Friday, August 10, 2012

Half-Baked Housework

I posted about this a couple of years ago, but I need reminding every now and then.

Half-done housework that covers everything works better than perfectly thorough housework done in one tiny spot.

My mama raised me right. We did not live in a barn, pigsty, pasture, et cetera; we were civilized people. As such, dishes always must be washed, dried (completely), and put away. The floors should be swept, mopped (including corners), vacuumed (move the furniture) and scrubbed (toothbrush and bleach on the grout; that stuff is gross). We must clean in the proper order. Vacuum first, then dust, because the vacuum kicks up more dust, and the furniture must shine all the time.

In the dressers, all shirts must be folded uniformly and stacked carefully in their rightful drawers. We have separate drawers for long sleeves, short sleeves, sweaters, t-shirts, shorts, pants, pajamas, underwear; if not for the limited number of drawers, I could divide and subdivide infinitely like some deranged maestro of the fractal wardrobe.

Yes, I'm a perfectionist.

A few years ago, I had something of an epiphany: I don't have to be a perfect perfectionist. If I redefine "perfect," I can do this without running myself ragged or guilting myself into craziness.

Yesterday when I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, here's what it looked like: I swept the crap on the floor into a pile and leaned the broom against the wall. I wasn't sure where I'd left the dustpan, so I switched gears and did the dishes. When I'd washed everything and set it out to air dry, I rinsed and wrung out my rag and threw it on the floor. Then I paced around the kitchen with my toe on the rag and scrubbed up any spots I could see while standing.

I assure you, my floor is still dirty. The clean dishes didn't get put away until much later. But the floor looks clean, and I had a clean sink for washing fruits and vegetables or rinsing future dishes for the dishwasher.

The idea is along the lines of my Got-Done list: I will do what I can and set aside my idea of what I "should" be able to do. Honestly, I have to give myself a break, because few other people in the world are going to do that for me.


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