Advice from a House (Un)Keeper

You know how some people are binge dieters?   I’ve decided that I’m a binge house cleaner.

I don’t clean with any regularity.  Actually, to be totally honest, I don’t even pick our junk up with any regularity.  I just let it collect and pile and swarm until I can’t take it anymore, and only then do I clean it up.  But since the piles and the swarms have such a long time to collect between my attacks on them, I have to wait until I have lots of free time to  make it happen.

So consequently I am spending this day, the first day of Christmas break, not decorating my tree or making hot chocolate or wrapping presents.  No, I’m spending it cleaning.  I sent Bubba to school and I’ve told a flabbergasted Chica she can watch movies all day if she wants.  I think she thinks some other mother has taken over my body for that comment.  We’re on the fourth showing of Over the Hedge, and it’s only 10 a.m.

So as I flitted around my house this morning getting started, I started thinking about the best practices of a binge cleaner.  I haven’t looked, but I’m sure there are a gazillion plans for binge diets out there on the Internet.  I’m just guessing that there’s not as much useful information about binge cleaning, so maybe the world could benefit from my expertise in this area.  So here you are…

  1. Get everyone else out of the way.   There’s already enough stuff on the floor (and the tables, and the counters, and the shelves).  You don’t need extra people around getting in the way and making more mess.  Nor do you need them huffing and puffing at you for letting it get this bad or questioning your cleaning tactics.  So make them leave, or banish them to one room.  I honestly believe this revelation I discovered in year one has saved my marriage on many occasions.
  2. Use the Five Minute Rule.  Make a list of every room you have to clean, and then set a timer for five minutes.  Go to the first one and work like a mad woman until the timer goes off.  Don’t think about it too hard.  Just pick up the first thing that your eyes land on that doesn’t give you mental anguish to figure out where it should live in your home.  When the timer goes off, drop whatever you are doing and walk back to your list.  Cross that room off, congratulate yourself, and move on to the next.  When you’ve visited all of your rooms, repeat.
  3. Stick to the plan.  Don’t let yourself get distracted from the your assigned room during the five minutes.  As you carry the bathroom scale from your kid’s bed back down to its actual home, you’ll be tempted to notice the golf-ball sized dust bunnies on your stairs that are hopping around and actually beginning to talk.  Ignore them.  Their time will come.
  4. Set a goal.  Plan to reward yourself after you’ve done your five minutes in all eight rooms.    But when that ends up seeming like an eternity, and you have to stop for a short break after just six, don’t beat yourself up too much.  You’re making progress.
  5. Don’t feel guilty about throwing away your kids’ artwork from school.  There will be more, I promise.  And it only gets cuter as time passes.  Just please, please be sure to burry it in the trashcan well below other non-kid created items.  This will save you lots of explaining later.
  6. If you get really desperate, pretend you are some sort of cleaning expert while you work and invent all sorts of great ideas for advice.  Spend your reward break blogging about it.

Ok….that was waaaay too much stalling.  Back at at.  Round two:  Ding!