What to do when you’re terrible at keeping your home tidy but you really enjoy having your close friends over?
Invite them over anyway.
We all know people who will judge us for not keeping our homes spotless. They might even find the urge to open a closed door to see what’s inside a room or a cabinet irresistible. These aren’t people you might want to invite into your personal space. They are what I call “boundary busters,” and I don’t invite them over often.
My home will never pass their judgment and I accept that.
It’s not that I don’t care about having a clean, well-organized home. There’s a sense of joy and inner peace that comes with the thought of all dust and dirt being banished and all household items being stored tidily in their assigned spots.
The issue is my understanding that it’s unlikely I will ever achieve this. I gave up on pressuring myself to do so years ago.
Yes, a lot of my mess winds up just getting shoved out of sight when I clean. That’s okay. What is inside drawers and closets doesn’t need to look perfect.
Having friends over is one of my favorite social activities, and if I cared more about making my home spotless I would wind up never doing it. However, I’m somewhat picky about who I will invite over. I am lucky to have many friends who I am close with and respect, but those who I am comfortable inviting into my home are far less numerous.
With the right people, though, it winds up being a safe way for me to socialize. It doesn’t trigger my anxiety. It’s never too noisy or over-stimulating. I know what to expect. Plus, I don’t feel I have to look or behave a certain way.
An evening at home with close friends is one of the few social activities I can do that recharges me rather than exhausting me.
In addition, it winds up motivating me to tidy up a little. Generally, I can get my house what I consider “casual company ready” in under an hour.
My goals are usually quite simple. Really, I just don’t want anyone to trip over anything, I want there to be seating available, and there should be space on surfaces for snacks and drinks.
It seems easy enough.
Except once things are picked up, there are often clear dust marks around them. I’ll move a book, for example, and the outline of the book will be visible on the table. Or, once I get all the empty boxes from Amazon and Walgreens orders up off the floor, I’ll realize there are cat hair tumbleweeds and tracked litter from the litter box all over the place.
One of the things that has helped me significantly is investing in a robotic vacuum. Lugging out the “real” vacuum and pushing it around is a barrier to getting the vacuuming done. Picking things up off the floor so the robotic vacuum can run only takes a minute, though. Since I bought mine 15 months ago, I’ve only rarely allowed my floors to get out of control. Previously, things would get pretty gross before I got around to doing anything about it.
Before I turn on the vacuum, I like to get the chairs at my kitchen table up on the table and out of the way. In order to do this, I first need to clear off the table.
What this means is my seating winds up being unusable while the vacuum runs. All the clutter from the living room floor has been moved onto my couch, and the kitchen chairs are on top of the table.
This gives me a clear direction while the vacuum is running. The clutter on the couch and coffee table (which at this point probably includes whatever clutter had been on the kitchen table) must be tackled. Once it’s all collected into a small space it becomes easier and less overwhelming to get through it, though. I break down the old boxes and I put away the things I’ve procrastinated putting away for far too long.
The kitchen is small and it isn’t hard to give it a quick once-over. The dishwasher gets emptied and dirty dishes thrown inside; sometimes haphazardly, sometimes not, but it doesn’t really matter.
Spray cleaner and a sponge for the sink, stovetop, and counters, and the kitchen is done.
For the bathroom, I empty the trash and give the toilet and sink a quick cleaning. Neither take long to do.
Then I take out the trash and recycling, and I’m done. The door to my bedroom stays closed.
It’s not perfect, but for a casual evening of sitting around and chatting, I only invite people who aren’t disgusted by my standards of cleanliness. There is a level of housekeeping I try to achieve a couple of times a year that is far more intense, and more stressful. That’s not the type of cleaning that’s required when just a few close friends are coming by for a bit.
This act of inviting people into my home is, I’ve learned, something that is necessary for me to do at least once every couple of months. First of all, I need this quality time with my people and feel sad when it doesn’t happen often enough. When I start to feel down, spending a few hours with close friends is often the cure.
But also, the act of inviting people into my home forces me to tidy up, and having a tidy home helps my emotional state, as well.
Thus, the benefits are twofold. And I am grateful.