A Georgia mom is going viral on social media not for her perfect home and cleaning tips but for the exact opposite — showing her everyday reality as a mother of four in a messy house.
Back in December, Brianna James shared a video of her dining room and kitchen in a state of disarray. She wrote in part in the caption, “it’s bad I know,” and, to her surprise, it started getting a lot more attention than her typical TikTok posts. It has racked up over 5 million views in the eight months since.
Two months after that, James shared another video of her messy home after four days of not cleaning and it has since garnered over 1 million likes.
The messes have become somewhat of a signature for James and she’s even adjusted her TikTok username to reflect that as “themessymama4.”
Comments on James’ videos run the gamut but many leave replies saying they feel seen.
“This is comforting. This is NORMAL,” wrote one.
“We’ve all been there momma don’t even stress over it ❤️,” another added.
James told “Good Morning America” she doesn’t shy away from sharing on social media because showing the mess helps keep her accountable.
“I want people who may not be in my shoes to understand that it’s normal in a way as long as you know you’re not going to live with it. And then also to show people who are in my shoes, that they’re not alone,” the 31-year-old said.
James, who lives in southern Georgia with her husband, Craig, and their three daughters and one son, said she was tired of trying to hide her real life and wanted to show what it’s really like for her and her family.
“I’m trying to be honest and real and show that it’s OK to not get it all done and it’s OK to let some things go and focus on yourself and make yourself healthy,” she said. “I’m also trying to think like, well, I could clean 24/7, seven days a week and then I miss out on the time with my kids, or I could let the dishes go for a day or not take the trash out that night and then play dominos or something with my kids or hide and seek. So I’m trying to balance that.”
To be clear, James does clean her home but she says at least one part of the house always still tends to be messy.
“It’s a mix,” she said. “One room will be perfect and I feel really great and then I’ll go upstairs and I’ll be like ugh because it’s never-ending.”
James said what does work for her in getting her chores done and dusted is sticking to a routine. Posting the before-and-after-cleaning videos on TikTok is part of that routine.
“I will try to do my daily thing and then depending on how my mood is feeling with my mental health stuff, I will try to do like one extra project,” she explained. “I recently changed my mindset where instead of me working for my house, and it’s constant, I am now making my house work for me. And so I’m watching it and I’m like, OK, if you’re not working for me, I’m going to change you.”
It’s a significant shift for James who said she lives with anxiety and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. She said she used to mentally beat herself up for not getting her tasks done immediately or not making everything perfect.
“Now, I’m trying to normalize the fact that it’s OK if it doesn’t all get done but as long as some of it gets done, then I can be happy and proud of myself and give myself that praise that I got that done. And I have a really hard time doing that so I just literally go day by day,” she said.
“I think that’s what is more relatable than just me being messy and then cleaning it up is why I’m messy and how I’m going about it and how I’m trying to change for the better,” she added.