As a young girl growing up in France, I picked up habits that I never thought twice about until I settled down as an adult in the U.S. Basic habits like “don’t leave things laying around,” “dress up always” and “be well versed in philosophy and the arts” seem tedious and almost pretentious in many other places. Yet the French seem to prize thoughtful discussion over personal talk, believe that we are all worth looking our best and find joy in all the little things in life.
For all its bustle and cultural idiosyncrasies, France taught me a simple, organic way of living that I am glad to incorporate into my daily life. Big life events – promotions, weddings, etc. – come and go, but finding joy in the little rituals that make up our daily lives contributes more to our mood, outlook and overall happiness.
Daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning the home and doing laundry should not be tedious, anxiety driven affairs but activities to enjoy. We took such joy in hanging the laundry in the orchard, washing windows and cleaning dishes. The scents, songs and conversations that made these activities so enjoyable were part of embracing a simpler, more enjoyable way of life.
In France, lavender seemed to be everywhere so that it perfumed each activity from cooking to dressing to cleaning. Here are a few ways to embrace a simpler way of cleaning that uses household ingredients and backyard herbs:
Vinegar & Water: Use a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water to clean windows, glasses, countertops and refrigerators. Vinegar disinfects, prevents mold and deodorizes surfaces. Don’t worry; the smell of vinegar dissipates when it dries. A solution of 1/3 cup vinegar and one quart of water is also great for cleaning wood floors.
Baking Soda & Water: Make a paste from baking soda and water and use in bathrooms and on kitchen appliances. This mixture softens grime and leaves ovens and microwaves sparkling, but must be wiped off thoroughly.
Lemon & Salt: Sprinkle kosher salt on half of a lemon and use as an abrasive pad that cleans shower doors, brass, chrome and grease on kitchen appliances.
Linens: Old kitchen linens work wonders as cleaning supplies and eliminate paper-towel waste. They also don’t leave lint or streaks behind when cleaning glass.
Lavender: Dry lavender and use to fill sachets that keep moths away from closets and armoires.
Try simplifying your life and making your daily rituals more enjoyable. Rather than thinking, “Oh, here I go again, cooking dinner like I do every night,” turn on good music, find a fun recipe and make the kitchen your space. Truly be mindful and enjoy the activities that make up your daily life. Do less with more joy and you will reach a simpler, more authentic way of life.