Why Latinas should stop stressing about the perfectly clean home

When I get home after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is clean my house. But, like many of us, my mom taught me not to keep a reguero in my house. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at cleaning and organizing so this New Year’s I set a resolution to keep my house looking perfectly clean.

Now it’s almost the end of January and I still haven’t done much to fulfill my goal for 2012. With work, family, and social plans, who can ever find the time? But coming home and seeing my house a mess has started to stress me out. But the idea of having it all (the amazing family, a great job, a super-clean house and the cooking skills of my abuelita) and the worries that it brings may be worse than just dealing with the not-so-perfect reality.

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In a New York Times piece that takes a look at why women are still shockingly behind men in leadership positions, author Katrin Bennhold argues that we have to rise above the having it all mentality. And for me, that starts at home.

I spend more time obsessing over how I’m going to recreate my grandmother’s ropa vieja than I actually spend making it. When my mom comes for a visit, I spend the entire week before cleaning and organizing my house to the point that by the time she comes, I’m exhausted. The stress of the situation drives me crazy and, according to a new study, activates parts of my immune system causing inflammation that may lead to diseases like diabetes and cancer.

So I’m letting go of having the perfect home, for now. Instead, I am focusing on keeping it tidy and neat, most of the time. My strategy?

  1. Tackle one thing at a time, like dusting the living room in one evening instead of obsessing over having to do the entire house at the same time. Set a small goal for one night and don’t feel bad if you only get to half of it.
  2. Do it in 15-minute increments. When I have a little bit of a break between family plans, cooking or running an errand, I can take a little time to put away half the clean laundry, or wipe down the kitchen counters.
  3. Start in the mornings, when I have a bit more free time. If I wake up just a little earlier, I can get at least one task done. But the important thing is to do it regularly enough so that it becomes a part of your routine.

What is the “having it all” thing that you can let go of right now to stop stressing yourself out?

Image via Orin Zebest/flickr