My #1 Way to Actually Enjoy Cleaning the House

You walk into your living room and suddenly it hits you: Wait, this place is a mess! Was my house this dirty yesterday? What happened? Who lives here, a gaggle of vermin? Didn’t I just clean… um… a couple days ago?

Naturally, the next thought is: the last thing in the world I want to do right now is scrub these floors (or whatever particular filth you face) AGAIN. UGH. 

For several years now, I’ve been inserting a thought into this exact moment that turns the begrudging reluctance on its head. And I’m telling you, every time I put it into practice, the house work is no longer the last thing I want to do. In fact, it becomes a joy!

So here it is, the very best way to make house cleaning enjoyable:

Invite someone over for dinner. 

Yes, it’s that simple! On first glance, perhaps counter-intiuative: This place is a mess… so let’s invite people into it! But in my head, it works every time. Here’s how.

My husband and I confer over our running list {the we-should-have-them-over-sometime list}, and extend an invitation or two. Suddenly, the indefinite sometime becomes this Saturday night.

And suddenly, I have fresh motivation to do all that ordinary, repetitive work. I use the company’s arrival as a positive deadline. (I’m not so good at getting stuff done with no deadline.) I should clarify three things at this point:

1. My house isn’t perfect; that’s not my goal.

2. I’ve found no one minds the mess. They just love receiving an invitation.

3. The motivation is not fear-based, worrying what people will think of me if they walk into a dirty home. Fear should never choke out the chance for community. Please don’t ever let fear win that one!

It’s joy that propels me – the joy of welcoming people into a beautiful, well-stewarded space. I savor this opportunity to honor people. To give them the gift of comfort, joy, contentment, connection, laughter, and regular everyday life lived together.

As I work, I do so aiming not for perfection, but comfort. I work slowly and in silence, tuning my heart to the dear ones with whom we’ll break bread. The cathartic nature of working with my hands kicks in, and I siphon all those running thoughts toward the coming time around the table.

Cleaning the toilets, I first mumble, how is it possible to pee all the way through the seat to the back wall? But then I remember what my friends have been going through, and the toilets are nothing, and scrubbing turns into prayer.

Picking up yet another smattering of dirty socks and Nerf gun bullets and used bandaids (REALLY?), I remember the times we’ve laughed together, and gratitude swells to overflowing.

Transferring all the piles of random stuff into my bedroom corner,  I wonder about his dad’s health, and her sister’s woundedness, and consider what they need and how we can love on them.

Sweeping rice from under the table, I lean into God’s heart, asking if there’s anything He wants their hearts to know, and listen quietly for his promptings. {Pro-tip: leave the spilled rice on the floor overnight and it’ll sweep up without sticking.}

In short, cleaning for someone else is much more enjoyable than cleaning for yourself. Don’t you find this to be true? We might as well leverage this.

If you really want to go for it, invite someone you deeply respect, to thank them for the ways they’ve impacted you. It’ll elevate the cleaning to the next level!

Hospitality chores are also an opportunity to instill core family values in the kids. We are all hosts, and part of being a good host is honoring guests with a nice place to gather. Having a home comes with the responsibility of stewarding it well.  Everyone contributes, each one responsible as their ability allows. We give away what we have to others. Normal life is having more than five people around the table. I love watching our kids anticipate the visit; the way their smiles break out as they race to the call of the doorbell. One evening with 11 around the table, our friend Cory asked if we have people over a lot. Without hesitating Molly said proudly, “Yep! We’re really good at it!” How my heart leapt!

In the end, my kids are vested, my heart is happy, my belly is full, my house is clean, our guests know they are valued and welcome, our time is rich with intention and encouragement, friendships are deepened. Love looks like something. We are living out our values of community, honoring, and making room. (Also a core value: eating good food.) Occasionally, a long-neglected nook gets deep-cleaned, organized or decorated. When this practice becomes a bi-monthly rhythm, the house rarely gets completely out of control. It’s a win-win-win-win.

Give it a try this week? When you walk into your kitchen and cannot deal with that pile of two-day-old dishes… make your next thought:

Who can I invite over for dinner? 

 

For more ways to make house cleaning less terrible, read 5 Ways to Not Feel Like a Slave in Your Own Home.

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2 thoughts on “My #1 Way to Actually Enjoy Cleaning the House

  1. How exquisitely you describe this phenomen and just as I happily cleaned my house in preparation for our visit. I never made the connection before…. And how I loved that Alexander joyfully helped prepare as well unknowing how I’m imparting the important value of welcoming and honoring others into our home. Thank you forthis piece. It made me more conscious.

    Like

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