Sunday, November 8, 2009

What Mess?

Visiting other people's homes, I become acutely aware of how accustomed I have become to my own clutter, and it vexes me. Now I read journals and magazines. I've watched shows that illustrate how to de-clutter and I've even asked friends to provide guidance on how to pair down the mess that nine children can make on any given day.

1) The One Room A Day Method. Clean just one room sounds reasonable, but implemented, it fails at the key objective. If we had seven rooms and I cleaned just one each day to its utmost, there would still be six other rooms in dire need of cleaning each day. Alas, we have 21 rooms in total including the bathrooms, garage, basement, back basement and study. Three rooms a day also does not preclude the reality that those three rooms once cleaned, shall be trashed once all 9 get home or when I'm not looking.

2) The One task at a Time Method. Method: Go through the house and just do one thing...picking up trash, vacuuming, or putting away clothes. The problem comes when reality interferes. You go to room 1, and there is trash so you start by picking up the trash and as you are doing it, you discover a plate under the bed. So you begin searching and lo, you find a cup and a fork and a spoon and another plate. So you take them to the sink. And then you find laundry, and toys that obviously belong in another room. Before you know it, it's 11 pm and you've spent all your time in that one kid's room and the task you started on (trash) has long since been forgotten.

3) Designated Chores. Designated Floors. The instant you allow the children out of your sight when cleaning, the goats and sheep separate, and those that would obey, clean. Those that do not, hide. After an hour, even well placed bribes produce only goats.

4) The Martyr Method: Self cleans until self drops. Note: It doesn't work. It doesn't make you happy. It makes you mad at everyone else and no one cares that you blew a Saturday, not even you.

So what's a person to do who wants a clean home?

Proposed methods of addressing this issue, tested and critiqued.

1) Inject fear. Invite company. This results in a collective need to put on a good face. Husband and children will help. Works the first two to three times, then kids start to get wise and have busy schedules that preclude the invite.

2) Withhold food. Make it good food. Pizza ordered when basement is clean. (Keep the job manageable). Pro: It may take several meals but it does work. Con: It's expensive and usually fattening.

3) Call a maid service. Explain that we could have ordered Pizza if the rooms had been kept clean. Explain that Pizza is off the menu as long as maids are required. The thing is, you still then have to fix dinner, and as such, as long as they get fed, (see 2), the impulse to clean can be comfortably supressed.

4) Purge and stash. Go into each room. Clean out, donate, clear out. If it's broken, gone. If it's ripped, gone. Do this sans witnesses or you will be digging through Goodwill bags to locate the happy meal one child loves and wind up emptying the bag as others find things you sought to remove. Then, buy bins. Fill them. Close them. Hide them. Do this until every room is full of filled boxes. Pro: Everything looks organized. Con: You cannot find anything.

5) Recycle all magazines about housekeeping and order. Keep busy until the compulsive desire in you to establish order and clean house subsides. Sedate with chocolate, sangria,sleep, books and blogging as necessary. Repeat as needed.

Upon reflection and research, #5 is the most effective. Pass me that Nutella.


Nancy said...

I'm with you on #5. But I read all that other stuff and it was good. But chocolate, that gets my vote.

MightyMom said...


a chore sticker chart with rewards???

including one for yourself??

nah, just stick with #5

JimmyV said...

HA! We should implement these in cleaning our new house.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!