That said, people always comment about how clean my house
"How do you keep your house so clean?" they ask.
A conversation ensues about where "clean" ranks on our respective value meters and the constant battle that we all share regardless of our family size or dynamic. I usually quote a study I read in Working Mother Magazine about how keeping the house tidy is in the top three stressors for all women, whether they work outside the home or not.
There's a spectrum of course, but it's like we are biologically programmed to believe that our cave should be clean.
If there is a man in the group, he will almost always say that he is the one who wants the house to be neater but that it's not as important to his partner. It *could* be true.
In my house, I believe Big D. prefers "tidy" over "untidy" but that doesn't stop him from covering the dining room table with opened mail, power tools and dirty softball clothing.
Anyhoo, I wanted to share my secret for keeping housekeeping stress at bay. I play a little game I like to call, "If the Queen Comes for Tea."
This originated from a conversation with my best friend in which she was frantically stressing about making her entire house perfectly spit spot.
I teased her, "Oh come on now, are you expecting the Queen to come for tea or something?" (We live in New England, USA; no idea why the reference came to me.)
It became a fun joke between us; a reminder that sometimes we have to pick our battles and a tactic for what could otherwise feel like an overwhelming job.
Here's what ya do:
Start from your front door as if you just arrived for a visit at your own house. Look at your entryway and whatever rooms you can see from the front door. Clean those areas to the extent that if someone stopped by unexpectedly, you wouldn't be embarrassed.
I realise this is a wide range from no dust on the mantle to no underpants on the living room floor; be your own judge.
Someone once told me that the Queen won't actually eat anything or use the bathroom. My real family and friends typically do. So, I also clean the kitchen and the bathrooms regardless (with priority being the bathroom nearest the front entry.)
The best gift I ever got was a cordless but powerful vaccuum. If you don't have one, go get one now.
If you have kids, make them pitch in. Minimally, they should clean their own bedrooms and sort their own clothes into bins next to the washer. Also, leave your partner's clothes on the floor until they pick them up.
Don't create monsters and then complain about them. I say this with love.
If all else fails and you really don't have the time or energy to clean on a particular day or week, give yourself a reality check. Why are you really stressing about the house? Is the Queen coming for tea or something??
Best of luck!