Thursday, June 9, 2011

making sweet love to my vacuum, part II of II

You know what I hate? House work. You know what I love? Self care. I looooove doing things like running, pedicures, and girls-night-out under the auspices of "taking good care of myself". If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
Let's put the om in mom, can I get a what-what? Sourced from Fashioning Change.

So imagine the hole that got ripped in the fabric of my universe while reading Ms. Mindbody's blog interview with "Happiest Mom" author Meagan Francis:
What have your forays into the world of wellness taught you about yourself? 

One thing I learned is that the different components of my life are all interwoven. The state of my home, the state of my body, the state of my finances, the state of my work, the state of my mind…they all affect the way I feel overall. So, say, cleaning out a closet or balancing my checkbook can be forms of self-care. They help me feel good about the holistic picture that is me, and my life. -May, 2011

While my head spun around and my mouth produced a paper ticker saying "does not compute"-- admittedly, something deep inside resonated with understanding. I do feel better when I am on top of my housework. Unfortunately, this is only when I am getting company. Thus, I am frequently out of sorts and stressed out by the very environment that has the potential to restore balance and nourishes my family's soul.

I never thought of my Dyson as sexy....but maybe with a little Al Green and the right bottle of red?

Moment of truth...I have the time. I dvr Glee and blog, sooo....the answer isn't in better methodology of cleaning (although I HEART Method cleaning products), or time saving cleaning tips, but rather a re-frame that involves me seeing taking care of this space as another way to take care of myself.

I know the satisfaction and calm that follows routine upkeep (or I have heard about it anyway). So, if I can make the switch to seeing cleaning as something I am doing for me, for my sanity, for a more serene and lovely space...then maybe I will run the vacuum? Yes, I know that sentence ended with a question mark. It was a question.  We shall see, gentle readers.

In the interim--I want to hear from you. What is the activity that is good for your body, mind and soul that you continually resist doing? Why do humans so often not engage in the very behaviors that would improve our quality of life? 

And second moment of truth...neither Dyson nor Method paid me a red cent for my fine endorsements. But if they did, I would scrap this BS and use the money to hire a housekeeper.

Method products are awesome. They are all-natural and last FOREVER. (if you only use them twice a year).


  1. Seriously...with all this self-improvement, who has time to clean?

    I just read anonymous' comment on the original post, and I know she is right, but I hate that she is. I have done that in the past, and I found it EXHAUSTING. I mean, that's ALL I did. Now, I admit that I live with slobs. My husband and kiddo can do a lot of destruction in a little amount of time. Obstacle one is getting them to be more responsible for themselves (and caring how the house looks as much as I do).

    Truth is, I *am* more comfortable when my house is clean. I worry less, and my anxiety is less. The problem is, I do have challenges in keeping up with it. I kind of don't have the time. Right now I do, because it is summer, so no excuses, but during the school year, not so much. And even now, it is difficult. Between softball, swim lessons, play dates, meetings, presentations, Girl Scouts and REST, I struggle to balance it all (funny thing is, I am very mindful of what the kiddo is involved in so she isn't over involved--ha!). During the school year, I have 3 precious hours with my kiddo Monday-Friday--from 4:30-7:30 pm, and that's on a "good" night. When you take out making dinner, then I have 2 at best. Do I want to spend any of that time cleaning? Heck no!

    Balance is another problem...I'm very inflexible. I'm very all or nothing. Yes, Sister1 has explained this isn't a sign of mental health, but it's true! I can't just tidy up--when I clean, I want the house SPOTLESS. I want the pantry arranged just how I like it (drinks on one shelf, baking items on another, snacks on another, breakfast on another--you get the picture), I want the closets presentable (arranged from shortest to longest with all like items together), and EVERYTHING in its place just to name a few. Problem is, I get so bogged down with the details that I can't see the forest for the trees. As I look around the dining room, there is stuff on the floor that I have walked by COUNTLESS times wondering why someone just doesn't pick it up!

    I know that is ridiculous, I know it's better to pick up what's on the dining room floor and forget about the pantry, but I just don't. Well, I don't very often at least.

