The One Spot My Mom Always Cleans Before Having Guests Over

published Jul 11, 2023
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I admit that having guests at my home usually means I pressure myself into spending the entire day beforehand cleaning and tidying. I imagine my friends turning their noses up at dust bunnies under the couch, or scoffing at the unvacuumed carpets and rugs, all while silently thinking to themselves that I live in filth. The horror! 

All of this is, of course, a little silly and hardly true (at least I believe so, anyway), and who better to calm my pre-having-friends-over jitters than someone who hosts all the time? For me, that person is my mom. My mom has friends and family in her home quite often — she is the queen of hosting, and my husband and I are over for family dinners at least once a month. She keeps her home pretty tidy, but to my surprise she doesn’t do a cleaning spree the day before she has company. In fact, the only place that gets a thorough cleaning before guests come over is the bathroom.

As an overachiever, I could take this to mean an entire bathroom scrub-down, but again, my mom is all about simplicity. This is a spot where cleanliness is important, but you don’t have to break your back preparing for loved ones. I take my cues from her: All you need to do is make sure your hand towels are clean (nothing is worse than drying your hands on a mildewy towel), all the surfaces are wiped down (including the sink and the counters), and that the toilet is clean. 

You also want to be sure there is plenty of toilet paper, the trash bin has been emptied, and, for extra credit, do a quick sweep of the floors. All in all, this process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Nothing too scary or overwhelming — just a small amount of elbow grease and you’ll be good to go. 

I will also clear away clutter in common areas before I have guests, but instead of stressing too much, I try to keep in mind more wisdom that my mom has shared with me, which is simply that the whole point of having friends and family over is to spend time with each other. Your loved ones are there to see you, not criticize your home. 

I have heard many times from friends and acquaintances that they don’t have people over as often as they’d like, and it’s usually followed by a big sigh. “The house is a disaster anyway,” they’ll say, or something similar. I understand the feeling of not wanting others to see your mess, and I absolutely relate to having fears over what others might think if they saw my clutter. But on the flip side, I have been over to other people’s homes where they apologize for their “mess,” and I’ve never once been appalled like the way I imagine my friends would be in my mind. 

You can often be your worst critic, after all, and this advice from my mom inspires me to be a little more gentle with myself. It’s truly OK to not have a sparkling-clean household to send an invite to friends. There’s no need to declutter your entire life or scrub every inch of your home before guests set foot inside — a clean bathroom will do. 

So schedule that movie night, or get a date in your calendar for the next book club meeting or dinner party, and remember that the memories that will last are the experiences you create with the people you love most, not how seemingly perfect your home is. You may even inspire others to be a little more gentle with themselves too.