So. I believe we’ve established, in no uncertain terms, that housekeeping is NOT my favorite thing to do. While I happily keep up on laundry and love to cook and bake, keeping a scrubbed, tidy home does not come naturally to me, and I have lived most of my adult life feeling as a complete and utter failure because of this.
Now, don’t get me wrong– I haven’t solved this problem. I still find myself surrounded by clutter or facing dust bunnies all too frequently, and I haven’t quite overcome my shame in not keeping as clean a home as my mother and sister. Nonetheless, I’m convinced I’m feeling, and doing, a little better, and I wanted to share three things that have helped immensely in that department.
1. I’ve realized that I may NEVER measure up to others’ standards and that is okay.
Comparing my home to that of people who do a stellar job keeping theirs spotless and clutter-free is kind of dumb, to be honest. The reality is this– it’s just not THAT big a priority for me. Sure, I like it when things are fairly tidy and it’s freshly cleaned and dusted. But I’m just not all that hung-up on having empty counters and tables all the time. It just doesn’t matter that much to me. At the end of the day, I elect to spend that time playing Quarriors (<– geek alert!), baking cookies, folding laundry, or catching up with friends. The result is that I’m not going to have pristine surfaces each night. It’s all a matter of choices and I’m starting to make peace with mine.
2. I work in fits and spurts.
I am utterly convinced that there is not a “cleaning plan” in the world that is going to work super well for me because I tend to work best in fits and spurts. Deciding that “Monday will be cleaning day” doesn’t work for me. Assigning specific tasks to specific days? It’s great in theory, but I’m lousy at carrying it out. I realized that sometimes I will just start flying around like a whirling dervish, getting things accomplished and making huge headway. There’s not necessarily a pattern to these energy bursts, though they typically strike in early morning. This always made me feel like a failure, too. But… why? Why does it matter if I scrub my toilets every Wednesday or just when the mood strikes, so long as I keep them clean? The answer? It doesn’t. Realizing that, and allowing it to be a valid method, was life-changing.
3. I assign– and occasionally pay– children to do some of my least favorite chores.
Here’s the deal: we have two showers in my house. I am usually the ONLY ONE who uses the master bath shower. And I keep it super duper clean! I squeegee that glass after each and every shower and I love to keep it pretty in there. I never, ever use the other shower and, frankly? I despise cleaning it. It was an ah-ha moment to realize that I really didn’t have to. There’s no reason every single cleaning chore needs to fall to me. I’m not the only one making this place dirty, after all! Giving the kids regular tasks and chores won’t kill them and, in fact, teaches them valuable life skills. If there’s a particularly unsavory job? One that’s maybe been neglected for awhile and might take extra time? I often offer anywhere from a quarter to a dollar to get it done and I never fail to get a taker. Win-win, I say.
Do I have the cleanest house on the block? Nah. Am I always proud of the state of my living room? Nope. But you know what? I’m getting better. And I’m feeling better about it. And maybe that’s half the battle.