I grew up in a very magical and creative home, my dad an antique dealer my mum a designer so our house was filled with clutter, interesting bits of furniture, bold colours and collections and to be quite honest with you trying to keep it clean could be a bit of a nightmare. It was a beautiful Queen Anne house so had all sorts of nooks and crannies, wonky bits of skirting board and uneven surfaces most certainly not a place that lent itself to minimalism.
When I say that it was difficult to clean, I don’t mean that we lived in a dirty house far from it, both my mum and my dad worked very hard to keep the house lovely but they weren’t obsessive about it. Yes floors were hoovered or swept, rooms tided kitchen surfaces cleaned, ornaments dusted but it wasn’t all consuming.
I appreciate I’m exceptionally lucky as the memories of my childhood and time at home with my parents were all about the people in our house, the people who needed a place to stay, the people who needed an escape route from whatever they were going through, the house was filled with love and kindness and there was always a spare bed for someone who might need it. When my parents weren’t working we would go out and explore local countryside, take our grandparents out for cream teas for Sunday lunch or do the usual household chores which were required from all of us.
If this is all sounding a bit any Blyton-ish please do not be fooled we also went to school had to do homework, we are responsible for certain tasks, mum and dad both worked and were sometimes very tired and crabby just like the rest of us. We had times when we couldn’t afford to do much, times when we were able to do really lovely things, but the point I’m getting to in a rather long drawn out fashion is the fact that my childhood memories are not of my mum or my dad continually cleaning our house or ushering us to tidy bedrooms because visitors were coming, in fact when I asked my mum about this in adult life her response was “life is too short to dust Kate.”
And I think she’s right. I too am house proud, I also love my nice clean home and I like a sense of order, I don’t have the same amount of clutter that my parents did it’s not my style. My home is my sanctuary it’s a place where at the end of the day when I have worked with numerous clients I can just sit and be, I can have noise or not, I can watch television or not, it’s my home and I’ve stopped worrying about the dust.
I hold my hands up and admit that for quite a considerable while I did worry about the dust – my days off were consumed with cleaning, with getting the house just so, I struggled to sit down for five minutes without noticing a smudge on a window or a skirting board that needed wiping down and to be honest with you it was quite exhausting because who was I doing it for? The obvious answer is me and my husband, we like living in a nice clean home who wouldn’t? However there is clean and there is obsessively clean and the obsessively clean was taking up way too much time when I could be doing far more interesting things and creating far lovely memories.
My mum passed away nearly 5 years ago and at no point has anyone ever said to me I loved your house it’s a shame it wasn’t a little cleaner. What everyone remembers is the heart of their home the kindness that was always shown to whoever walked through the door the music playing the glass of wine or a cup of tea thrust in your hand to take the edge off of the day ,the person that would sit at the table and always listen not whether all the wonderful glass ornaments or collections that she had scattered around the house had a layer of dust on them- no one remembers that.
So when you’re writing your list of things to do for this week or the weekend maybe ask yourself how important are some of these things? Would I rather be out meeting friends or going to watch one of my children play football or going for a stomp on the beach getting some exercise and some fresh air or spending precious time with a relative, time that you might never get back? Could you be sitting down for 5 minutes enjoying a rest or should you be obsessively dusting?