Monday, February 06, 2006

Spring Cleaning

When those little tree buds start to poke their velvety noses out into the world from their furry winter husks and the rains soak into the ground (which is most of the time here on the wet coast) then a strange impulse arises in some human beings: the impulse to clean! Now whether this instinct dates from our Neanderthal days when warmer winds released long frozen fetid smells from what were previously icy lumps on the cave floor, or whether it’s all a plot designed by the soap companies to wreck weekends, it seems that spring initiates a time of purging and scrubbing.

At The Mansion the problem of keeping the place gorgeous and clean was solved easily and simply by hiring cleaners to whip the common areas into ship shape on a bi-monthly basis. Not only does this reduce tensions of who is supposed to sweep when, but one of the perks of living in a luxurious shared home should be that no one has to scrub a toilet or lug an unwieldy vacuum up a flight of stairs. But there is only so much that can be done in 4 hours a month and a 5000 square foot home contains many dark, cobwebby corners and shelves brimming with mysterious boxes, jars and unknownables left by long gone roomies. All these eventually need our attention.

So we initiated a monthly get-together. These have proven to be more important in a shared home than it seems on the surface. Like going on a date is necessary even for long-married couples, doing things together brings roomies closer, encourages better communication and creates purpose. No longer are we isolated to our individual spaces, but we now share the common goal of creating the beautiful environment that we all enjoy. A bit of breakfast around the kitchen table as we discuss what needs doing and who wants to do what, crank up some danceable music and the cleaning begins.

A few tips for House Days:

  • Pick an agreed upon time and day (monthly is good, but every 6 weeks can also work). We chose the first Saturday of every month as it was easy to remember. No other commitments should be scheduled for this time.
  • Start together – even if it’s obvious what needs to be done, it’s always good to begin together. It joins you together in purpose. Ideally you end together – perhaps in a shared meal.
  • Try and stick to the allotted time. Our first House Day in a long time was scheduled to be 4 hours, some people worked 10 and we never did have a House Meeting. Like going to the gym after a long absence, overdoing it may make you never want to go again!
  • As everyone is together, it makes sense to have a House Meeting at the same time. This could be at a mid point break or at the end of the work period. Things that needs to airing should come up here.
  • Acknowledgements are a great way to set a positive tone for the meeting. There's always something that has happened or someone has done something (like put the garbage out in time) that helps boost morale for the house when it is acknowledged.

If you have any tips or comments on how to run a successful house meeting (or how to run a successful house), please let me know. We all learn when we share.