Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Queen of Domesticity is Born!

Well, dear reader, you're never going to guess what I've been doing all week. I know you won't be able to guess because I can barely guess it myself and I'm the one doing it!

I have been cleaning.

And not your average "Oh, it's chore day! Let's clean!" or your not-so-average "I'm so sick and tired of all this junk filling out house so we're going to purge, purge, purge and purging begins now, people!" either. It was a consistent, "this needs to be done, so we're going to do it without complaint, without expectation, and without blogging for four hours straight" type of cleaning.

I think I've turned a corner in my domesticity skillz.

Oh, sure, this is probably a rarity and I'll find myself on the couch for days at a time (hmmm...perhaps when the next depression cycle hits?), but for now, I'm relishing in the following facts:
1. I cleaned the entire family room and play room while the girls were at school; #3 helped a little bit (#4 ran around laughing), but most of it was me. And I wasn't angry while I did it. I spend so much time forcing the kids to clean up the basement, I figured every once in a while I could just do it myself, giving them a break from the constant cleaning, and me a break from the constant yelling (or is it the other way around?).
2. I cleaned the yard! I know! The mind is still reeling! I cleaned up trash, threw away broken toys, swept the patio, dug out toys and trash from window wells, fixed the landscaping bricks #3 removed whilst-a-lookin' for bugs, and I even cleared away cobwebs from corners (shudder).
3. The kitchen has been clean every night. Every morning this week I have woken up to a clean kitchen. The floors are swept (although last night I didn't do it because I was getting my hair cut/colored), the dishes are done, and the food is put away (let's not talk about the times when food doesn't always get put away, okay? Okay.). Waking up to a clean kitchen has got to be one of the most blissful things in a family's life. Seriously.
4. I'm almost caught up on laundry. For those who know my intense dis-like-ness of laundry, you understand how this blows the mind!
5. I've been making the kids keep their rooms clean and I've been on top of them to pick up toys, clothes, and make beds. However, I noticed it wasn't anything different from what I've done in the past, except this time I made sure they actually did it.
6. For four straight days, I would not be embarrassed if someone came to my home unannounced. There would be no shame because there is no weird smell, or sticky floor, or crumb-infested carpet. I could totally entertain someone with pride! (as long as they didn't notice the dust. Maybe I should dust...)

But here are the best facts:
A. I do not have resentment towards my family for the cleaning. I'm just doing it. The fact that Brandon works long hours and can't help? I'm not angry right now (much). The fact that my kids whine when I tell them to get their butts in gear and pick up some toys/clean their rooms/stop throwing toothpaste does not phase me, much to their chagrin. I don't back down, either, much to their other chagrin. See, I'm actually okay with the cleaning. And this is major progress for me, dear reader. Majorly major progress!
B. I have found that when the house is cleaner, I have more time to remember things like appointments, activities, homework for the kids, schedules, phone calls, etc. Which is weird. But perhaps it's because I have all that time to think whilst-a-cleanin'? And I actually know where the papers are because the kitchen desk is organized? Who knew?!
C. My mother told me a long time ago that we don't clean our houses for other people. She said if I cleaned my house, it needs to be for me and my family, not anyone else. She also told me that if I kept a clean house (within reason; we're not doing the white glove test, here, people), I would be happier.
Who knew she was right?!
And why did it take me 10 years to totally get it?!
I was talking with my dad on the phone yesterday and I mentioned these things to him and I asked him why I felt happier with a clean house. I mean, I was disappointed I didn't have time to sit and blog and read like I usually do, but for some reason I was perfectly elated by all I had accomplished --even the daily grind (like dishes, etc.). He said it was because I didn't have those things looming over my head, so I didn't feel constant weight, guilt, pressure, etc. to do what I needed to do because --Ta da! -- it was done. And burden, weight, guilt, pressure, etc. taken away makes for a very pleasant afternoon!
C. When I just do it, instead of whining internally (and sometimes externally), I find it easier to do. I've been telling my kids this for years --"Stop wasting so much time whining and stalling! If you would just do it, it would be over faster!" --but did I ever think to stop and just do it myself? Hmm?
D. I'm realistic enough to know that this new found Queen of Domesticity will probably turn out to be a once a month type of thing. But it takes what...21 days? to make a habit? Maybe I could convince myself to do this for 21 days, and then it'll become habit. Not cleaning like crazy, but cleaning a little bit everyday (kind of what I mentioned in my most recent post). I could handle that habit. I think I want to handle that habit. In fact, I know I do.

