Why do we feel the need to super clean our houses when friends are coming round? Surely you're misrepresenting yourself with all the extra vacuuming, wiping and bleaching? Are guests really that much important than the people who live in your house?
I was listening to Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford on Newstalk ZB last week. Great radio. Not quite the Matt and Jerry Breakfast Show on Hauraki. But still entertaining. They were talking about housework and how we feel guilty when friends arrive and the place isn't spotless.
It got me thinking. Why do we care? Why the hell do we do it? Is it to impress guests? Is it to make them feel bad about the way they live? You're not selling the place so why are you running an open home?
You know those friends who post endless "happy family" photos on instagram? They need the world to know they have an amazing life. "Best holiday ever."
Of course everything was rubbish before and after the photo. It's a charade. The more photos posted, the worse the holiday. If you spend your time focused on Instagram it's not a holiday, it's an expensive on-location amateur photo shoot. Fulfilling holidays are focused on the people with you and the places you go.
I believe the pre-guest super clean comes from a similar place. You're running a facade. Surely the work you put into your house should be for the people who live in it. Clean it for yourself and your family, not to gain approval from guests. It's all a big spray-and-wipe virtue signal.
Obviously, friends should feel comfortable at your place. Your house should have a roof. Seats to sit on. It shouldn't be overly stinky. If your kid has committed an horrific porcelain crime in the bathroom, there's a special brush for that.
No one wants to see your smalls all over the lounge. Kick them under the couch. If you have a major rat infestation maybe set some traps a few days out. If you have a gang problem in the hallway, call the cops.
But why the complete wall rubdown? Wiping pot plant leaves? Scrubbing the back of the TV? Lining up the kids' toys like they live in a shop? Why does the place have to be better for friends than the family that lives there? You're not running a hotel. They aren't paying guests.
Matt Heath: Why the demon drink isn't all bad
Matt Heath: What your cellphone history says about you
Having people over should be fun and relaxed. But hours of cleaning stress can leave you angry and tired. I was forced into so much cleaning a few weekends back that I had nothing in the tank for the dinner party. I over-hydrated to calm down and got into an intense political argument. I got sent to bed early. Things got messy as a direct result of the cleaning.
How about this situation?
You're out with friends. You say "let's go to mine". You ring home and get the "No, the place is a mess". Good times ruined because certain people would rather be alone than have their friends see how they actually live.
In the end the very people you have cleaned for leave a horrific mess. More bottles than your recycling bin can take, more dishes than can possibly fit in the washer and at least one glass of red wine on the white shag-pile rug. The house you spent the day cleaning is now messier then before you started.
"Why did I clean for pigs,"' you yell into the void as you pick butts out of plants on the deck.
Let's put a stop to this dishonest, vicious, arms race. Let's present our houses to each other the way we live in them. No more than a 15-minute clean-up.
Friends don't clean their houses when friends are coming round.