A few weeks ago I realized it was time for a change. I was at the end of my rope, due only to self-imposed expectations. Years ago, early in our marriage, I developed a need to clean the whole house every weekend. It wasn’t so difficult when I was home all day every day, but I carried that expectation on even as I went back to work full-time. Even as our kids got involved in sports and we sometimes spent entire weekends at some gym or ball field cheering them on in tournaments.
I realized recently that no one is making me do this clean-the-whole-house-in-one-day thing. It’s just me. I’m the only one who cares. No one else looks at the house the same way that I do. And I was making myself crazy because every weekend I would waste precious free time and beautiful days stuck inside, cleaning. And I was making everyone else crazy because I was playing the martyr, refusing to delegate tasks and generally spending my weekends in a crabby mood. I don’t know why, but I wouldn’t allow myself to do a little bit this day and another little bit that day. It all had to be done at once.
For years this went on to the point that I began to dread weekends. I would talk about this to my friend, Lori at work, and she would ask why I thought I had to clean every week. I didn’t have any good answers. I don’t judge family and friends by the state of their homes. In fact, I feel more relaxed in the homes of people where things look a little more comfortable and lived in. Lori asked why I was holding myself to a higher standard and I couldn’t give her a good reason. And what really gave me a boost is when Lori said, you should see my kitchen. It’s always cluttered unless we’re having company.
I thought a lot about what Lori said and realized that I am tired of wasting precious weekends trying to get the house in a state that isn’t going to last more than a couple of days anyway. We have people coming and going at all hours in this house. With all of our varying schedules, with all of the kids’ friends coming and going all the time, the place just isn’t going to stay pristine. And maybe that’s why the kids’ friends like to come here. They know they can relax. They know they can go to the snack cupboard and help themselves. They know they can rumple up the living room in an evening and it’s okay with me.
I still want my house clean every week. I’m just going to teach myself to do it in phases. One thing this day, a couple of things the next. I’m going to remember to delegate a few things. And if there’s a little dust on the end tables, well, no one but me is really going to notice anyway. I mentioned this new plan to my mom, and she good-naturedly teased me. “Good luck with that, Sweetie.” She can laugh, but I think I can do this. Of course I’ll still do the cleaning frenzy thing when company’s coming, but I’m really going to try hard to make more of my weekends.
So I’ve managed to get through a couple of weeks with this new plan and new attitude and you know what? Weekends are fun again. I’ve found time to be with friends and family. I’ve found time to read. I’ve found time to soak up a few rays out on the deck. And I’ve found time to cook – really cook. Not some whip-it-together kind of meal, but an all day, relaxed preparation kind of meal. I’ve realized that doing fun things on the weekends is much more fun when I’m not mentally reminding myself of all the work that awaits me at home.
Yeah. I think this is good.