Archive for the ‘children’s literature’ Category

Cleaning Philosophy

March 8, 2008

I am not a person that just does. I have to know why. I like to think about things. So it is with cleaning my house. Rather than just emptying the dishwasher, I ponder at the rationale of doing so.

The concept of “mess” or “cleaning” often comes up in conversation with other moms. There seem to be two extremes of cleanliness, which people tend to label as “neat freak” or “anal” vs “slob” or even “pig”. I have a great campaign against labels of any sort and tend to try to find a middle ground. I, myself like to have a spotless house, but I also notice the reality of little piles, spills, smears and dust.

To find a middle ground, I think of the value of cleanliness as related to the concept of “home”. There is the issue of safety, hygiene and organization. We want to provide our families with a home that has beauty, freshness, open spaces and clean surfaces.

I would also like to explore the benefits of “mess”. Many children do not seem concerned about the amount of dirt, clutter and muck that is around them. When they read a book, it does not seem natural for them to put the book back, but rather to create a pile of books. How do we see this? Do we say “What a mess!!” or “Wow! Look at all the books you’ve read!!!”

One of my favourite children’s books, Jillian Jiggs, written by Pheobe Gillman explores this idea. Jillian’s mom appears restrictive as all she wants to do is clean the house. She misses the wonderful creativity and imagination that Jillian displays, making mess in the process.

Both mess and cleanliness can be stifling if they hinder freedom and expression, and if they are tied too closely to self-esteem. For example, would you feel embarrassed if someone came over and saw your house in a “state”? I know I do. Why is this?

I am still developing my own cleaning philosophy, but for now I like to think of cleaning as loving my home, and my home is not a place of perfection. Instead, it’s “fairly clean”.

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:38-42