I want to make my home a welcoming place – but with a baby and with working from home and volunteering, keeping up with my idea of what that means is impossible. I have to re-evaluate what “welcoming” means, and decide how to best spend the time I have to make the most hospitable environment for guests.
I got a call from a friend this week who had an appointment in my end of town and wanted to stop by after. Of course, I said “of course!”
But then I went into a tailspin of chore panic. I have just spent 4 days away from home, unpacking is not yet finished, the kitchen is a mess, the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned and the cat has started shedding. I have emails and reports to work on, and not enough time to do it all.
My former-perfectionist-self is screaming in the background, stomping her feet and throwing things around. “It’s not worth doing anything if I can’t do it all, and perfectly!”
But when I only have time to clean one thing, I have to find a new strategy. Maybe making myself crazy, working myself too hard to create a “perfect” house is actually inhospitable, unwelcoming. Maybe taking the hit to my own pride, admitting and showing that I can’t do everything, and still welcoming friends to share my home and my life is the most hospitable option.
So today, when I only have time to do a quick cleaning of one room, I am choosing the bathroom. I wiped down the counters and sink and toilet, made sure there was enough toilet paper and put a few floating things in drawers – and that’s it! The mirror has toothpaste spray and the floor has hair, dirt, dust in the corners. But I had only the time to do one “extra” thing, and I chose this. If I had had the time to really only do one thing – not part of a room, but one thing – I would have probably cleaned the counter in the bathroom. That’s all.
I can be welcoming with clutter, with a sink half-full of dishes, with laundry piled up in the bedroom. I can share my home with friends even if there are baby toys and cat hair on the floor and papers spread across my desk. I can welcome without pretense, I can open my home without the falsehood of perfection.
I still fall victim to my perfectionist tendencies, preferring to do nothing rather than accomplish something with imperfection or incompleteness. It’s a battle to choose one small thing to accomplish, one extra chore that will make a difference. Today I did one small thing, and I will welcome my friend with open arms and dirty dishes.