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How to clean your house when you hate to clean your house.

"Boring women have immaculate houses."

Truer words were never spoken, written, or texted.

I don't know who first said this, but if I knew I'd buy him - or more likely - her a drink.

I love my home and like to see it well-kept. It's just that I'd rather do most anything more than housekeeping. For me, the best part of working full time was the financial resources to hire someone to clean my house for me. For one thing, my husband and children would actually pick up their stuff if they knew the housekeeper was coming the next day. They wouldn't hop-to just because I asked. For some reason they tended to have more faith in the presence of a maid actually on-site than in my potential to manage the upkeep of the house. My request for them to straighten their rooms didn't guarantee a cleaning would necessarily follow. Knowing a paid professional was scheduled for the next day was, in their minds, a safer bet.

Now that I'm a work-from-home writer and my income has reduced drastically, I'm back to being the master of my house's fate. I still love my home, and I still like to see it well-kept. So, I've developed some shortcuts to the process for a couple of good reasons. One, I simply would rather spend my time doing other things. And two, I get little pleasure out of doing the same tasks over and over again, knowing they are only going to have to be done again the next day or the next week. This situation is not what it used to be when we were attempting to raise three active children complete with pets, soccer teams, and hordes of friends who would descend upon our dwelling on a regular basis. Still, dust settles, mud tracks, and cobwebs gather any time the world still turns on its axis.

Now, for the shortcuts.

This first one I developed upon the birth of my first child, and it's proved its value over the subsequent years. When there is more clutter than time available to clean, go room by room and place said clutter in paper bags marked with the name of the room. When finished, place the bag in a closet or corner of the room. This procedure gives each area a quick face-lift without just throwing junk mail, sweaters, lunchboxes and/or anything else you might need within the next twenty-four hours into closets and drawers where they might not be so easy to retrieve quickly. When my husband asked where his checkbook went, I could point to the grocery bag or bags in the corner of the room and with confidence say, "right there."

Two: Just make the bed. OK. The bedroom is cluttered with piles of clean and dirty clothes, the remnants of the Sunday newspaper, and stacks of paperbacks on the nightstand both read and to-be-read. The room needs about thirty minutes of steady work done on it, but you don't have thirty minutes. You have five, so use them to make the bed. It is amazing how much nicer a bedroom looks with just the bed made. My Mother used to say, if you make the bed as soon as you get out of it, you've done one thing that doesn't have to be done again today.

Three: Do what is the most glaring need, even if that is the only chore you have the time or inclination to do. If I walk by the French doors in the den and am taken aback by the fingerprints and smudges shining in the sunlight, I will stop and get out the window cleaner and tackle the project. It'll take about ten to fifteen minutes. Now, the truth is, probably every window in the house is in the same condition. But I don't have time (or interest) to take on the full-day operation of washing all the windows in the house. I will clean the offending French door. I will at least accomplish that. It's not the entire project, but it is not nothing.

Four: When the bathroom needs a good scrub, grab a bottle of alcohol, and wipe down anything that doesn't get up and run away from you. It will not only clean but also put a quick shine on everything it touches.

Five: Don't do routine household chores on the weekend. You just end up feeling like you are following everybody around redoing and redoing the same tasks endlessly. Let your mate or your family enjoy the space then help you do a general pick-up right before everybody goes to bed on Sunday night. Everybody made the mess. Everybody can help right the ship at the end of the pleasure cruise.

I'd rather garden, and I have prize-winning iris as evidence of my skill in that area. I'd rather write, and I have four novels, a volume of poetry, a children's book, a novella, and more than 100 articles to my credit. I'd rather foster my relationships with my three grown children, their spouses, my grandchildren, my friends, the writers I follow. And I have wonderful relationships with the people in my life, who are disproportionately of the same school of thought as I am when it comes to housekeeping. (That probably has something to do with how I attract and select my friends.)

There will always be beds to be made. There will always be garbage to be taken out. There will always be furniture to be dusted. There is so much more to life than that.

Use these shortcuts and go outside and plant an iris.

© Copyright 2024 Kathleen Cochran (mks518 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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