Sunday, October 7, 2007

Acronyms for the orderly-challenged

Hi! Sheryl, from Paper Napkin here. I'm so glad Belinda and I are collaborating on this blog. I have a lot of areas of my life where I need to get it together, and I think you, and she, and I can all help each other, hooray for blogs!

85-90% of the time my house is clean. The rest of the time my house is either very clean, or a sty. Now clean to me, may not be clean to you. Clean to me means when I bring in groceries, I have a place to put the bags down. It means I can walk around my house without stepping on stuff. It means neighbors can drop by, and I'm not embarrassed. Unless it's my pin-neat neighbor (curse her). It does not mean a place for everything and everything in its place. I wish I were that kind of person, but I ain't never gonna be that kind of person. Plus I have 3 little kids, so I've let go of that dream. Case in point, was going to take pictures of my house to show you what clean means to me, but I can't find the battery charger for the camera.

I've always been a messy person. When I was in college, there were wall to wall clothes in my apartment, and days-old dishes in the sink, and it was the same when I lived at home. But I've always hated being messy. Messes depress me, so over the years I found a way to control it. Then I had kids, and that threw me for a loop for a while, but I've got it under control again.

There are a lot of little tricks I use to keep the house clean. The verymost important one is DLFB. When I first started cracking the whip on my inner slob, I asked myself, what are the essentials? What areas of housekeeping absolutely must be done for me to feel sane and peaceful? DLFB: dishes, laundry, floors, bathrooms. Since I'm a dork, I made a sentence to help me remember: Domestic labor feels beautiful. (I told you I was a dork.)

If I do a little bit in each of these areas daily (or almost daily), keeping the rest of the house clean seems to follow. Notice I said a little bit. I do one load of dishes a day, I run the dishwasher at night, and my kids empty it in the morning, so I can stick a few dishes in it here and there during the day. Occasionally I have to do 2 loads, but most of the time I can pack the dishwasher full enough that I only have to do one load.

I also do one large load of laundry a day. We're a family of 5, so that doesn't keep the hampers empty, but it does keep them from overflowing. I hate laundry with the fire of a thousand suns, so I try to encourage us not to cycle through too many clothes. I make the kids change after school, which keeps school clothes nice, and who cares if their play clothes are dirty? (Well, actually I care, but I care more about not having tons of laundry, so if it's a choice between my pride and more work, laziness always wins.)

As for the bathrooms, I just do one thing a day. I clean the toilets, or sometimes just one toilet. Or I swipe the counters. It takes me 30 seconds, and I'm done for the day. I keep the Windex and paper towels on the counter and The Works (which I swear by) by the toilet in each bathroom, so they're right there. Inconvenience is the enemy of clean, if you're a lazy slob. I approach floors the same way. I vacuum one room, or sweep, or mop, but never all in one day. If it seems doable I'll do it, otherwise, forget it.

Figuring out the non-negotiables of housecleaning put things in clear perspective. DLFB saved my butt, and my house. It makes house cleaning manageable, because it's just 4 things! I can do that! It gives me peace of mind, and when those things are done, it makes keeping the rest of the house clean fairly easy. I tell you the other tricks I use too. Hope they help!


Belinda said...

OMG, Sheryl, you are my hero. Your definition of clean is the same as mine, but your Percentage of Clean Time is MUCH higher!

One big reason I am putting forth this effort is for my family's mental/emotional health, because we all thrive in an orderly atmosphere, and Alex positively NEEDS it.

Blessings on all our houses in this effort!

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