I enjoy cleaning my own home. My definition of cleaning includes tidying, organizing, and general puttering.
Our homes are a microcosm of life. Spending time caring for our homes happens when everything else distracts and delays us. The only way through that is to tackle the task anyway. By making time to sort out my house, the other pieces of my life get sorted out as well.
That doesn’t mean I always loved cleaning, but since I have discovered the joy and peace of keeping my house tidy, I have felt more relaxed and peaceful. My home has become my sanctuary.
I learned to love cleaning my home by focusing on the aspects of cleaning that I do enjoy, and letting the less-fun parts become less important.
Seven things I love about cleaning my house:
1. Cleaning grounds and centers me.
Cleaning is meditation. When my routine is hectic and scattered in a million directions, cleaning brings me back to focusing on my life and caring for the essentials.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in The Miracle of Mindfulness “The idea of doing dishes is unpleasant … only when you aren’t doing them.” When we slow down and focus mindfully on the task in front of us, we realize the act transforms our home, and the repetitive practice works its calming magic.
2. It alerts me to what my home needs.
Besides the obvious needs like eradicating germs to stay physically healthy, my weekly cleaning schedule keeps repairs and updates to the house from becoming major and costly.
3. It releases my creativity.
Busy hands open creative space. As I move through my familiar house, I never fail to gain creative insight for new projects. Sometimes, out of nowhere, I realize solutions to problems that otherwise stumped me. Other times, I receive sudden, surprising inspiration, which is the true gift of creativity.
Perhaps it’s the principle of feng shui in operation. While I make my bed and vacuum my rug new ideas unfold in my mind.
4. It gives me an excuse to indulge in the softer side of life.
Sometimes, we need a reason to check out for a few hours. A chance to step away from life’s overwhelming responsibilities and tune back into the side of life that might include other living beings. Attention is love. There is no need for a spotless floor, but walking into a room with clean surfaces and fresh scent says you care.
5. It allows me to touch the life I’ve created.
We live so much of life on screens in a virtual world. Cleaning and straightening up is a tactile process. There’s no app for that! My home makes me happy. I pick up the objects, and it is like touching pieces of my life, holding life moments in my hand.
Yes, some aspects of my life I’d rather not touch (I’m looking at you, toilet bowl!). But putting my beautiful clothes away that walked through my day with me, placing my children’s toys back in place, organizing work things, washing the dishes on which I ate my meals … cleaning gives me a chance to touch the world I work so hard to create, so I can relive it, and enjoy it one more time.
Notice your life! Hold it in your hands once in a while.
6. Cleaning creates beauty and order.
I like to establish an environment that supports whatever activities I have ahead of me. My home is my sanctuary — that place where I return for physical and mental rejuvenation and where I start when tackling my objectives.
When I clean, I can set up the house to anticipate the household’s needs. Perhaps domestic diva Martha Stewart did the best job of elevating ‘housecleaning, as a chore’ to ‘home-keeping, as a pleasure’ in her rise from the caterer to transformative home-keeping guru.
7. It gives me a sense of control in a world where we often have none.
The fact that I cannot stop terrorism or feed the world’s starving masses all by myself is something of which I am well aware. I can’t bring about world peace, but I can bring peace, order, joy, and pleasure to my private little world and those I share it with.
Statistics show that American women spend over two hours per day doing housework. That’s about the same amount of time spent on leisure. The same category is with activities like exercise, meditation, and other specifically joy-based pursuits. So, if we must spend so much time doing something (in this case: cleaning), why wouldn’t we optimize our experience by doing it to ensure it includes joy and happiness?
The daily routine of housekeeping and caring for our home and possessions has a transformative aspect. Marie Kondo spelled this out in her KonMari Method. It’s something so easy to experience just by making your bed.
Sure, I’ve hired professionals to help me keep my home clean and orderly, and I treasured that help. But, overall, I like it when my life affords me enough time to tackle the task. I enjoy creating a fresh slate and seeing the individual pieces of my life that are part of the whole.
Our homes express who we are in this life, serving as a snapshot of the ways we grow and change along the way. I like to stop when I can and intimately care for that life … mindfully. Looking after my home with love feels nurturing to me.
Jan L. Bowen is an author, keynote speaker, thought leader, and facilitator with over 25 years of successful corporate leadership who specializes in helping leaders find their balance.
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