us to have a platform where we feel seen, heard, and loved.
My community is more important than a clean house
On the days when I don't feel like cleaning the mess, TikTok gives me positive pressure. It feels similar to knowing you have company coming over: You want to show them your best self.
Still, I'll never have a Pinterest-worthy home. That's not an attainable goal for me, especially at this stage in life. But I've found something more important: a way to keep myself accountable and share the truth behind the mess.
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