Under Armour has this slogan that goes like this: "Protect this house. I will." It's been going through my mind as I wander through my house, except with a slightly different spin. My house is in the middle of the country, and isn't really threatened by anybody or anything except the occasional flock of birds that comes through on a strafing mission. So "Protect this house. I will." seems a little dramatic for my actual house.
My slogan right now is "Clean this house. I will." And it's a more daunting thing to me than Under Armor's "Protect this House..." See, I already can spend an hour or two in my home-gym "protecting this house"-I interpret this as "being as physically fit as possible," which is something I have no problem working really, really hard to do. I can curl 20-pound dumbbells in each hand. I can take on the club step for routines that last well over an hour. You get the picture. When it comes to fitness, I live by the rule that "If something's important to you, you make the time for it; if it isn't important, you make excuses." And I get really impatient with excuse makers on this front.
But when it comes to picking up things around the house, putting them away, dusting, scrubbing, shining, and polishing, I'm the biggest pansy. I can come up with all kinds of excuses and lies I tell myself, the biggest of which is "The ol' place isn't lookin' too bad!" I mean, for the most part, the floor's passable. You can walk from the front door, through the dining room, through the kitchen, hang a louie at the back staircase, and get to the door we use. The clutter is confined mostly to horizontal surfaces and smacked up against walls. It's funny how I don't see the dust bunnies as "too bad" or the dishes and containers on the kitchen counter as "too bad." Until somebody comes to the house, especially somebody I don't know very well, or somebody whose opinion I sort of value. Then it's like "Holy crap! This place is a MESS! And ERMAGERD, THERE'S PEOPLE AT THE DOOR!"
Clean this house, I will....
There was a brief and glorious time, waaaaaaaaay back in Ought-Seven, a month after we moved in, when this house was spit-shined. We held an open house so everybody could see how we renovated this old place. It really was a hellhole before. And the teenage daughter of someone I think very highly of, someone I wish I could be more like, said to me: "WOW! You definitely don't need to be on Clean Sweep!" It was one of those moments where I'm sure I luminesced. I did not need Clean Sweep in Ought-Seven, right after we moved in, and we had our open house. There was a very brief period of spit-shininess here again, in 2010, when we re-financed. We needed to make the place look all great to impress the appraiser, so she'd give us a high value and there'd be mathemagics at the bank, so we'd get a lower interest rate, or something like that. It was all too numbery for me to really understand, but the point was, the object of our game was to make the house look as nice and shiny as possible, and it meant two weeks of what FlyLady calls "Crisis Cleaning" and what I call "Assbreaking Manual Labor" and I swore "never again" would I let this house get so bad that I'd have to "Crisis Clean!"
Pffffffft. That lasted all of thirty seconds. I don't know what it is with me. When the house is nice, I coast, until it gets so flippin' bad that I'll do anything to avoid having people see it. My daughter has the best damn closet in this house, and she's not been able to use it for her things, because I've got crap piled in there from when her room was my office. She's only a year old, but still. I think her life and my life would be greatly enriched if I could hang her little outfits up on hangers, like I've seen my friends do, rather than have them folded and stuffed into dresser drawers. So there's one thing I need to get crackalacking on before too much longer. There's just no excuse. And all the stuff in her closet? I haven't had my hands on it in over a year, so apparently it doesn't need to be readily accessible, or maybe it doesn't even need to be here at all.
Clean this house, I will....
I have a lot of kitchen cabinets, and yet I find myself struggling to find places to put everything. Do I use the stuff in three quarters of the cupboards? NOPE! But I have a hard time letting go. In my head, I feel like as soon as I get rid of something, I'm going to need it. It happens, but not every time I get rid of something I don't use. You'd think that being able to see the pretty black granite countertops in my kitchen would be enough of an incentive for me to hoe out everything in the cupboards. You'd think it would.
Then there's the room upstairs that's supposed to be our guest bedroom. We don't get many guests. I can count on one hand the number of overnight visitors we've had since we moved in. Therefore, the guest bedroom has become part stopping place for things to go up to the attic (hello, Christmas decorations from last year!) and part dumping grounds for things I don't know where else to put them, but can't bear to throw out, donate, or put up in the attic. The room is a mess. It's the Room of Requirement, to borrow from JK Rowling and also from one of my friends from college, who says her second bedroom is also her "room of requirement." The worst part of my upstairs "Room of Requirement" is that it smells like dust in there, which makes the whole upstairs smell like a dusty old suitcase, too. It can really bring a person down.
Clean this house, I will...
So maybe it's time to stop talking about it and stop making excuses about it. I'm really lucky to get to live in such a nice house. It's time I stop being so adolescent about it and waiting for a cleaning lady who's never going to show up for work. I need to cowboy up, or "cleaning lady up," arm myself with garbage bags, Pledge (lemon!), Windex, Microfiber cloths, mops, and Clean. This. House. TheHellUp!"
Clean this house. I will!