housecleaning, homekeeping + hospitality


With all of my desire to push the informality of hospitality in order to get more people to open their homes, I’m worried that I may have taken it too far.

The other afternoon after church, it suddenly made sense to have someone over for lunch. Luckily we got in the door first – I quickly scooped up some clothes, moved some stuff into drawers and boxes, but overall, I would have felt more at ease had the house been just a bit tidier.

I still stand by what I said in an earlier post that it’s extremely important NOT to spring clean whenever you are planning to have guests come by. But what about when you don’t have something planned far in advance?

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive treatise on what I’d like to call “homekeeping” (vs. the “house cleaning,” no speck of dust posture, which I think tends to be unhelpful) but just a reflection on the fact that keeping up a cleaner home promotes a greater inclination towards hospitality. So, here are a few of my latest gleanings.

Keep general items/knickknacks minimal, especially in much-used living areas.

This could be an outcome of my Pinterest observations on the trend towards minimalism and I think it’s something that the population in general could learn from! It’s a lot easier to invite people over when you don’t have as many items out to dust and tidy. Try eliminating unneeded things from around your home and see if it doesn’t help you breathe a little better.

Be able to wipe the counters in your kitchen.

It is guaranteed that your guests will make their way through or into the kitchen – it’s the heart of the home, after all! So why not make the extra effort to keep things clean? After a meal, do your best to put all dishes into the dishwasher or get them to the dish rack (or at least a sink of soapy water). Put away leftovers as soon as you can, and don’t leave pots and pans on the stovetop if possible (ahem, often guilty).

Do the extra thing.

What I mean by this is that while you’re doing any small household task, go the extra mile to finish the task well. For example, when you open a fresh carton of rice milk and the little metal tab on the top needs to be thrown out, throw it out right away! Don’t just leave it on the counter (for days… hehe). When you make tea, rinse the tea filter right afterwards, or throw out the tea bag! When you finish vacuuming, put the vacuum back in the closet! I used to let things sit for days before I would clean them, but I’ve now realized the ginormous amount of time saved by cleaning on the go. (Not to mention it helps reduce stress if last minute guests pop in.)

Keep a certain stock of things in your home to offer others.

My go-to list would be pasta & tomato sauce (Italians have got it down pat, okay?), and dry cookies in the pantry. And in the fridge, cheese and milk (for coffee). Of course, fresh fruits or veggies are always nice to have, but if you have to have things that will take a long time to go bad, I’ve found that these are nice to have to offer a simple meal or to offer when someone comes by for tea or coffee!

I’m learning, with having purchased a home, that (to borrow a phrase used in another context) with a home comes great responsibility!

There is a certain healthy kind of pride that can be developed with homekeeping that makes hospitality even easier. You could attribute it to my hardworking Mennonite heritage, but I’m growing to be a strong believer in the value of taking care of things.

The gift of a home (or a rented apartment, or co-owned space) is not for wielding over others with pride, as if to show off or use to make you look good, but for offering to others as a safe and comfortable space.

In other words, I’m learning that homekeeping is part of the responsibility of having a home and therefore hospitality.

Are there any strategies that help you keep your home tidy? How do you feel about “letting it all hang loose” vs. keeping a clean house?

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