My Mama said you can’t hurry clean —- just like you can’t hurry love.
And I’ve been spending about, oh, the last 20 years trying to prove the good woman wrong.
In a (long) moment of apparent brain blur, I tracked down, paid good money, and hauled home one impossible puppy.
Because clearly, in a house of 6 kids who are here pretty much 24/7, a full-time farmer, 1000 honking pigs, and more dirt than you can possibly imagine, we did not have enough insanity.
No, we needed a beast to rip apart every stinking garbage bag across the entire garage because the UPS man needs some disgust to tiptoe through at 2 in the afternoon.
We needed a canine to drag coats filthy into the flowerbeds, to line our walkway with the entrails of mangled shoes, mauled hats, and chewed up water bottles (Where? Where does he find these?) and, you know, we needed a dog to tear apart the BBQ cover to bits so now the naked BBQ looks like a tool chest right there on our front porch (I wish I were kidding — The BBQ is Red and is designed to look like a Craftsman tool chest — don’t ask. The Farmer won it— and because we have no back deck, there the red BBQ now sits like a toolchest, in all it’s redneck glory on the front porch, the dog smugly sleeping in the shreds of the BBQ cover I’ve counted on to give us some semblance of normalcy).
So, okay, my Mama may have had a point — right there at the end of her wagging finger — how in the name of all things sane can you hurry clean and a whole lot of love?
Well, Mama, this ain’t my first rodeo —
And after twenty years of homeschooling six crazy kids and getting to be wife to one fine, albeit greasy, gritty, farming man— these are a few of the things that I love — because they have proved (to some arguable extent) you can hurry clean — and don’t go telling any mama for one New York minute that doesn’t mean a whole lot of love, love to ease the mind.
6 Things Mamas Love As They Hurry The Clean & the Love
1. Rolling Shoe Drawer
Walk in that back door and roll that sucker out, toss in the shoes, and roll that drawer back in. Sanity — You’re welcome.
Shoebox: Self-built. One plywood box. Beadboard front. Rubber wheels from the country hardware store where we just walk in, find our wheels, holler put it on The Farmer’s bill, and truck it home to happiness. Top the rolling box with a wooden step. Call it, not merely good, but a lifesaver. Mudroom goes from complete chaos to what we like to call authentic farmhouse.
On top of Rolling Shoe Drawer? Two wire baskets. One Basket for Outgoing: a book to return to my Mama, egg cartons to go to my sister and her flock of hens. One Basket for Incoming: Hats. Mainly a lot of farm hats. This little trinity back in the mudroom, rolling shoe drawer, two baskets — has definitively lowered my blood pressure.
2. Kid Lockers
That, well, aren’t really lockers at all. They are drawers. 6 spice drawers. Along the kitchen island.
I find kid stuff anywhere? Goes to your drawer. You can’t close your drawer? Time to clean your drawer.
Kids glasses, keys, wallets, combs, papers, hairbands, batters, headsets — I find it, I’m not hauling up to your bedroom — just slip it in Kid’s Locker. Be it Spice drawers, hanging pockets, pull baskets, bona fide lockers, whatever the cubby may be, I’m thinking these are a few of the things every speed cleaner needs: Kid Lockers for Home.
3. Just 5 Steps More
It’s an ongoing refrain here, my ridiculous, relentless Mama symphony rising above the domestic cacaphony: 5 Steps More!
5 Steps more will get that away. 5 Steps More and the clothes are away, 5 Steps More that dish is in the dishwasher, 5 Steps More that book is on the shelf. You are strong enough and you have time enough — for just 5 Steps More. You are just 5 Steps More away from a cleaner house.
Because the thing I keep saying and believing and living is: We get to make Art for the people who get to come behind us.
We get to make beauty, we get to leave loveliness, we get to make art for all who come in our wake — so they get to wake to wonder. So whether it’s in the kitchen, at a screen, with colleagues, with kids, in the house: Make Art. It brings glory to the Master.
And that Art happens? By getting everyone consistently on your 5 Steps More soundtrack.
4. 30 Minute Love SHAK
This is the Key, the absolute non-negotiable must-have Key. Every single day — for us, it’s right after dinner clean up — every single day, set the timer for 30 and every single person under your roof, does a 30 Minute Love SHAK — that would be 30 Minutes of Surprising Home Acts of Kindness. Yeah, sorta of like Random Acts of Kindness — but for your house. In your house.
And true — it’s technically, not surprising. But! If you think of it as surprising! As a way for all of you to surprise all of you with… clean bathroom! clean floors! clean counters! clean table! Then — it’s like random acts of kindness — for our own family! By your family.
Did you know — this is a true story— people who make Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) a habit— are more likely to have less stress, better health, and greater happiness?
So the deal is: Do Surprising Home Acts of Kindness — Love SHAKs — 30 minutes of random cleaning, just 30 minutes of every single person who lives here seeing something that needs to be cleaned —- and everybody cleaning as quickly as they can.
The point of everybody working together at the same time to surprise everybody? Everybody models the kindness of cleaning for each other, nobody gets to say what they’ve got going is too important to get in on loving each other, real progress is made because everybody is working fast and together, spurring each other on — and we all get to say we are on the same team.
Because if we don’t have 30 minutes a day to do what I call “Clean Your Own Bowl” — then something is very wrong with our days. For us personally, we don’t have a housecleaner here because this I believe: There is serious work done in our soul when we ‘clean our own bowl.’
