Please allow me to boldly characterize the diverse readership of this blog into two categories:
2) My blessed circle of family and friends who know me well and still choose to tolerate my idiosyncracies.
Whichever category you fall into, please know that I truly appreciate the time you take to read my random thoughts and rambling adventures. More importantly, I hope that this post doesn’t scare you away for good.
Hi, I’m Michelle Terry and I’m addicted to housekeeping.
Some of you have been in my house and may have even kindly commented on how clean it was. Please turn and cough while I sweep that last bit of dog hair under the rug before taking you on a tour of my deeply demented OCD cleaning (and non-cleaning) behaviors.
What you don’t know, is that right before you praised my housekeeping and time management abilities, I had just finished stuffing piles of mail into the baskets under my desk and dirty dishes under the sink.
In my home, there is a HUGE difference between “clean” and “tidy.” Even though I manage to keep the house tidy, it’s rarely ever clean.
The funny thing is that I LOVE to clean house. An unhealthy, bordering on mental instability kind of love. Unscheduled Saturdays excite me more than a new pair of hot shoes and my fingers start itching on Friday night as I carefully plan the attack room by room. I’ve been known to sniff lemon Pledge for inspiration and drool over the Williams-Sonoma homekeeping section.
Being the closet introvert that I am, there’s something soothing and therapeutic about sticking ear buds in and scrubbing my humble abode while blocking out the rest of the world. The only other solitary activities I like to do more are long runs and weeding or digging in the dirt. Clearly, it doesn’t take much to entertain me. In fact, I’m still coming down from a post-O high having just spent a good six hours of a snowy Saturday putting in some real elbow grease that resulted in sparkling surfaces and dust-free ledges.
If you have a housekeeper, I don’t judge you and many times wish I had one, too. In fact, I tried a housekeeper. Once. An experience that quickly backfired because of some deep, ingrained German thing inside me that couldn’t bear to pay another person to clean a house that I want/need to clean myself. After a 5-month trial, I had to sadly tell her good-bye when hubby continually kept catching me cleaning before she came and then again after she left.
Which brings me to the schizophrenic middle of this post. If you haven’t noticed already, I vacillate between compulsively cleaning and surreptitiously hiding the evidence when I don’t have time to do it correctly. Today’s purpose is to share what I’ve learned about housekeeping as well as share deep dark secrets about “fake cleaning” your home in case you have a white-glove-inspection hubby like mine and don’t have the time to fully meet expectations.
Part 1: Universal and Scientific Laws of Housekeeping
1) The vacuum cleaner works better when it’s plugged in.
2) Indoor dogs with white hair will deposit it on dark furniture. Indoor dogs with dark hair will deposit it on light furniture. Uninvited outdoor dogs will deposit everything everywhere. Clean sheets and carpets are favorite places for the most special of their gifts.
2) Kill two birds with one stone and clean the shower while you’re actually taking one. Avoid mistaking the bleach for shampoo and remember to put on a robe if the FedEx guy shows up midstream.
3) Put in your iPod and clean to some bad A music. “Hair of the Dog” by Nazareth is a personal favorite and works well when trying to foster enough attitude to keep people off of your freshly waxed floors. It’s also highly effective at drowning out the pleas from off-spring or a spouse who want to interrupt you long enough to feed them.
4) Dance and/or sing to anything playing on said iPod. Bonus points if your teenager’s friends are in the house. Sweet moves and awesome singing will endear you to your child forever. Extra credit if you moonwalk.
5) Be sure to take that iPod out of your bra before leaning over and scrubbing the toilet. Just sayin.
6) There’s no crying in housekeeping. Unless of course, you bang your shin or crack your head on a sharp corner climbing out of the bathtub after cleaning it. Bleached surfaces are slippery and can cause permanent bodily harm/or leave marks. Speed kills and so does tile.
7) Murphy’s law: A sparkling, sanitized toilet will be used by your husband exactly 3.2 seconds AFTER you finish cleaning it.
8) Speaking of husbands. Train him to do housework early. Nothing hollers “foreplay” louder than a man folding laundry or running a vacuum cleaner.
Which brings me to my own “white glove” hubby. While he appreciates what he calls my “hummingbird buzz of activity” he has an eagle eye for hidden dirt and an outbuilding/man cave that is more pristine than my neatly labeled baking supplies. He’s doesn’t demand a perfect home, but since he has a stressful job I want him to come home to a warm, happy, clean-feeling home. Since I work 40+ hours myself and don’t have time to keep up, I’ve had to use
sneaky alternative methods.
It was Jeanne Roberston, a comedian I listen to on XM radio, who ultimately saved me. I was in the middle of a six hour drive to Sioux Falls, SD when she changed my life forever. An epiphany struck me as I listened and laughed to her comedy routine about how she fake cleans her home and tricks her husband into believing it’s spotless.
Even though, she clearly embellished for humor’s sake, I could sense truth, wisdom and experience behind her words. Using Jeanne as inspiration, I devised my own devious and deceptive set of tasks to save my sanity and still have Scott believing he was married to a Martha Stewart wanna be. Because he reads my blog, you realize that I’m risking everything to share this with you.
Part 2: The Dirty Truth
1. Bleach is your friend. This is the number one rule for a reason. Piles of paper, mountains of laundry and small animals hidden in dusty corners magically disappear if your house has that unmistakable smell of fresh bleach. You don’t even have to clean anything. Pour it down the sink or spray it in the air. Despite obvious signs of bacteria having babies, the scent will have hubby believing what the eyes defy.
2. Fresh carpet lines. Pick one traffic area and run the vacuum cleaner over it a couple of times to produce the tell-tale lines. My favorite three words? “You just cleaned!”
3. Close the blinds and light candles. Not only does it hide the dust the sunlight highlights, it immediately turns his mind to other things (see #2).
4. Effectively use storage. I don’t mean pretty baskets or fancy file cabinets. I mean the holes and cubbies and corners you have immediate access to but hidden from prying public eyes. You can effectively hide piles and small children inside closets, washing machines and dryers in a matter of minutes.
(Oh wait, don’t hide the kids in the machines).
5. Lay out all of your cleaning supplies and towels. This works in emergency situations when your house is in shambles and have no time for vacuum lines or bleach spray. The mere sight of “work in progress” fools him into thinking that you are knee-deep in the trenches, but now have to stop because it’s time to make his dinner and/or head off to a school activity. I keep that caddy handy so it can be pulled out in seconds and as he is emerging from the vehicle in the garage.
6. Something baking. Even if it’s the frozen dough-balls from the latest fundraiser. Pair with technique #5 and you might even hear, “You cleaned AND baked? Want to eat out tonight?”
Now that you’ve just witnessed me completely come clean by telling my dirty truths are you going to bail me out?
I would really love it if you shared some of your own hints and tips in the comments below. I’ll need some new tricks after Scott finishes reading this.
Cartoons from Pinterest
Photos from my house; before, during and after yesterday’s deep clean.