Years ago, when my older daughter was in her first year at the primary school, I and a couple of other mums were invited to a home of her schoolmate. Big family: four children aged between 1 and 7. Medium to small size house with ongoing improvements of various scale being done to its parts. Mum, who managed to enjoy having fun with her children, cook cakes for the visitors and still have the basic family logistics sorted. And no, it wasn’t a temple of cleanliness and order.
I entered the house and immediately felt relaxed and at home. With a happy sigh I said “What a lovely mess!” and then explained how at ease the place made me feel and how stiff and insecure one can feel in the immaculate kind of homes.
And then, on many occasions, I caught myself feeling bad about the imperfection of my own house and worse – apologising to my visitors for this and that. Took me years to see the error of my ways and, finally I am saying “no” to all that. My house is a reflection of my life. Life is always in the state of becoming. Perfection is an indication of death. I happy to be alive. I am happy for my house to be a developing site. I am alive, my home is alive, I am happy with the way it is now! And I want my visitors to feel happy and easy.
“I’ve always thought that having a clean, put-together home (code: perfect) would make guests feel the most at ease, but I’ve found that the most comfortable homes I’ve visited have been the ones where the host was perfectly content with whatever level of cleanliness or disarray their house happened to be in when I stopped by…”
I agree with everything and also promise to myself to stop saying and doing the following:
“1. “Sorry for the mess”
First of all, is it actually a mess? Or do you have like, one throw pillow off center and a pair of shoes near the door? Even if it is a total mess in your eyes — how likely of a chance is it noticeably messy to someone else? And even if it really is a hugely disgusting mess, why point it out? If someone brings it up (probably don’t invite them again), feel free to explain you’ve had a busy week and then move on to wowing them with your charming personality.
2. “You’ll have to excuse…” (all the projects you can see that need doing/finishing but your guests probably haven’t noticed)
This is similar to number one. Yes, to you that loose doorknob and unfinished light fixture is glaring. But again, it’s about not calling attention to your home’s minor flaws and championing all the things you have DIYed successfully. I’m going to try to start drawing a guest’s attention to a recently completed DIY project that went well instead of give them a long list of all the things I still want to complete.
3) Not accepting any praise and deflecting compliments
Accepting praise and compliment is difficult in many areas of life for plenty of folks, and that can often stretch to the home. Saying “it was nothing” or that “someone could do it better” aren’t the way to go. Neither is being sarcastic or immediately trying to turn the conversation back to the compliment giver. Deflecting compliments by putting yourself and your home down is actually not very kind to the person giving your home a (probably well-deserved) compliment. Next time a guest says something nice about your home, consider smiling big and saying “Thanks! I really appreciate you saying that.”
Do you say and point out negative things to guests when they first come into your space? Or have you rid yourself of that habit? Or do you think giving attention to the things you’re insecure about is a good habit to have?”