A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing
Review posted January 21, 2023.
Simon Element, 2022. 152 pages.
Review written January 8, 2023, from a library book.
2022 Sonderbooks Standout:
#2 General Nonfiction
Oh, how I wish this book had existed when I was a young wife and young mother!
Now? Well, I'm not drowning so much as I was then -- but I still have some mental hang-ups around housework, and this book helps soothe them, even though that soothing isn't quite as desperately needed.
And this book is so soothing! And so gentle! And so soul-feeding!
The basic message of this book is this: "Care tasks are morally neutral."
And underlying that message is calling them "care tasks" instead of "chores" -- thus taking away a sense of duty.
I also love that she doesn't try to shame you into getting your space more organized. She doesn't prescribe a certain way of doing things and acknowledges that everyone is different and what's functional for you is what works.
When I viewed getting my life together as a way for trying to atone for the sin of falling apart, I stayed stuck in a shame-fueled cycle of performance, perfectionism, and failure.
When will we learn that shame and scolding and punishment is not a good way to improve? This book is full of gentleness that will inspire you.
Doing care tasks is not a duty, but a kindness to future you. All part of self-care.
And the book is full of kind tips for helping yourself do those care tasks and live a functional life.
The way the author ends the Introduction is beautiful and healing, and will give you an idea of what you'll find in this book:
I'll say it again: you don't exist to serve your space; your space exists to serve you.
In this book, I'm going to help you find your way of keeping a functional home -- whatever "functional" means for you. Together, we are going to build a foundation of self-compassion and learn how to stop negative self-talk and shame. Then, and only then, can we begin to look into ways to maneuver around our functional barriers. I have so many tips for how to clean a room when you are feeling overwhelmed, how to hack motivation for times when you feel like doing nothing, how to organize without feeling overwhelmed, ideas for getting the dishes and the laundry done on hard days, and lots of creative hacks for working with a body that doesn't always cooperate. And we are going to do it without endless checklists and overwhelming routines.
As you embark on this journey I invite you to remember these words: "slow," "quiet," "gentle." You are already worthy of love and belonging. This is not a journey of worthiness but a journey of care. A journey of learning how we can care for ourselves when we feel like we are drowning.
Because you must know, dear heart, that you are worthy of care whether your house is immaculate or a mess.
I highly encourage you to check out this book if you have any level of emotional baggage with care tasks.