I haven’t blogged in a while.
I haven’t felt like blogging in a while.
Honestly, I’ve felt like a failure, and who wants to read about that?
(Don’t worry, this post will get more encouraging soon.)
My husband’s upcoming job keeps him so busy I’m practically raising the suddenly-incredibly-whiny-and-needy children alone, and trying to handle all the prep-work for a move halfway across the country, and figure out where we’re going to live when we get there. I’m not complaining exactly, just trying to explain how I got where I am. Which is basically not decluttering, not working on my book, and ignoring my health in favor of stress eating.
I’ve been camped in survival mode for months now, but at least we’re all alive, so there’s that.
I’ve also had to admit that I’m a full-blown slob. The second I stopped working on minimalism, the clutter crept back over all the counters, tables, and floors. I felt like I’d done all that work for nothing.
Since decluttering, health, and my novel have been so close to my heart for so long, not being able to spend time on them made me feel like a failure.
Yes, I know things could be worse. I could be (insert disaster of choice here). Sometimes the reminder helps. Sometimes it makes me want to punch a hole in the wall.
(By the way, I’ve never punched a hole in a wall. I kicked a hole in a wall once. At least, my foot went through, but in my defense, I was young, we were playing, flipping in midair from one bed to another might have been involved…let’s move on.)
Anyway, one day, somewhere in the middle of a self-pity party, I came across a book titled: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.
So I jumped up and screamed, “Take my money!”
Ok, it was really more like. “That sounds good. (Sigh). It probably won’t help, but it’s on sale so I may as well give it a try.”
Guys, I think I’ve found my slobby soul sister.
(By the way, she also has a website called A Slob Comes Clean. A lot of the info in the book can be found there for free, but I still recommend the book because it puts it together in a nice little package and easy to follow order.)
The author had me hooked from her explanation of “slob vision”. I thought it was just me. I told myself I didn’t pay attention or I was too lazy. But there really are other people out there whose brains literally can’t see the mess until it reaches Hoarders level and they’re wading through knee-deep toys.
I tell you, I felt both hurtfully called out and incredibly encouraged.
So when she made an absolutely crazy suggestion, instead of laughing it off, I decided to give it a try.
Her advice was, start with washing the dishes every day. Focus on that one task, and only that, until it becomes…maybe not a habit, but at least a familiar chore that’s fairly easy to force yourself to do every night.
Now, I’m gonna admit, I hate washing dishes. I don’t usually wash them until I absolutely have to.
I can think of dozens of my friends who are probably cringing right now. Sorry, I’m not like you. Slob vision is real and a couple of plates and cups don’t get noticed. Therefore, every time I actually buckle down to clean the kitchen, it’s a major task.
On the bright side—and I’m going to put in a plug for minimalism here—I downsized my kitchen months ago so I’m forced to wash the dishes at least every few days or we’ll run out of plates. This means I didn’t have to spend all day washing dishes that very first time. It probably took an hour, tops.
The next day I washed them again. It was weird only washing one day’s worth of dishes. And, as a bonus, we had clean dishes.
The day after that I started to realize how little time it really takes.
However, at this point I’m thinking, I’m moving in less than two months. Washing dishes isn’t going to get my house ready. So I started working on other projects. Sometimes I made progress, sometimes I didn’t, but as long as I got those dishes washed, even if it wasn’t till midnight, I felt successful.
It’s really nice feeling successful.
Then I started progressing through the other tasks in the book. Nothing huge. Nothing overwhelming. Just little things but, thanks to some tips from the book, the things were done with better strategy. My house didn’t look great, but it looked better.
Then, after months of a yes-we’re-moving, no-we’re-not, yes-we-are-but-somewhere-else, wait-go-back-to-the-original-plan, we finally nailed down both the location and time of our move. One month away and suddenly we’re scrambling to get everything ready. Thank goodness my husband agreed to hire a moving company. It’ll put a dent in our bank account, but take a ton of stress off my mind.
It also means having someone come to your house and go into EVERY SINGLE ROOM so he can tell you what it’s going to cost.
That means you can’t just move junk from one place to another because he’s going to look there, too.
My husband laughed and said don’t bother cleaning. I glared at him behind his back and muttered, “Yeah, right.”
Still, like the procrastinator I am, I pushed it from my mind until the morning of the appointment, then I went into panic mode and started cleaning.
To my utter shock, I got it done in only a few hours. It wasn’t perfect. Honestly, it wasn’t even great, but it was good. Everything was relatively in its place, the floors and surfaces were clear. I even had time to clean the bathrooms and do laundry. Neither of which had anything to do with the guy coming but everything to do with household hygiene. I got my entire house passably clean in a single morning! (Disclaimer, there’s one catch-all room that I’m still working on, but I made huge progress on it.)
This was the point where I realized minimalism was working. Nothing was as bad as it looked. Those toys spread over the entire basement floor? I cleaned them up in less than twenty minutes. The same for the tables, counters, and all the other surfaces I thought were hopeless. Because I own so much less now, there is so much less to clean. I know it should be obvious, but it wasn’t. Not until my panic-cleaning morning.
And, because I was already making habits out of things like washing dishes every day, I added one more task to the list: have the kids clean up their own toys every night before bed. For reference, they’re 6 and 3. The cleaning is slow and full of whining, but they’re fully capable. The problem was, survival/failure mode saps your energy and I rarely felt up to the challenge of making them.
We’ve had a clean playroom for three days now and guess where the kids have been for the last three days? Playing in the playroom. Guess where they haven’t been? Bugging me at my desk every 2 minutes. See, I was even able to write a new post with only three or four interruptions.
So, all that rambling to say, small steps are still steps, just because you can’t see the success doesn’t mean it’s not there. Don’t lose heart.
Also, minimalism totally works 🙂