Thursday, April 25, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances.

You know that staple sitcom plot line,
where someone gets bonked on the head and acts the opposite of themselves, until they get bonked again?
That's me, right now.  Although I'm pretty sure I didn't get bonked on the head.
I don't wanna hear any guffaws, or anything, and don't have a heart attack and die from this surprise, but I have actually kept my house **spotless for over a month.
**My version of spotless is not your version of spotless.
Lemme 'splain:
we all know I'm on the "GREAT SPENDING CLEANSE OF 2013".  And I also dubbed this year "ORGANIZATION 2013" as well--
do you know what you get when you mix the two, and add a dash of boredom?
You get a totally anal, neurotic, cleaning lady who is making the bed around you before you even get out of it and is wiping the table around your plate of food before you're done.
But also, since no purchased crap is coming into the house, annnndddd. . . you're organizing the crap you have now. . .
suddenly, it's boomshakalaka,
you're staying up 'til midnight, organizing the crap out of your filing cabinet, you totally gave up your "kids are in bed let's get crazy!" time,
and you're left with an entire bag of paper shreds, and if I needed an insurance policy, it wouldn't take me an hour to come up with it.  (We were keeping two residences ago of utilities?  What the?)
I know what you're thinking: you need me to address your wedding invitations with my fantastic penmanship.  I get that a lot.
And then, you get a little free time, and you find yourself completely overhauling Thing 4's bedroom closet, and the floor has literally not been seen since the first day you moved in.
And I wish I was joking.  This is a miracle.  I should sell tickets and put this on display like a circus freak show, people.
I'm feeling so good-- I feel in control of my life and my house. 
Do you do this?  Where things have a "place", like the shelf up high in the closet, but it's a mountain of crap that will avalanche if you even breathe on it?
That's how it was in here, until I had the should-have-been-obvious idea to store winter shiz in baskets.  That took me 3 minutes and solved 90% of the problem in there.
I have only a couple little nooks 'n crannies left in my house to organize, and no one is more surprised than me.
Boys' church clothes closet? (Yeah- there's one closet just for dress clothes.  That's kind of weird now that I think about it.)
Fully organized.  And if you judge the cheap-o hangers then you can just go back the way you came in!
(note to self: get real hangers.)
I can't even believe I can see the top shelf in there.  I could almost cry. 
Boys regular clothes?  Culled and organized.  My closet-- Bam.  ONLY what I actually wear is left in there.  Jeffo's side is organized by weekend shirts, work shirts, long-sleeved shirts. . .
there's a spot for basketball shorts and undies and socks and ties--
and suddenly, the hubs and I, we were like Hans and Leia, and Jeffro was Leia, and he was like
"I love you."
and I was all,
"I know."
And there's even this spot under the stairs, that would be soooo cool as one of those cool little kids' secret hideouts that people are doing, but I just know it will end up like the tent where I will put all this effort and money into something that my kids will play with for 5 seconds and then I'd be totally T.O.'d--
and so instead it's this totally fugly spot for all the camping crap we have for the camping we never do!
Seriously-- you couldn't even walk in this little space before I got all up in here and started shoveling stuff out of here.
So, is this what one does before they have a mental breakdown?  Tell me.  I need to know.

Kay, so--
know what I said about my version of clean not being your version of clean?  Crap is picked up.  Almost everything has a "place", and I'm actually keeping it there.  But.  BUT.  I like big BUT's and I cannot lie. . .
I'm not a cluttery gal, but I'm not a "my floor is so sterile you could eat off it" kind of gal.  And I just. . .can't make myself be that gal. 
You know those cleaner commercials where they show this immaculate kitchen and there's that one spill and the mom wipes it up and then like hackey sacks the wipe into the garbage can on her way out the door?
I wanna be that mom, but it's not in me.
I have a point, here.  But I forgot what it was.
Oh!  So, my house is "picked up".  But I like to call that clean.  And I hate mopping so bad could someone please tell me how to love doing that sucky project thanks.  And this cleaning phase?  It happens once a decade.  It's like how often I have a good hair day.
"I'm having a bad hair day.  Bad hair decade, actually."

What I'm saying is,
I give you my personal guarantee that I will get discouraged, and my house will go back to the cesspool it normally is. 
I think I'm telling you this, because I can already feel myself slipping, and I want you to keep me honest.  Keep me accountable.
I once showed you the disaster in my mudroom, and it shamed me into solemnly swearing on this here blog that I wouldn't let that room become a trash heap ever again.
And I swear, I've done pretty good!  I try really hard to not dump stuff in here, anymore. 
Two weeks ago, I swore not to put any junk on my window sill,
and I've done it.  My word is my bond!  So bite me neighbor who told me I make you feel better because my house is always dirtier than yours!
Right now, I'm into all these organization and cleaning tips, and I kept reading this one tip over and over again, and it sounded awful, but it's something I HAVE to do:
Leave a room better then when you found it.
This has seemed soooo painstaking and torturous to me--
but it must be done.  I have 4 buttmunches and their friends to contend against, and I feel so OCD and this is sooo not me,
but I can't leave a room without straightening it, IF I wanna keep up with this house. 
Do you have like, a list you keep to?  Is there a cleaning/organizing tip that has changed your life?  I'm all ears.  Help a sista out.  And someone help me stay strong, here. 
'Cause we can't go back to this:
Well, actually, we could.  Like a dog to his vomit, we could. I'm sceered.


