Many of us are familiar with the lore of the mom who got fed up with cleaning up after her family and went on strike. She stopped doing the dishes and the laundry and just let it pile up everywhere. Eventually, her family realized how much the mom does for them and discovered a newfound appreciation for her. Well, I wouldn't say I was recently inspired to stop cleaning my house because I think my husband and kids take me for granted; I know they do. And not that I'm OK with that, but if I'm being honest, my recent cleaning ban had more to do with the fact that I'm hugely pregnant and feeling rather lazy these days. So, I decided to take a break from my usual clean-freak ways, and just relax.
Last week, I just stopped cleaning. I stopped vacuuming, dusting, mopping, obsessive bed-making, and constant laundering. When I'd typically be scrubbing bathroom sinks, I sat down on the sofa. I played with my youngest daughter instead of emptying the dishwasher the moment the wash cycle was over. I glanced over at the playroom looking like a band of pirates had just plundered it and shrugged. I was too darn tired to waddle over and bend down to put the My Little Ponies back in the proper bin. And guess what? Letting my house go didn't kill me.
In fact, at first, shifting my focus away from keeping my house spotless was beyond liberating. I felt like there were more hours in the day, and I recognized how many other things I could do with the time I'd usually spend putting away laundry, polishing stainless-steel appliances, and vacuuming the sofa. Surveying my imperfect home didn't even give me major heartburn like it has in the past. Because I'd had a few extra minutes to do yoga, read to my kids, and lie down on the couch to relish in tiny baby kicks inside my belly.
Of course, flash-forward a few days, and I'll admit that my dirty house was starting to majorly irk me. There's only so long one can feel all Zen in the midst of doll hair clumps all over the carpet, a pile of dirty clothes waist-high, and a bathroom sink coated with sparkly, blue toothpaste. So I'm back to cleaning my house pretty regularly, although after my week-long vacation from picking up after everyone, I'm feeling a little more chilled out about how quickly chores need to get accomplished.
I've learned that sometimes a task can wait. Like when I'm exhausted, or when my little one wants to snuggle up and watch Littlest Pet Shop in my lap. But other times, there's no way to avoid the fact that a sink full of dishes needs my attention. Moral of my story: Give yourself a break once in a while, whether it's an hour, a day, or a week. Take in the moment, whether that means playing with your kiddos, trying out one of those new disposable face masks, or holding your hubby's hand while you binge on Netflix. But giving up cleaning your house forever is just plain gross.