Mary Randolph Carter, the Queen of Junk, once said that a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life. People who adhere to the proverb that says cleanliness is next to godliness may have a hard time accepting this sentiment, claiming that it gives people an excuse to neglect their household responsibilities. However, there’s something to be said for Carter’s belief, and for doing as Carter suggests in her book — give into your compulsions, buy that item that catches your eye and worry less about dust and more about doing what makes you happy.
The Case Against Cleanliness
First and foremost, do not take the thoughts expressed in this article as reasons to forego all your cleaning responsibilities and live a life of squalor. There is a fine line between letting the bed go unmade and letting mold grow over a stack of unwashed dishes. That said, a messy room does not equal a messy life.
You are not a bad person just because you let the kids leave their toys strewn all over the yard, or because you let a pile of folded clothes sit in the basket for a week before putting them away. In fact, letting small chores such as this take the backseat to much more fulfilling activities, such as playing with your kids or taking up an art project, shows you value your life and your time on this earth. So what can you do to live a more fulfilling, albeit messy, life? Below are a few ideas to help you get started.
An empty sink and spotless floor don’t help anyone. However, your volunteered time and resources do. Your time may be better spent volunteering at a children’s hospital, local animal shelter, local food bank or some other underserved organization. Instead of cleaning the same appliances, baseboards and walls over and over again every Saturday morning, dedicate one Saturday a month to making a true difference.
2. Call Your Parents
You set aside three to four hours of each weekend, at a minimum, to cleaning, but how much time do you dedicate to calling your elderly parents or grandparents? Chances are, not much. Use the 20 minutes you would spend cleaning the bathtub to call your mom just to say hi. It will make her day.
3. Go for a Walk
While a clean house certainly has its health benefits, not much is more refreshing or better for your health than a walk in the great outdoors. Walking for just 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure, boost your mood, reduce your risk of chronic disease, help you lose weight, increase your creativity, give you more confidence and boost your immunity. All these benefits add up to one substantial benefit, and that is a longer life.
4. Read a Book
When is the last time you read a book for pleasure? Chances are when you were young, single and still finding your place in this world. According to science, the average person can read 200 words per minute. That means that in just the three to four hours you would otherwise spend cleaning, you could read a classic, such as “Fahrenheit 451” or “The Great Gatsby.”
5. Write Down Your Prayers
You may say your prayers every night, but do you do it more out of habit or because you really want to converse with God? For many people, the answer is the former. If prayer has become a habit for you, use the time you would spend mopping or dusting to write down your thoughts. This allows you to quiet your mind and really listen to what God has to say.
The state of your home is not indicative of your quality of life, so stop letting it dictate how you live. If you don’t want to clean on any given weekend, don’t. Go out and do something that makes you happy instead.