Do you clean like your mom?

Anticipating Mother’s Day, a few weeks ago I sent an email to my siblings, my mom’s sister, and her six children.

I was interested in finding out the extent to which we all picked up a specific bed-making approach that “Grand” (my grandmother) had.

This is Grand (flanked by my mom on the left and Aunt Rie Adele on the right).

She was a grand lady indeed – very proper from the top of her neat bun to the tips of her toes.

Grand had a very specific way of making a bed. No wrinkles, hospital corners, top sheet folded down over the cover or comforter, pillows fluffed just so. She most certainly passed her bed-making gene down to my mom, who, in turn, passed it on to her children.

For me, making the bed “the right way” is pretty much a compulsion.

I could never head out the door in the morning if my bed looked like this.

First, I have to remove the pillows (an artist needs a blank canvas after all!)

Then I make sure the fitted sheet is nice and tight.

Then I pull the top sheet way up, wiping any wrinkles away.

Next up, the comforter.

Then I fold the top sheet over the tip of the comforter (Grand and mom, please try to ignore the fact that the top sheet isn’t ironed).

And finally, fluff and place the pillows.

It sounds like a lot, but in reality takes about 2 minutes to do.

I wanted to know if any of my siblings or cousins or my aunt felt compelled to make their beds the same way.

The response was immediate – and poignant.

First I heard from my cousin Cathi: “I think of Grand every single day when I make the bed. I check the corners (and Stephen wants to strangle me) and then I smooth each sheet or blanket, then I fluff each pillow … and give it a final pat with Marie Adele’s little pillow in the middle. Grand is almost watching me as I go.”

Then Christine jumped in: “Definitely the best way to start my day, thinking of Grand as I try to make the bed perfectly. I always pull the sheets straight, perfectly align the blanket (just below the trim of the sheet) and fold them down. And yes, Cathi, I fluff the pillows and fold them in.”

My brother added: “What a great topic! I can smell the ironed sheets on the pull out beds in the basement of Grand’s house now. I have always made my bed first thing when I get up (can’t even brush my teeth before I do it). And hearing all your descriptions makes me yearn for home, as Mom always made our beds that way. I use fitted sheets, and have never ironed a sheet in my life. And though I don’t fold down the sheet on top of the blanket, I know darn well that I should!”

And the thread went on as each person chimed in with their bed-making rituals, confirming that they thought of Grand (or mom) every day as they tucked in their sheets.

Isn’t it beautiful how this simple bed-making ritual keeps the spirits of my mom and grandmother here with us in the present?

Does your family have any organizational or cleaning rituals that seem to have been passed down through a generation or two? If you have children, what clean-up habits of yours do you think they will carry on?