Sexy, as in provocative. Maybe. Or like, controversial. Because you really don’t want to deal with it, but you for sure should. The right word here is “important,” okay? But “sexy” is just better. I don’t really know how to broach this subject, because it’s just beyond Home Ec-y. Just don’t Google “Home Management.” It’s not something you want to actually invest time or effort, or God forbid, emotions into. I’ll invest the emotions for you.
Here’s the thing: you’re already doing home management, whether you know it or not.
Let me clarify – some of us really suck at home management, and some are ace savants at it. But whether you have to wade through your belongings to get from room to room in your house, or you’ve ever actually vacuumed your refrigerator coils, everything you are doing from day to day and season to season that allows you to dwell within your abode amounts to Home Management. Like, let’s say you’re a hoarder. Choosing to stack Consumers Digest up to the ceiling along an entire wall, and bag your tags-still-on Marshall’s hauls so they don’t avalanche into the only walkway through your living room? That’s home management. Oriented more to the neatnik end of the spectrum? You might file sweeping your kitchen, sanitizing the sink, and buffing your stove every night after dinner under “normal things civilized adults do,” rather than “advanced home management.” But most of the free world would disagree with you. Because you are, in fact, engaging in advanced home management.
If you’re like me, the pendulum swings in a broad arc. Sometimes (read: in the winter when the sun sets at 4:30pm and cocktail hour starts at sunset, so, wooooo!), dusting ranks just below Civil War era tooth extraction on my list of shit I feel like engaging in. And sometimes (springtime, when vitamin D comes to douse me in euphoria), for some reason all the cells in my body are working in coordination to rid my house and life of all the crap I have that only serves to weigh me down, and my brain just goes along for the ride because that shit is crazy to witness. But overall, I’d say there’s an average level of nonsense going on in my couch cushions, an average amount of dust on every horizontal surface in my house, and (I’ll admit) a distinctly above-average amount of dishes in the sink because I have some past life trauma with dish detergent, or something. I don’t know. Sorry, every roommate I’ve ever had. I’m that guy.
This is all to say that my house is not exactly ever “company-ready,” you know? Yes, you know, because you’re probably average too, or know someone who is (whom you judge silently and mercilessly). I mean, I have two tiny gremlins contributing to the general state of disarray, but that just makes me even more average. And sometimes I get a little fed-up with my predictability. So a while ago I decided to actively pursue this thing called home management, by attempting to learn how a home should be kept, because no one ever taught me. Because I never took home ec in school. And because I was a child of the ’80s, and was supposed to become a high-powered-corporate-something-requiring-shoulder-pads who hired people to do this shit for her. Anyway, I decided I needed to learn how I was meant to keep funk from brewing in my kitchen sink, and my toilet from growing stalactites, and how to cook food from ingredients that don’t get boxed in a factory in Michigan somewhere.
I’ve found a few pro-level systems for getting my shit together in the realm of domestic artistry, and I’ve implemented them, and anyone who comes over to my house uninvited will tell you without hesitation that it’s still pretty middling up in here. We are really reaching for average some days. My mom asked me the other day if I was just letting the spider web in the corner “take its natural course.” With a straight face. Because she knew the answer could have been “yes.” Instead, the answer was, “Honestly, didn’t notice that spider web among the others, so varied and sundry.” And then I left it there and got back to drinking my beer. But I’m oddly fanatical about sweeping the kitchen floor every single night. Like I said, the pendulum swings.
I’ve noticed a few things while alternately trying and failing at various approaches to home management:
Time and Space Morph
When I have a system in place to manage my home, I magically get to do stuff that doesn’t suck as much as managing my home. I used to think there was a thin layer of dust covering my sewing machine at all times because I didn’t have time to sew. Nope. I was not being creative the way I wanted to because my house was a mild disaster and I couldn’t find a space to think straight. When the mechanics of my household are running at a gentle hum I suddenly have a bit of extra time and space to get fun things done. Sometimes my fun thing is sewing and cooking. Sometimes it’s Netflix and beer. And beer tastes way better when the laundry is folded and put away.
I Feel Better About Myself
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a people-pleaser. Mostly because it’s easier when no one is bitching in my general direction. I guess that makes me more of a me-pleaser. At any rate, it skeeves me out when my house is nasty, sure, but mostly only when others are there to witness it. When my house is presentable and someone shows up unannounced (incidentally, a way to get you axed from my friend list. Like, forever.), I feel positively omnipotent. Like a friggin’ god, I tell you. Perhaps I’m placing too much stock in outward appearances. But I’m one of these people who spends a lot of time in her head, preferring lots of quiet time alone, trying to think bettering thoughts, journaling her emotions, improving her insides as best as possible. Which is a lot of work, because I’m naturally sort of an asshole. If that improvement somehow makes it to the outside, that’s a whole hell of a lot of improvement. That’s moving mountains, y’all.
I Feel Better About My Home
I mean, duh. It’s better to live in a non-shit-hole. For most. But, seriously, I pay a rather exorbitant sum each month to live in a largeish Southern California metropolis, and it’s a bit of a shame when walking through the front door elicits a sinking feeling rather than pride in my cozy and comfortable home (“cozy” being California metropolis code for “shockingly tiny shoe box;” and “comfortable” being code for “clean and organized,” and not for “climate control” or anything because, hello, perfect weather 365 days a year is why my property taxes inspire spontaneous sobbing). There’s a whole lot of waste happening if I’m not enjoying my home on a regular basis. I feel better about the numbers when my house is in decent shape. This tells you where my motivations lie. I can kick back and watch the arachnid version of House Hunters play out on my living room wall, enjoying my beer; but thinking about how much my dust costs me per square foot has me leaping for the microfiber cloths. And to that I say: Who gives a shit? Know thyself.
All my waltzes with home management have been peppered with trial and error, and prompted mainly by scouring the Internet to find programs that worked for others. I was never really taught how to maintain a home, only that failing to do so at a high level of competency meant there must be something wrong with you, whether physically of psychically. My trials have taught me that I’m a perfectionist at heart, which can translate into procrastination when life gets in the way of cleaning and organizing in just the right way. And dust and dirt waits for no one, my friends. Procrastinating until you have enough time and energy to move the furniture for unbroken vacuuming lines means that your house is all the nastier once you do have the fabled few hours to clean it. I had no idea that procrastination was perfectionism’s evil twin – but once I made the connection, managing my house at a basic level felt a bit more attainable. I’ve since decided that I can do everything half-assed, a little bit every day, and at least keep a vague grasp on my sanity and self respect. Perfectionism can bite me.
Curious about what systems I use to maintain baseline mediocrity in my home? Want to know exactly how I arrived at a home-making philosophy that supports both obsessive floor-sweeping and rotting dishes in the kitchen sink? I will reveal all in future posts, so hang tight and try to contain your enthusiasm. And leave me a comment about how gross/over achieving you are below!