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Posts tagged ‘clutter’

Not It!

I am not the best housekeeper.  I take forever to do things, because I want them done perfectly.  This comes back to bite me; I take too much time to clean, so I don’t clean, which then means it takes longer to clean when I do.  Ugh.

To add to the mayhem, we’re not very good at picking up and putting things away, so in order to even begin to clean, we first have to organize and de-clutter.  So basically, we have to clean to clean.  We work so hard on the organizing bit that we have no more energy or time to do the actual dusting, vacuuming, etc.

The cherry on the pile- Chris decided recently that he doesn’t want to do floors anymore, because he has been doing them for the last 4 years.  (Also, because, with a dog, there is hair everywhere, and I’d like him to move the furniture to get it all up.)  I can’t do floors because of my back; the motion just sends it all out of whack. So if we want a squeaky clean house, Chris has to take that part.  And over the years, chores get old!!

So, yeah, I have a lot of excuses….  and I’m not even writing them all down, because I’m starting to get embarrassed.

Nevertheless, a clean house is very important to us for many reasons, but especially for our own mental health, so we had to do something.  We decided to stop living in a mess and hired someone to clean for us.

This was actually a really, really hard decision.  Here’s why I felt I couldn’t have something this good:

  1. I haven’t earned it.  It’s like being the boss before I’m the administrative assistant.  You know, I haven’t worked my way up the ladder by getting good at it myself and then passing it off.
  2. I don’t deserve it.  Like I should make myself do it because we aren’t old enough, rich enough, etc…
  3. It’s being lazy/undedicated/some other lame word. We’re adults and should figure out how to do this ourselves and take care of our own you-know-what.
  4. We don’t have the money.

#4 is actually based mostly in reality, because we do not have a lot of disposable income.  But it came down to this…  Should I feel guilty all the time over not taking care of the house (which I did), or should I find a solution (which I did)? Learning what I have the capacity for and what to let go of will be a lifelong process, but something had to give NOW.

I did the math and, while my numbers might be fuzzy, figured it out!  I’ve had a babysitting job every Friday for the last year and a half that I’ve thinking of quitting so that I have a proper 2 day weekend.  I sat down one day and contemplated whether I would rather babysit and have my friend clean or stay home and clean it myself.  Instead of staying home and doing something that I really don’t like and am not good at, I now make $2 less per hour babysitting than I pay my friend to clean.

Let me tell you; it’s been life-altering!  For example:

  • When things are clean, it’s just easy to keep them clean!
  • We straighten the house at least once a week in preparation for cleaning, but more often than not, we do it every day for our own pleasure.  It is a joy to have a clean house to come home to- not just on Fridays but every day.
  • I even enjoy babysitting now WAY more than before because I know that my hard work is allowing me something really special when I get home.
  • We’ve also had people over more often (and spur of the moment!) because we don’t have to run around cleaning before everyone arrives.

Chris summed it up two weeks ago when he said, “I love having a cleaner.  The house looks amazing, and I’m not even tired.”

So, feel free to stop by any time…  The house will be spic and span!

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Good Ridance!

I love throwing things away. By throw away, I mean “get it out of my sight.” It could be giving something away, donating, recycling… whatever! If I’ve had it and get to get rid of it, I’m happy!

Here is a small sampling of things that give me pleasure:

  • Clean out the fridge and throw stuff away
  • Discard old clothes from the closet and donate
  • Recycle a shampoo bottle
  • Use up food from the cabinet

If you looked at the photo of my desk last week (click here), you wouldn’t believe me when I told you that I like to throw stuff out. Paper, filing, and Rachel Ray are my nemeses. This week, not only did I defeat some swarmy piles of paper, we reorganized the office and gave 3 lovely pieces of furniture to good homes.

In a moment of clarity on Monday, I realized that, in a few short weeks, we would need to sleep when my pregnant sister-in-law, Rebecca, comes to visit with her baby, Annabel. Our choice? Buy an air mattress or a futon. Since we’d like to be moving soon, though, we balked at the idea of spending money on something that we might not need in our new home. What to do? I turned to trusty old Craigslist and found a free, clean futon. (No, really, it is.) 5 minutes after the first realization, we were set to pick up the solution to our problem later that night when I got off of work.

