Monday, May 16, 2011

Cleaning for Company

Do most people clean when they're expecting company? I know my mom and dad did a lot of cleaning and spiffing before my wedding. I've heard friends advise that a good way to keep up on your housecleaning is to invite company every two or three weeks. Some friends at church spent anywhere from 3-10 days cleaning house before the Scandinavians came to visit last week.

I must be a schlock. I didn't clean for our international company.

Many years ago, when I was still struggling with how to run a household and keep up with the chores, I read Don Aslett. When I finished the first book, I determined that I would no longer clean for company. I would clean for us. I would keep the house as clean as I wanted it ... well, I'd try to. But it would be for our sakes, not for the sake of company.

Sometimes the kids will think they caught me cleaning for company. If I'm two weeks overdue on vacuuming the living room, and I know that I won't be vacuuming for the next four days because of spending time with company, I may just run the vacuum before the guests come. But it's because I'm already stressed that the floor is dirty, and because I'm going to be a whole lot more stressed if the rug is gathering up three weeks' worth of grime. Sometimes those jobs don't get done before company, though, so they're done after the company leaves.

So here we were, with a stranger coming to visit, someone from another country who might very well be getting his first impressions of an American home. And I didn't clean. That's probably rotten of me. But I didn't want to be stressed over the approaching visit.

You know what?
You know WHAT???

When we came home from vespers with Dag, we couldn't get into the garage. Then we noticed that none of the neighbors had any lights on. Hmmmm. Sure enough -- no electricity because of the storms earlier. It was the longest power outage that our family had experienced in probably 10 years or more. So here we are, hunting up candles and matches, putting fresh batteries into flashlights, having Dag use his flashlight to point out the spot on the map where he lives. There's no water because we're on a well that uses a pump that runs on electricity. (I sure am glad I used the potty at church before heading home!) We used matches to light the gas stove and sauteed some asparagus from the garden. We sat around the kitchen and got to know each other in a room filled with candlelight. And it was wonderful in spite of the silly inconvenience!

The next morning, the thought crossed my mind:
If I had cleaned for company, Dag wouldn't even have been able to see my hard work to be impressed by my feigned immaculateness!

I feel vindicated.


  1. I clean like mad before company, and Alex always asks, "Why don't you clean like this for me?" Good question.

    I keep the place picked up and vacuumed (due to dog hair) on a regular basis, but the nitty gritty stuff (scrubbing baseboards, dusting, sorting through piles of paperwork) always occurs before someone is coming to visit. Good thing we have a lot of visitors!

  2. I do clean for company. I haven't had a lot of company this year. You may draw your own conclusions.

  3. I only tidy up a bit, make sure there's no dirty clothes of an embarrassing nature showing in the laundry hamper (which is in our single bathroom) and check that hand towels are clean and there's enough TP. I clean AFTER company comes, as my Grandmother taught me to do. :-)