In the past year, I've had many eye-opening experiences in my search for balance in my life. There are two lessons I learned that have stuck with me and have been key in helping me be a more relaxed, happier homemaker.
- Maintain the mess (read about that breakthrough here).
- Want to clean (read about that breakthrough here).
I started rethinking my definition of "clean" in the kitchen and dining room, since they are the heart of the house. 'Cause if they're out of order, mom's out of order.
So, let's start with "Maintain the mess." Stuff piling up on the kitchen counter is inevitable. Dirtying dishes is inevitable. Crumbs on the table are inevitable. So, what absolutely is the bare minimum that must be done in order for the kitchen and dining room to function?
The dishes must be done as they get dirty because we all know they just accumulate into a rotting, ceramic pile of Mt. Fuji eruption. The table must be 98% clear of stuff so we can sit down to eat as soon as food is ready. Otherwise, I'm overwhelmed by the extra work of cleaning the table AND making the meals. I really think that's the bare minimum for me. That way I can cook and serve meals quickly and easily. The dishwasher must be run when it's full or mostly full and emptied as soon as it's ready and I have time. This way, I always have the clean dishes I need and don't have to stop to wash the strainer. It also gives me a place to put those dirty dishes.
So, what are the extra things that need to be done? Wiping the counters & table, sweeping and mopping the floor, clearing all the miscellaneous junk off the counter, vacuuming the carpet in the dining room (who seriously puts carpet there?!). These things don't have to be done for the kitchen to function, even though I may want them done. These are the messes I can maintain. They are inevitable and I should expect them. I'll do them when I can, but shouldn't expect myself to do them on a daily basis while I have little ones at home.
The second way of thinking, wanting to clean, has still been working for me. I used to loathe walking in the kitchen, standing in front of the sink, letting out a huge exhale as I wipe my forehead and start sorting the "fragrant" dishes. That's what I'd think about when I thought, "Ugh, I haaaave to do the dishes."
But now, I'm training myself to think "No, I want to do the dishes." And then, I give myself reasons why I want to. I remember how doing the dishes means I can enjoy a mostly-empty sink every morning. I remember that it means I always have the utensils I need to make quick meals. I think of how I feel so proud of myself when I do them.
These two changes in thought are becoming more and more natural as I keep them in mind throughout the day. I only expect myself to do the bare minimums each day in the kitchen and dining room. And if I have time for some of those extra things, I do a few, thus maintaining the mess so it doesn't swallow me whole.
I'm proud of myself for keeping my home running and not giving up. And, I'm proud of you for always wanting to be a better person. This world is still full to the brim with beautiful people. That's a happy thought.