Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The 10 Commandments of Cleaning

I have to admit that I have some major issues with housework. I am primarily a homemaker, I work part time outside the home and am a wife and mom. However, it doesn't seem like my home is ever organized of clean enough to please all who live there. My grandmother channeled all her prefeminist energies and creativity into cleaning our home. It was a compulsion for her. For me, not so much.
Don't get me wrong...my house is clean. My drawers and pantry are remarkably well organized. Laundry is done regularly, meals are prepared and cooked. Things run smoothly. However, it is obvious that they are not as smooth as I envision them. I seem to be not aware of the hidden messes. Sure, our son's room is strewn with toys and books and clothes. He is five, and I am still in utter amazement whenever I go into that room. I am still shocked that he is now my son. That I am his mother. I am always afraid that if I clean it all up, that it would be just a dream. I am afraid that if I clean it all up, he will disappear, and I will go back to empty arms.
I do the deep cleaning-the polishing of baseboards with lemon oil. There is a remarkably fresh smell to it. I breathe it in, and its my own personal aromatherapy. It gives a pristeen shine to my woodwork. I feel very houseproud, and like I am a good wife. That feeling never lasts very long though, because I always seem to forget to do something, or I didn't do something correctly or there is a problem. And then I feel deflated, defeated, lost.
I guess I've decided to develop my own 10 commandments of cleaning. Maybe by casting them in my own version of stone that I can adhere to them. Or not. At least I am trying and that is more than I could wish for.
1. put things away when you're done with them. I guess this is one of those duh ideas, but I have a problem with it. Maybe its because I lived by myself for so long, that I don't think that this is a problem. I just have to consiously remind myself of this.
2. only handle paper once. I need to open the mail over either the shredder or the garbage can. I need to work out a filing system that will clean out our home office and make things work. I am losing important papers, been overall disorganized and forgetful. This is not like me. I am usually a very Type A personality.
3. do a load or 2 of laundry everyday. This way, its never overwhelming. I used to love doing laundry when it was just me. Now I am doing it for 3, and its lost its luster. My husband actually washes really well, its the folding and putting away that he has issues with. I get so frustrated when he does laundry and leaves the clean clothes in a wrinkled ball on the bed. Or in the basket. I also hate putting laundry away with a passion. Part of that is a reminder that I don't like what I see when I open my closet and my drawers. I need to move beyond that.
4. That actually brings me to number 4-pare down and only keep what you love. If I truly adhered to this principle, I would have my kitchen, my plasma tv, my recliner, my laptop, my stereo and my cd collection. A few favorite outfits that are worn so often they can almost be thought of as a uniform. I have a full closet that I am slowly purging. I took care of my dirty little secret-my underwear and sock drawers. They were in sad shape and I never really took the time to clean them out. I did yesterday. Soon I will smile when I put the laundry away
5. plan ahead. I know when I plan my meals out for the week (even if its just in my head) things move more smoothly. When I plan my errand day, I get more accomplished. Even writing a to do list at home. I feel almost accountable.
6. do a little every day. The days that I wipe down my bathroom sinks and toilets, swiffer my floors and feather dust are the days that I have more spring in my step. I feel like I've accomplished something. I feel like I've been a good little wife. The days I don't do this, these are the days I seem to plunge headfirst into chaos.
7. take a room a week and deep clean. This concept worked really well for me when I lived by myself. I got the housework done and it wasn't overwhelming. I try to do this with my home now, but I just can't get over that hump.
8. you can't organize clutter. this is my tipping point. I've got rubbermaid totes everywhere, filled with junk. My husband pulled out all the totes that were in the storage area under our foyer. All I can say is damn. Its a lot of stuff. A lot of it is my craft supplies-half finished projects, fabric, etc. Some of it reminders who I was, and hopes of who I might someday be. Very little of who I am currently. Then there is the stuff our son came with-his literal baggage. I am torn between getting rid of stuff that is a reminder of a life not quite lived, and the hope that I can still become that person.
9. Its better to do something than nothing at all. Wipe down a counter. Swiffer the floor. Windex something. Plus, I usually get a Martha Stewart high going once I start cleaning.
10. Light a scented candle, spray some pretty airfreshner, something scented. It will help refresh not only your home but your spirit as well.

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