I don’t clean. Not really. I maintain and brush under the couch and swipe quite well, so that nobody notices, but I’m not really much of a cleaner. My house is too big, my kids are too demanding, I feel overwhelmed, I hate it…you pick the excuse from the list and I’ll go with it.
But now I’ve been caught. Jake, our perpetually stuffy-nosed little boy has been diagnosed with allergies to dust mites and cats, among other things. Ack! For someone allergic to dust, he really ought to have been born into a family with a mother who dusts. Ever. I guess my lax cleaning regime is over for good. Hello hot water sheet washing and pillow and mattress allergen protectors and HEPA filters and steam cleaners. Honestly, hello vacuum. (Poor Greg. He has always vacuumed more than I have.) I always embraced the idea that if your house was too clean your kids were more likely to develop allergies and asthma. Studies show that kids in developing nations build up their immune systems by being exposed to more dirt and less disinfectant. I was going with that theory. Bummer.
Hello again, Flylady. Have you heard of her? She runs a website dedicated to helping people out of their chronic messes. (Warning: do not sign up for email reminders. She sends out 10-12 a day!) She’s great for those who really have clutter and mess problems that can’t be hidden, but she also has a lot of resources for those of us who are able to hide our poor housekeeping well. Luckily, the boys and I have become pretty good at our after breakfast and after lunch routines so our daily maintenance has improved in the past months. (our routine: clean up table, one boy dustbusts the crumbs, the other clears the toys and clutter out of the family room, I clean the kitchen counters, we all load or unload the dishwasher together, and I do one laundry step…load, unload, fold or put away) But the Flylady also has deep cleaning lists and other schedules and helps on her site. I’m starting with what she calls “Zone work”, where you deep clean one zone a week and repeat each month. My favorite thing about Flylady is that she always tells you, “You’re not behind. It’s okay if you don’t get to everything this time. You never did it before!” That last part makes me laugh because it’s so true for me! Who cares if I don’t get around to cleaning out the windowsill runners this month, or dusting the baseboards! I’ve never done it before!
But today, Flylady, I turned on my oven’s self-clean cycle for the first time in my life. I scrubbed my countertop kitchenaid mixer and my toaster. I cleaned the grime out of the clothes washer’s lid. I’m going places I’ve never gone before. All for the sake of one stuffed up little boy. Well, really, I should have been doing it all along. Especially since my theory of imitating third world filth in my own home to keep my kids healthy turns out to be worth squat. If you come over sometime soon, please compliment me on how clean my mixer is and how filth-free my laundry room is. Or pick some other place in my house that is looking mystifyingly spotless. I’m always open to a little validation.