Dangit all, have a few days of confusion, sickness, meetings, and general disarray, and you wake up to what I woke up to this morning: a house that would undoubtedly earn the Home Ec 101 Seal Of Disapproval. Yes, my darling Home Eccers, while I do generally keep my home in some semblance of order, sometimes it gets away from me and I end up with dishes in the sink, sand on the floor*, a puppy playpen in the middle of the living room, overflowing trash cans, and the remnants of some long sessions with the Xbox 360**. Yes, this is what I walked into this morning when I came out of my bedroom.
Now, the easy thing to do would be to retreat to my “writing studio” (aka my garage) and not look at the mess. It would also be easy to think to myself, “I’ll make them clean it up, since it is largely their mess.” The problem with this is, mess multiplies like Tribbles. You’ve got to get hold of the mess before it becomes overwhelming and you really don’t wanna clean it all up.
Does this mean you have to slave after the Xbox sessions? No way. The important part here is to get a foothold into the mess, so when Mr. All-Xbox-All-The-Time gets home, he’ll be able to clean his fair share. The hard part, I’ve always found, is getting started, so let’s take a look at where to start.
First, you need to identify where the mess needs to be cleaned up most- what is the priority? In my house, this was the sand on the floor. Not only is it extremely irritating to end up with sandy feet, but the longer you leave it, the more it gets tracked around and into places where it will be harder to clean up. I first grabbed my broom and swept the sand out of the way of my major walkways and then took care of all the needs of all the living beings in my house. I fed my youngest son, the dog, the puppy, and the kitties. I ran the dog outside. Then I went to work on cleaning up the sand.
A helpful hint, by the way, for people having to deal with sand- get the majority up with your broom and dust pan and then use your vacuum cleaner to get the rest. You could spend all day sweeping with a broom and still not pick up every grain of sand. Sand, I’ve found, is like glitter. Both are insidious and will show up in your house 3 years after you’ve had either in your house. I don’t know how it manages this, but it does.
The next priority is to take care of the overflowing trash cans. You can’t clean house without empty trash cans, so I took all the trash in (and next to) the trash cans out to the dumpster. While I was at it, I also emptied the trash cans from the bathrooms and bedrooms. Might as well make a clean sweep of it while you’re at it.
Once you have the priority items out of the way- and naturally, yours will differ from mine, but go with the things that are bugging you the worst- go for things that are low on the labor scale. For example, I can rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher and then walk away and let the dishwasher do the work. Same with laundry. Then, if you like, you can take a break. Set yourself a certain amount of time that you will break, otherwise it’s easy to sit forever and let the mess go on. I like to use my timer on my oven to make sure I take the break for the length of time I intend.
From there, clean as normal. Don’t forget the maid’s creed of “top to bottom, left to right.” Now, you might be wondering what I’m leaving for the errant Xboxers to do. No worries. I’m cleaning up their trash and mess, but what I’m leaving for them is other chores. Things they hate to do, but aren’t as obvious as the giant mess they left for me. They’ll be putting away laundry. Scooping cat boxes. (Muahahahahaha!) Cleaning toilets. If they complain, I simply remind them of the mess they left for me to clean up. “Next time,” I’ll say, “perhaps you will remember to clean up your mess from the Xbox sessions.” Will they? Sure, for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll have to do it all over again. But for a few weeks of peace, it’s worth it.
*No, I don’t live by a beach, as much as I’d like to wish I did. Mr. Ivy decided it would be a good idea to buy my youngest son a mini-sandbox, despite my best efforts to dissuade him from this.
**For those who aren’t, ahem, lucky enough to have a teenage boy and a husband who love them some video games, let me tell you what this is like. Picture your couch and end tables covered with half-eaten snacks, soda cans, printed out bits of GameFAQS, blankets strewn everywhere (can’t be cold while we’re killing zombies), popcorn bowls laying on the floor, pillows everywhere…you get the idea.