"A task without a vision is drudgery; a vision without a task is a dream; a task with a vision is victory." -Anonymous
So much goes on in and out of your house. You are constantly busy. And if you aren’t on the move, your brain is still working overtime. After working a job, feeding and clothing your kids, going all those places, doing all those things, how are you supposed to ALSO maintain a clean house? Isn’t keeping your family alive and together enough? Yes, if survival is the only goal.
It’s important to joyfully give the best of ourselves and efforts to the people (not things) around us. That’s our first priority.
There are seasons where your sink will be piled high, crumbs will be crusted on the kitchen floor, piles of shoes will block the doorway and cobwebs will line the corners of your house. Some seasons are excessively demanding; in such give yourself a break. This post is for those who are busy but ready for a change, who want the pleasure of a cleaner home without the stress of pressure.
If thriving is the goal and you are feeling overwhelmed by the environment you are in as if it's a burden instead of a blessing, I want to help you with a perspective and some simple practices.
Cleanliness is not a mark of your value, but it does impact your quality of life and mental health. Think about how your senses react to dirty or clean living spaces. How does your mind respond? Your emotions? Do you feel alert and energetic or anxious and depressed? Creating a resting place for our senses also creates a haven for peace. The purpose of cleanliness is not to impress people or compare virtues, but to create a space where your eyes enjoy clean, open spaces, your thoughts are freed from germs or filth, and you feel confident and prepared for anything.
Years ago we managed a bed and breakfast and I was plunged into the world of immaculate housekeeping, learning how to be thorough and efficient. Our B&B was gorgeous, ornately decorated, historic, and sparkling clean. Bathrooms had to be spotless: not a speck of dust or tiny hair could be found, so that guests would be set at ease. The stone walls of the basement had to be free of spiderwebs for the special events and meetings that took place there. The long and heavy drapes must not accumulate any dust, and the chandeliers kept sparkling. While it was time consuming to scrub, polish and dust the entire house, I realized that it was quite simple to do when maintained regularly with routines, schedules, and time limits. There was no build up to remove, and my efforts were rewarded by rave reviews from the guests and the confidence that people would enjoy their stay.
This is all well and good for the hospitality industry, but what about in the busy living space of your own ordinary home? Instead of overhauling your lifestyle with a completely new routine or hiring a housekeeper (I wish!), I suggest assigning an enjoyable purpose to your home, a pleasurable vision to aim for, and starting with one small thing to clean, and keep clean.
Just start with one thing.
Does the grime around your faucet always bug you? Scrub and polish it today. Then every day, wipe it clean to maintain its shine. You might not tackle anything else in a week, but you have a clean faucet to enjoy.
Is your living room always strewn with toys and the clutter stresses you out? Place a toy box by the wall and put the toys away once a day and feast your eyes on a tidy space.
Are crumbs always sticking to your bare feet when you walk around your kitchen? I know you are busy, but exchange one minute on your phone for one minute sweeping up the dirt. Now notice how pleasant it is to walk on a smooth floor.
You get the idea. Clean one thing. Do it again.
This is how habits are made.
The reason I recommend taking one manageable step, is that the first step, once mastered, inspires the next, and the next until everything in the space of that first thing you cleaned, is drawn into a harmony of cleanliness. It becomes a satisfying endeavor.
Take particular notice of the pleasure you receive from that thing being clean. How does it make you feel? If pleasure outweighs the pain, and the effort is small, you are well on your way to enjoying your very own clean house, and bestowing that gift of refreshment upon all who enter.
If you elevate the purpose of your home to one of ease, function, and refreshment, eliminating anything within your power that does not serve that purpose, you will clear a path to a simpler, happier way of life.
"What we must do, let us love to do. Never lose an opportunity to see anything beautiful. Beauty is God's handwriting." - Kingsley
A particularly influential story from my childhood was an old tale of a reclusive woman who was gifted a potted rose, which she set on a dirty old table in front of a filthy window in her shabby, neglected house. The scene of that lovely rose inspired her to clean the table which inspired her to wash her window and dress it with pretty curtains which compelled her to sweep her floor and paint her walls until everything around her came into harmony with that beautiful flower. As an eventual result, that sad and bitter woman blossomed into a warm, cheerful person who continued cultivating beauty all around her.