A Clean Home Is A Misspent Life

Monday, May 6, 2019

I first heard this saying in "The Family" (an underrated ABC show that got cancelled after one season because nobody except my family was watching) but I'm sure it originated elsewhere. In fact, it turns out there's a book about it, so I'm certain it originated elsewhere. (Added that book to my reading list.)

The idea is that if your home is always spotless, you've spent a lot of time cleaning that could have been better spent in other areas of your life.

While I do want my home to be tidy, I appreciate the sentiment here.

Deciding to stop counting calories and instead eat whatever I want whenever I want (within reason, of course) was one of my best decisions. Maybe I weigh more now, maybe I eat more sweets now, but I'm much happier mentally.

Now, I want to apply this same notion to my home life. Rather than trying so hard to do what I'm "supposed" to be doing, or having my home look the way it's "supposed" to look, focusing instead on what makes me feel the best.

I've touched on this topic before, but I wanted to expand on it because it's really become a key focus of mine.  Perhaps you need the reminder too. 2018 was all about hustling. 2019 seems to be about doing less. Funny how that works. Apparently I'm really in the mood to chill the eff out.

My goal is to establish a healthy relationship with clutter to the point that I can look back and think, Wow there was a time when this used to bother me. How silly. because, let's be honest, when you're 26, living with only one other person, who is not a slob by any means, without any pets or children, any "messes" we currently have are realistically not as disastrous as they could be.

know that my anxiety around clutter is irrational. I can't help it. And here's another reason it's so frustrating for me, feeling trapped in my own brain like this: I wasn't always like this! Not at all. When I was a teenager, my room was so messy that you couldn't see the carpet. I not only had The Chair full of clothes that I was too lazy to fold and put away, I also had a loft bed in which a small portion of desk space was used for schoolwork and the rest was used for even more junk that I was too lazy to put away. None of it even bothered me. I had better things to do than clean.

(My sleeping schedule as a teenager was also absolutely mind-boggling. I'd be up until 1 or 2 in the morning regularly, sleeping until noon on the weekends or later during summer break. Who is that person?)

I don't want to revert all the way back to who I was in 2009 (yikes) but if I could channel the nonchalance about a little mess so I don't get so worked up over too much mail on the dining table or too many jackets draped over the backs of chairs, that'd be great.

So, I'm working on it.

Rahul has been a big help. He is so good at doing a lot around the home while also seeming so chill all the time. He's been kindly shushing me when I wake up and immediately say, "Ugh I wanted to be up earlier," and reminding me that no, I don't have to do whatever cleaning task right now or even today. I'm letting things be imperfect.

That was the focus the past two weeks and I already feel better. And weird. And a little guilty, like I'm slacking. But... better.

After spending the majority of a Saturday reading and watching "Schitt's Creek" on Netflix, I turned to Rahul at one point and said, "I haven't cleaned a single thing today, it feels weiirddd." That Sunday night, I asked him to remind me that I'm not lazy.

Despite how much I love the app, I'm aware that Instagram plays a role in all of this too. Not so much the app by itself as the way I use it or the time I spend on it. It's way too easy to mindlessly scroll through my feed, subconsciously comparing my life to others', forgetting that for every camera-ready nook in a person's home, there is a decent mess on the other side of the room, purposely kept out of frame.

To moderate the amount of time I spend doing this, I've set a one hour limit on the app per day. (I have no clue if that's a lot of time or a true limit, but that's where I'm starting. Maybe I'll decrease it further from there.) It's helped me be more mindful of the way I use it. Less mindless scrolling, more checking in on friends or particular accounts that inspire me. It lets me focus on my own life, not everyone else's.

There may be an underlying reason as to why I crave so much control over my home, other subconscious feelings manifesting themselves this way. Eventually, I'll figure that out. Contrary to usual growth, this time I'm working from the outside in.

Leave the mess. Walk away. Do something else. Breathe. Enjoy.

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