Thursday, March 17, 2016

Leaving the Dishes Overnight and Other Supposed Housekeeping Sins

our cat prefers an unmade bed
Our cat prefers an unmade bed. It's snugglier.

After I turned forty and as we rounded the corner into the new year, I started thinking a lot about prioritizing what is important and really holding firm in my confidence in my choices. One thing that I have been struggling to accept about myself for pretty much my entire adulthood is that overall, I am not a high energy, go-get-'em kind of person. I like things slow and quiet. I don't have an inner drive to be busy or to accomplish a great many things. In the story of the tortoise and the hare, I am the tortoise. In the end, you remember, the tortoise wins the race. But we live in a culture that celebrates the hares, and that is reinforced in many ways.

One way that makes me feel especially inadequate is reading articles about how to be a better housekeeper. I've seen several of them making the rounds on social media lately. If you read those and you are not a person who makes sure your house is tidy and all dishes are done before you go to bed, you might feel a little deflated by the time you are done reading. I know I do. And yet, when I truly think about what works for me and my family, it's leaving the dishes in the sink overnight.

After dinner we have a little time to hang out together, and then it is bath and bedtime for the children, while J and I catch up on whatever didn't get done during the day. Sometimes I need to complete some tasks that are hard to work on when the children are awake. Sometimes I've had some emails come in during the evening hours that I'd like to respond to before they get lost in my inbox. But sometimes I just need to have a little break, to take an hour or two to read or do yoga or watch something on Netflix. To try to do the dishes then would be terribly stressful for me. So I don't. I do them the next day, once our schoolwork is done. It works out wonderfully, and I never feel rushed.

Similarly, I do not make my bed in the morning. For some people, making the bed sets the tone for the day and allows them to enter into their day feeling a sense of accomplishment that allows them to face their other tasks with confidence. It provides the momentum they need to get more things done. For me, that doesn't really work out; making the bed simply takes up time I could be working on other things. It feels like a distraction, at best. I always have a long list of things that need to be done, and making the bed just supplants something that is more important. Our bedroom is not visible from the rest of the house, so it's an out of sight, out of mind situation. Leaving the bed unmade works for me.

What it boils down to for me, overall - not just when it comes to dishes or bedmaking - is that I want to make choices that are best for our family. If I prioritize doing things according to a magazine article or someone else's standards and habits instead of the way that truly works for me, then I am basically saying that someone else's opinion is more important than my needs or my family's needs. Instead, I want to prioritize meeting the needs of my family and cultivating a sense of peace in our home. To me, it would be far worse to be harried and rushed than to have our house be a little less tidy than it might be otherwise. I am confident in my choice to have relaxed housekeeping standards. And that feels really good.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! I have been bothered lately by people's comments about how clean a house should be and I know mine falls way below that. But, for the most part, the cleanliness of our home doesn't seem to bother those who actually live there, so I'm trying to keep that in mind. But, I am sending my family away for a weekend so I can sort and clean to my heart's delight while my family has fun camping - win/win.


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