Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Cleaning My Own House Went "Off The Beam"

It's a Monday night and I am free to sit here and do as I please because my house is spotless.

You see, this summer I got a third child, a nice raise and...a cleaning lady.  It's one of the best decisions I have ever made and it was high time.   I put it off and put it off for years thinking a woman as young as me shouldn't have a cleaning lady, that that was too posh of a thing for me to ever consider before I was at least age 30 and had paid off some of my student loans.

But now?  Every other Monday, I pay dollars for someone else to give our house a reset and here is why:

1. We can afford it.
2. With three little kids, our house gets trashed, wrecked, grossified, bleh.
3. The wonderful lady who helps us accomplishes in a few hours what would take me two days.
4. Actually it would take me until eternity because I could not do it as well as she does, ever.
5. Trent and I fought for years about chores and it was so freaking not fun. We don't anymore. Poof.
6. I shoved cleaning my own house "off the beam".

Though I sure don't have much time to read these days, I did make sure to devour Jen Hatmaker's newest book, For The Love.  I tell ya, this lady.  She's a keeper.   Trent would randomly find me laughing out loud at my Nook or dripping tears onto it and just nod and say "Jen Hatmaker?"  Yup.  Sniffle sniffle ha ha.

I for sure resonated with her chapter about what things in life deserve to be "on the beam" or "off the beam", referring, of course, to a gymnast balance beam.  Here, read some of her words instead of mine...

Balance.  It's like a unicorn; we've heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven't actually seen one.  I'm beginning to think it isn't a thing. ...  No one can pull this off.  No one is pulling this off.  The women who seem to ride this unicorn only display the best parts of their stories.  Trust me.  No one can fragment her time and attention into this many segments. 

We have lost the ability to declare a job well done.  We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy.  No matter how hard we work or excel in an area or two, it never feels like enough.  Our primary defaults are exhaustion and guilt.  Meanwhile, we have beautiful lives begging to be really lived, really enjoyed, really applauded - and it is simpler than we dare hope: we gotta unload that beam. 

You get to do this.  You have permission to examine all the tricks and decide what should stay.  What parts do you love?  What are you good at?  What brings you life? What has to stay during this season? ...  We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.  ...  Decide which parts are draining you dry.  What do you dread?  What are you including for all the wrong reasons? What parts are for approval?  Is there anything you could delegate or hand off?  Could you sacrifice a Good for a Best?  Throw out every should or should not and make ruthless cuts.  Go ahead.  Your beam is too crowded.  I know it.

My beam was too crowded.   Challenging job, three small children, a big ole jenky house, all the things that make people tell me they don't know how I do it.  So I held some auditions in my mind and soul for things that got to stay on the beam or get kicked off.

Cleaning my own house?  Bleh.  Can be delegated.  Off the beam.

Date nights and deep conversations with my husband?  Life giving.  On the beam.

Posting to this blog?  Eh, it teeter totters in priority.  Welcome on the beam when there is room.

Drinks, Chipotle burrito bowls, movies, etc with my friend Kristin?   Hell yeah.  On the beam.

Cooking elaborate homemade meals?   Baha, funny joke.  Off my beam, onto Trent's beam.  Or McDonald's beam.

Time to myself to journal, think, be still?  Sorely missed since gaining a third child.  Scooching back onto the beam.

This is a spectacularly fun exercise when you actually give it some thought, give yourself some freedom, and realize that your beam is your beam and the standards that work best for yourself and your family don't have to mirror those of other women or other families.   Why spend time trying to cram ourselves into someone else's box?  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Cleaning your own house may be the third love of your life after your husband and children.  Scrubbing, mopping and vacuuming may be a form of active meditation for you that you adore and can't do without.  It may be something that fits into your schedule totally fine and gives you a sense of worth unmatched by most other tasks.  You go girl.

Me?  My beam was always sopping wet from the rain cloud of house cleaning that hung over it nonstop and fried from the lightning bolts of fights and zingers shot between me and Trent from all the tension built up.    So I unloaded my beam.

What needs to be on your beam?  What needs to be off your beam?  What is non-negotiable vs disposable?  What does your standard for sanity and happiness need to include?  Come on, join me in imaginary leotards (ok, maybe we should skip that part) and give yourself some room to rock your own beam.  Do some high kicks, back flips, twirly arms and stick the landing.


  1. Such a good way to look at this! I need to think about what I can kick off of my beam.

    It is funny, and unsettling, how it is seen as some type of accomplishment to be freakishly busy nowadays. Ya know, when you are greeting someone that you haven't seen in a while and they ask how you have been. You sigh, "Busy." They nod their head vigorously, smile, and agree, "Us too! It is insane! We should get together sometime after things calm down." But then months pass and everyone is still too busy to find time to enjoy life together.

    I so agree with the part about, "What gives you life?" This is so important. We need to teach ourselves to say "no" to a few things so that we can really invest in the things that matter the most and have the ability to enjoy the small things in life.