Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Go ask Alice, part I of II

Everyone knows that person--the girl who dates every loser in a 120 mile radius...the person who forks over a billion dollars on exercise equipment, but the only workout they ever get on their treadmill is when they jump up and down because they stubbed their toe on said treadmill.

Yeah, that is totes me with housework. Subscriptions to organization and lifestyle magazines? Check. Browsing blogs and websites that are filled with enviable (and clean) spaces? Check. Bouts of manic cleaning with a toothbrush that end in lists, charts, and resolutions? Check.

sourced from one of my faves, the inspired room.
In "Get Real", I explored the thought that being unhappy with my house was really just another way to be unhappy with my life; to judge myself and miss all the REAL beauty that surrounds me. And I was not off base with this. Our consumer society screams at us to be discontent-- to make our homes better and more tricked out. Loving your life as it is would kill the GDP. Do you really want to have all that numerical blood on your hands?

BUT....flexibility is a sign of mental health. So, I am tinkering with the idea that happiness may lay somewhere between coveting material items  and trying to see the beauty in a tumble week of dog hair...that I don't show pride in my beautiful home by getting on OR by writing haiku about tub rings...but rather by, (gasp), mopping my floors.

I hope that the Brady Bunch and Sam the Butcher knew how lucky they were...image from bradywikia
Channel your inner-Alice and give me your best tips and tricks, whatever puts you in the frame of mind to get it on...


  1. For whatever reason, I have a Pavlovian cleaning association with the Evita soundtrack. i start playing it and it just makes me want to clean. So I do. I clean my head off. You should try! I adore Andrew Lloyd (we are on a first & middle name basis)

  2. Very interesting. I would try anything at this point. I get lost in audio books during my long run and I wondered about using that while I clean too, but maybe the trick is to just do something enough times to build up an association, with cleaning and not drooling.

  3. Ok, come look at my house and you'll know I have NOTHING to offer to this conversation. But, you know me, and I always have something to say (type).

    Once in a blue moon, when my house is actually tidy, it happened one of two ways.

    1) Someone is planning to come to my house. I panic. I clean. To get through this terrible process, I usually use the oven timer. I make a deal with myself. I say, "Self, you have to clean for 45 minutes, then you can have a 15 minute break." Self usually throws a temper tantrum at this point, but you have to be firm. What *usually* happens is that when the timer goes off after 45 minutes, I'm in the middle of something, so I clean a little longer. Then, when the timer goes off after my 15 minutes of break, I'm watching a fantastic show on TV (Brady Bunch anyone?) so I break a little longer. I know it sounds weird but it works for me! I also do longer and shorter periods of time--I've done 15 and 15 minutes, and I've done 1 hour and 1 hour time slots. Some say if they sit down they won't get up again, but I don't struggle with that. I struggle more with the getting started in the first place. :)

    2) I happened upon a 'Hoarders' marathon. For whatever reason, after watching a couple episodes of that show, I find myself cleaning when I'm not even aware of it. After episode 2, I turn into cleaning zombie, and before I know it, the dishes are done and the bathroom has been 'addressed.' I'm pretty sure my husband might somehow rig the TV to be all Hoarders all the time very soon. Honestly, I understand. This place is a mess!

    When I was a kid, my mom kept a pristine home. I know what a house can look like, and I struggle with the idea that my house should look like that (although I accept that it never will). Some say it's because I work--um, yeah, my mom worked a minimum of 2 jobs, and often she worked three. I barely work one. So, I have a lot of guilt about this aspect of my mother/wife duties. But, a wise woman once shared with me that a clean house is way over-rated. Know how she knew that? You can hire a housekeeper to keep your house clean and tidy, but you can't hire a wife/mother for your, which is more important?

  4. Yes, it would have been REALLY weird and inappropriate if Mr. Brady had hired Alice in a mothering capacity--so that is a great point. Although, admittedly I am not always doing wifely/motherly duties in the time I could be cleaning. Sometimes, I am doing something such as blogging every errant thought that comes into my head or calling one of my friends to see if TB skin tests are dangerous. (big sigh of relief--the aren't).

    I like the idea of...wait for it...healthy balance. Somewhere between pristine and Hoarders. And I like the idea of a reward system. I am very much like a child in that this works really well for me. I am so trying that. Maybe I will whip up a little sticker chart for myself. Or maybe I should have my family do it, so I don't come up with a ridiculous system. Like 15 minutes of cleaning equals a pedicure or something. Thanks!

  5. darn Blogger... what I wrote was something about not having a dirty house, just one with a fine layer of dust.

