12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
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A while back I shared a list of “simple rules” that I wanted my family to live by–something I was planning to hang up as a little daily reminder. Funnily enough, the one thing people commented on more than any other was a line I honestly hadn’t thought twice about including: Make your bed every day.
Is this really a novel concept?
I have to admit that I am slightly obsessive about making our bed each morning. And even my husband, who used to make fun of this obsession, has now embraced it. In fact, these days he might be even more obsessive than me!
But it’s not just the bed. Most of the time, our house is pretty neat. Speed Cleaning is my jam–I love doing a quick sweep of the house every day. We also require our kids to make sure their room is tidy before they leave for school.
But until I posted the above list, it never even occurred to me that these habits might be considered odd. Even so, when I really started to think about it, I realized there are some serious reasons why I take the time to make my bed and tidy up each day.
1. It just looks better. This should be fairly obvious right? Straightened sheets and comforters with pillows in their proper place are far more esthetically pleasing than disheveled blankets and a pile of pillows on the floor. A sink full of dirty dishes just looks ugly, whereas I could stare at my clean and sparkly kitchen all day long. Likewise, toys and clothes off the floor and put away are so much prettier than things scattered everywhere.
2. I get more done when my house is clean. Taking the time to focus on putting things in order–especially when I set the timer and race against the clock–seems to jumpstart my productivity. When I ignore the mess and try to work around it, I am more easily distracted by whatever comes my way, and at the end of the day I’ll find I accomplished almost nothing. It doesn’t mean I always keep my house clean, but I do get more done on the days that I do.
3. I’m not embarrassed to have people over. I love entertaining and throwing parties and get-togethers, & greatly value hospitality. When my house is clean I am more likely to invite someone over on the spur of the moment.
4. I can find things. This part of my life has greatly improved since our Great Purge in December, when we got rid of SO much stuff. Now that everything has a rightful place once again, it is so much easier to put it away and–surprise surprise–to find things again when we need them.
5. My kids play better. My children have the incredible ability to make a mess instantaneously. Do your kids possess this talent? Sometimes it seems like they spend their entire day just dragging stuff out so they can leave it on the floor. During our great purge I got rid of 4 huge bins of toys, and there is still more purging yet to be done. I have noticed, however, that when we keep their room clean (and I do make them help with this), they actually play much better. Just like me, they can find the things they are looking for and focus on just one thing at a time instead of being overwhelmed by 5,000 toys staring at them from the floor.
6. It makes my husband happy. Who wants to come home after a hard day’s work to a house full of chaos? There are far too many days when Husband comes home at 5:30 and the kids are hungry and crabby and screaming, dishes are piled in the sink, dinner isn’t made, and the rest of the house is a disaster. (For the record, he never says anything negative and will dig right in and help with dinner, then do the dishes.) But on the days the house is clean and dinner is made and the girls happily run to greet him at the door, there is an unspoken joy that lights up his face.
7. It saves money. Taking care of my home and my things means I am less likely to need to replace something that gets lost or broken. When things are messy I want only to escape the clutter, which can often mean going to Target and mindlessly filling a cart with even more stuff we don’t need. When things are clean, I have no desire to be any place but here.
8. I am more creative. Instead of seeing nothing but the mess, my mind is clear to see the creative potential around me, and my desk and table are clear to spread out and complete a project. Likewise, when my kitchen is clean, it makes me want to cook things! I know this doesn’t bother some people, but I have a really hard time creating anything–or enjoying the process–when I am surrounded by clutter.
9. It helps me get a good night sleep. There is nothing I love more than crawling into a carefully-made bed. It is so comforting! Rather than needing to wrestle with tangled sheets or scoop up blankets from off the floor, I am instantly relaxed and ready for a night of rejuvenation. Even if I can’t manage to get to the rest of the house, I almost always make my bed because I hate sleeping in a messy bed. A made bed just feels better, the blankets stay on all night long, and I sleep much better.
10. It’s my job***. When I signed up to be a stay-at-home mom, I agreed to all the duties that came with it, including keeping house. It’s not my husband’s responsibility to go to work all day then come home and do my job too. Yes, I work too, but my “work” is secondary to my primary job of Mom.
This is not a sexist thing. Early in our marriage, we agreed that a.) one of us would always stay home with our kids and b.) that the one at home would be responsible for running the household. In fact, when our oldest daughter was a baby, he was the stay-at-home parent for a year-and-a-half. During that time, he did it all–cleaning, cooking, groceries, & childcare–while I went to work, and he did an amazing job. I owe it to him to do the same.
There are plenty of days where my house is a complete and utter disaster. In fact sometimes by the end of the day it is a disaster even when I do spend time cleaning up. And that’s life. I try not to get too down on myself on those days I can’t quite pull it all together, but most of the time I do at least make an attempt. Because, when all is said and done, if my house is clean and my bed is made, I just breathe a little easier.
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***UPDATE: This post is now a few years old, and while I still agree with everything I wrote, the one thing that has changed a bit are our stay-at-home parent roles. I am now the primary breadwinner for our family, while my husband stays home. That means that he now takes full responsibility for much of the day-to-day cleaning and laundry, though I am still the chief organize and bed-maker! I realize that we are very fortunate to be able to have one parent solely focused on running our home, and this post is in no way meant to be an affront on those of you who work full time and can’t always keep up. Keeping a house clean is thankless, never-ending job whether you are home full time or not. This post was only ever written a reminder of why I continue to work at it, even if it just gets messy again, and meant as encouragement for those of us who sometimes need a little extra motivation to get it done!