Saturday, September 1, 2012

Should I Sty Or Should I Go (Clean the House?)

Way back in the days before I was a mama bear I wrote these new year's resolutions. It might seem to those twenty people who glanced at them that I've forgotten and put them aside, but that is simply not the case. I have remembered them every day that I fail to live up to their incredibly high standards. Next year is simple- eat breakfast and love on Declan. Done and done.

In truth, I have given some attempts at following through. I've walked more, sent some birthday cards full of x's and o's, and blogged lots of pictures. I'd forgotten about a few, such as work on our landscape and join a CSA, but luckily enough hit those nails on the head this morning when we picked up our first veggie box and later raised the backyard from an F to a D-. So not so bad I'd say. It's good to still have goals, right? Keeps life interesting.

The resolution that I have really focused on is keeping the house clean. Since many people do this automatically, I thought that it was time I give it a go. Let's start by clarifying: Peyton, no comments allowed, for obvious reasons. Apparently men have ridiculously high standards of clean, like more than one room at a time be orderly or have folded laundry. As I said, ridiculous.

So anyway, you fine folks, I think I'm getting this cleaning thing down. I've realized that keeping the house orderly ties in with my happiness and productivity, which then keeps it more orderly. Viscious cycle. So in my research on how to obtain this dream while keeping sane, I came upon six techniques that really help.

1. Make the bed. Here's a two-minute strategy that pays back ten-fold. Seeing it neatly made makes me want to tidy the rest of the room, which leads me to return the dirty glass to the dishwasher, put in some laundry, you name it. Plus it keeps me from lying down in bed, because who likes to make a bed twice in one day??

2. Always leave the room with one item. Anytime you leave a room, take an item with you. Obviously this only works if you are going to the room where it goes, so don't just grab any item for any room. It is mind blowing to me how lazy I am about carrying a plate in to the kitchen. Yet clearly, once I've accomplished such a feat I deserve some cookies. Some extra motivation never hurts.

3. I stumbled upon this lovely "Chaos Control Cycle" via 4SmartyPants and decided to give it a whirl. While I still haven't made it to bath yet, the bed is luckily done because of #1 and the living is often tidier due to #2. (Clearly, it would be wise to use the bathroom before coming over here.) The idea is that when you are starting to clean, begin with making sure dishes are in the dishwasher, the sink is empty, and counters are wiped down. Once accomplished, pop in a load of laundry, followed up by quickly cleaning items in the bath, bed, and living rooms. If at any point you are sidetracked, start at dishes and you will find where you left off. For me, it just breaks it into manageable chunks instead of a whole overwhelming mess of things to do. And it also makes me feel accomplished when I get even one done since I know it's something off my list.

4. Vacuum. Ok, grossness alert- I'm not great at dealing with dog fur. Poor Peyton dislikes fur so much that he has not only owned dobermans for this reason (among others), but has chosen the particular type that goes bald. Enter Tegan, a ninety pound mass of fur with four seperate coats; my sweet shepherd that I neglect in the grooming area a tad and only brush every few months. (Was going to add to resolutions, but honestly? Not going to happen.) So you can only imagine the fur buildup that occurs. I still have some improvement in this area. I'm thinking our spiffy new vacuum will help since it won't sound like a cat in heat, but that's putting a lot of pressure on the poor thing. When the house is vacuumed, it inevitably looks better and more put together.

5. Wash windows. It amazes me every, single time how much clean windows improve a room. It's a bit embarrasing how dirty they can get before I even notice they need cleaning, but I give myself a pat on the back every time that I do. Because yowzers. A little alcohol-vinegar water and a good scrub is all I need to take a room from musty hole to show house appeal.

6. Just do it. There are always quite a few little projects in each room that are waiting to be done, from paying the bills to posting on craigslist to popping dishes in the dishwasher to hanging up a mobile. I've found that as long as I'm not doing something important, if I come across a task that is under five minutes in length, I should suck it up and act. I get a quick accomplishment fix while tidying up a space. More productivity ensues, and voila, little Martha Stewart over here.

So there you have it. Six little tricks that I've found really help me succeed in keeping this house slightly above pigsty status. All starts with a made bed people. And a sound night of sleep. I would love to hear some of yours if you have any! Any help is major over here. :)

My bed's a-callin'. Good night!


  1. The whole cleaning, keeping uncluttered thing is quite the struggle for me as well. I have been taking a bit of a different approach than in the past. (I was derailed by Jake's cancer diagnosis and amputation, but am working on getting back on track!) One of my big problems is that I get so easily overwhelmed, and then I don't do anything. So I have tried to avoid seeing the big picture, and have been focusing on small tasks. I also am not sweating the fact that I find things in the living room that belong in the office, bedroom etc, but there is no place to put them because those areas are a mess too. Otherwise I end up in the whole overwhelmed scenario again! Instead I just take the offending items to their intended room, and figure I'll deal with them when I hit that area! I figure if I am at least doing something, it is better than nothing, right?!?!?

    1. First, I'm so glad that Jake is doing better!! I had to put two dogs to sleep in one month this summer and that was tough. It was time, but still tough. Second, definitely better that you are getting something done! Breaking it in to small chunks is the only way I can keep sane too. It reminds me of this quote about how running even for two minutes is better than sitting on the couch. It's sometimes hard to remember that every little thing is important and counts because we all just look at the big stuff, but in every aspect of life the little things are so crucial :)

  2. I've been lurking & reading for awhile, but I have to comment...I'm SO happy someone else's husband has a ridiculously high standard of clean. If the dishes are clean & put away, counters wiped down, and the sink is cleaned of gunk, I consider the kitchen clean. My husband sees ONE streak from the sponge & freaks out.

    I love your blog & it makes me smile.

    Btw...we haven't met, but my husband is Rob, and he's in your hubby & Doug's fantasy league. :)


    1. Aww, thanks!! It makes ME smile that it makes you smile!

      And yes, high standards, but not quite as much time invested in bringing them to life. And I don't know if this happens in your household, but little things take a lllooong time when taken over by a certain someone, because time management does not go hand in hand with his perfectionism too well...

      Do you live in Austin? And of course, is he prepared to lose? Because Peyton is focusing his cleaning time on fantasy football instead. ;)

  3. HA! Rob is never prepared to lose. He's winning so far, so of course he's confident that he's going to beat everyone. Boys are fun. Rob's main thing is the kitchen, but he could care less about every other room in the house. When I was pregnant, I had so much fun making him clean the bathrooms. :D We live in Hutto. What amazes me is that once the games come on, Rob suddenly has to be glued to the tv every second...I'm like, PAUSE your game. It's possible. :)


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