    Why do humans not do what they know they should???? Beats me. What do I not do that I know I should? Eat healthier, exercise, read more, spend more time on me, spend more time with kiddo, spend more time with hubby, spend less time criticizing. I guess humans don't always do what they know they should because they are, well, human. Not perfect, but human. If we always did what we should, we would be perfect.

    What a lame reason...let me think on that more. Maybe some inspiration will come while I'm cleaning. Tomorrow...or maybe the next day.

  2. I second every emotion! I HATE that anonymous is right too. But my parents are here right now (tucking in the girls) and I only had to clean for about an hour. And not a whole day. Hard to argue with that. And, I wasn't freaking out. Hard to argue with that.

    I guess I can't really second the perfectionism of your post, but I can totes see you doing that! All or nothing thinking when it comes to the housework and I fall in the "nothing" category. My pantry has stuff in it from before the girls were born.

    And I know what you mean. Humans are so darn human. But the truth is, I like feeling good. Really like it. In fact, I am rather a pleasure seeking individual. So why do the things that would make me feel better? When you figure it out, let me know. We can get a huge book deal. And you know what that means, we could hire out the housekeeping.

  3. I actually think the benefits of a housekeeper would be two-fold. First, the obvious, someone to clean the house. Second, the not-so-obvious, the fact that I would be so terribly embarrassed for anyone to see my house a complete mess that I would pick up before they came.

    UNLESS, I lived somewhere where no one knew me. So, the book deal has to be big enough for us to relocate. Then I would be anonymous AND the house couldn't get too messy right after we moved anyway, right?

    I had another thought on why we don't do exactly what we should do...there simply isn't enough time to do EVERYTHING we need to do. So we constantly have to prioritize, and we don't always do that correctly. Whether it's taking time for ourselves, taking time for our children, taking time for a date night with the spouse, taking time to pick up, taking time to read, taking time to sleep....see? All those are things we should do, but to get it all in, we'd have to set up an elaborate schedule that would take a lot of time.

  4. Let's relocate somewhere warm, maybe by the ocean. Who cares about the sand, someone else will be cleaning it up.

    I just read this article in Real Simple about the "science of procrastination" and how people procrastinate because it feels good to put things off, it gives some immediate pleasure to put things off. ( For some weird reason this totally helps me. It just makes it more concrete so I can dialogue with myself (like you!).

    self-ahhh, it is so delicious to not do housework. Besides, I can always do it later.

    higher self-but ultimately it will bring me/us more pleasure to walk into a warm, welcoming environment. Then we get to spend time later on something better and more meaningful. Like becoming a better person, taking time for our-self, our children, our spouse, reading, and sleeping.
    And then the heavens open up, angels sing, and I transcend my (filthy) earthly environment and find Nirvana. Just kidding of course. Kurt Cobain is dead, I saw it on Channel 1 in high school.

    Seriously though, there IS only so much time in the day. And if we need to manage our time better or our manage our priorities better, then that is just one more thing to do. Ga, it never ends.

  5. Hmmm I am going to have to process that a bit. The idea that procrastination feels good feels bad to me. Maybe it's because my dialogue is more like this:

    self: The kitchen has dishes from last night in the sink...but I need to respond to my friend's awesome blog so I'm not going to do them. Ahh, man but if I don't do them now, then when WILL I do them? Ok, we'll do them right after the comment. *insert comment here* Ok, now I'm ready, but I better check the news first. The whole time I am perusing the news, self is muttering in the background about the dishes. Then, when my friend calls (after the news, but before the dishes), self keeps muttering. I How do you shut self up????

    What I mean is, I never really feel at peace or relieved that I have put something off...I think I know what your article is saying I'm just trying to wrap my mind around it.

    Honestly, I have waves of guilt over the house, and then not so much. I'm in a not so much place right now. Perhaps I'm just feeling a little more forgiving this afternoon because I did actually pick up this morning, and my house is open-doorable (you know, the state that if someone unexpectedly knocks on the door sheer panic does NOT set in). As I read the last paragraph in your comment, I thought about my childhood. Our home was spotless, but that's all that got accomplished. We gave up a lot of family fun time to have a spotless house. I'm not into that. The dishes can wait, I'm playing Go Fish.

