Confessions of a naturally messy person:

 I get grumpy at the end of the day. I can easily get grumpy at church as my desire for my kid to behave and their completely human nature inside their child body is to squirm, and wiggle and squeak and roll their eyes at me clash like Titans.  When I get grumpy I get snappy. When I get snappy the entire house turns black and and sad. I'm working on this.

Writing about what you are "working on" or something you are "good at" immediately puts you up on the chopping block. I once taught a 20 minute class on the importance of family meal time (a subject I am most passionate about) only to follow up with 4 months of horrible and mismatched dinners full of fighting matches.  I once made a comment in sunday school at how wonderful our marriage was (oh, i laugh when i look back), only to endure a year of struggles and misunderstandings and trials.

So forgive me if I don't share all, I'm protecting myself. I am willing to share something, as it makes me so happy I can't see myself changing (famous last words!).  My  I'm so glad you were sitting down for this because it is big news. I finally took a lot of information i know, added in all of my negative research of what doesn't work, and tips from reputably "clean" people and went to work.  I hope someone else will be inspired by this and it was what they needed to read, because let me tell you something wonderful: I feel like a clean home has changed my life.

No joke.

The last little bits of my depression that were lurking about in the corners have been swept away with the clean sink and countertops. The shouting bursts at my children were scrubbed away with a toothbrush in my tub (thank you Becky Kelly!).  The freshly tucked in sheets and vacuumed carpets soothe my trouble soul. I am happy being home. I am happy being a mom. I am happy spending time with my kids. I am happy cooking and cleaning up! after meals. (the latter part has been non-existent except for in pre-labor).  Ty is gloriously happy and so are the kids. I love having people come over. I don't stress out when we have friends over.  The floors aren't crunchy or sticky anymore. It's completely different, and I'm so proud of myself.  A few tidbits to share in passing:

What didn't work that I kept trying (for YEARS)
-checking my email in the morning. (nothing was ever important, and all i ended up doing was facebook stalking or blogging)
-putting off cleaning until last minute for e v e r y t h i n g. It's true that I work well under pressure, but the aftermath was always scary.
-Only cleaning when it had to be done.
-Only doing laundry once the baskets were full and/or there were no clean clothes left.
-Only picking up and washing clothes when I  had to.
-Only changing the sheets when I was scared of beg bugs or sickness.
-Cleaning the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher once the sink was full.
-putting laundry from the dryer onto the couch or into a basket to fold"later"
-Leaving things on the counters to put away later.

Basically I had the Scarlet O'hara complex of cleaning:
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I could worry about it all tomorrow.

What I've Implemented over the last 3 weeks that IS working (consistently)
-Waking up before the kids, even if it's just 2 minutes (woops! still struggling a little here)
-folding laundry straight out of the dryer & putting it away.

-Keeping the computer off during the day. I'll check my email at lunchtime now, but I save all my blogging for night.
-Taking out the dishes and putting them away first thing in the morning.
-Start cleaning in the kitchen while the kids eat. I'm there, they can see me. We actually have better conversations while I'm cleaning than anything else. Go figure.
-Starting a load of laundry first thing in the morning too.
-Wiping down the kitchen counters, and bathroom counters every day.
-Vacuuming every room and straightening every room, every day. This may sound anal, but I couldn't believe after 3 weeks how easy it is. The first day it took me probably 3 hours to finish everything in the house. I'm close to an hour now! And phoebe just follows along vacuuming and singing with me as we travel room to room. 
-Always picking up, always. This may sound weird, but it's the truth. With four kids there is always something that could be wiped, swept, tucked, folded, thrown away, put back where it belongs. I no longer leave any room empty handed.
-2 loads of laundry a day (at least). We have a lot of kids, clothes and dirty rags that I use constantly.
-Getting everything done before I leave the house for errands. This last part is hard, I was caught off guard my first Saturday. All the kids were home, and we started out normal Saturday routine of cleaning and working on projects, but I still had the house to tidy up. Now I've learned that errand days (like to Costco and such) and Saturdays I have to get up earlier and clean before the kids are up. Then I only have to vacuum and straighten their rooms after breakfast. The older girls make their beds every day and clean up their room, but I've found that I love smoothing out their beds, arranging their stuffed animals and wiping down their drawers. I feel close to them, and I feel love towards them. 

I'm still learning, and there are still dirty areas around (like the insides of the couch for example). There are still some closets that need reorganizing and purging. But the clean fever is spreading and growing and I might even be getting a little OCD about it. I'm so excited, I've wanted cleaning OCD my entire married life!  Again, famous last words. But I want to give hope to the messy people, the creative ones, the artists, the readers, the bloggers. There is hope! If Annie Leavitt can keep a clean home for almost a month, anything is possible. I was surprised after the first week that I didn't see pigs flying around our house.

And so, for the benefit of all, I've exposed my weakness and my recent growth. And I'm fully aware that now I will struggle with this for awhile. But I still wanted to share, because it's been such a blessing for me. And now you understand my lack of blogging, I work on my feet so much more now during the day that I am pooped! And one other thing, I've never loved Sundays more. I don't have to do my regular routine and it's awesome to get a day off. 


Elliah A. Terry said...

Thanks for sharing. This is just the inspiration I needed to begin a new week. : )120

Tiffany said...

This is a great post Annie! And I don't think it sounds crazy at all that it has made you happier. I have always been a naturally clean/OCD person until my 3rd baby was born and that threw me for a loop! But I've finally got it back under control (with many of the same habits you listed) and it makes me so much happier. I think about the way my mom and grandma ran their households. They didn't spend as much idle time as so many of us housewives do today. They took their job as a homemaker seriously. That is my goal too. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips!

Annie Leavitt said...

I'm glad it was inspiring Elliah!

Tiffany, you were and still are one of the "clean moms" I try to emulate!

Allyson said...

This is exactly what I needed to read! I have been struggling to get my house clean lately. Like I do the laundry because if I don't then no one has anything to wear and I do the dishes because if I don't we won't have spoons or bowls for breakfast.
I read this last night and I decided I needed to wake up and try some of the things that have been working for you. And so far my day has been great! I feel like I have gotten so much more done! Thanks!!!

Unknown said...

Isn't it funny how God created everyone so different?! I'm the opposite!! If everything isn't in its place, I can't go to bed at night!! I have spent hours searching for missing toys because I can't rest until I know where it went and return it to where it belongs!!
I have to make myself not care about perfect cleanliness or I go crazy!!

My secret weapon for clean bathrooms? SOS pads!! AMAZING!! Takes off hard water and everything!!

Julie said...

I love this post in so many ways! Not only do I struggle with sugar (that's how I first discovered your blog), but I also struggle with housecleaning. Thank you for sharing your lists of what is working and what didn't.

angela michelle said...

Doesn't Fly Lady say something about making your home so that it welcomes you when you come home? Meaning that you come home to something pleasing and clean. I've gotten more and more regimented over the years--you need systems to keep on top of things with kids! I don't try to keep things tidy all the time, but I have certain times of the day where everything gets tidied up.

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