I’m working on the office this week. I decluttered the corner on Monday, cleared/organized my desk on Tuesday, was gone all day yesterday, and today is Thursday. I haven’t done anything in this room yet. I still may, but it’s not guaranteed since in a short while I’ll leave to pick up kids from school and then I’m rarely able to focus on one thing for any amount of time.
Have I failed? No.
I’m trying to look at the big picture. Last week, I maintained the neatness of the previous week when I had been cleaning like crazy for a party. This is a big deal for me. I was looking forward to this week being focused on making lots of progress on the decluttering. This house needs LOTS of decluttering. But I have to maintain the areas that are clean so that I keep moving forward. If I declutter the office but let the dining room, kitchen and living rooms drift back into a state of chaos, I won’t be moving forward. I’ve always lamented that I am not capable of having my entire house clean all at once.
So, today I cleaned house. Probably like normal people (not slobs) do. To me this means that I cleaned even though it wasn’t a total pigsty. The kitchen floor looked pretty good since I’ve been sweeping everyday. But I mopped it anyway. It had been two weeks, and I think normal people probably mop at least that often. I scrubbed down/disinfected the bathrooms, following the cleaning procedures I learned years ago working at a summer camp. They looked fine before, but they look (and smell) great now.
I’m looking at the big picture. I am in this for the long haul. For the rest of our lives. I want to change how we live, not just have a clean house to sit and relax in until it gets filthy again.
As for the small details, I’m amazed at how having areas clutter-free allows me to really clean. I just mopped the kitchen, rather than picking up clutter and sweeping up months worth of cheerios and hardened spaghetti that the dog missed. No shopping bags had been thrown in a corner to be dealt with “later.” No refrigerator magnets had been kicked under the cabinets to be picked up “later.”
This means that I am freed up to notice details. In the bathroom, I’ve known for months that there was a suspiciously pee-like stain on my shower curtain. I tried to ignore it. I would tell myself that there was no way that could be pee. When I cleaned the bathroom today, I wasn’t frantic. I just went in and started scrubbing away. Since I wasn’t frantic, I stopped and took the time to accept that it probably was a pee stain. With two little boys, anything is possible. So I took it down and washed it. This wasn’t difficult, but I always felt so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks to be done on my frantic cleaning days, that the thought of removing, washing, and rehanging the shower curtain before someone rang the door completely terrified me.
So today I:
Swept kitchen again.
Cleaned 2 bathrooms. (Didn’t clean the master bath.)
Cleaned up daughter’s scary room (big task).
Checked all bathroom floors for clutter.
Checked all bathroom counters for clutter.
Just did my 5 minute walk-through and found – two pairs of socks, shoes scattered just in front of, not in, the shoe cabinet, a pair of underwear, two child chairs that are supposed to be in the playroom, the mop that I hadn’t put away after mopping, the chairs that I hadn’t replaced at the kitchen table after mopping, a cup that had been left in the dining room because my daughter needed a snack just at the precise moment when I was starting to mop the kitchen, and probably a few other things I can’t remember.
I’m finding that the 5 minute walk-throughs are extremely important. I cannot trust myself to notice clutter unless I purposefully look for it.