Spring Cleaning Tough Love

Editor’s Note: I asked Lisa to guest post for us on spring cleaning because I knew she would give us the dirt on cleaning. You can keep up with her over at Almost Famous. I hope you enjoy her tough love–I know I needed it!

Lisa Explains It

I often feel I’m misunderstood:  I have a clean house and five kids, so people assume I’m always cleaning and that I love to clean. I fall into the category I don’t love to clean, but I love having a clean house.  That’s a very important distinction to me.
Our physical surroundings are the first to be neglected or overlooked in our lives, as if it is not connected to other prettier sister parts of ourselves (you know, our talents and interests, education, and spirituality).  Today “housework” and even “homemaker,” to a certain extent, are dirty words (pun totally intended).  But setting the stage for the production which is our lives has value because we have value.  Much like fashion is a way we want others to see us, I feel that the way someone takes care of their home is a reflection of how they really see themselves.
Spring Cleaning can be a time for renewal and a fresh, clean start, or it can be nothing.  I like the pageantry of Spring Cleaning:  picking a new cleaner scent, knowing that every piece of my home is cared for and accounted for, and feeling the high that only comes from knowing that your house is only full of needful things, not trash and forgotten items.  But I sometimes feel like a lone woman on the island of misfit cleaners.  So I thought I’d use this post as a chance to address some misconceptions in the hope of inspiring others to change their minds about “housework.”

Misconceptions About Keeping a Clean House:

1.  There’s no joy in cleaning.

Then find it.  Create it.  It is a life constant.  If anything is worth searching for a meaning, it’s this!  No matter what our station is in life (married, single, working in the home, working outside the home, rich, poor, busy, bored, whatever) we will always have to do it.  It will always be a need.  (Even if you have a maid, she’ll need a day off, so you’ll have to do it at least once in a while.)

2. You have to be a “type” to enjoy it or do it.

Some people have gifts/talents/tendencies towards certain chores.  Some do not. It’s irrelevant to the importance or joy/reward/result we get when we do it, or when it’s simply done. As a modern society, we’ve raised the stakes too high on what it means “to clean.” We attach it to feelings/identities/roles we feel others have ascribed to us.  We attached it to feminism and female roles and now it MEANS too much:  “How can I do/have/be it all?!  Can’t I be a good mom/woman without this work?  To which I say, yes, of course you can, but that’s beside the point.

3.  Cleaning and organizing takes too long.

Then you’re doing it wrong.   Do it a different way.  We are no longer taught homemaking in school or at home because we don’t outwardly value it in society.  So, as a consequence, many of us don’t know how to do it.  The good news is that it’s not rocket science, and there are plenty of ways to learn it, most importantly, by doing it.

4.  Cleaning and organizing has to be done a particular way.

Then you don’t know any better and you’ve going something/things to learn—isn’t that exciting?!

5.  Having a clean house doesn’t matter.

Sure it does.  Watch an episode of Hoarders and then tell me if you think organization and cleanliness  has anything to do with family relationships, self-esteem, health, or general happiness!

6.  Having a clean and organized home doesn’t affect my life/stress level/harmony in my home very much.

See questions #5.  Are you sure?

7.  I’ll do it later.

Why not do it now and then you’re done and you can stop thinking about it?  If you’ve thought about doing it 3 times, then it could have been done already if you had stopped thinking about it and just did it.

I hope you’ll take my advice as a little dose of helpful tough love and remember that I have come to these conclusions after much contemplation as I was raised by a mother who kept a clean house and didn’t seem to spend all her time cleaning, and a father who has a vacuum to clean his vacuum and a 5-step trash removal system.


Ed. note: If you’re dying for some hands-on practical tips, Lisa has a follow-up post here.

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Comments (13)

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  4. Rachel @ the minimalist mom 03/21/2011 at 4:25 pm

    This is a great piece. It’s the truth: cleaning is as inevitable as death and taxes. So why not make it easier on yourself and find some joy in it. Great reminder, Lisa.
    I’ve always loathed housework but since we got rid of a lot of stuff (like most of my wardrobe, books, DVDs, junk drawers) it’s a lot easier to clean. And when it’s easier I am more likely to get it done and get it done with a good attitude.

  5. Meagan @ The Happiest Mom 03/21/2011 at 4:16 pm

    I think Lisa and I are long-lost twins. I am also a mom of five with a clean (enough) house and while I don’t love cleaning, I sure love to have a clean home to live in. One of my “secrets to happier motherhood” is taking care of your physical surroundings so you can enjoy a peaceful, efficient life with your family. Thank you for this great post!

  6. cynthia wren 03/15/2011 at 2:28 pm

    Every part of my house (and car) has a corresponding space in my brain. When my space is cluttered, I feel cluttered. I am not an awesome cleaner, but not even exercise can give me the instant boost that walking into a clean room can.

    And I am writing this as I sit in a messy kitchen….

  7. Bebe McGooch 03/15/2011 at 12:34 pm

    Tell me more about this 5-step trash removal system!

    I needed a swift kick in the pants today. Off to clean some bathrooms. Lord, have mercy.

  8. LinnOrganized 03/15/2011 at 12:24 pm

    I love this post so much! I’ve been following your blog for a while, but just had to share this post on my organization blog today. Thank you!

  9. Becky O. 03/15/2011 at 12:01 pm

    Love this post. My favorite lines:

    “the way someone takes care of their home is a reflection of how they really see themselves.”

    “I don’t love to clean, but I love having a clean house.”

  10. Kacy Faulconer 03/15/2011 at 11:14 am

    I don’t mind cleaning when my cleaner smells good. Or when I eat a ding dong when I’m done. I need a vacuum for my vacuum.

  11. Marianne Firth 03/15/2011 at 11:10 am

    I love this. I am finding more and more joy in having a clean kitchen on a regular basis. And it’s true, it gets so much easier to keep up now.

    Also- I bought a Shark/Dustbuster type hand vacuum and it has changed my life. Every room is sooo much cleaner! I use it instead of sweeping and dusting.

  12. Lindsey Johnson 03/15/2011 at 10:55 am

    I needed this too. I’m hiding (as I type this) in the office to get away from all that cleaning that I’ve been neglecting. It’ll feel so good to get ‘er done, right? Right.

  13. Carina Wytiaz 03/15/2011 at 10:18 am

    Lisa, this is just what I needed.