And then it hit me. Where were we going to put this large piece of furniture? I rushed home, posted the three items in the office that we’ve wanted to get rid of on Craigslist for free, and left for work. Within 30 minutes, all three pieces were promised. Within 4 hours, they were emptied out and gone! A few hours later, our office was a disaster, but it had a new-to-us futon and a finally assembled bookshelf (from that last trip to IKEA). We’d been putting off doing much with the office because we didn’t want to spend money, but in reality, putting several hours of craziness into it made it so much better … and no money was spent! (Plus, we got to build the dog tunnel.) Quite an accomplishment for one day.

Now, that desk piled in papers- GONE! It’s no longer a source of guilt and frustration, because it’s not there any more. Hooray! If you can’t beat it… get rid of it!

We now have a guest room (aka an office with a futon) and less cluttered house. Eventually, I’ll get to the rest of the filing and clean out the closet, but for one week, this is good enough.

Dog Tunnel

Tonight, instead of blogging, Chris and I made a dog tunnel.

Honey's head in tunnel

Using the IKEA box that we had just emptied, we coerced a very skiddish dog into crawling all the way through.  This was hysterical, joyous, and really talented!  We totally high-fived when we did it!

On one hand, we had success in teasing Honey through the tunnel.  On the other, it made me sad that Wholesome Hounds didn’t really make it, since the Just Liver Treats were what convinced her to go all the way through.

Honey's butt in tunnel

Either way, Chris and I had an awesome time rearranging our house and getting the dog to belly crawl through a box.  Very successful night.  I’ll let you know tomorrow all about the changes to the house.

Tonight, I’ll remind you that we got our dog to walk through a cardboard tunnel.  We’re (read “Chris is”) that good.  He’s got a knack for this dog!

It’s Sunday Night

Reasons I am not posting a thoughtful, contemplative note this evening:

1.  I had an extremely busy and fun day, and I’m spent.  We went soaring through the redwoods while ziplining this morning at Sonoma Canopy Tours (my first time ever!) and had an awesome and humungous lunch at Howard’s Station in Occidental.  Then I drove all the way home and tutored.  Plus, after all that, Chris and I spent 1.5 hours cursing IKEA and saying WTF as we put together our new bed.

But look!  We did it!  It is great in our room, and even though it doesn’t match any of the rest of the furniture, it somehow pulled it all together.  The room feels proportioned; the bed is the right height; and we even get some under-the-bed storage.  It sure makes me thrilled about my new plan to get our house in order…  Except the vacuum broke again.  Damn you, Hoover!

Honey and Chris enjoying the bed

2.  I keep forgetting that tomorrow morning starts a 9 day cleanse with my friend, Chandra, who lives in New Jersey.  Since I just remembered (for the zillionth time in the last 3 days) that it begins so soon, I am spending some time planning and steeling my mind to the challenge ahead, i.e. no coffee, which she just reminded me of.  It’s a good thing that I (actually remembered for a brief moment on Friday and) ordered extra veggies and fruits from the CSA for the upcoming week.

This is the plan:  2 days eating raw foods, 5 days juicing, and 2 final days eating raw foods.  It’s an interesting way to end year 32 and begin 33!

3.  See numbers 1 and 2 above.  Nighty-night!

House (Beautiful)

I live in a lovely little home.  On the outside, it is kinda ratty, but inside is open and light.  It has a built-in hutch and an actual dining room, and the kitchen holds every necessary appliance (rice cooker, coffee pot, small food processor, large food processor, panini machine, air popcorn maker that makes the worst popcorn ever, and tea kettle).  It is colorful, which is just the way we like it.  The art hung on the wall is soothing and vibrant; our midcentury TV stand/bookshelf is amazing.  If you come on a day that it’s clean and you keep your eyes off the ancient carpet, it looks great!  The 1930’s bungalow suits us well because of its layout and all the sunshine it lets in.

If we could own it, we would!  (We keep trying to convince our landlord to sell it to us, to no avail.)  I had a really fun time decorating when we moved in, even on a limited budget, and this summer cleaned out all the crap from the closets.  It’s been a nice home to entertain in and grow with Chris.

Chris' graduation party- Because it was raining, our plan for dinner under the stars was foiled. Instead, we cleared out some of the furniture, rented some tables and chairs, and had set up for 14 people to eat. It was a great celebration!

I am the problem in this relationship, though.  For the past 6 months, we have been looking for a new place to live.  I’m sure you’ll find out why in future posts, but we have our reasons.

Because of this, I have spent 6 months avoiding making any major furniture purchases, doing meaningful organization, or making it my home.  I honestly believe that as soon as I find a place for everything and have the perfect pieces in each room, we will move into a house that won’t fit what I’ve bought or will not match the new place.  And that would really stink.