When we clean our own cereal bowl, our own fish bowl, our own toilet bowl — when we take time to clean our own bowl — the inside of us is being cleaned of pride and self-importance and ego.
Around here, we live or die by our 30 Minute Love SHAKs. (Accompanied by soundtrack of your choice. Just crank it.)
5. If It Doesn’t Make You Smile — Make It Leave
That’s Bottom Line. On everything. Papers? Take a picture and let it go. Too many books (if that is possible)? Community library and let them go. Closets? Keep letting things go.
The decluttering habit of letting go fosters the spiritual discipline of letting go.
And the question of what you will keep in your house is actually the question of how are you going to live your life.
A life of simplicity is had by simply letting go — on every level.
Have Less. Be More.
6. PRETTY MUCH INSTANTLY MADE BEDS
This may be the thing I love most in Speed Cleaning for a Clean Enough House:
ONE-ZIP- PERFECTLY-MADE-BEDS — pretty much instantly made beds!
Honestly, it’s been a hard, wrestling, growing year. Maybe someday I will tell those stories, of all that’s been going on quietly behind closed doors here and deep in real and messy hearts. Sometimes being brave enough to speak of your unspoken broken is how God starts to speak more than enough healing.
So in the midst of the hard and unspoken broken — this has come along and changed our mornings — and brought a scandalous amount of peace to the start of the day.
I’m telling you, nothing has made our morning less stressful or less chaotic than these Beddy’s sheets.
Think fitted sheet, top sheet, and comforter all in one piece. With a zipper. The fanciest, strongest, easiest zipper you’ve ever seen. Think instantly made, classy bed — just pull up the zipper.
No sheets come untucked at night so that a kid (or mom) has to wrestle with a mess of sheets in the harried of the morning. No kids wakes up in the middle of the night cold and looking for a blanket — which means more sleep for weary parents. No stress at all in the morning: One Zip —- and the bed is entirely made. Perfectly.
Bed against a wall? (We have 2 of those) Never any bed-making stress again: One Zip — and the bed is perfectly made. Bunkbeds? (The kids always wanted 1 of those). Never any bed-making stress again: One Zip — and the bed is perfectly made. Bed on the floor in a loft or on a platform? (We have 1 of those on the floor of a teeny crawl loft) Never any bed-making stress again: One Zip — and the bed is perfectly made.
Oldest Son came home from university — took a look at the new One Zip, Perfectly Made Bed Beddy’s (Bed-ease) sheets on his bed and straight-up said these three things, in direct, quick succession:
- “How long have we known how to put a man on the moon, but didn’t think of the utter genius of this?” (He said this while he was zipping and unzipping the comforter, running his hand across the plush inner sheet.)
- “Every single university student should get the gift of one these brilliant things.” (He said this while he was grinning a mile-wide, zipping up the Beddy’s again to an instantly perfectly made bed.)
- “This bed invention, Mom? Might be the smartest little thing you’ve ever found.” (He said this while smiling directly at his old ma.)
He’s 20. He’s on scholarship for a double major in Economics and Entrepreneurship. He’s running a new tech start-up with his brother who’s in Mathematical Physics. The kid’s not at all easy to impress.
“Okay —- where in the world did you find these? Because every kid should ask for this for their birthday.” He was, admittedly, a little bit slack jawed. Exactly.
Because this little invention of a One Zip Perfectly Instantly Made Bed takes the stress out of mornings and makes the whole house up into a one obscenely peaceful happy family.
And you know what?
Made Beds matter.
This isn’t causation but the odds are stacked pretty high in favour of made beds:
“71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” makes the case that making the bed was “the number one most impactful change people made. Because? Turns out that making your bed is what they call a keystone habit. Keystone habits are those habits that are a catalyst for other good habits — which is exactly what I want to have happen for the kids.
You did catch that commencement speech at the University of Texas, by Navy Seal William H. McCraven? Who offered this as his #1 Big Life-Changing Habit for graduates,
If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day…. It will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
These One Zip Instantly, Perfectly Made Beds? Is a stress-free habit that is contagious and the catalyst for whole bunch of other good habits throughout the day. And, honestly, if your kids had terrible, awful, horrible, nothing was perfect day — there’s nothing like your kids having the gift of a perfectly made bed when they come back to their room at the end of a day. A made bed meets you like relief at the end of the day — like one thing went right.
Trust me — nothing has made me or the kids happier about mornings than the stress-free speed of instantly made, one-zip beds.
Best investment ever in stress-free mornings — because it’s the gift of not only stress-free mornings — but contagious habits throughout the day —- and welcoming evenings.
The dog ripped a blanket off the clothesline here yesterday and it’s torn up across the front lawn right now, a welcome banner of sorts for the mail lady this morning.
And the mess will get cleaned up today, the cleaning will happen today, we will make art and clean our own bowl and tend to our Love SHAK, and walk 5 steps more and we will have made beds because that’s a guaranteed making of better days — but Cleanliness isn’t next to godliness like Love is.
It’s the love we weave into the cleaning of the house, the matching of the socks, the working of our hands, that survives fire. It’s our love that we fold into our work that survives fire.
Sure, your mama said you can’t hurry love — but you can fold love into the work of your hands and you can make the hands work smart — and you can have more time for love.
There can be time for that.