We are trying to find the secret to getting that elusive over-the-rainbow dream to appear: a sparkling, clean, de-cluttered, neat house! In Part 1 of the series, the introduction, what it takes to get a clean house was covered. This part will deal with expectations and cleanliness.
Expectations. We all have them. And, generally, other people have them of us. When it comes to house cleaning, expectations can be helpful, or debilitating or worse, isolating. We are meant to live in community. Sometimes that is one of the hardest things in the world to do. So sometimes, out of fear of failing to meet other people’s expectations, it is possible to close yourself off from community. You know how I see this playing out? “I can’t invite people over for coffee, you’ve never seen my house, I would be mortified if anyone knew we lived like this!” But chances are, everyone is experiencing that in some degree depending on life circumstances. Letting fear of disappointing others adversely affect your relationships, your community, means you are losing part of what it means to be human. What’s more important?? I can tell you my answer – honest relationships! It is only when we are honest with each other that we can truly have a relationship, and this is true of marriage, in-law relationships, and friendships. So here’s my plug – don’t let fear control or isolate you!
Remember, I am defining “cleanliness” as what level of dirt and mess one person is willing to live with. Mental illness lies on both ends of this spectrum – the OCD (or other mental illness) person who stays up all night vacuuming the same rug/carpet to get the lines in the carpet _just right_ is just as ill as the person who has let go of all desire or effort for personal care and is, in a word, utterly filthy. If you are close to either end of that spectrum, seek help. Really, I’m not joking. I can’t even remember the number of adults I’ve talked to who were still scarred by a childhood lived with an OCD “Monk” like parent who spent most of their lives trying to erase the evidence of life, just life, lived in a house. If you struggle with something like this, there are deeper roots than just dirt, and you need healing. Again, just to be fair, if you struggle with showering once a week, or doing the dishes before the flies are into their fourth generation of procreation on the leftover food, please, seek help.
The other way expectations get into the cleaning business is when two or more people are living together, in community, and yet do NOT share the same expectations of effort required and basic cleanliness level that is acceptable. Happily, most of us lie in the middle between the two extremes. And unhappily, most people marry someone who is not at the same level! And then, when they’ve finally come to a happy medium (let’s hope), they generally have children, and a whole new person with a whole different idea on cleanliness enters the mix! We have six kids, and I have noticed that innate cleanliness is an inborn characteristic. We can, and do, require those children of ours whose innate cleanliness is not high enough (in our eyes of course) to work more than they are naturally inclined to, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret (don’t be jealous): some of my kids are _inherently cleaners_. Please don’t hate me. Six kids – we need to get some breaks here! 😉 One of my kids did this, for fun:
When said child takes forever in my bathroom, I almost get hopeful….recently all the hair ties were organized by color and shape!
If there is a clash of expectations, whether within the family unit or put onto it from without, cleaning can take on a whole emotional dimension of its own. That’s why I’m covering what expectations should be in the next section.