Let’s talk about cleaning.
Ever since I first started opening our door to family, friends, and yes, even strangers, this has been the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. I’ve always dreamed of a perfectly clean and organized home where everything has its assigned place. I’m still in awe of my friends that seem to have been born with the orderly gene where everything falls into place effortlessly. My mom has it and somehow our eldest daughter received it, but it may have skipped me a bit.
As a young mom, I mistook the notion that our house needed to be deep cleaned and spotless before anyone came over, because heaven forbid, I wouldn’t want it looking like five children lived here, right? (Even though they did.) Wrong!
A warm and welcoming home where others feel comfortable means different things to each unique woman. Through the years, I have embraced the “good enough” mentality. Our home needs to be clean enough that your family and guests know you care about them, but not too perfect that they’re uncomfortable. Have you ever walked through a museum with a young child — continually nervous that they might get something dirty or break something?
Why would I purposefully create that environment for my guests?
Let’s be honest. When you are at someone’s house, do you wander into every room? Do you go upstairs and peek around? (If you do, that’s another discussion.) Unless you’re specifically invited for a housewarming party, that doesn’t occur.
Once I realized that my guests only see a very small portion of our home (the front door area, kitchen, family room, and half bathroom), the pressure was off. I didn’t worry about the other rooms (which had the lights off and doors closed). I stopped meticulously scrubbing floors before people arrived (and did a cursory spot check to make sure oatmeal wasn’t stuck to the floor) because undoubtedly within minutes, floors were dirty again. Now I only focus on a few main areas, and even then, I’ve been known to have random boxes stacked in a corner.
Take a deep breath. It really is ok if that happens.
Recently, I chatted with (in)courage Community Manager Becky Keife about this concept (and more!) Take a listen:
Remember, our homes — no matter how imperfect — are the most likely location for changing the world around us.
This was an excerpt from Jen Schmidt’s book — Open-Door Living: Easy Ways to Share the Gift of Hospitality. This beautiful book is full of easy, practical how-to tips for living an open-door life. From food and recipes to cleaning and creating conversation, it’s all in here!
For an even deeper look into this brand-new gift book, sign up for this five-day email series from Jen and (in)courage! We will send you five days of content just like this. Whether you’re a seasoned host looking for renewed inspiration or a nervous newbie not sure where to begin, this email series will give you fabulous, practical ideas anyone can implement! And the best part? We can do it together. Sign up below for the series, then leave a comment that you’re ready to “open your door” to your friends and family. We’ll be here with you!Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It used to be a joke in our home that whenever I got out the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming furiously, the kids would invariably ask, “Who’s coming over?” They knew, instinctively, that I wasn’t cleaning in high gear just for their benefit. I’ve relaxed tremendously about how my house looks in having people over. I also don’t have the energy I once did to fix elaborate dinners, so inviting people over for pizza, or for cake and conversation is more the norm. I find that the simpler the better for me and everyone else. As the hostess, I want to spend more time with my guests than standing and cooking in the kitchen. Why this didn’t dawn on me years ago, I’m not sure, but simplicity and focusing on “There YOU are,” vs. “Here I am,” is the rule of thumb I go by. I’ve signed up…
Definitely adding this beautiful book to my want to read list.
Monique Smith says
Jen, I did not grow up in a home that had a “Our Door is Always Open” sign on the front door. Instead my siblings and I lived in a house that had a cross×bone on the door alerting anyone who dared to approach it that ‘You are not at all welcome here.’
So of course from the first time I held the keys to my first home there as always been an ‘Open Door’ sign, placed squarely on my doors in big bold letters.
Doing so has brought many people into my life some I still have relationships with 45 years later.
My biggest challenge has been keeping the Open Door sign visible while being married to my beloved who is an expert introvert. This opened up a whole new set of questions, ideas and stories.
My Mom wasn’t a clean freak, but she practiced the “clean enough” theory too. No neat freak genes for me to inherit. BUT, I am single, I don’t have kids…although I do have a cat who sheds constantly. So those excuses don’t work! My house is small and the bathroom is down the hall past the bedrooms. I am trying…to relax a little about messiness and hospitality, and also to keep things a little neater so i don’t need two weeks to prepare for company! I think the trick is to have friends over often enough that it doesn’t get beyond me between visits, lol.
Beth Williams says
My parents were neat freaks. We moved furniture & vacuumed the carpeting each & every week. Also we had to dust everything. It wasn’t that we had people over. They just wanted the house perfectly clean. We even wiped the shower down. I try to follow their example some. I don’t have carpet any where in the house except the stairs. When others invite me over to their house I go to be with them. I want to share time & life with them. I don’t judge how tidy the house is. I say hey it’s your place & your life. Do what you want. My motto is “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here”. I’m just me. I don’t want to impress people with a “gorgeous, clean” home & make them jealous. I want time with you.