Saturday, April 09, 2011

Whoa, Martha, back up!

A few years ago I was given Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook. Although the book has useful information, I wouldn't have bought it for myself. I didn't want Martha's expectations swirling around in my head. Ignorance is bliss.

My bliss lasted until page 24 of the 744 page book.

First the good news. I actually do pretty well at Martha's Six Things To Do Every Day: (1) make the bed, (2) manage clutter, (3) sort the mail, (4) clean as you cook, (5) wipe up spills while they're fresh, and (6) sweep the kitchen floor. If only she stopped there I could, on occasion, pat myself on the back. I really wished she had stopped there.

Now the bad news. Next comes her Weekly Homekeeping list. [To be fair, the lists are meant to be a general guideline and the reader is encouraged to tailor them, but I think it's more fun to mock them.] The weekly list is where my grade starts to plummet. Actually, I failed before I even made it out of the kitchen. Here it is; Martha's Weekly Homekeeping list for the kitchen:

~Wipe surfaces, including sink, countertops, the outside of the ventilation hood, refrigerator and cupboard doors, top of refrigerator, appliance exteriors, shelves, and furniture

~Wipe the inside of the oven, microwave, and toaster oven

~Flush drain with boiling water

~Discard foods and beverages past their prime

~Dust light fixtures

~Wipe the inside and outside of trash and recycling bins

~Vacuum and mop floor

Whoa, Martha, back up. Wipe down the cupboard doors! Honestly, even if I had a staff of people working for me, I still wouldn't think it necessary to do that each week. Not to mention the top of the refrigerator and inside/outside of the trash bin. And the light fixtures? Weekly. Really?

I'm glad that Martha will not be visiting me.

Today, I decided that it was time to dust the master bedroom. Why? Because it is my weekly routine, like Martha recommends. Nope. Because the dust was thick. I could have easily written "wash me" in the layer of dust on top of the chest of drawers [and then made a plaster cast of the words].

I think that it is more gratifying to wait until something is a little dirty [or, in the case of dusting, a lot dirty]. Then, after you clean it, you feel like you've really accomplished something. Plus, in my opinion, if your house is immaculate people begin to feel uncomfortable. Even the people who live in the house. And, if you get the reputation of being an OCD type of cleaner, people become less comfortable inviting you to their home. I know a few people who cause me panic at the thought of them dropping by.

There seems to be a fine line between keeping a house comfortably clean and becoming a slave to your home. Another Martha quote:

Manage clutter: Whenever you leave a room, take a quick look around for anything that isn't where is should be. Pick it up and put it where it belongs. Insist that everyone in the household do the same.

This is, for the most part, a habit for me; however, I get tired of looking around to see what needs to be done. Sometimes it feels like each room of the house is wrangling for my attention and I just want it to be quiet. I certainly do no want my kids to feel that way. I want them to enjoy this house. I'm okay with finding Lego's in every room. I'm okay with the couch cushions becoming forts/motorcycles/islands. I do teach them to pick up after themselves. At least once a day I have them put things back where they belong. But I don't want to "insist" that they are always on the lookout for anything that is out-of-place. How sad.

That said, I must confess that I have a hard time allowing anyone else to see my house messy. Funny, huh? It contradicts what I believe; that a house should look like people live in it. That it is more welcoming that way. Unfortunately, those Martha-like expectations pop into my brain and persuade me that less-than-perfect isn't good enough. I'm working on finding the balance; enjoying more company and caring less about the condition of my house.

But for now, I'm off to wash the cupboard doors...

No comments:

Blog Archive