One Bite at a Time

I’m not a good cleaner. Rather, I’m not a consistent cleaner. I’ve never kept my house walk in, busting proud, calm and relaxing clean. It’s been a source of personal frustration since I decided to start pretending to be an adult. I blame. Kids. Husband. Dogs. Me. Visiting my daughter or my son would send me into spinning the drain guilt and jealousy of their beautiful, uncluttered and CLEAN homes.

I’m able to step back and look at my house and say it’s not a disgustingly dirty, filthy, smelly hazardous waste pit like a house from Hoarders. It’s just not tidy and neat and Oh my GOD, that’s what I want.  I want to love walking into my house with a smile, sink into my chair with a glass of wine, look around me and be peaceful. The assurance of knowing someone can drop in unexpectedly and  that I won’t be embarrassed because the house is out of sorts would be bliss. Inviting someone over on the spur of the moment for coffee and not feel like I have to race around the house like a reverse tornado picking things up and cramming them behind the nearest door, would be, well, AWESOME.

I would research and hear people talk about various blogs, articles and websites with tips and advice. For me, none of the ideas “fit” me and I think that’s why I continued to struggle and fail to keep a clean, comfortable house. I wanted to be a successful “Fly Baby”. I  followed FlyLady for years. I’d read posts from women were making the program work, and I hated them. I followed Home Ec 101 for a while and love the ideas and tips over there because there seems to be a lot less guilt. There’s a lot of asking for and getting advice. I followed I Dream of Clean on Facebook and on the web/blog page, but it was so similar to FlyLady it fizzled pretty fast.

Looking at how I typically clean I asked myself “Why haven’t I succeeded?” and I decided I was simply overwhelming myself. I would spend an entire day cleaning the house top to bottom and when I was done I’d be so burned out and sick of cleaning, things would minute by minute, day by day, slip right back to where they were. I’m good at seeing (something’s out of place, aka a mess in the making), internally complaining (putting on a scowly face and muttering under my breath) and putting off (because dammit it’s just no use isn’t it?) Knowing this I decided to take a much smaller bite, not try to cram the whole damn meal into my face all at once.

I asked myself, “What room give me the most anxiety and I would be happiest having clean all the time?” My immediate answer, “The kitchen.” This gave me a place to begin. I “basic” cleaned the kitchen, meaning I cleared and wiped the counters, emptied and filled then ran the dishwasher. I hand washed the remaining dishes in the sink and put them away, then swept the floor. Thirty minutes and done.  At this point I made a commitment to myself; the kitchen was going to STAY this clean. And it has.

Three weeks have passed and the kitchen has stayed clean and has gotten cleaner and less cluttered. The sink remains relatively empty (occasional Mad Scientist cooking creating have caused extra dishes) . Keeping the space clean lets me eye it critically and decide what I can do to eliminate or reduce clutter. The process of keeping this one room clean all the time has made me realize I’m only devoting a maximum of 10 minutes at a time to keep it clean. If I decided to do extra (which I have been) I’m not letting myself get so entrenched that I spend an hour or two obsessing over the job. For example, I’m cleaning the outside of the cabinets. I’m super scrubbing just “two doors” at a time which takes about five extra minutes. I ‘m not getting it done every day, but it’s getting done.

I’m a work in progress and so is my self-created home cleaning routine. I’m determined to resolve my personal “homework” puzzle one bite at a time.


Stay tuned. I have more to tell as I work my way through cleaning my house. Watch for my next post when I’ll tell you about the most disgusting room(s) in the house.