The thing about housekeeping…

I have a dilemma when it comes to house keeping: on the one hand, I really like things to be clean, and on the other, I hate cleaning.

I’m having some friends over tonight for a fiery feminist party (more about that later), and thus I’ve spent most of the day “getting the house ready”. This brings me to so many questions.

  • Why do I feel the need to clean when people come over? Am I afraid of them seeing my mess?
  • If my house is always a mess, could that mean that I have too much stuff? Should I live more simply?
  • Am I being a good steward of my house if I keep it clean? Why do I wait until I have people coming over to clean?

The list could go on and on…

The fact is, my life is rarely “put together” and “clean”. I’m an artist. I create things (many of them look a lot like messes). I’m a broken human being. I get tired and don’t want to clean things up. Sometimes my bed and a TV show look a whole lot better than sweeping the floor or cleaning up the kitchen. Around mid afternoon all I want to do is take a nap or read a book, not muster up the energy to make things “pretty” and “perfect”.

I want to live simply and take care of what I have. And I do feel more creative when I have a clean place to work in. But I also want to be authentic to where I’m at – which sometimes can be messy.

What do you think? Anyone else wrestle with these questions?


  1. I wrestle with this all the time. There is a true aspect of hospitality that spurs us all to cleaning before company arrives. This helps me to keep it in perspective to know that it is my gift to my guests by making them as comfortable as possible in my home.

    Dealing with the issue of stuff/simplicity/stewardship, I find that I have a certain tolerance for some clutter, even a measure of comfort, yet there is a mysterious tipping point that I am faced with where the simple clutter has become a mess and needs attention because it causes me both physical and visual unrest. I have learned to respond to this as it comes up and not to ignore it when it begins to drag me down. I have found that it actually takes me less energy to simply give “it” attention than it does to ignore it. Weird, I know, but that has been true for me.

  2. I find the dislike of cleaning is less stressful than the dislike of people seeing my mess, but that might be an acknowledgment of my need for acceptance. I’ve found keeping my amount of stuff down really helps, but my closets and corners still flow over. So I make a compromise: clothes have to fit where they belong, but music equipment is allowed to sprawl.

  3. This friend speaks my mind! On one hand, I agree with your mom: the clean house seems like a gift to my guests…because it creates a warm, inviting environment where my guests can become part of my family for the time they are with us. On the other hand, I find myself asking similar questions you do: if it’s a gift, why does it bring me stress and not joy? Why is it a source of anxiety and not a source of peace? Am I not simple enough? And finally, am I just overthinking this? Maybe it’s just that I don’t like cleaning, even if I like the results…and I just have to learn to accept the tension of that paradox! Because sometimes, I choose to be messy. And sometimes, I choose to clean my messes up. And sometimes, I choose to clean other peoples’ messes. I suspect that’s how the rest of my life will be.

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