a series about starting from scratch
Welcome back to our making it home series, where I share with you my triumphs and trevails as I make my way through Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts in an effort to make this house a home.*
I scoured the 10-minutes-to-clean articles online and in magazines. I tried to put them into practice, but I was never satisfied and never felt free of the next 10-minute fix. Ms. Mendelson proposes that these fixes do little to actually fix. They are more like bandaids than methods of living well.
Living well. Remember, this is a foundation of our making it home series.
I believe this dissatisfaction stemmed from a compartmentalized mindset: here's my to-do for the kitchen; here's my quick fix for the bathrooms; etc. They were disjointed, disconnected from each other and while I wanted the whole house to be beautiful and inviting, it wasn't happening.
Homes today seem to operate on an ad hoc basis. Washday is any time anyone throws a load into the machine. Dishes are washed when the dishwasher is full. Meals occur any time or all the time or, what amounts to the same thing, never, as people serve more and more prepared and semi-prepared foods. Cleaning and neatening are done mostly when the house feels out of control. It is not in goods that the contemporary household is poor, but in comfort and care (HC 7-8).This was me to a T. I believed that the right thing to do environmentally was to pack the dishwasher full and only then start the cycle. Not a bad idea, but terrible when the goal is effective homemaking.
Ms Mendelson proposes a system of housecleaning, a schedule. This includes daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly suggestions---all exhaustive with the admonishment to be realistic about the needs of your own home. As someone who tends toward disorganization, organization is actually a fresh of breath air! Let me explain:
I read once of a study in which children were placed on a borderless playground set at the center of a large, cleared field. During the first week of study, the children rarely played more than a few steps away from the playground sets. The next week, they established a ground border around the playsets and a fence around the larger perimeter. When the children were reintroduced to the playground they utilized the entire area, even slipping over the fence and running through the fields a bit.
What did this imply for the scientists? Simple: when we have boundaries, we are free to live within every inch of those bounds, but when we have no guidance, we tend toward reservation, the mundane, the familiar.
In a similar way I have found Ms Mendelson's insistence that one create and abide by a schedule of housekeeping quite freeing! I don't do laundry on any day but Laundry Day (more on this later). I plan my weekly meals, and thus the strictly budgeted shopping list, on Sunday & Monday nights before my Tuesday marketing day. My kitchen floor is most often clean enough to eat on (literally, I have an 11-month-old son) because I now have the time and foresight to sweep and even wash it a handful of times daily.
Living by a housekeeping schedule has created freedom for me in our home. What I thought would be cumbersome has left me with time to blog, time with my son, time with my husband, time to make meals, time to read, time to make the home our home. I am less bitter about cleaning and in fact, I find joy in it!
In upcoming making it home posts, I'll dig into the practical side of scheduling, what I've tried, what I've adjusted (as she encourages), what's working and what isn't.
Thanks for joining me on this venture thus far! I love having friends alongside.
Happy Wednesday, everyone.
*This series intends to highlight my own experiences, but in no way can these substitute for reading Ms. Mendelson's manuscript yourself. I strongly recommend that you purchase or library check out the book rather than rely solely on my remarks. Thank you!