We spent the weekend with my extended family at the lake. Because my parents (whose house we stayed in) had to leave to catch a plane, we offered to stay an extra day and do the cleaning up since hubby and the kids are already on Christmas break.
Thankfully, no one raised an eyebrow at the irony that “Nony the Slob” was staying to do the cleaning. Yes, they all know about my secret blog life.
As I cleaned this morning, I thought about some of you who have recently left comments and mentioned that you used to “clean houses” for a living. I spent several summers cleaning at a camp on the weeks when I wasn’t a counselor. I’m amazed at how much easier it is to clean when it’s not my own home.
Today, first of all, we took out all of our stuff. We shoved the dirty clothes into our bags and put them on the porch. Toiletries, shoes, leftover food . . . we just boxed/bagged it up and moved it outside to be packed into the Suburban.
Second, decisions weren’t mine to make. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . my dad has more hats than he actually needs.
But that’s not my problem.
If he wants a different one for every day of the week (or the month), that’s his decision. And honestly, it doesn’t bother me in the least that they’re stacked so high. (Except that they fell off four times.) It’s not my house. The fact that the overabundance of hats isn’t my problem means I can clean and straighten around them without worrying about it.
I was reminded of what I’ve been learning lately. As was clear during my kitchen deep-cleaning, I have a hard time separating decluttering . . . from straightening . . . from cleaning. They’re three separate things, but they get clumped together in my brain.
Straightening is a daily task. Putting things away consistently has the same effect as moving all of our stuff out to the porch. The stuff had a specific place to go, so it didn’t get in the way of cleaning.
When I put off decluttering decisions until I’m in the midst “cleaning”, all my Cleaning Energy gets sucked right out by the Decision Making Energy that’s required. If I declutter consistently, and avoid bringing in more clutter, I can get straight to the cleaning and it’s done so much faster.
Today, I was able to concentrate on cleaning since I didn’t have to make decluttering decisions.
Cleaning is its own thing. It involves the removal of dirt and grime and dust. Dirt and grime and dust don’t require decisions. They don’t require straightening. They barely require any brain power at all.
Why do I make things harder than they really are?
Looking for a last minute man-gift? I LOVE our cargo carrier that attaches to the hitch on our Suburban. We used it last weekend to take the kids’ bikes to the lake, and we’ve also used it to cart large plastic totes full of STUFF! As we unloaded last night, I made the comment to my husband that this is one incredibly useful item! (And yes, that’s my affiliate link! Anything you buy on Amazon after clicking through that link earns me a small commission.)
Ha! SOOO much easier to clean other people’s houses. Sometimes when I see a “good” house I really want to take a toothbrush to it because it’s (I know, wierd) relaxing and satisfying. Their stuff is not my problem. I don’t have to think about it I can just TOOTHBRUSH around those faucets already!! At my house, by the time I get everything put away I am too tired to clean or out of time.
One other thing about cleaning other people’s houses-they love you! Every time you clean someone is extremely happy, they even give you presents and miss you when you’re on vacation.
Shelia B. says
You just spoke my mind in the last 4-5 paragraphs. I too confuse the three – straightening, cleaning and decluttering. I am wiped out by the time I’ve done one corner of a room and have no energy to continue onto the rest of a room.
I’ve always loved to clean someone else’s home. So much easier as you mentioned.
I use to help my grandmother clean her home before she passed away and she would follow me around telling me stories behind every item in her house. Oh the stories and how much I miss her. It would take a lot longer to get things cleaned but the memories are forever embedded in my heart of the time we spent together. Her talking/reminiscing and me cleaning and listening.
I found this blof a few days ago, and readl (almost) every single post since. (yes, it took me days). You and i have a lot of things in common! For one thing, the only thing i learned from flylady, was to do stuff in the time it takes my stove top kettle to boil(about five minutes). Since reading your blog, i have decluttered my kids closet, kept the kitchen clean, and swept everyday. Thank goodness you update most days to remind me! (hehe)
And yes, it is totally easier to clean someone elses place!!
Welcome, Brit! I’m so glad you found me!
I love having a clean house, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be worth the bother to pick everything up, knowing that my one-year-old will have it all out again in 10 minutes. I think it is much easier to clean someone else’s house because you don’t have to watch it get messy again. It is frustrating to clean, and then see all your work be for nothing : /
Audrey Mccann says
This was absolutely helpful. I am cleaning a very close friend of mines parents home. They are lovely gentle people.
So thank u for the help…but also…there’s so much kindness from of all of you.
Thank you, dear daughter, for cleaning for me. It made it so much easier for us to hurry away, knowing it will be ready for us when we return. What was hard was leaving everybody behind who made the weekend so special. But we will be back soon!
Krystal D says
For the past two months I have been going through each room of my house (except the master bedroom) and getting rid of stuff and decluttering. I took it room by room and worked on getting that one room de-cluttered, then organized, then cleaned. Then after that room was done I cleaned it each day while doing the 3 steps on the next room. I am finally down to just the hallway which is my laundry area and the master bedroom. My philosophy is slowly but surely. Yes, it has taken me two months but it is finally where I can straighten up and clean in just a short amount of time. In those two months I have also been reading your blog from beginning to end (well to this post that is)…. You have been such an inspiration to me. Just to know I am not alone and that even if some days I don’t get it done I am not a failure I just have to keep trying… never give up….
What are you doing with things that are projects (ie putting photos in albums or crafts or decorating items)?
Krystal D says
Hi JoAnn…. boxes…. lol… honestly so far all projects have gone into boxes… I have a box for each type of thing (sewing, cross-stitch, crochet, pictures, etc.) and as I come across that type of thing it gets put in the box in my room. I am hoping that when I get done de-cluttering and cleaning, I will be able to start working on the projects. as of now though, they are just sitting in the corner of my room. I have had a major set-back on cleaning lately so I am back to major cleaning now… but it is easier with less stuff…
WOW! I am so impressed that you held your vision for your home through all the work (and set backs I’m sure) WOW!
Mary Ann Howat says
I am reading your book and can relate to your statements. I too was buying more tubs to hold more stuff. But now I realize that I just have too much stuff. I don’t know when I have enough but in the kitchen I know I have too many casserole dishes, etc now that it’s just me and my husband. I think I will pare down the stuff in the kitchen and box the excess. Hopefully the items in the box will be in my April garage sale. I like your blog a lot and so glad I stumbled upon it.