Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reclaiming my House in this Post-Summer Era

This is my first experience with half day kindergarten. In preparation to have all my days nicely cleaved in 2 distinct parts, I've been trying to decide how to schedule my days. Do I run errands with my youngest 2 in the morning so the afternoon can be spent with my quiet, little trouble producing preschooler? Or do I spend my mornings at home and enjoy errands more by cutting the kid count in half?

After several weeks of summer my house has settled into complete chaos. Frightened I may have lost something important in the disorganized mess (like a few library books, all my bowls, or maybe even a neighborhood child), I decided to spend the first three weeks of child reduced bliss deep cleaning my house. I divided it up and every morning I let Phineas and Ferb watch the boys while I tackle yet another room. Then, after I send Joseph off to school, I recover from my cleaning blitzes.

This has been an adventure. Wrought with games like "That is where my masking tape/mascara/camera case have been all summer?" and "What kind of food was that originally, and how long does it take to grow that sort of fuzz." Not to mention the ever entertaining "Why would anyone even think to stuff underwear there? I would rather throw it away than check for cleanliness."

Knowing my cleaning drive would begin strong and quickly diminish, I started with the worst areas and am working toward the easier ones. That means I've cleaned, in my first 3 days of school: the girls' room, the 2 boys' rooms, and all the bathrooms. You read that right, by virtue of the order I listed, the girls' and boys' rooms ranked above the bathrooms in nastiness.

It's been a blast, I tell you. Or rather, my house looked like it had been blasted and I am in the process of post-war reconstruction.

For your reading enjoyment here are some of my finds so far (enjoyment may not be the best choice of words here):
  • I couldn't figure out why there was a can opener in the boys' room. Until I started finding the empty cans of olives in there bathroom. If memory serves there were at least 6 cans (and one in the girls' room).
  • No wonder I kept having to buy more printer paper over the weeks, there must have been 200 folded airplanes stuck in my boys' closets. And another 200 stuffed on a shelf in their bathroom.
  • Couldn't figure out what that was, stuck to the bottom inside corner of my daughters' bed stand, till I realized it was an old spider nest. Explains all the webs full of dead flies I found in every corner of their room and bathroom.
  • Took a while to place the odd smell permeating the girls' room: it was coming from their carpet. Carpet removed, their room no longer smells like a mold fest. (I've told them not to bring water in their rooms at night!)
  • Completely unrelated? 3 huge cups (1 still full of water), 4 water bottles, and 3 small cups in the girls' room.
  • The new trash can I bought for the boys' bathroom: the good news was they had filled in partway with garbage, the bad news was they had also filled it with something else (use your imagination- but in case you have boys and therefore a vivid imagination- it was liquid something not solid).
  • I was able to fill an entire (small) rubbermaid container with the pens I found in the girls' room while I found the smallest K-nexs pieces along the border of both boys' rooms. Also under every bed, chair, toy, piece of trash, and laundry.
  • Enough garbage to fill an X-large U-Haul packing box (that had been "borrowed" and covered in fabric to create a Webkinz home to match their virtual one). I am not kidding, when I was done the box was FULL and I threw it out before Elise saw because I'm sure she would disagree with me on what qualified as garbage in her room.

Everything has been cleaned out, disinfected, and made to look neat. Today we are having a combined youth activity at our house, so I am suspending the worst to best order for a day to concentrate on bookshelves and countertops. You know, things people are actually going to see if they come into the house. As long as I don't add anything to my list, my reclaim-the-house-daily-in-the-4-hours-before-afternoon-kindergarten-starts project should last 3 weeks (Yes, I actually wrote down a list and cross it out with a note of how long it took to clean. Underneath the chaotic outer layer of a mother of 6 children was once a list-making, organized freak.)

I bet you'll enjoy your housecleaning a little more today knowing what it could be like...


  1. I think I need a copy of your spreadsheet. I'm sure there are areas of my house I don't even think to clean . . . (and we saw a mouse the other day. Tom says we need a cat. I'd rather do some deep cleaning -- I think).

  2. Man, I must say I'm not too far behind you. Although this year was a relative breeze cleaning when the kids went to school since we moved mid-summer. I ALWAYS take the garbage out before the kids get home. They figured out a long time ago that when the house was especially spotless when they get home from school, they should check the garbage cans.

