Oprah used to say that your home should “rise up to greet you.” Isn’t that a nice sentiment? It does feel good to walk into (or stay at home all day in) a tidy house with gleaming furniture and a floor that feels nothing like the boardwalk at the beach.
And yet, I let my house go for weeks at a time without cleaning, only finally attacking the task because I’ve invited company over for the sole purpose of forcing myself to clean. I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year just to get my house spruced up for the holidays.
Here’s how my pre-visitor-cleaning normally goes down:
1) One week prior to our guests’ arrival, I begin stressing about how much there is to do. I think, I should do the master bath now, that way it will be sort of clean just in case anyone needs to use it in an emergency, but I won’t have to clean it in the two days leading up to visitors coming. I do a lot of thinking about how I should clean the master bathroom, but I don’t actually do it, because after all, there’s still a week left till our visitors arrive.
2) Five days prior, I make a list of all the things that need to be done. After writing it out, I decide it would be way more organized if I put the list on an excel spreadsheet. That way I can save it for other occasions and print it up whenever I need it! Genius! When I sit down at the computer, I figure I’ll spend five minutes checking my Facebook feed. An hour later I decide that my hand-written list will be just fine, but at least I’ve printed what looks to be a super-delicious recipe for homemade granola bars. Here are a few of the things on my list: Pick up random crap lying around everywhere (none of it is mine), organize random crap (none of it is mine), sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, bathrooms, baseboards, mirrors, doors, doorknobs, and possibly walls (these last three are only dirty if you have kids), fan-blades, outdoor patio area, sweep front walk, weed flower beds. Oh and laundry because I can’t have laundry piling up when guests are over, and I don’t really want to do laundry while guests are here, either.
3) Four days prior, I look at my list and map out how long each of my tasks is supposed to take. I underestimate on every single one of them so that I can justify going for a jog, playing My Little Pony with my three-year-old, or writing a blog instead of doing anything from my list.
4) Three days prior to guests’ arrival, I look at my filthy, cluttered house and get super-disgusted with all of the crap lying around that was put there by someone other than myself. I say to myself, I’m not their servant! They can pick up all their shit before I’ll vacuum! And I go on strike until everyone picks up their crap.
5) Two days prior, I yell at everyone about how I’m not a maid and whoever lives in this house needs to be responsible for picking up their own crap. I point, yell, and gesticulate wildly as I deliver my demands. The kids try to pick up their toys, but they are flustered because I’m issuing so many commands at once, so every task takes them ten times longer than it should. The husband is annoyed that I’m asking him to do stuff. The dog is hiding under the bed.
6) The day before guests arrive, once I’m satisfied with my family’s efforts at not being filthy, selfish, lazy pigs, I really start cleaning. Mid-way through the upstairs hall bathroom, knowing I still have the half-bath and master-bath to clean, I decide that our family of four plus mother-in-law could really do fine with sharing just one bathroom. I think maybe I should take a break from cleaning and go to realtor.com to search for a home with less square footage. But I know I can’t procrastinate anymore, so I press on. As I finish the half bath, I realize I’ve completely forgotten to feed my three-year-old lunch and also we are almost out of milk, eggs, bread, cereal, coffee, and juice. So I load the three-year-old into the car and hand her a granola bar and a cheese stick to eat on the way to the grocery store.
7) The day our guests are scheduled to arrive, I’m still scrambling to finish all the tasks from the day before because of course the laws of physics would not have allowed me to do all that stuff in one day while simultaneously taking care of a three-year-old. Duh. I make myself a stern mental note that next time, I really must start cleaning four days prior to guests’ arrival. I give the kids a couple of moist rags and some water-vinegar cleaner and assign them to clean the doors, doorknobs, and baseboards (they’re the ones that got them dirty anyway!) When I’m finally done with my cleaning, I light a candle and look around at my spotless house. I breathe a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction and think to myself, I should really put more effort into keeping my house clean. This feels GREAT. I think I’ll even clean the master-bath after my guests leave!
8) And then, as the doorbell rings, I notice the windows are filthy and the kitchen-island light has cobwebs hanging from it.
So how do you clean your house? Is your routine anything like mine?