Monday, November 16, 2009

Cutting Corners

My mother in law is an awesome housekeeper. She's also a wonderful hostess... she's not obsessive & nit picky - just real, homey and clean.
Over the years, she has graciously shared many tips with me to help me get from where i started out as a newly wed teenager... (shudder) to where i am now... coping nicely (most of the time) with a busy, full house.
One tip that she shared with me early on shocked me. She casually said, in conversation about cleaning, "I cut corners all the time."
i wanted details.
It was just little things - but i noticed that she never got so stuck in *perfectionism* that she lost sight of her goal: a tidy home.
i made it my goal to be the same way.
i'd spot check my floors or windows when i could get away with it...
Skipping what i could & doing whatever i noticed needed doing.
i'd get rid of clutter & look for ways to create *wide open spaces*.
i'd make sure everything had a place & that each nook & cranny wasn't crammed to capacity.
She showed me by example that when we came to visit, the house was clean when we got there... & she assured me, it would get clean again later when we left, but while we were there, she would enjoy those little finger prints & let the puzzles spread across the living room floor & the couches get turned into forts.
Her house was a home first.
When i sighed at her streak free windows & her crumb free cupboards, she would remind me that she didn't have little ones living at her house - & that my house was *very* tidy considering all the living that went on there. Always encouraging, suggesting, helping when she was around but mostly just enjoying what we had.
One time, i remember going through a big bag of pass me down baby clothes with her. She let me do the choosing, but gently encouraged me to only keep the best & really, how many outfits does a baby need anyway?
Neil inherited a lot of his mom's simple cleanliness. Over the years, his inability to live in a disaster zone has rubbed off on me - & i've learned that if i wanna visit with him, relax with him or have him just *be with me*, then i'd better have the house in a semblance of order when he walks through the door. He's not a perfectionist either - but he requires *order* to relax.
At first it hurt to constantly be culling... but now, i can chuck almost as good as he can. Like i said in a previous post, my motto has become, "getting rid of 'stuff' to make room for people".
i sure haven't 'arrived' as a perfect housekeeper. i know i have a lot of training to do with my little people to get them to be good little housekeepers. i have a lot of little drawers & cupboards that could use some attention... i've got areas that seem to win regardless of how often i tackle them & try to get them under control... i've got bits of dust & dirt where i'd love to see sparkling shine & fingerprints where i'd love to see streak-free perfection.
But it's coming...
Sometimes i imagine myself mother in law to my son's wives.
Will i have any gems to pass down to them?
Maybe they will far surpass me as wives, mothers and housekeepers.
Maybe they'll need a little encouragement & advice.
Hopefully i'll be ready.


Jen said...

My Mom is like that too - not a perfectionist, but a clean & cozy home that is welcoming!
I wanna be like that too.
My house would probably *be* cleaner if I didn't have white kitchen cupboards & floors! :)

Alicia said...

I have to say, there's always something SO encouraging about your posts. I know for sure you'll have tons of gems to pass to your daughters-in-law because I've already picked some up from you ;)

Anonymous said...

My Mum didn't have that "balance" at all (and still doesn't). Constantly cleaning like her life or her very salvation depended on it, even though there are only two of them there and it looks perfectly clean and fine to me. She is always doing something and so proudly tells me that she had just done her bathrooms or cleaned her fridge or whatever. She never taught us to clean because she could do it faster and better herself. Thus I end up struggling with the whole cleaning thing - I'd rather cuddle one of the kids ... and when you feel unwell all the time (like I do) it doesn't help motivate to get off your butt and clean!!! Anyway, it is good if you can teach your kids how to do things and not be picky with their efforts and that you are able to find that all important balance. It's sad when you feel like having a clean fridge was more important to your parent than sitting down and reading a story or going for a walk! And you can never recapture those moments....

Saskatchewan Cousin

mamalena said...

hehe...I was thinking last week... "I hope Neil can breath"...Oh...well...Sometimes we just do what we can...


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