B is my most fervent cheerleader, in all realms, and I am hers. This is especially true in matters of the home front. We encourage each other to forge ahead on days when we're dog tired and uninspired, and we have a wonderful reciprocity with grace for those times when it's just not happening. But mostly we keep each other going, and relish each others' successes.
Our primary method of mutual inspiration is our use of "challenges." When one or both of us is lagging, the other throws out a loving, creative, and clever challenge, proportional to what the other can reasonably handle in the moment. When B is out of coffee and the kids are sick and the dryer is melting all of their clothes, for instance, I would never challenge her to clean her whole house. But I would challenge her to spend a half an hour in her garden, rejuvenating. This was one of her challenges this morning, along with spending a half an hour cleaning something inside the house. In turn, she challenged me to study up on lapbooks and introduce them to Quinn, as well as clean one surface/cupboard/drawer that has been seriously neglected. (Yes even ocd mamas neglect some things.) I've posted before and after pics of the drawer I selected. Man it was grody.
Since we spend a lot of time in each other's homes, we can set awesome challenges with ease. B knows the top of my refrigerator is getting cluttered again, and will crack the whip on it, and I know that clean towels are becoming scarce at her house, and will challenge her to do a load of them right away. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not romanticizing these challenges. Sometimes they downright suck. This is particularly true when I've just sat down for my Lost reruns, or when I'm so tired my eyes are crossing, or when my ocd is flaring up and I'd sooner burn my f-ing house down than try to clean it. My least favorite challenge was to clean off our hillbilly white trash porch, and then paint it and wash down the back door. I'm still a little bitter, even though she did come over to help with the painting. My favorite challenge came last weekend when I was feeling sooo resentful and obstinate. She told me I had to put away 15 things, throw away 15 things, and wipe down 15 things. Sheer genius! I immediately made a list, and within one hour had crossed all 45 things off. My house still has a little sparkle from that one.
Uh oh, I'm getting dangerously close to a novella. Sorry guys. I could talk cleaning all day. Instead, I think I'll clean all day. B, this challenge took five minutes, got anything harder? (No painting please!)