Ah, spring cleaning. Your house’s very own “Happy New Year!” complete with a whole list of resolutions (No more eating in the living room! Baseboards will be cleaned monthly! Abolish the junk drawer!). It’s a lovely concoction of stress and potential and renewal and invigoration.
How many times have I made the argument that I would be able to accomplish (insert one of a million things here) if my house was clean? Such a lovely little inexcusable excuse. Life waits for no one, and certainly not for people who want their houses to be clean first.
This year, I invite you to try a different approach to spring cleaning.
- Make a cup of coffee. Or tea. Anything that requires you to sit and sip.
- Make a list of the things you think need to be cleaned. Start the list with “Make a list.” Check that off.
- Allow yourself to feel the rush of productivity adrenaline.
- Examine your list. Draw a line through anything that only your mother would notice.
- While you are at it, cross off anything that you wouldn’t ask your best friend to do. This includes the curtains that haven’t been cleaned in three…ever.
- Remove anything that has a poor return on investment. Like sorting your child’s toys. Unless you plan to seriously purge, you’re only working against your hard-won sanity.
- Pick three things that cause you mess-stress on a daily basis. The refrigerator. The hall closet. The ironing pile. THAT room.
- Figure out a way to complete those three tasks. (Hire someone, perhaps?)
- Open windows. Fresh air is necessary. If the air outside your windows is not fresh, get thee to a park with trees and spring-clean your mind and lungs instead.
- Purge expectations. There is nothing written down anywhere that says you can only be happy when your house is clean. Repeat after me: Clean is temporary; clarity is forever.
If a messy house is keeping you from hosting play dates or neighborhood coffees or book clubs, do what I do—make people feel better about their own houses by being honest about the messy chaos in mine. And by “messy chaos” I mean “life.” I will tidy up. I will remove the banana from the floor. I will make sure my coffee is fresh and my cups are clean. My welcome will be gracious and my smile will be sincere. And if all else fails, remember it is spring. You can play, sip, and talk outside.
(Note: Those items you crossed off will probably have to be done eventually. Perhaps by professionals. I happen to be able to recommend an excellent cleaning company).