loathe and detest housework with every bone in my body really don’t much like housework.
I’m not very good at keeping things tidy.
The concept of ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’, while being the cornerstone of every decluttering/home organisation book I’ve never read, is about as foreign to me as the concept of, well, exercise.
I’ve heard of it, and I’m told that it can make your life a lot easier and healthier. I’ve even attempted to do it once or twice, without much success.
Our house is a bit of a mess. All I can say in my defence is that none of us have asthma or horrible allergies and the largest number of mice in the house at any one time has been one. So a bit of dust hasn’t endangered anyone’s health.
I’d like a clean house, but I also have other things to do. Like work, getting to work, cooking, spending time with my family, watching Very Important things on TV, doing (ahem) research online, sleeping, keeping my bench top clean . . .
And I’m not very good at packing things away. If I’m in the middle of a project, the stuff all tends to lie around until I get my next burst of inspiration, which might be three months later.
I think my son might have inherited my inability to tidy up after myself too. I set a shocking example!
I am also a reluctant disposer of things I don’t need. I won’t say hoarder, because that brings up images of that dreadful show on TV about people who really do hoard to the extreme. Trust me, I am not that bad! We can get into every room in our house, we do eat on the dining table, and there isn’t a single cupboard where we’re too scared to open the door in case everything falls out.
My dilemma is that I have other things that I have to do ahead of housework – and I especially include spending time with Juniordwarf in that list – I don’t want to miss out on experiences with him because I’m too busy dusting or scrubbing the laundry floor. So, say those who know, the housework can wait.
But, on the other hand, the messy house makes me feel stressed and tense, and on days when I feel like I’m about to hit rock bottom, having to step over stuff just to get in the front door doesn’t make me feel any better.
And when the whole house is like that, well, the effect is compounded.
My problem is, and has always been, that I am an all or nothing person. And the result of that is nothing.
So instead of saying ‘the house is a mess! It’s upsetting me! There’s so much to do! It’s too much!’ and not doing anything, I need to forget about the big picture for a while.
One of the things the counsellor suggested on Friday was to make a to-do list, but to only put three things on the list. Three things that I could do, or make progress towards doing that day. It might – and indeed should – be as simple as ‘hang out the washing’ or ‘go to bed early’. That way by the end of the week I’ll have 21 things that I’ve achieved or made progress towards.
So with that in mind, my three things yesterday were to tidy the lounge room, tidy the kitchen and get a couple of things for Juniordwarf’s room to store some of his more scatterable items in.
Those three things actually took most of the day, but I took a stop-start approach, so I could make sure I had enough time with Slabs and Juniordwarf, and cook dinner – which I actually enjoyed doing for the first time in a long time . . . probably because the kitchen was tidier than it had been for a long time!
Today one of my three things was to vacuum the lounge room. I’ll spare myself from the embarrassment of admitting when the last time I vacuumed was and just say that it’s been a while. I was going to do it yesterday, but I didn’t get to it.
The good thing about that was, I didn’t care too much.
This is a huge step for me. A while ago I might have gotten cranky with myself for not having finished the whole job yesterday, and told myself how slack I was for not having done anything.
But yesterday evening I could look at my list and see the three things ticked off. Correction self-critic: I have done three things today, thank you very much. And I knew I could just put the vacuuming on my list today; it would be the first thing I’d do this morning (after having coffee) and after I’d done it I could go outside with Juniordwarf.
Which I did.
Keeping the lounge room tidy is going to take some work for all of us. There will be days we won’t pack up, but the challenge is going to be to not let that one day drag into two and three and a week.
But I'm not going to worry about that tonight. I'm just going to relax in my tidy lounge room.