Thursday, September 4, 2014

How I Finally Have Kept a Somewhat Clean House for an Extended Period of Time

I feel really silly writing this post. Let me make one thing crystal clear: I am not claiming to have it figured out or have it all together. I AM A MESS. Always have been. Probably always will be. However, something has happened in the last 3-4 months... call it growing up, turning 30, or even just getting sick and tired of living that way... I don't know, but something happened and I'm going to write about it. And maybe, somewhere out there, there's a girl who is a little bit like me that could see that even us lazy, messy people can rise above our tendencies and make a little bit of progress. 

A few very important disclaimers:

1. I am well aware that the vast majority of you will read this and will be like "Hey... Jenny... I'm not exactly sure why you are writing this... this is normal, adult behavior and this is what everyone does in their everyday lives." Well, let me just say that I have not been living like this for most of my life and so I am just going to let you know that some of us are not naturally inclined to pick up after ourselves. There, I said it. This is for those of us that need someone to help us. :)

2. I should also say that twice a month a lovely woman comes to my house and cleans. She cleans toilets, showers, floors, kitchen, dusts, etc. Just wanted to make sure you all knew that I acknowledge that I do, indeed have help. 

3. My husband is actually very helpful around the house, especially when it comes to cleaning the kitchen. He's awesome like that. 

Okay, with all of that being said.... here we go.

Over the years, I've had a few cleaning sprees where I kinda go nuts and get stuff cleaned and accomplished, but after a few days it would dwindle again. I'd leave dirty dishes in the sink, there would be a mountain of laundry that seemed insurmountable.... there was just STUFF everywhere. I've never kept a dirty home (filth, dirt, stinky-ness) but there definitely have been seasons where things just don't get put away. 

So, as previously stated, something clicked with me a few months ago (3 or 4 months, maybe?) and I just  figured it out somehow. Most of you are saying "Kudos, Jenny... I figured this out at age 20." WELL GOOD FOR YOU. 

Let's Start at the Very Beginning: WAKE. UP. EARLIER. 

God has blessed me abundantly and lavishly poured His love upon me by giving me a child that loves to sleep. THANK YOU JESUS AND MAY THIS NEVER CHANGE. However, since she is an angel baby that likes sleeping, I also really like to sleep so I just sleep as late as she does, most of the time. At least I used to. However, I realized that I can get sooooo much done in the hours that she is sleeping. So, I am waking up earlier. Like... 6ish. I know. I KNOW. But I'm telling you, it has changed my life. I wake up, run (most mornings) and then come home, do my Bible study, drink coffee while planning my day and unload the dishwasher. This is good because by the time Ellie wakes up, I am fully ready to greet her. This is very different from her waking me up with "Mommmmmyyyyyy!!!!" and I slowly dragged myself into her room with my groggy eyes. Now that I'm waking up earlier, I'm READY for her and ready for my day. 

Let's Talk About the Kitchen

The kitchen has always been a problem area for me. Why do we have to use it all day everyday?! WHY. WHY. WHY. I am cooking more than ever and I have a child that requires 3 meals a day (GOSH) and the plates and the cups and the bowls are endless. So, I run the dishwasher AT LEAST once a day. I wipe down the countertops at the end of everyday. After we eat dinner, I don't do anything else until the kitchen is picked up and cleaned. (I can't tell you how many times I would fall asleep on the couch at 10:00pm and then wake up at 12:30am and drag myself to bed without realizing or caring that I had a messy, messy kitchen. And then I'd wake up the next morning and walk out to see this mess and I'd be totally overwhelmed and it would start my day off horribly. This doesn't happen anymore. 

The Bedrooms

Make the bed every. single. day.  Just do it. It's just better.

Toys and Such

Our living room is Ellie's playroom. She makes big time messes. Every. day. I used to think "well, why pick this up, she's just going to do it again tomorrow." And this is true. She is. But, due to creative storage solutions, every toy now has a home and it is much easier to put everything away in its place every single night. Now, when she goes to bed, I can sit in my living room and it is clean and pretty and a place for grown-ups and I am not stepping on puzzle pieces or little plastic tea cups. Just put the toys away every day. Just do it. You'll feel better. 

Pick a Project

Once or twice a week, I pick something in my house that needs to be "conquered" as I call it. "I need to conquer the guest closet." Or, maybe "I need to conquer the bathroom counter and cabinets". That was me this week. The bathroom was becoming increasingly overwhelming to me, so it needed to be stopped. So, Tuesday, while Ellie was at school, I went in there with a trash bag. I threw away things that are never used, I put things in drawers, I reorganized the cabinets. It probably took 45 minutes and I feel sooooo much better. Or, one day, I took 20 minutes and reorganized our shoe area in the closet. We have shoe racks but over time these racks were more like "shoe pile holders." Just piles of shoes. It had to be done, so I did it. And I've kept it like that ever since. 

Clear Your Countertops

Your home will feel cleaner if there's less stuff everywhere. There should just be less stuff. THROW. STUFF. AWAY. EVERY. DAY. Or put it in a cabinet or in a drawer or just get it out of your line of vision. 

The Laundry is No Longer the Boss of Me

Do a load every day. And then put it all away every day. It's quicker when you're not doing 7 loads at once. Imagine that!

Unpacking from a Trip

 We take lots of little weekend trips to see family, etc. I have a bad habit of walking in the house, dropping my suitcase, and then it just lives there for a few weeks. I pull stuff out of it as I need it, but it's just like the suitcases have found a new home on our bedroom floor. However, the "New Jenny" comes home, and immediately NO MATTER HOW TIRED I AM, I unpack it all. And the suitcase goes to its rightful home in the closet. The clothes are put away or in the hamper and the toiletries are back in their rightful places as well. Don't become a victim to the suitcase. YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE SUITCASE. GET. RID. OF. IT. 

(Seriously.... how many of you are dying right now with the sheer ridiculousness of what I'm saying? Does it sound like a  12 year old girl is writing this who has just learned of adult responsibilites? I'm sorry. I'm a late bloomer.)

Watch Hoarders

Dude. Watch Hoarders on A&E. It will a) make you realize you aren't that bad and b) give you a glimpse of what you can become if you don't get your crap together. And then you'll watch 2 episodes and start to panic and immediately start walking around your house and throwing things away. 

Light a Candle

Okay, this is going to make me sound really weird... but I never light candles in a messy space. It just throws off the whole vibe. You can't light a pretty, peaceful candle in a messy room. I just can't do it. So, I'm using some weird little psychology on myself and have been lighting a candle every night. Which means my house needs to be clean every night. Weird? Certainly. Does it work for me? Yes. 

Let's Get Real

I have a long way to go. My drawers are RIDICULOUS right now (next project on my list) (I just throw stuff in my dresser drawers, nothing is folded.) (NOTHING). My car is pretty messy right now and I need to clean out my fridge. Like, it's bad. Also, let's make it really clear that much of this life change has happened while all of my television shows are on Summer hiatus. There has been nothing to watch for months. Maybe I've been cleaning because I'm finally doing something productive with my life and not watching Scandal and Criminal Minds?  I guess we shall find out soon enough as the Fall television will soon return to me. 

I just wanted to share with you the progress that I've made and how I have made it, in case some of you were struggling like I have always struggled. There is hope, people. You, too, can make your bed! I promise! It actually only takes like 22 seconds! HOORAY!

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