So, I decided to start off safe, with a topic that will make you smile, I hope, and make you all feel a little better about yourselves and your home after reading.
My mom taught me about house cleaning when I was young. She had five children, and she didn't want us to grow up believing that toilets and floors and dishes cleaned themselves, so she taught us how to clean them, and how often, by giving them to us as chores. I am grateful for that idea now, because I have done the same with my own children. They each have assigned house cleaning jobs that they do, not to earn allowance, but to earn a place to sleep and a meal to eat. My daughter unloads the dishwasher, as well as being responsible for 2 of the 4 bathrooms in our house. My oldest son son does the dusting, the next one takes up and empties the trash cans, we all work together to pick up clutter periodically, and the youngest...well he goes behind the other kids and un-does everything they do.
Here is the real story, though. There is a LOT more to housework than dusting and dishes and trash cans and clutter.
A. Lot. More.
There is mopping. And laundry (which should really have it's own category because there is no way in "the demon's lair" (this is what I say when I mean 'hell' but don't want to say it)(my daughter came up with the code name for me) that I can roll laundry up under the 'house-cleaning' umbrella and still stay sane). And organizing. And vacuuming. And organizing again.
And dusting doesn't just cover the tables and bookshelves. What about the corners of the room? The baseboards? The pictures on the walls? The fans? The curtains? The exercise equipment? (oh man, that's touching on another real story topic - exercising...or lack thereof, which leads to dust on the equipment.)
And what about the windows? Isn't there some rule about spring cleaning, and how you're supposed to clean your windows, inside and out, every year?
And then there is what is UNDER all the stuff you're dusting and de-cluttering and vacuuming. Like under beds, and couches, and couch cushions, and refrigerators, and stoves, and area rugs. Seriously, you want to see how tough your gag reflex is? Pull out your stove or refrigerator. Oh. My. Word.
And if you have small kids, or boys of any age, or ANY PEOPLE at all living in your house, there will also be dirty fingerprints on the doors and light switches and walls.
I am a bit of a perfectionist. I'm not one of those people who can rotate house work. I want to get the whole house cleaned all on the same day, because then I can sit and bask in the clean rooms...for about 10 minutes until my kids escape from prison (aka their beds with video games). But...no matter how clean the bookshelves are, or how much the floors sparkle, or how much like bleach the bathroom smells...my house is never really truly clean. The work is never, ever, ever done.
And the real story, the legitimate truth, is that I have decided not to care. Because if I attempted to stay ahead of the grime under the stove, or the crumbs between the couch cushions, or the dust bunnies in the corners of every room, or the blasted WINDOWS...then I would never shave my legs or brush my teeth or eat a meal or go pee or speak to another living soul. All I would do for my entire LIFE is clean.
The only way for all the deep cleaning to get done is for me to hire a house-cleaning service, which I wouldn't do even if I could afford it, because then they would come in and pull out my refrigerator and I would die of humiliation.
Want to know a few fun, REAL facts about the Martin home? (insert deep, fortifying breath of courage here)(and now insert a moment of prayer that people will still come to my house to visit)(and finally, a raised eyebrow that means 'don't even pretend like this stuff doesn't happen to you too')
1. I have lived here for 4 1/2 years, and I have never, ever, cleaned the windows inside and out...or even just inside.
2. This morning there were some crumbs on the floor as I was walking through the kitchen, and I kicked them under a chair with my foot, then kept on walking, already having forgotten what had just happened.
3. Once, there were two spiders in webs in the corners of my bathroom. I named them, and told them hello every time I went in there, for over a month.
4. My son, Nate, has been known to throw food items he didn't want to eat underneath his dresser. I have never once pulled out the dresser to vacuum behind it, even though I am aware of the above mentioned fact.
5. Out of sight, out of mind, is my favorite saying in the world. In other words, a guest in my home could potentially be bodily restrained from opening closets or drawers or cabinets or the garage.
6. I mop my kitchen fairly often (because otherwise I would have things growing in the dirt, and my feet would stick to the floor when I was trying to cook) but I cannot remember the last time I mopped the hardwood floors in the rest of the house. Seriously...it might have been within the last year...maybe.
7. The blinds on my uncleaned windows also remain uncleaned. Sometimes I write notes in the dust. It's fun.
8. I don't iron. Ever. If you have an article of clothing that is rumpled, the only thing I can do to help is throw it back in the dryer with a damp wash cloth in an attempt to knock out the worst wrinkles.
9. The fingerprints on walls and doors and light fixtures make me smile, because they are reminders of the little hands that live here, so I leave them intentionally, and plan to never, ever, remove them. (the first part is a lie. The second part is the God's honest truth.)
10. A few weeks ago I found a petrified banana in a window sill in my living room. I was really happy, because I had finally solved the mystery of why we had ants in our house.
Okay...you would think that this REAL look into my own house-cleaning habits would make me feel like cleaning all day, but you would be wrong. I might do some laundry. I might do some dishes. But I will not be cleaning underneath any pieces of furniture, and since there are no longer visible crumbs on the floor, I will not be sweeping or vacuuming either.
The real story about house-cleaning is this: Its impossible for it to be the ACTUAL definition of clean, so why stress about it?
Clean up the petrified banana when you find it, kill the spiders before they have babies, turn your blinds up instead of down so you don't have to look at the dust or the notes written in it, always have natural oak floors so that dirt doesn't show and you don't have to mop, and every once in a while remind yourself that, however bad your house might be, it can't possibly be as bad as mine.
I hope you are all feeling better about your houses now. And just in case you're wondering, I still feel fine about mine...although my mother will probably call me sometime today and tell me its high time I cleaned the windows, and my spider-shy friends will probably never come over again.
But at least now you know "The Real Story."