Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heck with Heloise... the Lazy (Stephanie) Susan's Guide to Housekeeping

First of all, how convenient is it that my middle name is Susan?

On Thursday I was preparing for company that night.  I surveyed the pit of despair that we call our home, and began mentally gearing up for this challenge.  If you ever read my post about my battle against the DDD (Domestic Destruction Detachment, I think) you will know that I am a terrible housekeeper.  I would love nothing more than to be one of those women that has the clean house no matter when you come by to visit, but I'm not, and I don't think I ever will be.

I decided to start quite sensibly.  I made a checklist of things to accomplish that day.  Then I got a little ridiculous... I assigned times to each chore, based on how long I thought it should take.  All added up I figured I had about an hour and half worth of housework to do.   (We will pause here for you all to laugh and laugh at my foolish optimism.)

So I began with a bathroom, thinking it would be easiest.  I breezed through there, accomplishing all the tasks within the allotted time and feeling pretty good about myself.  Then I went into the kitchen, and the time sheet went out the window.  What I had failed to take into consideration was all the clutter that had to be sorted before I could tackle each of my neatly labeled and timed tasks.  So I started working on it, and despite numerous distractions, I finally got things sorted out, had the dishwasher running, and the counters scrubbed. 

I began vacuuming the entire downstairs, and then onto the stairs where I paused, and made Lucie come get her toy that had been sitting on a step for about 2-3 weeks now.  (We've been in a battle of wills, each refusing to move the toy)  Spirits buoyed by that minor victory, I continued vacuuming my stairs, and thinking to myself how much I've grown.  I still hate vacuuming but for years I was actually afraid of the vacuum because I don't like the noise of it.  I finished that task and returned to my battle downstairs. 

I decided that lighting a few candles to make the room smell pretty would help my on my way.  So I did, and then I decided to pull out a few other decorative touches that have been put away since Christmas.  Then I started dusting, which I also hate.  I mentally grumbled a bit about the fact that when Matt and I sorted out chores all those years ago, his two chores were to be vacuuming and dusting.  Yeah, we see how well that worked out.  But, in his defense, he was outside mowing the lawn, weedeating, and cleaning the patio, so it isn't like he was sitting on the couch playing a video game while I did this.  I surveyed my work in the living room, which gets surprisingly dirty since it's the room we hardly ever use!  I decided that dry dusting wasn't sufficient, so I attacked the room again with my handy can of Lemon Pledge and that's when I decided that I would only dust what I could reach, and see.  If I don't see the dust, it doesn't exist, right?

As I was cleaning and polishing my old furniture, I started wondering, "Am I the only one who wishes that PartyLite made a Lemon Pledge scented candle?" I would totally burn that candle!!

I decided against mopping my floors, because I figured that our friends weren't actually coming to inspect my floors, but to see us.  It was a very liberating decision, and I felt very good about it. 

I actually had enough time to sit on the couch and read for a few minutes while drinking a cup of tea before our company arrived, and I also had time to ponder the lessons learned while cleaning. 

Lesson one, have realistic expectations of what you're actually going to do.  I have all these grand plans for what I really should do in my house, but since it's not actually vitally important, it doesn't ever get done. 

Lesson two, you can make a checklist, but don't expect that you will actually follow all of it.  And don't assign time limits to each task because all you will do is make yourself feel like a failure. 

Lesson three, there really is no motivator quite like having company coming, so if you want your house to remain clean, entertain often! I remember always asking my mother who was coming over if I got home and she was cleaning.