Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Break on Through to the Other {Clean and Organized} Side

I've spent the month of January thus far cleaning and organizing our house. We traded bedrooms with our girls, so they now have the large room, and we have the small one. I love having a smaller room - I suppose I am backwards in this way. But now we are next to the bathroom, which is nice for early Morning showers (Avram) or middle of the night toilet runs (pregnant Thora). Before Elisheva would often wake up if we even went into the bathroom to brush our teeth - which made for difficult hygiene. Now my teeth are thankful for the ease with which I can brush them. Also, the girls' amount of toys and stuff far outweigh our own needs, and so they finally have proper room to play in. Someday I dream of having a separate toy room for all of my children, and then just stacking them up in bunks for sleeping, but that day will have to wait. Until then it's nice to know they at least have room for playing - before the toys were so scrunched up that they never really played with them, and if Lydia did pull something out, the room immediately felt messy from the extra junk moving around. I'll take pictures after I've completed the transformation (all that is really left are hanging the pictures).

The New Year and New Decade, not to mention the below freezing weather and snow, have inspired me to completely overhaul my house. Oh, yeah, and our "little" mice problem has been a motivating factor as well. I've never had such an ease of keeping our kitchen cleaned up after every meal - the thought of little mice yuckiness touching any dirt, or being happy by any crumbs makes me feel like the kitchen is practically cleaning itself, and I'm just along for the ride. We have mice - sad but true. I'd blog about it, but I think it would depress me, and gross you out. So I won't. We've killed four so far, in the last month, and finally yesterday our Management said that they would call mice exterminators. Let us hope that they are true and prompt to their word, and that we will soon enjoy our house with our family alone, and none others sharing it.

Moving back on topic, in the terminology of Flylady, my house is now 100% free of hotspots in any room. Hotspots are areas that attract clutter or mess. Stuff like a convenient shelf (or desktop, in my case) at the front of your house that gathers the random mail, important papers, junk, things that need to be sorted/filed/dealt with. I was going to take pictures of this as well, but by the time I got my camera out, it was dark outside, and I didn't want gloomy shots. And I've organized my linen closet, electronics drawer and random junk drawer, the shelves of our bookcases that always attract things we want to keep out of reach of the girls, and even the games shelf. See, I have to put this out on the Internet so that I can feel special, because no one thus far in my entire life has spontaneously opened my electronics drawer (kept in my upstairs hallway), and exclaimed over how well I have pared down on the random ear buds that went to nothing, and how they see no sign of the outdated and outmoded technological gadgets we had lying around, waiting for the resurrection to give them new meaning to their life. In a nutshell, my blog validates me, and my activities.

All I really have left to conquer is the two desk drawers, one more random drawer, and the walk in closet (which I am thinking of of magically transporting to another dimension, so I don't have to deal with it. It is the last holdout of random junk I don't know where else to put/what else to do with it.) Then my house will be completely and finally beautified. Oh, sure, I could clean out the inside of my fridge, or organize my food cupboards, but let us not be ridiculous.

As I've face down the end of my daily activities, except for maintaining this state of cleanliness, which never completely happens, I have been faced with a stolid truth. When my house is completely and utterly clean, I don't know what to do with myself. I do not mean to imply that I am someone who glories in cleaning, and whose hobbies are accomplished via Comet, Lysol, and a Vacuum. Rather, I am such a lagging housekeeper that when I finally do not have nagging responsibilities to accomplish around the house, that really should have been done yesterday, if not last month, I don't know what to do without that sense of vague guilt. Thus far, I usually pick up some good, or fluffy, books, and read until my house falls apart again. A falling apart house puts me right back into my comfort zone, and I once again know where my place resides in the universe - the grubby corner, next to a large bookcase.

As I approach this parabola of cleanliness that turns back into what I usually call "home sweet mess" I'd like to break out of my inexorable mathematical equation of a life, and actually maintain a clean home. I was thinking, perhaps I need a new hobby - one to do in the afternoons while Elisheva is sleeping. Perhaps I need more places to go during the week - currently we leave the house only when necessity calls (Lydia's playschool and grocery shopping at the same time, usually), although I remind myself that could be a function of the season, and not just my laziness. I used to attend the Library story time, and I'd like to incorporate that back into my life again.

I know that once I have three children, I'll be quite happy, at least for the first little while, in spending all my time not feeling completely overwhelmed. Until then though, what can I spend my free time on? Lydia thinks it should be playing Peggle with her through all hours of the day, but I am fairly certain there must be better past-times out there.

I suppose I'm not completely asking for advice (although any offered is welcome), since I am in a state where I am already vetoing anything I think of. Part of the difficulty is I need to think of something that is 100% free. And more than just reading, because as much as I love to read, we have already seen that this leads (in and of itself) back to mess. What do all the other stay at home moms out there do with their time? I was going to say free time, but I realize that most people would laugh at the idea of having free time every day. I do read blogs, but I feel that I can only do this so long every day before I feel that I ought to be doing something else. Yes, yes, I could write blog posts. If Lydia stopped climbing over me, while we played princesses (and I read on the Internet). We don't have T.V. hooked up. I do already spend time with Lydia every day on writing. She can now read four words: zoo, no, cat, dog.

