Friday, February 12, 2016
Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Home Care
We can all agree that there is a minimum standard for home care in regards to inviting folks over and having them want to come back. One is probably no banana peels on seat cushions. There are others, but that's pretty universal. The minimum isn't so hard, it's the maximum that gets us in trouble.
First and foremost, people are coming to your home to see you. Even if they think it's to find out what's stashed in your medicine cabinet, it's really to see you. Keep that in mind when you start to freak out that you haven't washed the curtains or some other task that only you will truly notice. If keeping your home clean is a struggle for you, I highly recommend the book The House That Cleans Itself. We went from disaster zone don't step on that to comfy cozy very quickly. I have pictures I could show you of life before, but they're scary and we don't need scary today.
There is a benefit to keeping a minimally tidy home, people can stop by and you don't freak out. You can also invite people over more often because it's not a big deal to get the house ready.
It's similar to cooking pasta. If you're making spaghetti for dinner, one of the first things you do is fill up a pot with water and set it to boil. Now, the actual cooking of the pasta will not take very long in comparison to bringing a gallon of water to boil. It's better for the water to wait on you than for you to wait on it. Even if you bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer, you're much ahead of the game. Our homes can be like that. They can be ready to have people over at a moments notice or with just a little bit of work. That makes having folks over more fun. I've done it both ways, a ready house makes for more fun with friends.
If you think it just can't be done in your home, well, you should talk to my college roommate and my parents about the state of my affairs as a yang woman. It was bad. I thought I preferred it. Eventually, your junk starts to run your life and stop you from doing what you want.
But I have kids! Here's my best advice on kid messes: stop the inflow of toys and then start to pare down what's left. We created a toy library in our home, small manageable boxes that could be checked out one at a time. My daughter outfitted each box to have all she needed to play with the toys and was quite content. We had dinosaur boxes, transformers, doll dress up. The best part was that at the end of the play time it all fit back in one box and was not a big deal to tidy up.
From a very early age, like when they can walk well, kids can clear their dishes and put them in the dishwasher. They can also help with chores like sweeping and dusting. Let them have their space, don't redo their work and see if there isn't a sense of pride when people come over.
Kids can be as much of a hinderance to hospitality as you let them. They can also be a great tool. They naturally provide a reason to have folks over. The play date can do wonders.
But I like my stuff everywhere! No you don't. You may like your stuff, but you'd like it even more if it wasn't absolutely everywhere in your house. Book people, there's a reason people love going to bookstores and libraries, they're tidy and easy to navigate. Clothes people, you go shopping and make amazing outfits because the clothes are laid out in a way that you can see and interact. Food people, you can't make more food if your countertops are covered and all the plates are dirty and lost in the living room. Movie people, get a Roku, go digital. We love order. We may crave chaos, but it should be fed in small doses, not housefuls. Keep an untidy corner in your bedroom or basement. Try tidy, if you find that it's unbearable, you can always go back to marathon cleaning sessions before guests arrive and profuse apology when they arrive because it never got finished.
In fact, my last bit of advice is not to apologize for your home ever, regardless of what state it's in. Instead, thank your guests for coming and being with you in your space.