This past Wednesday, my hubby came to me because our sister-in-law needed a place to host a birthday party for our brother because the original plan fell through. In the past, this would have sent me into a panic. But this time, no panic ensued. I cleaned the bathroom, dusted the living room furniture and vacuumed. It took less than an hour. What helped me? The Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club selection for November/December, How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by K. C. Davis, LPC. No book has so entirely changed my thinking and behavior.
I have had an unnatural relationship with cleaning my whole life. I cleaned every Friday since I can remember. Growing up in a Christian Conservative home, one of the factors that prompted this cleanliness saga every week was the idea that if Jesus were to show up at your home, you wanted it to be in the best possible condition it could be in. Additionally, as a wife and mother, it was my job to keep the house in order. I internalized this narrative into my core to the point that if I didn’t clean on Fridays, then I had an immense amount of guilt and shame. I felt like I had failed in my duty as a wife and mother.
In October 2022, I was struggling, drowning, with everything: mothering a elementary school age kid and the challenges that came with that, transitioning into a new career path, dealing with the aftermath of Covid, and all the awakenings that had happened. It was A LOT and I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically and slowly but surely falling apart.
I was talking to a good friend who had noticed not only my struggling but the fanatical way that I HAD TO clean my home every Friday. I explained my history surrounding cleaning and she said, “I’m sending you a book”. The book was our selection, How to Keep House While Drowning. I read it in one sitting.
The book is short, just over 150 pages. And Davis wrote it for maximum accessibility for readers who are neurodivergent. Paragraph and chapters are short with main points bolded. Davis also includes a shortcut journey, meaning she provides an abridged way to read the book even if you only have 30 minutes to do so.
The light finally dawned when Davis said, “If you are completing care tasks from a motivation of shame, you are probably also relaxing in shame too—because care tasks never end and you view rest as a reward for good boys and girls. So if you ever actually let yourself sit down and rest, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t deserve to do this. There is more to do.’ This is an incredibly painful way to live”. It is.
Davis provides practical tips for tidying your home (there are five steps), doing laundry, and washing dishes, among other things. She also includes how to speak to oneself, one of the most important tips for me.
If you’re struggling with keeping up with all of your tasks, give this little book a peek. You only have about 30 minutes to lose. But oh so much, to gain.
Shannan Moore Malone squeezes in the time to write while taking care of the Buddy Man. As you already know, she loves books but she also loves great movies, running, and is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a foodie. Though generally more on the quiet side, you can get her talking by mentioning living authentically, the importance of clarity and organization, and enjoying life, which she occasionally writes about on her blog her blog and posts about on Instagram.