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It was one of those weeks…
We had been super busy, in and out of the house just long enough to leave stuff where we dropped it and head out to the next thing.
And the house was a wreck!
There were dirty dishes in the living room, the bedrooms, the bathroom… (the bathroom?! Don’t ask.)
I wasn’t sure which pile of laundry was clean and which was dirty. A week’s worth of mail sat on the kitchen counter soaking in some unidentifiable stickiness. Is that jelly or ketchup?
And company was coming.
This is when the magic happens, my dear. When every member of the family snaps in to gear and suddenly you’re able to clean more in one hour than you were able to do all month long!
Fortunately, we’ve gone to great lenghts to declutter and discard unused items so most of our things are easy to put away.
As we were hustling along and tidying up my oldest daughter paused and asked me, “What would happen if we didn’t clean up? I mean, would they think we were terrible or something?”
This was one of those moments when I gave an answer I was proud of…and I have no idea where it came from. I felt like I was learning the lesson myself as the words came from my mouth:
“Oh, honey,” I said, “We don’t clean up because of what they will think of us. We clean up to make our guests feel welcome.”
We clean to make our guests feel welcome.
This is the essence of hospitality, making others feel welcome, at ease, comfortable. And so…
I don’t mop for guests.
If my goal is a home that swells with hospitality, I need to consider what aspects of a home are inviting. What makes a home welcoming?
Too Clean is Not Welcoming
Have you ever been in a home that is so clean you were afraid to touch anything? Can I sit here? Can I move this pillow? Am I allowed to set my cup on this table?
There is a certain level of cleanliness that is uncomfortable. Even on my most stringent cleaning days, I don’t think my home reached that level! I’m just not that great a housekeeper. But I also hold myself to a different standard. If my goal is to make my guests at ease, I must remember who they are and create a space that is comfortable for them.
Ever heard it said, “Clean like the Queen of England is coming!”? I mean, yeah, I guess…if the Queen of England really is coming!
If it’s just my friend from Mothers of Preschoolers then I think she would be more comfortable knowing she isn’t the only one with dried play-doh stuck to the kitchen chair legs and goldfish crackers perpetually crushed into the couch cushions.
Surveys show that the number one source of mom guilt for working moms is “a messy house” and for stay-at-home moms, it ranks number two. My desire is for my home to be a place of acceptance, welcome, love, and never a source of guilt for other moms. A little dirt in the corners may just make someone feel okay about their own place.
Too Messy is Not Welcoming
It’s not like we don’t clean at all though! Too messy is also distracting and discomforting.
In a cluttered home, every object calls out for your attention. Piles of paper demand to be sorted and tossed. Baskets of laundry long for folding and rest in their closets and dressers. They whisper lies of inadequacy and hurl guilt trips. A cluttered home leaves us feeling distracted and stressed. I should be better at this, we think to ourselves.
Our guests may find themselves unsure of where to sit or what to do. Can I move this pile of junk or will that mess up your “organizational system”? Where can I set my cup that isn’t on some wobbly stack of stuff?
Worse than clutter are the signs of filth. Splatters on the mirror hint at unseen germs on the faucet. Dirty dishes lead to doubts about the safety of your food preparation.
No, we cannot ignore the messes.
A home needs to be kept tidy and sanitary to be a place for people to relax and enjoy themselves, but the mark of great hospitality is more than the cleanliness of the house.
A Welcoming Home is More than Clean
A frazzled hostess who has spent all day scrubbing every last surface has little to no energy left to enjoy her guests.
A stressed-out family that has been screaming orders at each other all day will come to hate having people over. “It’s too much work and too much stress.”
And your guests will pick up on your tension too. No one wants to feel like a burden. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed from getting your home ready, your guests will feel uneasy too.
To really welcome others into your home, you need to be able to calm yourself, enjoy their presence, and focus on the interactions between people. That’s the mark of good hospitality!
A Home Should Be Welcoming for Its Residents, Too
A level of cleanliness that is comfortable and happy for guests, is also comfortable and happy for your family. They are the ones who live here. Don’t they deserve welcoming and pleasant environment?
I never liked the thought of keeping a home “company ready” because in my mind that meant spotless and perfect with a museum-like quality. If I relax my standards for company and raise my standards for everyday comfort, suddenly “company ready” is within reach.
And so, I mop….
I wipe the counters, and I tidy up. I fluff the pillows and turn on the essential oils diffuser.
I do this for guests, but also just for us, because hospitality isn’t about what others will think of me.
The essence of hospitality is making others feel welcomed…even the ones who live here.
Do you struggle with feeling like your home doesn’t “measure up” to entertaining guests? Tell me your biggest challenging with hospitality and entertaining. Comment below, email me at [email protected] or JOIN the Conversation in our Facebook Group!
I can’t wait to hear what cleaning for company looks like in your house.
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