Cleaning In the Midst of a Mess

Cleaning in the Midst of a Mess (Is it worth it?) at

If you’ve read the blog the whole way through, or even if you’ve just been around a while . . . you have likely noticed a recurring theme.

Nony likes projects, but projects give her tunnel vision. Tunnel vision means Nony’s house gets messy*.


*Messy: Grocery bags on the kitchen floor, TV trays left out until no one can remember the last time we ate while watching a movie, one random load of laundry piled on the new chair because there’s no time for the laundry management method that rocks Nony’s world. And more.

This is a tunnel vision week.

My boys are both in a play at school and I’m directing. This means we’ll be out each and every night, and members of the household should feel grateful to be fed and have clean underwear.

Pre-blog, this would have been The Beginning of the End. A surefire halt to any Burst of Consistency I’d been experiencing.

Now, though, I know the basics. The absolute, must-do-to-function basics.

So I’m doing those basics. I’m running the dishwasher every single night and getting laundry done.

I used to struggle to see the point of doing such things in the midst of the mess. WHY even bother when it will barely make any visible difference?

But it’s like a wagon wheel.

(I suppose it could be a Suburban’s tire or a bike or something, but a wagon wheel just feels right. Y’know . . . artistically.)

Even when the storm is raging, and the mud is forming quickly, it’s best to keep going.

Even though movement is so slow you think you’ll never get to wherever you’re going. Even though mud is caking the wheel and your hoop skirt is getting splattered.

Because even though you don’t feel like you’re making progress, stopping would be disastrous.

Stopping would mean sinking down. Into the mud. And getting out of that would require the help of Clydesdale horses and neighboring farmhands.

If you can just keep moving, just keep those wheels turning, you’ll be SO much better off after the storm than if you had stopped completely.

If I can just keep the majority of our dishes clean by running, then emptying, then re-filling, then re-running the dishwasher every day, we’ll be so much better off when this play/storm is over.

And let’s be honest. Soaked-down-to-the-corset-and-pantaloons is somewhat romantic.

But drinking-from-measuring-cups-because-even-the-coffee-cups-are-dirty? Not so much.



Does even the thought of decluttering overwhelm you? Sign up for my newsletter and get my reality-tested decluttering solutions delivered to your inbox for free.

--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    Funny analogies Nony! I like the artisticness (is that a word?) of them. πŸ™‚ At least you haven’t given up despite being busy busy busy. Great job!

  2. 3

    Clean dishes and laundry are high on my priority list too. Nearly cannot get along without getting those things done. I like to have clean glasses, so my girls don’t end up drinking out of adult beverage glasses. I mean, that is just not right!

  3. 4

    Laughing out loud! I love it!

    I read a housekeeping tip one time that said, “Whatever you do, wash the dishes and the laundry. If you neglect to make your bed, at the end of the week one will have only ONE unmade bed. If you neglect to wash the dishes, it’s a whole different story!”

  4. 6

    I love this. I just did this today. I was actually just cleaning the kitchen and needed to put a few things in the kids’ bedrooms. And Ugh! It’s a huge mess. I just felt so overwhelmed. But I can’t let their crazy rooms from keeping me from focusing on what I need to do.

  5. 7

    Interesting comment about the unmade bed – I try to almost always make my bed, because even if I don’t manage to do anything else, there’s one little island of calm in my house.

    Of course I live alone (kids grown), so I don’t have the quantity of dishes/laundry to do that most of you have.

    • 8

      I also like to have my bed made. The author of the book had 6 children (I also have 6). She made a good point about chores that stay about the same over time (vacumming, making the bed) versus chores that will grow daily (dishes, laundry). It’s been helpful to me during crazy times!

  6. 9

    This was good timing for me to read your blog today! We are having work done around the house and I’m buried in a million different projects and “stuff” going on right now. The laundry has piled up but I’m working on that today. I’ve looked at the dishes for the past 2 days and just tried to ignore them. You are so right that if I at least keep the laundry, dishes and some picking up taken care of it will make it a little easier to get the house back together when this crazy construction work is complete! Thanks as always for your honest and sometimes ugly reminders of my often flawed thinking that it has to be all or nothing.

  7. 10
    Helen the Snowy Owl says:

    Oooh, show week! Break a leg! :o)

    I don’t want to confess to some of the messes that’ve sat around while I’ve been too busy to tidy them.

    I was about to list the wretched things but I think they’ll get tidied quicker if I get up off of the sofa and do something about them πŸ˜‰

  8. 11
    Cookielikes says:

    Oh my goodness – this is just what I needed. I’m having a self created “tunnel vision” week because I decided I just *must* paint our bedroom before I go back to work next week. I’ve learned the laundry lesson and did all my laundry the day before I started my project but the dishes are another story. Who are these kids wanting to eat all the time ?? πŸ™‚

    One thing I would add to your awesome 2 step survival plan is to take out the trash. Maybe it’s just me but somehow just taking out the trash triggers me to consider cleaning the kitchen. Now on to actually doing the dishes. Yeesh.

