Members of my household generally agree we clean for company because we want to make our guests feel comfortable, and by comparison, our normal cleanliness level isn’t. Most days I believe the house has me in a “happy place” cloud and I honestly don’t see the dirt. I am complacent until such time we are notified that someone is coming over. The “I-live-in-a-clean-house” drug wears off and I come out of my trance to the reality that…(gasp), I am a messy housekeeper!
If you arrive unannounced at our home, you will most likely “bust” us as we truly live—as dusty oafs, sitting around in a living room of filth, dirty dishes and dog hair. You will definitely find clutter, unfolded towels in the bathroom and the toilet paper roll off its dispenser. If you’re lucky, you might even see the artwork my daughter sculpts with the nearly-dry toothpaste in the sink.
If you give us notice, however, the scene is quite different. The counters will be sparkling, knickknacks dusted on the coffee table, vacuum cleaner stripes on the carpet, bathrooms in full “spa-mode” and the whole place will smell like either Fantastic or pine-scented Mr. Clean (new concept: room spray that smells like your room again, so it’s not so obvious you’ve JUST been cleaning). We will be casually sitting in the living room wearing clean clothes, thumbing through magazines, when you arrive, pretending like “of course—this is the way we always live.”
This tradition of “The Pre-Company Cleaning Frenzy” goes way back. My Mom had bed sheets on our sofas year round. They would be taken off just prior to a guest’s arrival along with the arm rest covers, so that we inhabitants were treated to “full furniture access” for a short span of time. Also, if my Dad was home at the time, he would blow the dust out of the piano with his air compressor. We had “good” towels that we put out for company only--the ones that were perpetually thick. We also got much better food.
To me, there are three degrees of guests: Long-range planned guests, shorter-notice guests (1-2 hour), and finally….the most feared……the “They’ll be here in 20 minutes” notice company.
Not even an issue—there’s time to do everything: Stock the refrigerator with favorite foods, clean bedding, full floor washing on both levels and I’ve even been known to buy cut flowers and put mints on pillows.
1-2 HOUR RANGE:
This happened today and as soon as we hung up the phone, my husband jumped up like something bit him and rushed outside, wordless, to pull the weeds in our garden. I immediately shifted into maid-mode and swiffered, vacuumed, dusted and ordered the kids around. I also got one bathroom ready (de-toothpasted counter and fluffy towels displayed). But, don’t look in our master bathroom--where the sweaty clothes from sonic-fast cleaning lay!!
THEY’LL BE HERE IN 20 MINUTES:
My friend Toni said that once, out of desperation, and faced with the dreaded 20 minute company notice, she shoved all the garbage, dirty clothes and dishes into laundry baskets and put them in the trunk of her car (I have considered this.)
Priority-1 Protocol is:
1. Clean out sink and clear an area to sit at kitchen table.
2. Make sure there’s a full roll of toilet paper.
3. Close-off access to “restricted areas” (use guard-dog if necessary)
4. Light candles and trail a stream of Febreeze behind me as I hear the doorbell ring.
“Mom—it’s not like the house inspector is coming.” Krista states, simply. The truth is our guests don’t really care what our house looks like. My Aunt Mary Ellen said it once, “I come to visit you, not your house.” But there’s something about company that makes us want to put our best foot forward—oh, but dust that foot off first!