    I have chosen not to try to rearrange my schedule and make more time for cleaning. I'm going to start forgiving myself for not having a pristine house all the time, and let it go. Yeah, yeah, yeah, healthy balance. I am going to consider a healthy balance that place where a little mess stops and cholera begins.

    Let's see how long this lasts ;)

  6. 1. If commenting takes priority over dishes, who I am to argue with that?

    2. There were definitely bits of that article I couldn't get my head around either. However, the bit about short term pleasure did ring a bit true for me. I am loathe to admit it but sometimes my more adult, mature brain loses out in a instant vs. delayed gratification contest.

    3. In the first piece ASM also commented about "being fine with that" just as you did and I have to say, that is what I am truly after. Not a spotless house or OCD, just a better more peaceful feeling. And if you have it, then you don't need any articles. And I am jealous. I have a friend who refuses to work out. She has a full time job, a baby, and LOVES to work outdoors gardening. She feels happy and satisfied and her yard looks great. I think it's all about finding your balance. My balance, I am discovering, means keeping my house open-doorable (new word coined--I LOVE it) but maybe not no-time-for-go-fishable. Or between mess and cholera!

    Thanks for the perspective.

  7. This cracks me up - I love it! The whole thing, including (perhaps especially?) the bit about Al Green, red wine and your Dyson.
    I've recently grown into housekeeping and there is nothing that soothes my soul like a nice solitary hour deep-cleaning my kitchen. I think the thing I really ignore the most is my body. Perhaps that sounds strange, but as much as I like to talk about my love of pedicures, manicures and the sort, I rarely ever actually get one. I'm lucky if I take a bath every other night. Honestly, the cleaning of everyone and everything around me sort of takes over and I forget until its much too late that I need to be cleaned and pampered as well.

  8. Isn't funny, even the most together person (that would be you!) has some thing or another where they could improve. Balance is such an elusive beast. At any rate, you always look clean to me!

    Maybe we could work out a service like eharmony that matches you with a friend that is good at something you need help with and vice versa. I could schedule our pedis for us and you could come over and give me deep cleaning lessons!

  9. So,I have this weird little hobby. I call it puttering. Whenever I am tense, (which, uh, happens to be often) upset, or whatever, I putter around the house putting things away, cleaning sinks, and just generally tidying things up. As I clear away the clutter in my house, I am at the same time, clearing away the clutter in my mind. Not completely, mind you. Just enough that I feel more in control. Control issues. Yep, that is me. I frequently feel overwhelmed, both with big issues and small ones. Puttering helps me to step away from the problem, put it in perspective and feel better. An added bonus is that my house looks better, also. Yes, I do a once a week deeper clean, and a daily run through of the basics, but the puttering is different.
    As far as other self-care? I am THE WORST. I love to walk. I can't seem to make the time. Busy? Sure, but I am not working, my kids are older and that is just not the reason. I find forty-eleven other things that need to be done for everyone else...including the dogs. And suddenly the day is gone. The answer is easy, I know. Easier said then done. So sign me up for your eharmony service! I need help!

  10. Mine has nothing to do with cleaning, but the thing that I force myself to do is run! I LOVE running, and yet sometimes I hate it. It is a Catch 22. I love the way I feel when I run and when I'm finished running, but sometimes I need a swift kick in the ars to get going. I love all cardio and don't have to force myself to do anything else. I will happily hop on the elliptical, bike, etc...but when I run it is pure discipline FOLLOWED by happiness later.

  11. P.S. I frequently make sweet love to my Dyson. I didn't know what love was until I met him.

  12. I love...
    -that Kay gave her cleaning an endearing nick name.
    -that EVERYONE who responded (even those with enviable homes that I perceive as very together) has some some area where they need a kick in the ars.

    In the course of the last 2 postings I have actually become much more intrigued with the process of change than I am with cleaning. Big surprise, cleaning is not intriguing to me, but adopting better habits sure is. So stay tuned and thank you for all of your insights!


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