    And I'm fine with that. That makes me happy :)

  6. Fine with that and happy is just what I am after! I seem to have the most unfortunate combination of being bothered by the state of my house but a very low drive to do anything about it. But all that is about to change! Look out fine with it and happy, here I come.

  7. As usual my comment is WAY overdue, as evidenced by the fact that you have managed to complete another post before I even managed to post a comment to this one! Anyway, as someone who is usually on top of my game when it comes to housework (over the top of my game? Is there such a thing? I mean, I am not inspecting with a white glove or anything, yet there is not much that goes undone for long around here) I do have some possibly helpful hints, or things that help me stay ahead. First, my mantra is "Do it NOW" as in, the second something needs to be wiped, emptied, folded, put away I do it right then. No procrastinating!! This way, I spend just the short amount of time doing (usually less than 10 min) rather than the looooong time I would take putting it off and eventually getting to it, meanwhile 15 other things have become messy or need to be done. This does mean that I spend a lot to time throughout the day doing these things, yet it also means that they don't get the best of me or make me feel overwhelmed.

    Second, I dedicate a reliable space in time each week to a whole house clean. For me, this is Friday morning. I actually block off this time each week for 2-3 hours (since I do it pretty religiously it is more like 2 because it doesn't ever get THAT dirty) of cleaning. I have my routine down to a science and doing it same way each week relieves the stress/anxiety and allows me to just go on autopilot and get it done. I like to do it on Friday because it is the end of a weeks worth of "use" in the house, and because it means that when the weekend comes, my chores are done and I can relax (I also go to the grocery store like clockwork on Thur or Fri evening for this same reason - I like my weekends to be free of obligation to house and home) - So, those are my best tips!

    In relation to your newest post, while my methods are a little compulsive, I actually feel very balanced about it and believe that it DOES lend a sense of peace and well being to my life. When my house is in chaos, I am simply not comfortable, and while I don't LOVE cleaning up so much, I love the result of feeling calm and organized, so it is worth it. The downside is that I probably do too much for my child in terms of using my "on the spot" picking up so that she ends up doing very little and this may end up being problematic when she is older...I am working on it and trying to hold her accountable more so we shall see...

    - S

  8. Since the time of my first post, I have made an all out effort to "turn over a new leaf" and I must admit that there is really something to your schedule and structure. I have such a love/hate relationship with structure but I REALLY need it. It is just so darn effective and you can not argue with the sense that it makes. Therefore, I may just copy your comment and paste copies all over my house. Or get a lengthy tattoo "memento" style. And funny aside, the ONE complaint or bad thing I have noticed since I started, is that I am doing way too much for the girls. We will have to hash that out at some point. Preferably over food and without messy kids in tow!

  9. Anonymous...I agree with you completely and that has been my recipe for success. I feel uneasy when my house is in disarray. I feel more at peace when my environment is peaceful. I have been accused of being OCD-ish my a few a more messy family members, but after working with a few people with real OCD, I know that is not true. This works for me. I don't spend tons of time looking for things or cleaning up dried on sticky messes of unknown origins, nor do I feel like housework has taken over my life. That is the good part. The part I am not so sure about, anonymous touched on as well. I have tried to teach my boys to be aware that they live in a communal environment and that they have a responsibility to help it operate smoothly. As in if you leave a mess all over the kitchen table it creates a hardship for the next person that comes along and wants to use the table. Be aware of yourself and your impact in community areas. Your own room? Hey, you have to live there and find things, it is up to you how you want to do that. The upside is I have two boys that can cook for themselves, do laundry and clean. The down side is that they STILL have to be reminded (nagged)to do their assigned chores. And I, yes I admit, will sometimes just do it for them because it is easier than engaging in verbal tug of war. Which they know...and I am pretty sure they count on that happening.

  10. It is clear to me that getting kids to clean up after themselves without making us nag or do it for them is the next order of business. I love to stay immersed in new content ideas. And don't you just get a peaceful, easy feeling knowing that I will keep just keep blogging, and blogging and blogging!

  11. Recently, while at the dentist, I read the coolest article in Family Fun magazine. A mom who struggled to keep the house tidy, and struggled even more with her family's lack of desire to help her do so, came up with a very cool idea!

    She has Mom's Mad Minutes--well,that's what I'd call them anyway. She calls them One-Minute Tidy. Check out the article here:

  12. Shell,
    Thank you!!! I am incorporating this nugget into my upcoming changing habits post. Which is a post about adopting healthy changes, not putting on a new nun outfit.


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