When company’s coming, what’s on your agenda? If you’re like most people, making sure that the house is spotless tops your list. That used to be the case for me too, but I’ve changed my tune lately.
Pretend with me for a minute that you just happen to have a messy house. (I know. I know. If you’re like me, it’s a hard stretch to imagine THAT! Ha!) Now imagine that you go to a friend’s house for a play date or dinner and find it SPOTLESS. No socks peeking out from under the couch. No dust bunnies hopping around the kitchen. No missed toothpaste spatters on the bathroom mirror. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Your first impression might be to just bask in the clean. You might enjoy the peace of orderliness. You might want to move in! 😉
Now imagine inviting that friend to your house.
How can you match the clean you experienced at your friend’s house? Can you possibly live up to your friend’s standards? Will your friend think you’re a slob? And the most important question…. Can you have your friend over without being stressed the whole time over the condition of your house?
So let’s turn the tables a little.
If you’re like me, you try to keep your house reasonably clean throughout the week. Around here we attempt to clear the kitchen counters, put away living room clutter, keep up with the laundry, and wipe down the bathroom on a regular basis. But we do save some of our heavier cleaning for those times when company is coming. (Fortunately we’ve been practicing hospitality lately. I’m amazed at how much cleaner our house stays when we regularly have people over!)
That means that if you stop by on a random Wednesday afternoon, you may find a layer of dust on the piano, a shoe pile in the living room, and some dishes in the sink. And that’s okay. That lets you know that we’re just regular people, living in our house rather than making it into a spotless museum.
I used to freak out if the doorbell rang on a random Wednesday afternoon. But not any more. Now I’m fine with letting people into our lived-in house. What made the difference? My mindset.
I don’t want to be the friend with the spotless house.
I want to be a regular person with a regular house. I want my friends and family to feel welcome and comfortable in our home. I don’t want them to think that our house is always spotless and that they have some crazy standard of clean to live up to when we’re around.
Does that mean that I’ve quit cleaning? No. (Though I do boycott it some days!) Does it mean that I don’t bother dusting or sweeping when company’s coming. No, I still do those things. But it does mean that if time is short and the to-do list is long, I might avoid rushing around like crazy, trying to clean everything in sight. I might skip getting the cobwebs down from the entryway light or leave dirty dishes in the sink before company comes.
But I’m okay with that… Because that’s how real people live. And if nothing else, we want to be REAL.
The Dirty House Visit
I have two friends who have perfected the concept of not worrying about a messy house. They tell the story of one stopping at the other’s house unexpectedly and finding the friend a little frazzled by the condition of her house. The visiting friend assured the other that her own house was messy too.
Then, in a stroke of pure brilliance, she promised the frazzled friend a messy house visit. Yes, she intentionally invited her friend to her home when it was messy…. just to remind her friend that everyone has a messy house sometimes. The best part? She followed through and enjoyed a visit with her friend in her own messy house!
Instead of focusing on achieving perfection in our homes when company’s coming, why not focus on things being good enough? Then we can enjoy our company and put our effort into encouraging and connecting with them. I’ll take that over a perfectly clean house any day!