  3. I was alot like you. Reclaiming the house when school started and throwing things out when no one was looking. Good luck getting it all done.

  4. glad I am not the only one who throws out my kids "treasures" when they are at school. amazing how they never notice, yet if they saw you doing it they would claim it was the most important thing in the world to them

  5. I'm too scared to do what you have done. Though I did do major spring cleaning, so hopefully it won't be so bad. Who knows, though, a lot of damage can be done over the course of a summer.

  6. I need to do this as well, although mine wouldn't be post summer clean, but post "I just had my second child (19 mo after the first) and I am finally starting to feel like an actual person again but my house is not" clean

  7. My solution to clutter. Move at least once a year. You end up throwing away a lot of stuff that would turn into junk later.

  8. Oh my, I can't decide if I should be disturbed by the fact that cleaning projects make me all giddy and excited (mostly OTHER people's cleaning projects.) It's nearly enough to make me hop in the car and drive over to your house right now to inspect every corner of every room...but instead, I am going to take my first nap of the school year while my one other child is sleeping...I'll dream of your clean house and pretend it was my own. (The ironic part of my taking a nap is that I am doing that directly following making my own list of things I have to accomplish before company comes on Thursday...)
    Was this an inappropriately long comment?

  9. I just no longer enter my kids room. From the smell I am pretty sure there is a dead animal of some sort in there.

    How do you feel about flying to Utah and taking care of that for me?

  10. I'm glad you've re-claimed your inner list-freak...and all your bathrooms!

  11. Ah, too bad for me that I can relate so well to your cleaning experience. As if I weren't already dreading the chore, I'm now not looking forward to cleaning because you have reminded me not just what it COULD be like, but what it probably WILL be like. In fact, I think I'll just put it off another day. ;o)

    I have to ask...does your landlord read this blog?

  12. Jane- My list isn't that in depth. Just the area I'm cleaning that day and how long it actually took me. You can see it on the sidebar here. I found several places where the mouse we caught a couple months ago had been hiding out.

    SAHM scrapper- I have a post lingering somewhere in my head about sneaking garbage out of the house.

    Tucker Mom- How well I remember the threat of you coming to clean our rooms if we didn't. That is where I learned it from.

  13. wilddingo- If I tried to save all the "treasures" we wouldn't have room to walk in the house. Sometimes, if it is obviously a big deal for them I take a picture of it before we throw it out. They get a under bed rubbermade container. Whatever makes the cut gets stored in there and that is all the room they get for their 13 years of kept school work.

    Alyson- I missed the spring cleaning and things always get worse over the summer, so mine is particularly bad this go around.

    Kim- I bet my finished goal is close to what your house looks like now. I've seen your house. Although I agree. Been there and done that with my first two. It is HARD on a house.

  14. Mom at our House- Doesn't that mean you are due for a move soon?

    emma jo- You can come enjoy the kids' clean rooms. You might die of shock when you see the girls' though (having seen what it looked like before). Enjoy your nap times!!

    Steph- That was the point I had reached in my girls' room, but the smell was strong enough to smell even when the door was shut. That is why I started with them first. I was relieved all I had to do was remove the rug (and slightly guilty that I kept sending my oldest in there to find the source of the smell- thinking it was a forgotten towel or plate or something)

  15. Claudia- I do love remembering my inner-list freak. I find as my kids get older my desire to organize is returning.
    If only my pre-pregnancy body would come back, too.

    Mary- After reading your last few posts, I know you can totally relate. Good luck with your cleaning. Hope you don't find anymore ice cream in the closet.

  16. Wow. I cannot tell you how much anxiety I had reading that post. Holy cow. Kids are SO GROSS!!!

  17. Sadly, I can relate to too many of these things. I have cleaned up olive cans, spider nests, and *shudder* garbage cans filled with unmentionable things. I have resorted to buying new underwear for the boys every couple months. It's completely worth it to me!

  18. Andrea- You just wait, your time will come. Those two little ones are only beginning on their disgustingness journey. Potty trained boys are the worst!!

    ucmama- I have come to the same conclusion. For underwear and socks. And pencils and crayons, but for a completely different (less gross) reason.

  19. I guess I should have clarified that the anxiety I felt was due to the fact that I was just given a glimpse into my future! I know that the messes just grow exponentially as you add age and more children. *shuddder*