I realized today that this is a bad plan.  I looked around at all the little projects that I keep putting off- going through the boxes in the closets, repackaging things, weeding more stuff and donating it, getting a bookshelf for Chris to use next to his desk, buying a bed.  The procrastination just adds to the clutter and disorganization of our lives.

Some of this is due to lack of funding for the remodel- boxes, bins, furniture, and the likes really add up!  I try to find things on Freecycle, Craigslist, or at thrift stores, but those don’t have it all!  I know that the chaos really affects Chris, yet still, we don’t tackle it.  So, even though we’d like to move, I decided that we are worthy of feeling settled in our own home.

Right now, I am trying to find a new job while working full time and don’t have many extra hours in the day…  I’m going to endeavor to make a dent in these projects.  The peace of mind that will come from knowing what we have, where it is, and that everything has a place will certainly be worth it.  Instead of being a source of frustrating or guilt, my house will provide a place for us to thrive.  It will be restful, a comfort, and an escape.

Today, I finally bought the bookshelf for Chris.  Abby and Susan had to help me get over the pain of parting with an extra $70, but in the end, I’m really excited.  He is going to love it!

And in place of apathy, I am taking action.

The Dods in a clean, cute home

Kitchen Confidential

My house is doing me in.  Does this look like a kitchen of someone who likes to cook?  Or eat?

Kitchen, day 1

What a mess! Must clean!

I think that the saddest part about this is that I actually have been eating food, making coffee, and getting water out of this mess over the last 5 days.  The second saddest part is that I’m showing it to the world, airing my dirty laundry, admitting that I have a problem.  But that’s part of the solution, too!

I made a big decision yesterday to hold myself accountable for keeping my house clean and changing bad patterns into good habits.  Each day, I am going to take a photo of the one room that I am working to keep clean at that time.  When I have 7 days of sparkly photos to be proud of, I will tackle a new room.  I will then be responsible for keeping two rooms, three rooms, the whole house.  Instead of getting frustrated by the whole house, trying to clean it all, and then falling behind again (like all other attempts in the past), I am now building slowly toward success.

Don’t worry…  I am NOT going to share these daily photos with you, because I want you to keep reading this blog!  I will update on my progress, though, and let you know how staying on top of things is going.  I’m starting in the kitchen, because everything already has a place.  And, to be perfectly honest, I cleaned a good chunk of it yesterday.  Hey, this is my project.  I get to make the rules!

After an hour of cleaning, this is how fabulous the kitchen looked:

clean kitchen

Ta da! Kitchen, day 2

Clean counters.  Dishwasher unloaded, reloaded, and running.  Clean towels hanging up.  Everything in its place or drying.  (I didn’t hand dry, because I’m not at someone’s house or getting paid for this.)  It is still this clean today.  One day sparkly.

Hooray!!!  Go me!  Yeah, I also need to clean the microwave and do the floor, but it will take time to get it all right.

PS- Chris said that yesterday’s post inspired him to get on top of things, too.  Tonight, he’s going to organize his office.  Awesome!

Just Do It!

This is what the dining room has looked like for the last 22 days:

Image

Where, you might ask, have you been eating meals?  I’m not telling.

On December 26, I had grand hopes.  The house was clean, and I took down the tree with excitement.  “I’ll get it all put away now before it gets overwhelming,” I told myself.  I laid it out on the table so that I could organize and wrap each piece before putting them all into boxes.

That was 22 days ago.  I’ve walked by the table 100s of times (we have a tiny house), and I’ve managed to get frustrated, angry, and depressed by the clutter.  Why haven’t I put it away?

Good question.  It stems from a mix of apathy, laziness, fatigue, and general overwhelm with my schedule.  Most often, I am encouraged to clean my house because people are coming over.  This reality is horrible, and awful, and I always beat myself up about it.  Aren’t we good enough to have a clean house?

Well, yeah, but it just doesn’t quite work that way right now.  Today was no exception.  Chris was having guys over tonight, and they needed the table.  So yesterday, he asked me nicely if he could help me put it all away or if he should cancel.  Because my day was already packed yesterday, I told him I would do it by myself today.

It took me 20 whole minutes.  I have been putting off something for 3 weeks and kicking myself because of it- all because I didn’t want to take 20 minutes to pack it up!!!  Here’s how easy it all was:

Image

And how great the room looks now:

Image

Ugh.  Lesson learned.  I’m going to be more diligent to just make a dent on stuff each day instead of letting it pile up. Here’s to those grand hopes.

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