So, dear reader, have you gotten to the place where keeping your house clean isn't really a burden? Have you found ways to make it enjoyable? Have you experienced anything I have where you realize how much more peaceful the home is when it's clean? Or do you think I'm just off my rocker and should be committed because I think a clean house is a wonderful and worthwhile thing even though it's cutting into my blogging time? Hmmm? It's okay. You can be honest; I can take it!


MBusse said...

I look forward to that day, but am far from it. In fact, I still haven't painted the tops of my walls since I moved into my new place in July. I keep telling myself that it will take having guests over to motivate me to get it done. I haven't even had visiting or home teachers yet... just me. I totally appreciate you sharing your mom's words here on it being for you. I'll try to apply them to my humble abode as well!

flip flop mama said...

Yay for a clean house! I feel the same way you do when I get off my butt and am actually productive. My house isn't dirty...but it is rather messy right now. It could use some work, but I'm not in your state of mind yet. :)

Desi said...

I LOVE a clean house, but alas, mine is never clean! Now that you've gotten the Queen of Domesticity thing down, how about you come over and help me get a handle on it too :)

I have a lot of depression issues too, maybe if I could get a handle on the cleaning thing it wouldn't be so bad huh?

Too bad I'm not rich and I'd just hire someone to come in and clean for me. Until then, I aspire to be more like you and at least become a Princess of Domesticity!

Congrats on the clean house. I know what a blessing it can be.

Ryan and Missy- said...

With just the two of us, our place doesn't get too messy, YET. But I SO enjoy when the tile floor in the kitchen, dining, and living room is swept and when all the little feathers that I can't stop pulling out of the couch are vacuumed off of the area rug.

Sweeping that big space is a task and I'll avoid it for weeks. Lugging the heavy vacuum out of the closet for the tiny area rug seems like so much work for 2 or 3 strokes of vacuuming, but those two chores make all the difference and I feel like somehow I can breath a little easier.

It's weird how that happens.

Kelly said...

Ahhh a clean house. Good for you.

I go in waves, sometimes I know I am cleaning for myself (because heaven knows these pigs don't care!) and can appreciate it my efforts. Other times I want to rip my hair out, except I don't because then I'll just have to sweep again. And other times the mess doesn't bother me at all, because I know if it isn't bothering anyone else, then I shouldn't care either.

Currently I keep my bedroom and the kitchen spic and span, I can get the family three squares (cooking is where I seethe the resentment) and then retreat to my private sanctuary and forget there are legos imbedded in the carpet upstairs.

Julie said...

I really really understand this. I love when my house is clean. Yes, the cleaning lady part of clean is awesome (dusting...), but the part that I do is even better -- the orderly, toys put away, papers organized, counters cleared off, beds made, tidy kind of clean. I love it and cannot function without it. When it doesn't happen, there is a tremendous amount of frustration and contention in our home. I need to get out and clean out the kids' outside toy box thing before winter and the window wells (yikes...). Thanks for the inspiration.
FlyLady, for the next several weeks, is all about dejunking the "hot spots" in our houses. I've loved it. My kitchen desk needs some help, so I'll definitely bepurging on that's amazing how quickly it piles up when you just ignore it.
I am really really happy for you, Cheryl. You're going to join the tidy club and you're going to love it!!!! :0) That emoticon nose thing was by accident, but it's kind of cute.

Amanda D said...

Good for you, Cheryl! I read an article once that said one of the most important things you can give your family is a clean, orderly home. I have thought about that a lot. It is amazing how much we want to be in a space that is clean (my husband cleaned out the garage this weekend - it is heaven - and I have been trying to tell myself that the neighbors will think I am weird if I just stand there and look at it all day), and how the order of a room goes to other areas on our house.

