Hmm, I feel like this has been a Mindful Monday topic here before. Maybe even three or four times before. But that’s OK. As I’ve written repeatedly, I believe that getting your house clean and organized is a process – and a practice – not a project.
What’s the difference? Well, projects have specific end points. When you reach your goal, the job is done.
But there is no point at which I will be able to throw my hands in the air and say “I did it! My entire life is COMPLETELY CLEAN AND ORGANIZED!” and then just move on to some new thing, like, I dunno, knitting a sweater.
Knitting a sweater, after all, is a project. Once it’s knitted, it generally stays that way. But no matter how clean my house gets or how neat and tidy my desk is, all it takes is one afternoon – or in this case, one Spring Break – to put it all out of order again.
And that can be frustrating and even demoralizing – especially if we’re looking at cleaning as a project, something we have to “complete” before we can move on to anything else (whether it’s spending time with our families or going out to the movies with a friend.)
Last week I took part in a chat over at The Motherhood called: “Is All That Lies Between Me And Happiness A Clean Kitchen?” in which we discussed why women have such a hard time relaxing and enjoying our free time at home. (You can still see the chat by following the above link.) One panelist commented that it’s hard to relax because it feels like there’s always something we “could” be doing – the dishes, dusting, laundry, etc. But that mindset is a trap, because it’s truly impossible to ever “finish” cleaning, and trying to is akin to a hamster running on a wheel hoping to “get there.” (hint, Mr. Hamster: there is no “there”.)
Instead of focusing on tasks to be done or “finishing”, I try to go by the way I feel when I’m in my home. Do I feel functional and peaceful? Are there messes that are getting in the way of my being able to use my kitchen or work space well? Are toys, books, pencils and craft supplies, etc. accessible?
If the answer is yes, hooray! Time for me to put my feet up and watch House Hunters. If not, no biggie – that’s life. Pick a spot and chip away until it looks and feels better, with the understanding that I’ll be doing it again and again and again.
This week I’m focusing on the practice of putting things back in order, with the realization that this won’t be the last, or the second to last, or even the hundredth-t0-last time it will need to be done.
Like rolling out of bed in the morning or brushing my teeth before bed at night, cleaning up is just a part of life. And this week I’m putting it front and center.
Projects on my list:
- Clean up my work space
- Cobweb patrol
- Goodwill sweep – aim to fill at least two boxes
- Attack (or should I say re-re-re-attack?) my pantry with a vengeance.
What about you? Could your life use a little attention to the practice of keeping things clean enough – even though they will definitely get messy again?