How many times have you said, “once ____ is over, I will do ____?” Too often, we find ourselves waiting for the “right time” to do the things we have always wanted to do. But days and years go by, the “right time” never arrives, and many of those things never get done.
I lived that way for a long time, but I don’t anymore. It’s not because I have taken care of everything else, or because the “right time” has finally arrived. It’s because my paradigm for how life unfolds has changed. And it changed as a result of something I learned from housekeeping.
I got married when I was 23. Eager to fulfill the “role” of “good wife,” I put myself in charge of housekeeping. My standards for housekeeping were the ones I had grown up with. I grew up in a home in which dusting, vacuuming, mopping, laundry, and ironing was done every single week day. So my standards were high. But given that I had a full time job, and none of the assistance my parents had in the home, I failed at meeting them immediately.
So I decided to do all my housekeeping a few times a month, on a Saturday or Sunday. As a result, I was dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, mopping, laundering, and ironing on many precious weekends. Housekeeping was one of my priorities. I couldn’t enjoy other things until it was done. And I told myself that I would have fun when it was taken care of. Except, it never was.
No matter how often I scrubbed and cleaned, dusted and mopped, laundered and ironed, I found that had to do it again a few days later. That got old. Quickly. And even on the days it was done, I was too tired to do anything fun. So I didn’t. I struggled to find a balance. And I put off living – for housekeeping.
Eventually, I decided to help myself. So I bought a book titled “Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House.” And it revolutionized more than my approach to housekeeping.
The book’s author discusses the feeling of never being done with one’s housekeeping; and suggests that it is possible to be done. The key is to set a routine for housekeeping tasks, and to decide that when everything is on schedule as you want it, you are “done.” When your home is humming along according to the routine you have chosen, you are “done.” As long as you are meeting the level of functioning that you want, you are “done.”
So, not everything needs to be taken care of before you feel satisfied. You can be done even when there is laundry in your basket, when dusting is needed, and when the bathtub is waiting for a scrub. You can move on freely. You can live.
This paradigm changed how I saw life.
Consequences of being alive.
I realized that the necessity for housekeeping was a consequence of my being alive. As long as I lived, I would use my home, and I would have some housekeeping to do. My work would only be done when I was. The same was true about other aspects of life.
Our lives are constantly evolving. Good things happen. Followed by bad. And good. We get busy. We free up. We get busy again. We struggle. We don’t. Then we struggle again. These too are consequences of our being alive. They will cease to exist only when we do.
All our reasons for not doing the things we want to do will exist as long as we live. So we can’t put off living because of them. We have to live despite them. Because if we wait for them to be gone, we will be gone with them.
Permission to live.
So, as long as our lives are humming along, we are “done enough” to do what we have always wanted to do. We can give ourselves permission to do other things. We can give ourselves permission to live.