Many times when I see a picture or graphic on social media that resonates with me regarding housework or parenting, anything really, I will often share it with a single word post: This.
Whenever I get together with a friend or two and we talk about our children, husbands, lives, houses, we inevitably share with shock, "Me too!"
It seems that common ground in our lives is a lot more common than we think it is. Yet, there are parts of our lives that we hide from even our dearest friends. These secrets lurk in corners of our homes; when people come over, we madly scoop up all the clutter and throw it in a laundry basket, shoving it in a bedroom or closet or, yes -- throw a blanket on top of it in the corner -- and presto! clean house.
What is it about keeping secrets between friends when we all deal with this stuff? Recently my house was remodeled by church friends when my husband was suddenly paralyzed: new hardwoods, new kitchen, doors moved and widened, new master bath. Everything in the house had to be put in a storage unit on the driveway. The day before this occurred, one of my dearest friends came over and helped me with preliminary boxing of personal stuff, cleaning, etc.
Oh I was embarrassed. The clutter, the mess, the stuff of our lives, out there uncovered and unshoved. But she shared that she too had the problem of too little house and too much stuff. She dealt with the problem of clutter and teens who should help more around the house but don't.
I found that I was not so lonely after all.
After this, I paid attention to what my friends said more. It seemed we all dealt with the same issues: clutter, an inability to find jeans for our little girls that wouldn't expose their baby butt cracks, back talk, serving cereal for dinner... the secrets between friends became a source of common ground and brought us closer together.
Since then, a small group of us have decided to help each other out. They came to my house a couple weeks ago and helped me go through boxes in preparation for a childrens' consignment sale. We talked about how we have undone projects around the house: painting, decluttering, unpacking long-packed boxes from moves two moves back, dusting, yard work. So one day, I went over to a friend's house and helped out, hanging pictures, getting boys to move boxes to the car to go to storage (why will kids listen to someone other than their mother?), and dusting.
This hiding behind clutter has a source: pride. Now why would we have pride about dust bunnies? We don't want to admit that we're not perfect.
Friends, none of us are perfect. We all have issues; some of us hide them better than others. Some of us, on the other hand, parade our issues around and that's making them into idols. Afraid to face each other with the reality of ourselves, we make everyone think we've got it all together.
Here's the thing: we don't have it all together. We all have Pinterest fails. We all have clutter. We all have a junk drawer.
What are your secrets? For myself, I hate doing laundry. I don't mind the washing and drying but the folding and putting away, for whatever reason, I just find impossible. I cannot stand my feet. To me, they are beyond ugly; bony things, size 11, the soles covered in thick calluses due to running around barefoot in the woods as a child. I cannot stand to have them touched by anyone, including myself. I have to wear latex gloves to apply lotion to them and even that gives me the willies. I struggle with being content with my home.
Beloved, listen: there's not a single one of us that has woodland creatures come and sing to us while they clean our houses. We either have to do it or farm it out. We have much more in common than what we think we do. So how do we work together to declutter and spring clean our houses?
Organize a Declutter/Spring Cleaning Party
Starting with one member of your circle of friends, organize a time in which all can meet there for one day to declutter and deep-clean. Then, set a date for the next person for the same activity. Pre-order pizza to be delivered for lunch and have drinks available (water, soft drinks, etc).
Obtain Supplies Prior to the Day
Before the day at your house, purchase and gather supplies and have them on the countertop or table, in one location for all to access easily. Make sure there are a lot of wall scrubbers to remove pencil and crayon marks, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner spray, paper towels, buckets, mops or a Swiffer sweeper mop handy.
Ask friends if anyone has any allergies or sensitivities to any of the cleaning supplies before you purchase them. My mom is fond of using bleach to clean everything, but the smell is overpowering.
You will also need cardboard boxes and plastic tubbies. Label boxes "donate," "give away," "repair," and "trash." Also have one for recycling. The tubbies are for storage.
Make a Plan and Assign Roles
Depending on how many are coming, you will want to make a plan of exactly what you want to get done in your home that day. What are your hot spots? Kitchen? Living? Playroom? If the playroom is an area, have three new tubbies for toy rotation. With a marker, label them with a number for rotations -- but make sure that the tubbies are not see-through, especially if your kids can see your storage area, like a closet or garage, or an attic that is accessible to them.
When people arrive, have the list of tasks out and have them write their name beside the item they want. Some ideas are:
-- Clean out refrigerator
-- Clean off/deep clean countertops/cabinets
-- Steam clean carpets/rugs
-- Rearrange furniture
-- Dust and rearrange shelves
-- Organize toys
-- Plant an annual bed
-- Weeding in garden
-- Washing down walls
-- Washing windows
Know that not all of your list may get done in one day, and it's up to you and your friends to have a second or third day at each house. Your friends can give you a fresh eye on your decor and furniture arrangement that you may not have thought about before. Make sure that the spring cleaning is done at all the friends' houses.
When it comes to keeping a house clean or clutter, we shouldn't keep secrets between friends. We're all there. Why are we shocked to hear that a friend still has her prom dress from 1987? We have things lurking in our closets and attics that are equally...vintage....and need to be purged. None of us are perfect and we should not pretend to be.
You are loved!
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(c) 2016 Terrie McKee
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