I like a clean house. Everything in its place, and a place for everything. Spotlessly shiny floors, dust-free blinds, clutter-free counters, and maybe a little orange peel and rosemary simmering on the stove.
This can only mean one thing: I need a housekeeper. One who’ll show up at least twice a week. Because what I like and what I live with are two entirely different things.
My reality finds that laundry is often waiting in the wings—dirty clothes wait to be washed, or clean clothes wait to be put away. (Can I get an amen for the dryer’s fluff option?) Bookcases and end tables can collect enough dust to serve as chalkboards from time to time. Sometimes when someone opens the door, rogue tumbleweeds of pet hair will, umm, tumble down the hallway.
So what's the problem?
It’s not that I don’t know how to clean. Quite the contrary. My problem is that I go overboard in a messy perfectionist kind of way. If I’m going to clean something, I tend to get carried away, meaning there’s no such thing as a quick kitchen sink wipe down. In my world, it’s a full sink overhaul with scrubbing and disinfecting and disposer blade sharpening. If I’m not careful, it can include architectural plans for a redesign and a call to the contractor. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Which is why I sometimes find it easier to deal with the pet hair tumbleweeds and chalkboards made of dust.
Oddly enough, my cleaning habits stand in stark contrast to my childhood experiences.I grew up in a household where Mom kept the floors spotless and never abided anything being out of place.
Her go-to description for my childhood bedroom never waivered.
“Your room looks like a pigsty.”
I am unable to confirm or deny that accusation. As you might imagine, though, my cleaning practices, or lack thereof, often found us at odds with each other.
Woe be unto the dust bunny who dare attempt to hop into Mom’s house. Clutter was a foreign term, and the floors were clean enough to eat off of—the five-second rule might as well have been the five-hour rule. If ever there was a woman destined to be the face of Spic and Span, it was Mom. And if Mr. Clean really wanted to do his job, he’d have called her for advice.
Perhaps you can see where the perfectionist side of my messy perfectionism takes root.
Not my cup of tea
Anyway, I never quite understood why my mom was so obsessed with cleaning things that weren't dirty. Nor could I figure out where her motivation came from. I admired her dedication, though, and after years of watching her in action, I knew her type of clean was a 24/7 job—and one to which I was unwilling to commit.
So it was that I ventured off in a different direction when it came to cleaning. Just as Mom sacrificed other things for a spotless house, I sacrifice a spotless house for other things.
To that end, we settle for a day or two of super clean each week, which is enough to avoid pigsty status. While it may not be my mother’s version of perfectly clean, it’s my own version of clean enough. And it frees me up to do other things that rank high on my priority list. Like hiring a housekeeper.
Which cleaning camp do you belong to? Do you have a housecleaning tip we could all use? Share your thoughts below!