Remember my New Year’s resolution from a few weeks ago about being kinder to myself? I said that when I start to beat myself up, I would just remind myself about something I’m really good at? Well, I think it was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ve done it perfectly, but that’s okay — because I make fantastic pimento cheese. This has lightened the daily mental load tremendously.
I think Southern women are raised to let an enormous amount of shame into their daily lives. Don’t leave the house without lipstick. All of your china should match. Always wear clean underwear so that you won’t be embarrassed in front of the emergency room doctor when you get into that terrible accident one day. Don’t take homemade deviled eggs to the church social without a sprinkling of paprika for color. The list goes on.
Housekeeping is another one of those shame-based subjects that Southern women have to contend with. Not only does the house have to be spotless, it has to be well appointed to reflect the quality of your upbringing. You know, have enough crystal and china out for display so that everyone will know that you come from a respectable family.
I don’t know about you, but my house is beyond disorderly these days. We have lots of really cool things that reflect our personalities, but after spending over two years with the knowledge that no one was coming into our house, quality standards have slipped somewhat. Not that they were ever that great in the first place. Running a creative business like Down South House & Home and launching our sister company, Salvation South, have been distracting to say the least. And I’ve always looked at house cleaning as time that I couldn’t get back.
The funny thing I’ve discovered about my New Year’s resolution is that when I started to feel better in my daily life, I started to find more reasons to feel even better. Cleaning has miraculously become a way for me to feel better fast. That dining room table full of mail? Gone. My Mason jars full of beans and rice on the kitchen counter? Disappeared into the proper place in the kitchen. Piles of magazines that I don’t need? Donated to the refugee community who can use them to learn English. Nothing herculean in these tasks — just 15 minutes worth of work here and there during the day. In fact, cleaning has become my new procrastination. I can feel better about not opening a spreadsheet if I know I’m about to make my life easier with a 15-minute spot cleaning (or even three minutes). Where before I would have made house cleaning a resolution that would have made me dread the next year, I have now found a way to make cleaning more enjoyable. I have long held on to the tiresome belief that if you were going to do a job, you have to do it perfectly. This belief made my simple tasks mushroom into me spending the whole day in chores. Whatever I did was not perfect enough, so I spent hours trying to do it perfectly enough. At the end of the day, it was still never perfect enough, and I was exhausted from my labors. In my mind, I would have created a week’s worth of tasks that I had to do before it was perfect enough knowing that even if I did them, things would not have been perfect enough — so why even bother? This new approach not only makes me even happier on a momentary basis, it fuels me toward doing lots of 15-minute tasks that make my life continuously better.
The daffodils are blooming here in Georgia and the pandemic is getting more manageable all the time. I’m so ready to cook some of my amazing fried chicken for some guests and serve it on my good china. By then, I won’t have to spend two weeks getting the house ready to have them over. And I can focus on making memories instead dreading cleaning the house. And that’s what life is really all about, isn’t it?
Got quick cleaning tips that you want to share with the Down South community? Put them in the comments below, and you might win a deviled egg plate in a drawing at the end of February!