I don’t even know where to start with this report. I’ve been putting it off for so long because (let’s be honest) I was waiting for my house to be clean before I actually reported on how I’d done at cleaning it more often/better.
It looks like that might not happen before the end of the semester.
So I guess I’ll just say what I tried and how it went.
You all should know, my mom is a brilliant homemaker–I grew up in a spotless, organized home and could expect a hot dinner every night at 6:00 sharp. And while I’ve got the hot dinner thing mostly down in my own home, I have always struggled with the “spotless” part. (I’m pretty sure it’s because I have hoarding tendencies. And a too-high tolerance for piles).
To be honest, I wanted to be able to put down some mottoes in this post that I had magically picked up, like “Don’t put it down–put it away.” And while I tried to live by that, it just didn’t work for me.
So I tried to come up with a system that I know works for a lot of people: assign a different major household chore (vacuuming, dusting, etc.) to a different day of the week. I put kitchen clean-up on Monday, bathroom clean-up on Tuesday, vacuuming on Wednesday, etc. You wanna know long that lasted? Not even a day. The problem? My weeks are often unique in their schedules, meaning that some nights I got home too late to clean and other times I was too tired to do anything more than the basic necessity of cooking a hot meal and getting a foot rub from my husband.
Some nights are just like that.
My mom told me that the key to an organized home is never letting it get too bad. The rationale is that if you keep on top of it every day, you’ll always have an organized home and will rarely have to spend more than 15-30 minutes cleaning at a time. When my home was clean at the beginning of this challenge (for about two weeks before the roach spray incident), I could definitely see how that system could work. I also noticed that because every space in the house was already tidy, it was easier to keep it that way (partly because it seemed such a shame to mess up the cleanliness by throwing my dirty socks on the floor). The problem was that when something unforeseen happened (like us having to disembowel our entire apartment so that it could be sprayed for cockroaches), we never seemed to be able to get the house back to its pre-incident state. And then the mess and the clutter just kept growing.
However, I do know that when it comes to a few things, I have made significant progress. For example, we’ve actually pretty much kept on top of the dishes almost every day (which is kind of a significant thing for us). And a mantra that I unconsciously adopted for those days when it just seemed that I had no time or energy to do anything, I would think to myself: “Just do this one thing.” The “one thing” was always something very small, like wiping out the hair in the sink or recycling a newspaper, but usually the “one thing” led to me doing 4 or 5 things, and before I knew it, I actually had made a noticeable difference in a room.
The other biggest thing that I did as part of this challenge was to try and come up with a place for everything so that everything would always have a home and it would be easy to clean up. While this is one that I’m still working on, I have gotten much better in this respect. Some of the things that helped the most were updating our filing cabinets with new folders to carry new papers and putting little card boxes to work holding odds and ends. It also helped that we got rid of a lot of stuff over the past two months.
I still have a long way to go, and I wish that my report could have showcased a more drastic change. But I think I’m going to have to face this ugly truth sooner than later: that I am not predisposed to being super tidy and that I’ll have to work at it my whole life. With that said, I will always be looking for suggestions on how to improve myself in this area, like this great blog post I found today (which is where I got the above picture):
Change It Up Successful? Umm…kinda. At the very least, I don’t think I got any worse…