Karin said...

My house is trashed all the time but it's mostly just toys. I give myself a free pass because the baby is only 6 months old and doesn't sleep well. If I get a minute to myself, I'm not going to mop. Unless my socks are sticking to the floor from where my lovely middle child spilled something three days ago.

Anyway, if I walk by something that can be picked up in less than 30 seconds and one-handed (baby is in other hand) I always stop and do it. I also sort all the mail into two piles immediately: save to look at later and recycling (which I do promptly recycle).

I have dreams of cleaning things well but then I just go to bed. Or eat ice cream.

Mel@Mellywood's Mansion said...

I have 5 and seriously I can't say who is worse my teens or my toddlers. I can say that I spend most days cleaning and still feel embarrassed when someone turns up unexpected. So if the laundry is washed and dried and the dishes are done after all the cleaning, I can live with it.

Elisha Albretsen @ Pneumatic Addict Furniture said...

I know this is so immature of me, but did you notice the woman in the first ecard is topless?! Where did THAT illustration come from???

Crys said...

I wish I were the super organized Mom with the knowing confident smile as she realizes she never again has to fret about how she'll clean the top of her fan without getting dust all over her perfectly polished floor.
The only time my floor gets near being polished is when my 11 month old army-crawls to the next safety hazard that miraculously appears dispute my constant baby proofing (fleece PJs are the ultimate dust-busters).
And as for the fan, if you never look up, you never notice. Right?
You have a beautiful home and even your "spotless" inspires me.
Oh, and congrats on keeping it clean for a full month! I made it four days last week!!

Patty said...

I love you, thank you for being real.

james and bess said...

hmmmm.... okay, i have no awesome suggestions (we just moved into a house with 3 bathrooms and i whine to myself constantly about keeping them clean - and by "clean" i mean "not obviously dirty" - btw, what's UP with boys missing the toilet?! it's a giant pot/target/bowl right in front of you!! just let gravity do the work!!), but i AM looking for the magic answer. i really would love a cleaning solution that doesn't involve a daily schedule (yuck!) of cleaning and scrubbing and vacuuming, but i have a sneaking suspicion that my wish falls into the same category as wishing donuts and m&m's were weight-loss foods. *sigh*

-bess :)

Jenna Pennell said...

That Martha ecard cracked me up! She converted me into a perfect fitted sheet folder and whenever I'm folding them I have to stop and think that she would be SO proud of me... Until she went into my bathroom and saw the nasty shower door (seriously, how do you get off hard water spots?? I've tried Pledge, vinegar, dish soap, nothing works!! dang you Pinterest, come through for me already!) and dust bunnies composed entirely of my hair floating around in the corners. Bathrooms suck.

Labyrinth Gal said...

Dear Mandi,
I enjoy your blog so much, you have such a great wit & way with words! So here's my advice:

I haven't used a conventional mop in 20 years. I use a SH-MOP. It's fast, easy, works on wood, tile, etc. & you don't have to wait for the floor to dry. It also has a much bigger surface area than other mops, so clean up is faster. It also gets against edges & into corners. Here's a link:

The other thing is the Flylady: Her book is Sink Reflections & is really good. She recommends what you're doing; keeping on top of things & not waiting for chaos. And she has a system--my house is much more Pop-over Ready since I've started following her recommendations. :-) Hali

funjani said...

I had a good friend who once told me that you just need to set ONE housekeeping goal each day. When it is completed, you will have a sense of accomplishment. I do this. Afterwards I do a few other things. If I want the whole house cleaned, I throw a party to motivate myself. I organize and organize. My drawers and closets only stay that way for a week at tops. I decided to not let it worry me. Life is too short. Erma Bombeck was a magazine humorist when I was young. She said always leave your vacuum out. If people expectantly drop by, you just tell them you were in the middle of cleaning. I really do this.

LiveLoveDIY said...

Oh my gosh, this tickled me so much today. I absolutely adore the way you tell your story. ADORE! Glad I stopped by! :)

Heather said...

I LOVE the Motivated Moms app. If you follow it, you will never have to spring clean...It's a beautiful thing. Your house will be spotless. Your dishes will be done. Birds will sing!

Laura said...

You need a Shark Steam mop... I hated 'mopping' until i got mine... its like a kill step for your floors... steam those germs! ha! plus its nice to see the dirty covers afterwards so you know that it was working! We have two at our house... since you cant spend money maybe we could barter some of your awesome wood crafting skills... lol

Hippymom83 said...

