Cheap therapy

One of the blogs I follow, All Seasons Cyclist, noted in a post today that “cleaning supplies are cheaper than therapy,” and I enthusiastically agree with that statement. He was talking about bicycle maintenance, but I’m going to talk about home maintenance.


Those who know me best know that house cleaning is my preferred therapy, in fact, and if I’m on a serious binge that has me vacuuming out the air ducts, tossing the closets from top to bottom, and swabbing the window tracks with Q-tips, I’m working something out in my head. My dad called once and I answered the phone slightly out of breath from vigorous cleaning. When I told him what I was doing, he gently inquired, “is everything okay?” He knows me so well.

Aside from keeping me occupied in a productive way when I might otherwise be plotting someone’s demise or committing other destructive acts, house cleaning offers many other tangible and intangible rewards. Not too long ago, I pinned a post from the blog Living Well Spending Less called “Why I Make My Bed {10 Reasons I Keep My House Clean}.” Abbreviated, her reasons are:

  1. It just looks better.
  2. I get more done when my house is clean.
  3. I’m not embarrassed to have people over.
  4. I can find things.
  5. My kids play better.
  6. It makes my husband happy.
  7. It saves money.
  8. I am more creative.
  9. It helps me get a good night’s sleep.
  10. It’s my job [as the stay-at-home parent].

My own list would be similar, but without the kids and husband part. Here are my top 5 reasons for keeping my house clean.

  1. I feel better about myself. Coming into the kitchen in the morning to a sink full of dirty dishes, or opening the closet and not finding any clean clothes to wear, or tripping over some bit of junk left on the floor when I get up in the night … these things do not happen in my house because I can imagine how I would feel if they did, and I can’t let them happen. Cleaning makes me feel productive and in control of my immediate environment, sure, but it also creates order that makes the activities of my days flow smoothly.
  2. I have less to think about when my house is clean. When my house is dirty, it’s like a hornet’s nest—it feels noisy and threatening, and I can’t relax or concentrate on anything. When all is in order, I feel peaceful. I can either stay in and enjoy it or go out without guilt about messes awaiting my return.
  3. I’m not embarrassed to have people over. This almost goes without saying! I ran a business from my home for many years that required me to be prepared to receive clients at any time during the regular workday. I generally saw clients by appointment, but sometimes people would just show up at my door with a job, so I always kept the public areas neat as a pin. This habit has never left me. I don’t have to worry about a neighbor dropping by and finding the place a wreck, nor do I have to spend more than 15 minutes getting ready to receive company. Usually I just have to straighten the pillows on the couch and toss all the dogs’ toys into a basket and it’s done.
  4. I can find things. When there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place, I don’t have to spend a minute looking for or wondering where I keep the extra batteries or the light bulbs or the holiday wrapping paper or the number for the pizza place or last year’s tax return. I don’t have a random junk drawer that I have to rummage through when I need a rubber band. Everything is where it should be and easily accessed.
  5. It’s my job as a homeowner. This is my home, my refuge, my nest. If I don’t take care of it, nobody will. I worked really hard to buy this house, and I love living in it. Keeping it clean, organized, and well maintained inside and out is my way of respecting and honoring the spirit of my home.

We’ve all seen the cutesy signs in shops that say things like “Dull women have immaculate homes” and “A clean house is a sure sign of a wasted life,” and “Please excuse the mess, we actually live here.”

If I were going to hang a cutesy sign in my home, it might be one of these quotations instead:

Your home is one of your greatest reflections. It should make you happy. Live well.
~ Nate Berkus

The home should be the treasure chest of living.
~ Le Corbusier

There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
~ Jane Austen

To be a queen of a household is a powerful thing.
~ Jill Scott



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