    • 12

      I am so lucky (and KNOW it!) because Hubby takes out the trash without EVER needing to be reminded. It’s awesome!!

      • 13
        Tammy Lee says:

        Saw an idea that I thought was great for tv trays. Take the top off and put material in the middle. Tie the material on each corner and wala you have a laundry hamper.

  9. 14

    I just started following your blog and on facebook -I love your sassyness and humor!

  10. 15
    SusanCK says:

    Hubby and my bedroom is a wreck but I’m working on getting it tidied up, decluttered, and more organized. I’m not a naturally organized person. πŸ™‚ Today I’m going through tubs of clothes deciding what I want to donate, keep, and store for a different season.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. 16
    Jennifer says:

    Oh I can so relate…..Dishes often get neglected for days on end (simply moved from one side of the double-sided sink to the other when the once-hot-and-soapy-water I put them in with every intention of actually washing them this time gets cold and non-soapy anymore)… laundry gets washed, because let’s face it, we need underwear… but never folded… i don’t think i’ve had an empty laundry basket in my house in at least a year, unless it’s getting temporarily dumped on the bed to get the newest clean load out of the dryer… junk mail is piling up on the kitchen table… toys are strewn from one end of the living room to the other, which also needs to be vaccuummed because we’ve been letting the kids eat meals in there because there’s no room at the kitchen table and it’s just like….gaaahhhhhhhhhhh…. where do i even start? i could wash the dishes, but as soon as i clean the livingroom, i’ll find five more dishes and 3 cups full of sour milk and the random missing spoon that hasn’t been seen in two years… plus, as soon as the dishes get done, it’s always time to eat again which means…. more dirty dishes

  12. 18

    Ooooooohhhh, I love how you made this old-fashioned and romantic with your comparisons!! And your point is perfect… just keep the wheels a-rollin’. Love your blog, but I think this one is the best ever! πŸ™‚

  13. 19


    And so dang true. It’s why I always stay stocked with dishwasher tablets, laundry detergent, bread, and milk.

    Your advice also applies to the postpartum period. πŸ™‚

  14. 20

    Haha! This is so true. I do exactly the same. I wonder why I should bother picking up those few things on the floor, when it will barely touch the real work that needs to be done. And then it piles up and piles up until suddenly I’m swamped and feel like having a breakdown. I’m working on that! Great post!

  15. 21

    Absolutely agree! You have to keep going. My grandkids spend Wednesday and Thursday with me each week and there’s a huge temptation just to forget about everything until they go home. But I won’t let myself. I definitely don’t do as much as usual but I try to stay on top of the basics. Then when they leave, it really doesn’t take much effort to put things back in order. I feel like my house was acceptable and I got to spend quality time with the kids. Win win.

  16. 22

    I had to remind myself of this today. I had my first batch of Zaycon beef arriving at four, my kitchen was piled with dishes, my fridge and freezer full. Mostly with no-longer edible leftovers. The whole house hasn’t been maintained for an embarrassingly long time. But, having read your blog for the past few months, I was able to draw inspiration from your comebacks and pulled up my big-girl pants. Now I’m peacefully lounging in my recliner, reading, while five pounds of cooked ground beef cools for freezing.
    So thank you. For the reminder to keep on keeping on. And for teaching me how to freezer cook. This is my first real attempt but I’m quite excited to not have to brown the meat for spaghetti for a while. God bless.

  17. 24

    I needed to see this today. So glad it popped up on Facebook. School started yesterday and it has been a madhouse.

  18. 25

    I spent 10 years surviving by doing the basics – they would consume my entire weekend every week. Now I’m trying to dig my way out of that and make my house a home instead of mess.

  19. 26

    Yes,I have r&m not fully emptied a dishwasher just because the load fits in so well. Use iut if it and replace when dirty. A bit of a young, just left home, independent living option, but it works short term.

  20. 27

    I assumed that I had to drink my smooothie out of my beloved Pyrex 16 oz measuring cup. I am stading there,enjoying the yumminess, when what do I see? A dish drainer full of clean glasses, plates, even silverware and mixing bowls!

  21. 28
    Trouble OHara says:

    I didn’t think I did housework at all, that my husband did it all but from what you said, I’m doing the basics! I load, wash and unload the dishwasher. I do a load or two of laundry twice a week. I sweep when the birds make too much of a mess. According to you, I’m getting there. Thank you!

  22. 29

    I love this blog. A littlenis better than none at all. So often I used to feel overwhelmed and lost, and instead of doing just one or two things I would let it all go. So there are times now when my house looks spectacular (to me) and time the tornado has landed, but itbis never as bad as it used to be.

Speak Your Mind


Β© 2009 - 2015 A Slob Comes Clean All rights reserved. | Blog Header and Button design by Many Little Blessings.