Sometimes living, quietly and without much fanfare, takes over my whole house. Bananas brown in their bowl. Last Sunday’s flowers wilt and dry on the kitchen island next to half a week’s mail, and yesterday’s lunchbox. I’ve kicked off a pair of sandals (or two) at the tired end of a day and left them right where they landed. And despite my very best intentions to maintain order, it’s time to admit I’ve somehow lost all control and the detritus of life, my life, is utterly in charge.
This post is not about down and dirty cleaning. Let the dust bunnies stay where they lay. This is about giving the house a lick and a promise, as my Nana used to say.
A lick and a promise cleaning restores order, plain and simple. It’s straightening the couch cushions, starting a load of laundry, and giving the throw pillows a quick lesson in who’s the boss. It’s about hanging the dish towel nesting next to the sink and hauling upstairs whatever’s been sitting patiently on steps one, two, and three for a week or so.
A lick and a promise cleaning isn’t about doing more, or even doing better. It’s about doing later.
It’s about promising to dust the very next rainy day. It’s noticing the disorganization of the pantry cupboard, and planning to rearrange it this summer when you either have more time or more inclination. It’s about understanding you have better things to do today, and giving yourself permission to put off all the rest of the stuff until tomorrow.
A lick and a promise is knowing what you can live with and what you can’t.
For me, that means a clean counter and no dishes procreating in our sink. And I don’t much care about what’s going on behind the scenes in the cupboards. Not today. I’m okay – today – with laundry in the basket, but I’ll be sure to gather any left stranded on the floor. Maybe I’ll make the bed, but I’ll leave changing the sheets for tomorrow. Could be I’ll sweep, but I won’t vacuum.
You get the idea.
Because a lick and a promise gives you permission. Permission to enjoy today … because today, I’ve got places to go and the world out there is sunny, and warm, and spring!
And so I’ll give the house a lick and a promise, and leave – knowing at least it’s peaceful and tidy when I’m ready to return.