Monday, October 20, 2008

The Suzy Homemaker Project

This past weekend, we indulged in one of our favorite annual rituals -- we drove around our town, ogling the beautiful, expensive houses in the annual Parade of Homes. While generally the Parade fills us with the smug feeling that we love our own home and neighborhood, this year, The Boy and I each found a house that we'd seriously consider moving to (you know, if I went back to work tomorrow or if we won the lottery).

But as we drove away from each house, The Boy and I realized that part of what's so seductive about these Parade homes is that they're just so beautiful. They're professionally decorated and, well, nobody lives in them. There's no clutter, there are no toys, no mail piled on the kitchen counter, no cat litter box, no dust. I think what we really want is the idea of that house, or the magic bullet that will turn us into the kind of people who have a handle on clutter and mess; who have the time and the talent to decorate our space nicely.

And let's face it, the boy and I just aren't that kind of people. For starters, we don't decorate. We hem and haw and think about the kind of furniture we'd like to have in our home, then we look at the pricetags, blanch, and move on. Things like window treatments and accessories are a total mystery to me. I'm far more likely to put the bare minimum of functional (probably used) furniture into a room and call it done.

And there's the housekeeping issue. I've mentioned before that both The Boy and I came from messy families, and neither one of us ever picked up the habit of cleaning on a daily basis. We tend not to see the mess until it threatens to overwhelm us, then we do a weekend of intense cleaning. We congratulate ourselves on our nice, clean house and we comment on how pleasant it is to have a space where we don't have to dodge towers of junk mail. The house stays neat for a few weeks, then we get lazy again and the cycle begins anew.

For the last four months, I'll admit the issue has gotten worse. I used to at least spend an hour or so every day getting practical things done (laundry, decluttering, filing, etc). It didn't make for a perfect home, but it would generally keep things neat enough that I could invite people over on about 30 minutes notice and not be ashamed of what they'd see. But once I got pregnant, I let things slide. During that first trimester, there were entire weeks where the second M fell asleep for nap, I'd head straight for the sofa for my own bit of shut-eye. Once I started feeling better, I somehow got in the habit of using naptime as my own downtime. I'd watch some TV or catch up on or work on the quilt I'm making for M. Anything but cleaning. As a result, the place is now a mess.

But that all ends today. Today, I begin The Suzy Homemaker Project. I sat down yesterday and made a list of all the chores that need to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep this house pleasant, as well as a list of catch-up projects aimed at curing the neglect of the last several months. I have a chart to keep track of what I've done and what still needs doing. And I'm committed to making sure that chart is checked off every day. If I can manage to stick with it and if M cooperates by napping every day, then in about seven weeks there will be no rooms in my home that I can't show a stranger. The closets will be clean and organized, my desk will be empty, and I will (I hope) have developed the habit of cleaning a little bit every day instead of waiting until things are a total mess then feeling overwhelmed.

(oh, and lest you all think that my house is totaly disgusting, please let me assure you that's not the case. I have the basics of sanitation down -- the kitchen floor gets swept every day, the counters and stove get wiped down, dishes get done, M gets three cooked meals a day, I keep the downstairs bath nice and clean, etc. Our problem is mostly clutter and mess in the rooms people don't ever see, like the dust rhinos in my master bathroom).

1 comment:

The Girl Next Door said...

Wow - very ambitious and good for you! I think I still have that list from last year when Ex moved cousin swears by "flylady" but I haven't checked it out. Something about daily chores designed to clean your whole house on a cycle. Too much for me to handle!