Friday, February 25, 2011

Domestically Challenged

Domesticity doesn't come easy for me. I think some people, some women particularly, are hardwired for homemaking. They have a natural knack for arranging things just right and an enthusiasm for seeing a cake turn out perfectly. Me? My house tends to look like an antique store with all my collections fighting for space. My cakes turn out just fine until I try to frost them. That part always ends with me very upset--either yelling or near tears--insisting that it looks ridiculous and my husband saying things like, its just going to be eaten anyway. Bless his heart.

No, I've had to trick myself into embracing this domesticity stuff. I appreciate the idea of it. I long for a well kept house where everything has a place and is in its place. I would love to be a good cook whipping up delicious dinners and yummy desserts. Its just...remember that clumsiness I mentioned in my other post? Well, I'm a domestic klutz as well. Like I said, I can't even frost a cake without it turning into a small confectionary diaster. I was mopping the dining room floor with Mop & Glo and inadvertantly squirted it on the wall of our peninsula (like an island but attached to the a bar that's too tall for stools). And by the way, Mop & Glo will leave a mark on the wall. And then...months later, I did it again. When I clean our shower I always end up soaking wet. It's a miracle I haven't turned all our underwear pink (knock on wood!!!).

But I'm learning the benefit of rising above myself. Practice may not ever make perfect for me but it is improving my domestic skills. I finally just got tired of wanting the well-ordered home but not doing a thing about it. As if merely desiring something is enough...does this remind you of my first post? The whole wanting a merry heart and believing that wanting it was enough to make it happen? The same is true with my home. It will never be a real home, the home that I want to give myself and my husband, if I do nothing more than just think about it.

I get trapped into that frequently---thinking not doing. I realized just before graduating from BGSU that I am a perfectionist, and its that deisre that keeps me from acting. It's better to do nothing than to not do it perfectly, or at least really, really well. It's a debilitating way of life. I over-think and over-analyze and over-plan until I'm paralyzed to take action. This kept me from studying abroad, it made wedding planning an absolute nightmare instead of a joy, and it keeps me from making our house into a haven from the world.

But no more! It is not enough to merely know these things. It is good to be helps a lot when I'm seeking to be a better me. But just having the realization is only part. I can't just talk, or complain, or plan--although I excel at all three things. I have to do that which I do not excel at--do. I have to actually do something. I have to actually put the clean clothes away after I've washed them. I have to vacuum the living room floor if I don't want to look at puffs of fur. These are obvious things and I know that...but I don't do them routinely. I make them into Herculean tasks as if I should be awarded for washing some dishes.

No...enough is enough, Rebecca. If you want to be domestic (and I do!) then you have to choose it. Isn't that the same with everything? If you want joy, you must choose it instead of negativity. If you want peace, you must choose it rather than bitterness. If you want love, you must choose it instead of fear. If you want a well-ordered home, you must choose to take action rather than expecting some magical fairy to come in and do it for you. Although, magical fairy, if you're reading this, please feel free to drop by anytime!

So anyway, when I sat down to write this I intended it to be a list of tips that I've found to help me stay motivated to keep my house a home and not just a place for all our stuff. But you know me, I have to tell a story with everything.

1) Rock out: A friend of mine many years ago told me she likes the Bee Gees because her mother used to listen to them when she would clean. I always liked that idea. Putting on a favorite band, something really fun, to listen to while doing housework. Today I listened to Josh Wilson while doing dishes and cleaning my carpet. Before I knew it I'd listent to the whole playlist two or three times.

2)Pick Up 5 Things: This is actually a mom tip. When I was a kid (or teenager...or now...) and it was time to clean up, I would inevitably feel over-whelmed and want to use that as a cop out. My mom would say, start with five things. And invariably that would lead to five more things and five more things and before long it would be done. This can be modified to setting a time for ten minutes or the length of a favorite song.

3)Do that 'one thing' before bed: Clutter makes me nutty but since I can't possibly keep all of our rooms de-cluttered all of the time, I've decided there are two rooms of priority. One being the kitchen and the other the living room. So my 'one thing' before bed is to put all the dogs toys away (it's similar to having a toddler, only they can't talk...and will never learn to pick up after themselves), take any dishes to the kitchen, and just tidy things up. The next day then getting the kitchen back in order can be my priority.

That's really it for now. A couple years ago I had a housecleaning checklist that did wonders for me but it doesn't seem to work anymore. I must've gotten past my list phase. What are some of your tips or routines to keep your house/apartment/living area not just livable but a home? I could really use the motivation of some fresh ideas!


  1. You've always started with the small picture - a perfectly cleaned drawer, closet, whatever. Instead, look at the bigger picture - the desk, the room, the house, the yard. Then do 10 (5 was for when you were little) to make the bigger picture look better. You won't get bogged down because your goal is not for it to be perfect - just better. The definition of "read up"! Love you!

  2. I like my perfectly organized drawers and closets--thank you very much! Yes, I forget to mention that I am a tad bit OCD...maybe another post. Ten is too big a number, double digits are intimidating. I think seven might be a good step forward. Baby steps here, mom... = P


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