I remember telling my mom once that it seemed like the house got cleaned faster and better when company was coming and that maybe we should have people over more often so that the house would stay clean. No only was that statement true about my parents' house, but now it's true of my house. I've spend the last six days of my "staycation" doing nothing productive around the house (I've been told that's what vacation is for, but I'm not so sure). In fact, it has become even messier since I started painting the trim and windows in our family room.
Today I had a friend coming over with her two young children. I had spent several hours at another friend's house earlier in the day working on a sewing project and got home just before my other company was due to arrive. In a frenzy, I loaded up the dishwasher, washed a few remaining dishes, swept the floor in the living room, cleaned half the junk off the kitchen island, wiped down the dining room table and kitchen countertops, put misplaced shoes in our bedroom and put a load of clothes in the dryer all in about 30 minutes. I did't want her baby crawling around on a floor covered in wood shavings from the fireplace or something like that.
I swear, I'm so much more productive if I break up the cleaning into short increments like that. On our first Christmas as a married couple, Alex and I came back to our apartment after spending the day with family and instituted our "30-minute clean-ups" because wrapping paper, boxes and bags littered our living room. Usually, we got on a roll and the "clean-ups" ended up lasting an hour or more, but by the end, the whole house was cleaned and we felt quite good about ourselves and our home.
Why do we feel that our homes must be perfect when others come over and stress out over every last speck of dust? If we are transparent with our friends and accept them for who they are and not for how organized their homes are, then why do we think that they will judge us if there are dishes in our sink? My friends and I are always apologizing to each other for things being out of place, for toys being on the floor, for last night's dinner plates still being on the counter, for laundry laying on the couch waiting to be folded, but there's no point to it. I don't think any less of them for these things and I know they don't judge me either, but we still stress out needlessly. Maybe it's because we subconsciously find some of our worth as women, as housekeepers, wives, mothers, in how we maintain our homes. We are our own worst critics. I don't know why we're like that, but I do know that I really don't want to be this way anymore. Please take me as I am; accept me despite the fact that there will always be dishes in the sink (dishes are technically Alex's job anyway ;), there will be dog fur floating around somewhere no matter how many times I've swept. I'll try to stop apologizing when my house isn't perfectly clean and I promise not to judge you either. Care to join me and let go of the insecurity and self-criticism?