I'm like you, I go through phases of really good and phases of not so good but I'm still trying. Someday we'll get there!

Anne Marie said...

I definitely have HADD (what I like to call Housework Attention Deficit Disorder). I am working on it...I've been married for more than 12 years, and it is taking me so long to love the housewife-y parts of my job. I love reading to my kids, playing with them, going to the park...but cleaning...not so much. I do a better job cleaning if I can listen to music or talk on the phone. I am trying to do a better job at it for my kids' sake at this point. I want them to learn how to work and organize their space, and if I can't do it, how can I expect them to? So glad you've been able to make a lot of progress this week on doing those jobs that are not always so fun but do feel worth it when you see the results. Feel free to stop by my blog when you have a free moment:

Alison Wonderland said...

They say that cleaning a little every day is the way to do it but I find it really hard to do. But you're right there is really a lightness to the soul when the house is clean. I need to work on that.

Richelle said...

I agree with the cleaning up the kitchen every night thing. We try to do that most nights, and when it doesn't get done I already feel behind on what I need to get done. If I wake up to a clean kitchen, it is so refreshing!

Weatherspoon Family of 6 said...

Hey I had it down with a clean house and then #4 entered my life~ I hate laundry and cleaning but it is just something you have to do! I know how much happier you feel with a clean house... Too bad I just don't get that feeling much maybe 3-4 times a month! Love your blog Cheryl I wish I could express myself like you do!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I'm still in cleaning for other people unless my house is just such a mess I want to poke my eyes out mode.

But I've got four growing kids, so eventually I shouldn't have to do much at all, right? Free labor! JK

Susan M said...

We live in a small apartment and it really doesn't take long to straighten it up. However I've been really busy with work so I'm falling behind and the place is starting to get to me. I'll have to put the kids to work on cleaning when they get home from school.

Michele said...

"Stop wasting so much time whining and stalling! If you would just do it, it would be over faster!"

I think I am going to have to write that on my white board in the kitchen where I can look at it all the time. :) My husband has complained a lot in the past about how I never kept the house clean, unless we were having people over and that he was going to start having people over all the time so I would have to clean. Ouch! Well, in the last couple months since he has gone back to work, I have done a total 180. Partially because I thought a lot about his comment and how he is working all day to take care of us and partly cause I just can't stand the mess anymore. It is daunting cleaning up after 8 people, even if 5 of my 6 kids are old enough to help. But as I have been keeping my house spotless, I have noticed a couple things:
1. I just feel happier and more at peace. I am definitely less stressed out.
2. I have way more time to do the things I want to do, cause it doesn't take me 5 million years to straighten my house up, cause it is pretty much clean and it's not a big hassle to put away the few things that are out.
3. I don't fear my friends and neighbors stopping by to chat or hang out. Yay!
So thanks for a great post, sorry for the novel, and this is something that I am also working very diligently on. :)

Michele said...

Oh yeah, and one thing that has helped me with my cleaning is that I clean the island in the kitchen, light my candle, and turn on some modern lds music that I really like. It puts me in a really good mood, and the clean counter coupled with the smell of the candle makes me feel like I am on my way to cleanlinessalready. :)

cornnut32 said...

loud, loud music. dancing, shimmying, singing at the top of my lungs.

yep, that's about the only way i can stand it.

music to try: the go-gos (thanks to me mum), mylie cyrus (yes but don't quote me on that), and i like sheryl crow and pink. oh and the beatles.

Jeanette said...

Woohoo! You go girl! We did a fall cleaning a few weeks ago but you could not tell by looking at my house. It is hard to keep on top of things. We are cleaning the carpet in the family/playroom tonight because it smells like something died in there. I was down on the floor helping my son pick up legos and I about passed out from the smell...
There was something else I was going to say but I have been interrupted about 20 times (no exaggeration) by my kids while trying to type this and now my mind is a blank.