Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I learned from Wife Swap

Monday the the mundane! If you've been around the blog for any length of time, you know that while my life has almost no routine at all, one constant is that if I'm at home at lunchtime, I spend a half hour or so watching reality TV. No idea why this works for me--maybe it's getting to dine with entertainingly bizarre friends without being responsible for their drama?--but it does.

So today I whizzed through a DVR of 19 Kids and Counting in about 7 minutes. (As much as I adore the Duggers, it just wasn't all that exciting watching them go to the zoo...although I appreciated Jim Bob Dugger consoling his scared 2-year old by saying, "Don't worry's just an elephant!") Which left me with 2 choices: Tyra and the wannabe models, or wives trading places.

I went with the wives because I don't quite know what to make of Tyra...

I'm so glad I did! Admittedly, these ladies were a tad on the extreme side. One played the slots from midnight to 4am everyday, while the other had her teenage sons on leashes. One was a slob, the other a clean freak. And this, my friends, was where I learned today's life lesson!

When the time came to swap rules, Mrs. Neat Freak made Mr. Slob help with the cleaning. He remarked repeatedly how much time it took. That's when the light bulb lit up over my head: this stuff takes time!

I have never, ever made time for cleaning--not even once. I can't even imagine it crossing my mind when planning my week (which explains a lot, really...) It gets done, either when the clutter reaches a critical level or we have people coming over (which happens at least once a week, thus saving us from being buried alive). Today I wondered, though: what would it be like to NOT have to scramble all over the house speed cleaning 15 minutes before guests ring the bell? Or to get dressed out of my closet & dresser, rather than out of piles of folded clothes that never quite get put away?

As romantic and exciting as this sounds (and I'm not kidding--it sounds spectacular) here's what I don't understand: how do you get to the point where you believe that cleaning is the best use of your time? How do you make it a priority? All tips welcome. Otherwise, I'll be stuck watching one of those extreme clean shows for tips...or the ones on hoarding for reassurance that our status quo isn't all that bad.

How do you handle stuff around the house?


Marie said...

Don't ask me. My husband is the neat one in the house. He claims to LIKE to clean and to not mind that I'm messy, because it gives him something to do. I know, I don't get it either! :-)

Sarakastic said...

Ever since I was a little girl my mom told me to just schedule 15-30 minutes a day for cleaning. Granted, on laundry day which is my least favorite of all the days, I have to take more time. This way my house never gets messy but then again it's just me living here. Also I made fun of the elephant line too when I saw it "It's like ok, then when is it ok to be scared?"

Ellen Painter Dollar said...

I have to schedule certain basic cleaning tasks because I dislike them, so I'll always procrastinate if they're not on my schedule, and because I find it hard to relax or focus on work (writing) if my environment is a mess.

My basics: Monday and Thursday are laundry days (I do it during the day, my husband folds while watching TV at night). Bathrooms cleaned on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Dishes washed immediately after every meal. Kitchen table cleaned of school papers, mail, etc. before dinner. Mop kitchen floor Friday night. The goal is not perfection--there's still plenty of dust and sticky floors. I have 3 kids so a certain amount of clutter is unavoidable if I'm going to allow them to live in the house and not tiptoe through it. But it's clean enough, and the schedule means we rarely spend our precious weekend family time cleaning. Also, if I stick to the schedule and keep on top of the basic stuff, when I have the chance to relax, or I'm not feeling well, I can chill without thinking "I haven't mopped in two weeks."

Clearly, I spend far too much time thinking about my cleaning schedule! But it works for me. It's tied up in the concept of Sabbath too. Spend six days really working, being intentional about what needs doing, and keep Sundays truly free of strenuous work.

Mo's Knows said...

In a book I'm reading by the Heath brothers called, "Switch" they just used this example... Get a timer and set it for 5 minutes. Then GO! Clean for five minutes. You might just go beyond that five... They said in the book that it's the problem of starting - by starting small, you solve the initial issue by making it seem manageable, and then you impress yourself by continuing on... But whenever I visited your home, Trish, it was 10 times cleaner than mine...

Anonymous said...

Hi Trish!

It's Kristi, your former Unity friend. :) I have many hard-earned thoughts on cleaning, seeing as I am by nature a royal slob and the "cleaning gene" got left in Ireland back with my great-great-grandparents, according to my stepdad. :) My slobby tendencies are easily exacerbated by the fact that I live alone (except for my dachshund, who doesn't care), and I don't have weekly guests as you do.

I've gotten tidier because I finally realized it was sucking energy OUT of me to walk into my apartment and sigh/recoil because of the mess, rather than feel relaxed and peaceful in my own home. In terms of how I felt in my "nest", slackitude just wasn't worth it anymore.

So here are a few ideas (already wisely mentioned by some). First, while it's probably stressful to do it right before guests are coming over, don't underestimate speed cleaning! I am a HUGE fan of the timer. I started with 15 minutes: 15 minutes to clean up, sort out or organize as much as possible. Try making it a contest with you and Steve on an evening or weekend. Somehow that little time frame made things less overwhelming, and it's truly amazing how much one can get done, especially if it's (eventually) on a daily basis.

Another strategy I've developed is one thing for each day: Saturday for laundry, Monday for kitchen, Tuesday for bathroom, Wednesday for general putting-way, etc. Everyone needs to make this work for themselves based on his/her/their own household, but it can be very helpful.

Third, can you afford to hire someone? Even once a month? It's pressure off you and Steve, putting money back into the economy and helping to support someone's small business. I hire someone for deep cleaning (i.e. dust-sucking behind furniture, etc.) once every month or two, and it is a Godsend.

I hope this helps! Thinking of you, especially at this difficult time with Andrew's passing. I really really hope I can work it out to get to your book party!

Kristi :)

Anonymous said...

You decide cleaning is worth your time because you want to avoid being on another reality TV show. It's called Hoarders.