As someone with a small child, I usually find that I am behind on the latest trends and technology. If it’s not directly related to something my daughter would enjoy, it gets tossed out of my mind, forgotten.
However, in 2020 I was very aware of a new app called “TikTok” that was sort of a sister to the “Vine” app that was wildly popular when I was a teenager. TikTok promised hours of entertainment, dance videos, and fun.
At first, there was no way I was adding yet another social media app to my phone. Especially if the running joke was losing track of the time because you get caught up scrolling. I usually try to be aware of how much my daughter sees me sitting on my phone, so if an app promised hours of scrolling, I couldn’t afford to download it.
Fast forward a few months, and a very good friend of mine had fallen for TikTok. She began sending me hilarious videos, and soon I found myself downloading the app just to see what the hype was.
By the summer I was making it part of my nightly routine to sit down once my daughter went to bed, and scroll through the videos for a bit. I found all sorts of things to keep me entertained. There were hilarious skits, recipe videos, home cleaning, and even parenting videos. I learned about dog training tools, how to cook basic recipes, and more! All from this one app.
After being on the app for a little while, I stumbled upon a woman who talked gently about restructuring how we clean. Her soothing voice coupled with videos of her messy kitchen drew me in. Soon I found myself engrossed with her message of functionality over perfection.
Her belief of creating a home that serves you rather than having to clean (or serve) your home, nearly left me speechless. As someone who constantly struggles with unrealistic expectations for my home, seeing this message of “your worth is not tied up in how clean your house is” made me breathe a sigh of relief. For years lots of people, including my husband, have assured me of this. But watching this woman on the internet tell me that and give me practical tips was enough to shift my thinking.
The more I learned and reflected, the more I began to look at my home differently.
I used to look at dishes in the sink and feel a deep sadness that I could never have an empty sink. Dust in the corners of the room had me long for the days when I had the energy to clean my house from top to bottom. I was almost mournful about the sticky spots on the floor, and would spiral out if my kitchen counters were overly cluttered. I forced myself to clean because I didn’t want to be that “gross” person whose house was in disarray, and my motivation to “get it all done” came from a place of guilt and shame.
The more I thought about keeping house, the sicker I felt.
Over the course of the last couple of months, I’ve learned to look at my house differently. Using the tools I’ve learned (on a social media app of all places) I have figured out how to have peace in my home. I’m nowhere near perfect, and this will be a lifelong journey, but I can look at a messy kitchen and be thankful for dirty dishes instead of mournful. I can rest easy at night even though I haven’t mopped in weeks, and don’t remember the last time I dusted. I can rejoice on the days when I feel up to cleaning the bathrooms, and be just as happy when all I’ve done is swipe cracker crumbs on the floor for the dog to catch.
My house no longer defines my worth and it is a privilege to get to live there with the people I love.
Part of my responsibility as a homeowner is taking care of my space, but I’m not a bad person for recognizing when I need to rest or let chores go for a little while. Nobody is going to report me if I can’t remember the last time I scrubbed the inside of my fridge, and my daughter doesn’t care if my baseboards are clean.
I want my daughter to grow up to remember that her mom would take the time to have pretend tea parties and put together puzzles with her for hours. I don’t want to make housework a higher priority than spending time with her, or taking rest when needed. If I want my daughter to learn anything about cleaning, it’s that cleaning tasks are simply that. Just tasks. Nothing to tie her self worth to or get stressed over. If I can teach her those few things, I’ll know I was a successful mother.
So I guess I can be grateful I downloaded yet another social media app. Yes, sometimes I scroll for way too long and end up killing my phone battery. Sometimes I find myself laughing at the silliest videos or rolling my eyes as I scroll past yet another teenager declaring the latest fashion trend. I have to make sure I don’t get wrapped up watching videos about pricey clothes or skin care. Not to mention those organization videos that make my home look like a dumpster fire in comparison.
Despite all of that, the information I am learning is so valuable to me. I’m not saying everyone should get TikTok, just that it held a lot of benefits for me personally. As crazy as it seems, I’m really glad I decided to get TikTok.