4 important life lessons learned from cleaning

Posted August 31, 2016 by Paula in Advice / 6 Comments

4 important life lessons learned from cleaning

“I love to learn, and I’m lucky that I’m one of those people that can learn by watching others, and from my own mistakes too. Because of that I learned a lot of things at young age. Which gave me the idea for a post, about all the life lessons that I learned at an early age. But when I started writing it, I realized that I had a lot to say so I turned it into a series instead. This is the fourth in that series.”

I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning. I love having a clean, clutter free home. But there’s always Netflix which keeps calling my name. There are several lessons I’ve learned that shaped how I view cleaning, and some of those lessons turned into life lessons. I want to share them with you here.

Don’t wait until it’s dirty to clean

For some of you, this may have been obvious, but for me I had to learn this. And I didn’t learn this until I was around 18.

After high school, I baby-sat and did light cleaning for one of the families I went to church with. I remember that she asked me to dust the living room. It was pretty dusty and I remember thinking, “Well I know how dirty it can get before I need to dust it again.” And then it hit me – you’re not suppose to wait until something is dirty to clean, you clean it to keep it from getting that way! I had had a real life “lightbulb” moment.

And I’m sharing this because maybe there are other’s out there who need that same lesson.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

I have The Fly Lady to thank for this lesson. My Mom was always buying organization books and making me and my Sister read them. Obviously, I hadn’t paid too close of attention to them or I wouldn’t have needed to learn the lesson above, but anyway…

The Fly Lady said that imperfect cleaning was better than not cleaning at all. Which went against pretty much everything my Mom had taught me. If you were going to vacuum, you had to get every corner, and under all the furniture. If you were going to dust you had to pick up every little knick knack and dust it.

This made cleaning a hassle, which meant that I hardly ever cleaned. But realizing that you didn’t have to get it perfectly, that complete is better than perfect, was a game changer for me, not just in cleaning, but in life.

Because here’s the thing, if you try to be perfect, you’ll fail. Perfection is impossible. So you end up not trying at all because you can’t get it perfectly. And that’s no way to live.

Clutter discourages cleaning

I grew up with a lot of clutter. My Mom, like my Poppy before her, never threw anything away. Ever. I didn’t inherit the hoarding gene. I can only live with clutter for so long, before I have to get rid of it. And I realized during my many decluttering sessions, that the less clutter I had the easier it was to keep things clean.

I was in my mid-twenties when I really started to gain control over the clutter in my life. I still lived at home so I could only control my bedroom, the bathroom, and the TV room my sister and I shared. But control it I did, and I kept the clutter down as much as I could, and that made cleaning seem like less of a chore.

Don’t judge other’s

I remember my Mom telling me a story about cleaning up her Granny’s kitchen when she young. One of her Aunts had come in and pulled up a corner of the kitchen rug, and there was all kinds of dirt there. My Mom had been so embarrassed. This was why she always felt like she had to get in every corner when she cleaned.

I think about this story now, and it makes me mad. Who goes into another person’s house and pulls up the rugs to check for dirt? I never knew this Aunt so maybe her intentions were just to teach my Mom a lesson, not to embarrass her. I don’t know. But my point is, it wasn’t her house, so she had no right to be looking under rugs.

And there are people who go into other people’s homes and immediately start judging. That’s so wrong. Maybe their place is a mess. So what? We need to remember that we don’t know what their day, or week, or month has been like. We need to have more grace with each other. The only rugs we need to be looking under are our own.

What are some cleaning lessons that you’ve learned? What shaped how you viewed cleaning? Let me know in the comments!

4 important life lessons learned from cleaning


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