Am I the only one who feels like they have extra time on their hands that could be used for self improvement? Should I just play with my kids more? And does anyone have any oil paints and canvases they want to get rid of, because I've always wanted to try painting?


  1. I'm so sorry about the mice...I can completely relate. I'm not the best at tidying up after every meal either, but I've since changed a little out of necessity. Mice are horrible. And so is the removal process. I still have horror images in my mind of mice gnawing at eachother, both condemned to the same fate on a shared sticky trap. AWFUL. I really hope your manangement does something for you soon! Good job on all your organization!

  2. I can relate to occasionally having free time when my house is clean and wondering what to do. It's especially common for me in January, when I'm coming down from the bustle fury of Christmas season.

    I have my quilting hobby, my photography hobby, and my reading hobby, and they all get me through. I also just started a book group in my friend circle and invited my ward if they want to come. Every odd month we just report good books we've read, and every even month we read one we picked from the reports month. We don't meet in Nov or Dec because they are such busy times.

    I also have a pot luck lunch group every Tuesday. We meet at the park at noon, bring our own utensils, drinks, and a dish to share with everyone. We don't have any rules, and one time after Easter we had too many deviled eggs. But usually it balances out well. I think the key to success is to call just about every SAHM you know and invite her, because 1 in 3 will remember and 1 in 6 to 10 will make it.

    Wow, this comment is a novel, but I have more to say. I love this group. They are now my sounding board, and the kids love to get out and play with their friends who are there every week now. Some of the moms are even much older than I am, but we all get along great and enjoy each other a lot. It fills a need for me.

  3. I organized my spices ABC order--makes it easier to find them quickly.

    Free time--download an audio book on your laptop (from the library--ie free). Listen to it while you knit, sew, or otherwise create something that lasts. Knit your baby a sweater for next winter or clever Christmas stockings for everyone or, or....

  4. I picked up crochet a while ago and it's a quite nice hobby that you can stop and go with. It's not entirely free, but one skein of yarn can go quite far, so as far as hobbies go it's not too expensive. My vote, however, would be to enjoy the time for nothingness, because once #3 comes, there will be a huge lack of nothingness time, I imagine.

  5. Oh boy I love January this year. Before, Christmas break never seemed long enough and I was sad to go back to school. But this year -I'm totally with you on whipping the house back into shape, and having goals about maintaining it. I use my google calendar to email me chores every day. lol but it works! I made a weekly schedule so everything gets cleaned at least weekly, and if I miss a chore then it just rolls around to the next week.

    Of course I suggest sewing because that's what I do. Get fabric from the thrift store (old pretty sheets can work well) as well as patterns and notions. But then you said your sewing machine is messed up. Broken sewing machines are rarely goners. You should ask Dad Shannon if he can take a look at it. He is fixing up my treadle machine. That man knows something about everything. Or you could try to look up online how to fix it.

    You could look up medieval needlepoint/sampler designs and get inspired to imitate one of them. Something with only one color would be cheap.

    You could do more recipes on your food blog, with lots of pictures.

  6. I just want the energy to clean and organize. I actually feel much better when everything is neat and organized. I feel free. it makes me want to write more and take my kids out more. and just watch them play and play with them more. But it has not happend in a long time. I envy you. I hope I will get my energy back. I don't have any suggestions. but good for you!

  7. That's a large part of why I took up embroidery. I mostly do it in the evenings, once Anne's asleep and I'm done with housework for the day. But I was lucky, in that I inherited a lot of embroidery floss from my mother, who used to do cross stitch. I also occasionally sew or crochet.

    Of course, some days I bake. Because I'm a breadaholic, and it's okay.

  8. I've been crocheting baby hats and loving it. I've also started exercising (I never did it before. Shhh!) because my Wii Fit has informed me that I am on the edge of being overweight and that's just not cool. I haven't hit the state of having a clean house yet, though, so the rest of my "free" time is spent cleaning and cooking. Today's goal is to find a home for everything that has no home. Good luck to me!

  9. i always wanted to paint too!! having three kids myself my advise would be to enjoy this time though.. relax in the clean house and read the book after the kidsa re asleep. or just take naps... after the third kid it will be along while till you feel like you can relax again! i would love to write more but it would be a novel i will call you :)

    oh and MOM i had no idea you could download things fromt he library so thanks for that tip!! now i can listen to a book while i clean, awesome!!!

  10. Thora, I have tons of ideas for free/very cheap crafts, some of which I did for Christmas. At this moment I'm making a beautiful satin flower by melting the edges of circles of satin from a shirt I bought for $1 at the thrift store. You have little girls, so your supply of satin (or anything 100% synthetic) could come from princess costumes or dresses that are too worn out to wear. Sew it to an elastic or hair clip (which I imagine you probably have a few of on hand) and voila. I've been making them and putting them on pin backs (you could use safety pins) to wear on sweaters etc. Or put a bobby pin through the pin back and wear it in your hair. They are addictive.

  11. Ah, it's so cute. You're nesting!
    Oh, I'm sorry that the mice are too. Have fun finding your self-improvement hobby. Though it sounds like you've been improving as fast as any human really ought to be allowed to improved.