I'm not sure where I came across the term 'performative organizing' but, oh man, did I latch on. I'm a former fashion editor who subscribes to the capsule wardrobe method; I'm a Capricorn whose love language is a tidy grocery list. So, show me a pantry stocked with matching chalk-pen labeled Weck Jars, a color-coded children's bookshelf, a laundry room filled with detergent and fabric softener decanted into glass bottles and woven baskets full of those chic woolen dryer balls no one actually uses—and I'm in.
Here's the kicker: You somehow live in this perfectly-organized space, with grubby small hands reaching for snacks and towels without messing it up. For most of us, a Pinterest board dream is all it is. This kind of perfect, photo-ready organizing just isn't doable during any time, let alone coronavirus times.
If you're sitting at home with a less-than-tidy house beating yourself up about how it doesn't look like Pinterest, I'm here to tell you that aiming for just four percent cleaner is okay sometimes. And for me, getting to that four percent required bribing myself with a simple, very cute tool.
I bought a feather duster. I love it, mostly because it is adorable. Its handle is a nicely-polished wood, its feathers are fluffy ostrich. It's delightfully old fashioned; it doesn't whizz, scrub, beep, or whir. It requires no outlet, no soap, no help rerouting (hi, Roomba). Its sole job is gently gliding along the book shelves and mantle, fluffing away dust.
It's not, I'll admit, multifunctional or innovative. But it does allow for a certain kind of gentle, meditative cleaning. And it helps with that task you put on your list and never get to: running over the surfaces that have accumulated dust. It turns out, getting to that task all the time—and not sweating about constantly vacuuming, washing, and straightening—feels good. I am, like you, trying to do my best to keep a house clean enough that I don't lose it, while also accepting that no family can be in the house nearly 'round the clock without leaving a (big) trace. And a trip around the living room, gliding my sweet little feather duster over bookshelves and mantels, helps with that.
My laundry pile is growing—but I dusted the leaves of my fiddle leaf. Every time I open the pantry a bag of crackers falls out, but you could run a finger over my dresser and it would come up clean. My novelist partner still, somehow, is filling the house with books: piles and piles of books, under every chair and on every end table. But I've given up on their alphabetized shelving for now. I just hand him the duster, plead for straight piles and clean covers, and get on with it.
My pantry might be a mishmash of grain-filled old pickle jars and dented boxes of tea, but my feather duster—that always looks good. No performative organizing needed.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious