Unf*%& Your Habitat: Why “Company Ready” is Just the Beginning

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: for whatever reason, someone is coming to your house. And you’re in a complete panic, frantically cleaning whatever you can get to as quickly as you can, just so the house will be “company ready” for your guests. I think we all know that scramble. It’s pretty universal to panic at the thought of inviting someone into our mess. We know someone’s coming over, and suddenly the house just isn’t good enough. It’s not clean enough. There’s too much stuff everywhere. They’re going to judge me.

Here’s a serious question, though: why do your guests deserve to have your house look nice more than you do? They’re only there for a small fraction of time; you’re there every day. Why don’t you deserve to have the place looking nice and neat and clean? There’s something very deeply ingrained in us that says that what other people think of us is the most important thing. But why do you think that you shouldn’t be able to look around where you live and find it comfortable?

Maybe you think, “Oh, I’m just a messy person, so I don’t care about the mess, but my visitor will.” If you truly didn’t care, you wouldn’t be scrambling to clean up before someone crosses the threshold. You’re speed-cleaning because you do care, just not enough to make it nice for yourself. You need to cut that out. Sure, maybe your guest will notice the level of cleanliness (or lack of), but I’m a big fan of not inviting people into my space who don’t appreciate me for me. I only pull out the micro-level cleaning for parents and landlords, and even then, I feel weirdly guilty about it, like why do these people who don’t even live here get to see the place at its best and I don’t? Having people visit should not cause you stress. (Well, again, parents and landlords, but still.)

Focus on making your house “you ready.” Bring it, gradually, up to your standards of cleanliness. This will not be an immediate process, and it might not be an easy one. Do a little at a time. Start with what you think are the most obvious “problem areas”; the first places you’d rush to clean if someone else were coming over. Make it so that you’re comfortable, and so that you enjoy looking around your home. When you reach that point, your house will always be company ready. You’re the most important person who will step through your door. Try to make your living space reflect that.

9 replies on “Unf*%& Your Habitat: Why “Company Ready” is Just the Beginning”

Yup. I love this logic. Sometimes I think if I lived by myself it wouldn’t be so bad, but that is probably a lie. At least most of the time it is “company ready/me ready” about half the week- starting with the weekend, then slowly degrading between long days and unwashed dishes and I-live-in-the-northeast-in-winter boots. Then Thursday/Friday the list of chores on the whiteboard gets longer… Saturday morning is for brunch and cleaning and music. I do wish I could keep it “company ready/me ready” for longer, though.

I like to leave the house “vacation ready”- though often I spend more time cleaning instead of packing pre-vacation. I’m always happy when I come home though.

A year or two ago I started working on the front entry way- keeping it presentable goes a long way to setting the tone of “everything in it’s place” for my family, plus unexpected pop-ins by the neighbors see the tidiest part of the house.

I like to keep my apartment, “Going on vacation ready.” Which is clean to the point that I would feel like I didn’t have to do anything if I came back from a long vacation.

That said, I’m pretty tidy generally. Cleaning is my procrastination of choice and when I’m feeling stressed, cleaning is what i do. I can’t control other people, but I can control the cleanliness of my floors! Cleaning might also be why I’ve never finished the next Great American novel.

We finally have a clean apartment again, and just in time too because until yesterday, we had yet to put away our Christmas loot or the piles of clean laundry that had been done over the holidays. We had to dodge and tiptoe around the apartment. It’s good that there is clear space everywhere now though because Mr. Dormouse is home with a nasty stomach bug and dodging piles of stuff while running to the bathroom is not optimal! (Our apartment is linear with the bedroom on one end and the bathroom on the opposite end.)

Anyway, I like your spin on “company ready.” I feel much better when our place is orderly and clean, why should I wait until my parents or friends come over to clean it all?

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