Divorcing the Cleaning Routine
A friend told me that she remembers her mother saying she couldn’t “come and play” because she was too busy cleaning.
Hearing that was my wake up call. That was the day I threw out my cleaning routine and schedule. Not because I don’t care about a clean and orderly home. Because I do. And not because I’m a slob. Because I’m not.
The reality is: [Tweet “I don’t want to neglect my children in order to live in a perfectly clean and orderly home.”] I don’t want to miss playdates and activities simply because it is “bathroom cleaning” day on some schedule I downloaded off Pinterest! (If this sounds familiar then it’s time to do what I did: divorce the cleaning routine.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, my house is clean. I’m not a hoarder, and I do enjoy organized spaces. (I really like to go to bed at night with my kitchen counters cleared.) Living in a smaller place has helped with the amount of cleaning to do, and the thought that moving into a bigger space would mean more housework, makes me shudder. I typically do a good job of staying on top of the laundry, and the bathrooms. But there are some items on the list that rarely get done.
Like cleaning the baseboards in our home. Or washing the windows. And windexing the mirrors which are at small-child-level. Thatis a serious waste of my time! As is making sure that every toy find its way back to its properly-labelled-and-color-coded-destination multiple times throughout the day.(And all my OCD readers are flinching.) I probably don’t dust often enough, or get down on my hands and knees to scrub the floors.
And here’s why:
At the end of my life I’m not going to cry over the hours I should have spent cleaning.I will not worry about, or regret, not having “the best kept” house.
No! It will be the time I wasted dusting shelves because my mother-in-law was coming over…. and I didn’t-want-her-to-think-I-didn’t-know-how-to-keep-a-house.Let me tell you - I’ve wised up since those days. Because I realized… she doesn’t care! And even if she did – I’m over it. (And if your mother-in-law DOES care: 1- I’m so sorry and 2- You can still get over it.)
The true test came when we recently had friends over for dinner. As my husband was giving them a quick tour of our home, I remembered I hadn’t made the our bed. The floors in the living area had been vacuumed of the bits of craisins and crayons that are almost always present. I had prepared dinner and managed to wipe down the bathroom surfaces before they arrived. But our bedroom…hadn’t been touched.
When I walked back through later I realized that the closets had been open, along with our dresser drawers which were spewing clothes. Our bathroom was a bit of a disaster, and yes… our large bed in the middle of the room – unmade. And you know what? Those people we had over… they are still our friends!
So, as you start thinking about entertaining and guests, parties and all the seasonal celebrations coming up, I encourage you to embrace the “clean enough” mentality. (Or, hire a house keeper. That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?!) Because, chances are, you have too many other important things to do.
For me, I have little ones to love on and take to the park. And I would rather make time to snuggle during cartoons, and to read and do crafts with them, then use up the time cleaning “that spot” behind the toilet with a toothbrush.
And maybe this isn’t for you because you got over it a long time ago. (Good for you! ) Or maybe you always had the “clean enough” motto unlike me. But perhaps you need to embrace “enough” in another way.
Do you need to forgo the fancy and culturally diverse menu plans and put some mac ‘n’ cheese on your family dinner schedule? Or, is there an obligation or commitment that you need to say no to, in order to give yourself some grace?
I hope you laughed today. And I hope you go and jump head-first into whatever is at the top of your priority list today (which, for the record, should never be “cleaning that spot behind the toilet.”)
I think it’s time we all learned how to embrace “enough.”