The Trials of Ms. Not-So-Clean

BC stopped by the other night and complimented me on how clean the kitchen looked.

“Thanks! I need all the encouragement I can get,” I replied.

And it’s true. Living alone is a strange little vortex if you don’t have a lot of drop-in unannounced guests. One day the stove is sparkling and the next you realize that you can’t use any of the burners unless you move the pile of cookbooks you dragged out the other day and “forgot” to put away.

And I have never been known as a neat freak. Don’t get me wrong- I do not like actual dirt or rotting food or unidentifiable sticky spots or critters. But I am an habitual piler- piles of books, piles of papers, piles of craft supplies, piles of things to put in frames, and piles of frames to put them in. And some of the piles might be a little precariously balanced from time to time as I rush out the door for work or another business trip.  

OK, they’re teetering.

My piles teeter.

And just maybe, if I’m realllllly tired, sometimes the dishes wait until the next day. Not with food in them, but with sudsy water. And maybe I am realllllly tired two or three days a week. There. I confessed. Are you happy?

And since no one stops by during the week, and I have given myself liberal permission to be lazy after work, come Friday I have to battle back the piles, and tuck what I can back into the bookshelf, the desk, a file folder, or drag it up into the spare bedroom (also known as the place of no return). Once an item goes into the spare bedroom, it becomes part of a larger project- the One Day I’ll Spend All Day Cleaning Out the Spare Bedroom project.

That day, I suspect, is far in the future.  

So, a question for all of you “grown ups” out there. How do you motivate yourself now that no one is hovering over you to clean up your own messes or piles if no one’s coming over? I need your strategies here folks. Something to get me to make a little headway on this madness every day.

Or am I alone here? You all probably have labels for your labelmakers and carry antibacterial wipes everywhere you go in your house. But someone else a little cluttered must be out there in the interwebs?






Filed under At Home, Building a Better Me, Daily Life

9 responses to “The Trials of Ms. Not-So-Clean

  1. We are still not the neatest people in the world, but part of it, honestly, is having a house that we own and love. We were much messier in our apartment. But now it’s like, we paid all this money to have this really nice house so let’s try not to cover it with shit. It’s a pretty good motivator, really.

  2. Kalleigh Hathaway

    Realizing this now with the boyfriend having moved in last month … it’s somewhat embarrassing when HE cleans while I’m still making up my mind to do it. What I tend to do is make a to-do list while I’m at work or enjoying lunch or something, and then I hop up all motivated to start crossing things off.

    Yesterday he saw a grocery receipt on the kitchen table and asked me if there was some place I put them. “Yes,” I said, “in a pretty box that sits next to the loveseat.” He asked what I did with the box. “Well, about twice a year I go through it and organize and staple all my receipts to the relevent statements.” He looked at me funny but said nothing.

    What doesn’t matter is that your system is “wrong” but that you have a system. IMO, piles are like cheese; they have to age just right to be any good at all, but let them go too long and you’ll regret it.

  3. I used to be a neat freak. And then I married Sweets. And now? We sometimes have to clear away our island, so we have a place to eat (even though the kitchen table is next to it, we much prefer to eat at the counter). We leave plates in the sink for days. And we’re so lazy, we no longer clean our own house (we hire someone to do that for us). I wish I had some solid advice for you…

  4. I completely get this. I have piles of papers everywhere, but I will do a mad dash through the house with a dust rag and vacuum if someone is coming over. The piles get thrown in a closet. Thank God for a dishwasher or I’d really be in trouble. I may never rent an apartment without one again. 😉

  5. I don’t own a label maker but do keep Clorox Wipes under each sink (kitchen & bathroom). Right before I moved out of my parents’ house I visited my cousins, a cool married couple. Walking in they made us stand outside as they ran in to pick up dirty underwear on the floor & throw it in a closet. Inside, there were clothes and papers all over the floor and I thought “This is not how real adults are supposed to live.”

    So I clean once a week. It’s not always in one big cleaning frenzy. Maybe I vacuum Sunday morning and clean the bathroom Sunday night. When I worked, I liked to clean either on Thursday nights so the house would be clean all weekend for me to enjoy, or Saturdays after coming home from the Farmer’s Market. I seem to boil water a lot in cooking, so I often “put the water on” and wash dishes while waiting for it. I clean out my fridge before going food shopping, and take the garbage out on my way out to go food shopping, so it doesn’t sit warming and stinking up the joint.

    What I’ve found is key, is to not let things get out of hand. If it gets overwhelming it won’t get done.

  6. I’m a piler and I usually don’t clean until things are thick with dust or dirt or things start to stink. However, since I’ve moved into a house I’ve tried to be more “responsible” in the classic way my mother always nagged me to be. Essentially:
    – if you take it out, put it away immediately after you’re done using it
    – if you open it, close it
    – if you turn it on, turn it off
    – if you move it, put it back

    The simple rule of “pick up after yourself” is hard to do and it’s probably how you end up making more of a mess than necessary like I do. If you can get into the habit of putting things back away right after you use them, every time, your living space will be a lot less cluttered. Leave the piles to your papers and books etc, and when you find yourself sitting on the couch- stand up, grab a pile, and sort/put away while you’re watching Ghost Whisperer.

  7. I’ve not been here in a long time and I forgot how much I enjoy your writing!

    I have a friend in England who uses a half hour method. She cleans for half an hour and then does something else she enjoys for half an hour such as reading or cruising or blogging. She repeats the process until she is finished. I’ve tried it and it works rather well. You don’t really notice you’re cleaning because you’re having fun in between. You are pleasantly surprised when you realize it.

  8. I’m terrible. I let things go until I’m grossed out (like you, it’s piles) and then I clean.

  9. Rebecca

    I was ok at keeping on top of things (cleaned once-a-weekish), until I had a baby. Now, it’s too hard to keep on top of her (not literally) and the mess… luckily, my husband is pretty good so we are not living in absolute squalor. Hopefully things will get easier soon!
    My one good tip for keeping your bathroom looking decent (at least superficially) is to wash your face with Olay Daily Facials cleansing wipes, and then use the “spent” cloth to give something a wipedown. You know, to tide you over between deep cleans.

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