I have absolutely no solutions to offer for this particular problem, because I'm trying to figure it out myself! If you get there before I do, please share! LOL

Hippymom83 said...

To James and Bess:

I'm SOOOO WITH YOU!!! Why the *HECK* can't the boys [including the ones OVER 30!] hit the *DANG* toilet???!!! I'm about to forbid them to pee in the darn house at all! They'll just have to go out back with the dogs! We've got a privacy fence. No one would know. I'm really liking that idea. Hmmmm.

Team Tindle said...

Have you ever thought of doing a motivational/biographical type book? I love your stuff, seriously! I think it could be like Barbara Corcoran's book "use what you've got and other lessons I learned from my mom." Except yours would be hilarious! As far as cleaning, I hate it! But thankfully I have 5 children. Four who are old enough to do family "duties" which is what we called chores when I was a kid but "duties" is supposed to instill a sense of responsibility and self esteem in a child because they realize that they are an important part of the family and their contributions are full of meaning. Anyway, no clue as far as that goes, but each of the kids have jobs and they can keep the place pretty picked up for us. Then I spend my time doing the more in depth cleaning or you know surfing the blogs or watching hulu, whatever.

Libby said...

The kids have left home & I'm still not caught up with the cleaning! I have an excuse not to do the dishes water is turned off b/c the bathroom tap won't shut off.
I tried to teach the boys to sit & pee. Worked for a bit. We moved into a home that had cedar on the bathroom walls...beside the toilet and they had 3 boys who could only hit the broad side of the barn/wall...I ripped that out within a month of moving in. After trying everything to kill the stench.
Life is short--cycle instead of catching dust bunnies every day.

Kris said...

I'm new to your blog and get such a kick out of it, so thank you for your effort! My advice is, you can't keep it up on your own so train the fam to help you. Yell at the kid's friends too. I think this is why I don't keep up my 3 blogs because someone would make me feel guilty. And no I'm not telling. Last thought: Good job you!!!

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

That is so awesome that you've organized all the nooks and crannies of your house. It's such a good feeling to have a place for everything isn't it? Even if your house isn't always "eat off the floor clean"! I like that line about leaving a room better than when you found it. I totally do that without thinking - put the pillows back on the couch, fold the blankets….but my house is NEVER all perfect. But I'm okay with that - we're living life here. Plenty of time for it to be all tidy when the kids are grown.

Labyrinth Gal said...

I got my Sh-mop from The Clean Team, a catalogue pre-internet. Amazon is my default for anything online. I did google, tho.

His book on Speed Cleaning is really good; that's how I found out about the Sh-mop. Really--changed my life! :-) Hali

P.S. I like the book idea. You are VERY FUNNY!

jasi said...

just to let you know, if you keep it up it will get worse (or better depending on your perspective.) if you stop spending, keep your house picked up you'll start to eat healthier and then maybe start keeping a schedule or something. it's addictive- getting your shh together. it happens to me periodically. luckily, i have this pack rat lazy man child i adore who eats 7 times a day and still fits in his high school jeans. yeah, i don't have to worry about keeping up appearances. lol

Joanna said...

I have tried everything under the sun. When I stick to it (put a big ol' gold star on it), this one has worked better for me than any of the others (ahem preface: I can't find the link with all of the calendars, but just google the justmommies 2013 cleaning calendars and you can print the PDFs by month by the search results):

Joanna said...

I spoke too soon (big surprise there, I know). Here's the link:

jenny said...

I've just read this post and I had to laugh because like you I hate cleaning the floors. It took me 30 years to find the them everyday. Well 6 out of 7 anyway. Sounds crazy I know, but I give my tiles ( not the carpets) a quick sweep and mop everyday, and if I miss a bit, big deal, I'm going to do them again tomorrow anyway. A quick clean up of some chores everyday and one more job as well, and my house is always "yeah. come on in" ready.

Leslie@leserleeslovesandhobbies said...

Okay, here's my mopping trick. You grab a microfiber rag, get it wet, then, if you feel like being Pippi Longstocking, go to work sliding across the floor with the microfiber rag. But if you don't want to be Pippi, and realize that you can't really skate across a kitchen floor on a wet rag, give rags to your kids and make them do it. Sure their version of clean isn't quite as good as yours, but hey, it saves you the trouble of doing it, right?

David and Rebecca Campbell said...

I call it "leave no trace". like when you leave a campsite the same as or even better than how it was when you got there. also, i use wet wipes to clean everything in the bathrooms and instead of mopping bathrooms and front entryway, i use a wet wipe and wipe them. i usually have to use about 30 of them, but it beats getting out the mop and mop water, etc. i also use them to clean baseboards, to dust, to clean marks off the walls, to remove stains from clothes, to clean the interior of the car. pretty much everything you can think of. we buy the huge box of target brand ones.