Friday, July 13, 2012

My Cycle

This post is all about my cycle.

No, not that cycle.

This is my cycle of housekeeping.  By housekeeping I mean the cooking and cleaning that are, unfortunately, so vital to keeping a family and household of any size running relatively smoothly.  Or at least not warranting a visit from your friendly, local division of child protective services.

Let's start with my cycle of cleaning.  Now listen, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I am not a clean freak.  I totally appreciate clean freaks and I live in awe of them and wish I was one.  I have very good friends who are and I love to be in their homes.  They are lovely, clutter-free, dust-free, and they ALWAYS smell good.  I could probably eat off their bathroom floors and rest easy.

Sometimes I wish I had just a little streak of OCD in me.  Not enough that my life functioning would be impaired, but just enough that I just had to have a clean kitchen floor or clean showers.  Not so much that I had to line up my drinking glasses by height or organize my clothes by color.   

But I am as healthily far removed from OCD as possible.  Oh, I'm alright at keeping up with the clutter, but as far as a deep seated need to have everything shiny and sparkly clean--- nope.  Nada.  I don't consider myself lazy, but I just cannot imagine caring that much or expending that much energy on cleaning.

I take more of a Steven R. Covey approach to cleaning:

Just where does cleaning fall in the four quadrants of time management?

In quadrant III it would be important, but not urgent.  Yeah, that describes it sometimes.  But the ugly truth is, that for me, cleaning very regularly fallls into quadrant IV-- it's not urgent and it's not important. 

But this summer we will be having some house guests stay with us and while I clearly lack any trace of OCD, I do have some pride.  I would prefer if our guests were not nauseated by the condition of the bathroom and they felt our food was safe to eat.  

Geez, I'm making us sound horrific. I hope I exaggerate.

The point is, I do have a little more free time in the summer and I am working my way through the house doing some deeper cleaning in preparation.  Normally, every few months I do try to delve a little deeper into recesses of the cleaning supply caddy.  And I don't do it all myself, rather I rope the kids into doing their fair share (whatever that is).  We WORK!  We CLEAN!  We take pride in our home!
We're looking good.

For about 24 hours-- 4 days at the most.

And then WHAMO!  We're back.  And I mean it's all back--the dishes, the ring in the toilet, the crumbs on the carpet, the sticky spots on the kitchen floor, the games, toys, and puzzles, the dirty clothes, the disordered book shelves, toothpaste on the bathroom counter, dust on the piano, debris on the front porch.

It does not matter how clean it was, within days, hours, only minutes the mess is back, threatening my peace and sense of accomplishment.  I ask you-- IS THIS FAIR?  Is this to be endured?  It's a losing battle!  

Which is why I so regularly choose not to engage.  How ridiculous to fight a losing battle!  Why would I allocate such a valuable resource as my time, to a battle I cannot win?

Where does this leave me?  Quite obviously it leaves me with a dirty house.  But why do I care?  I'm off reading a book somewhere.  Until, even in my oblivion, I look around and am horrified at myself.  In my mind I start to hear my future children-in-law discussing their spouses and lamenting the kind of pig-pen they must have grown up in.  Didn't their mother (me) teach them how to clean?

Once again my pride is pricked and I rally the troops and We WORK!  We CLEAN!  We take pride in our home.  We're looking good!

For about 24 hours, 4 days at the most.

You see where I'm going with this.  It's a vicious cycle.  

Please feel free to comment, but I'm not soliciting advice.  Truth be told, I don't think I really want to change.  
Maybe when my children are all grown?  But you know what, I hope to have many, many grandchildren whom I will welcome with open arms to my house.  I figure I'll probably be nicer to them than I was to my own children, so what makes me think I'll all of a sudden care more about cleanliness than story time?  No, I think I'm doomed to live this way for the rest of my life. 

And if you still want to be friends with me after this shocking expose, stay tuned for when I write about my self-defeating cycle of cooking for my family.


Kajsa Pace said...

I was just thinking of this cycle the other day. I am much like you, I want to care, but really don't do a very good job at keeping the house clean (unless company is coming). Right now I think about how it is already a problem, yet I only have one child. Can't imagine what my house will look like with more...

christini yogini said...

Oh, Betsy, I am right in the same camp! Their childhood doesn't last for long, our time is better spent in story time than in cleaning toilets, I am sure! I can tell you, it does get easier as they get older, but then more of the blame lies with myself because I have to own up to all the mess that, really, I cause because it simply does not occur to pick up after myself while I'm involved in a project!

Gabrielle Kim said...

I feel your pain! My house won't stay clean for longer than 10 minutes. Sometimes I am in true awe of how fast it can get dirty and disorganized. Do we really play with that many toys and eat off that many dishes each day???