Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Hour Experiment

I believe my failings as a housekeeping are well documented. However, the calender year 2009 was an improving one in this respect. I organized our linen closets and I made a lot of progress purging the main floor, purging the upstairs and even purging the basement. The latter is an unfinished project which I worked on even this past weekend.

But there is little virtue in this because it is mostly catching up on tidying projects neglected for years.

Last night Husband and I were again lamenting why we can't keep up with the house chores. Husband gallantly accepts much responsibility but because I work for actual money only half the work week, I accept that I should be doing more.

While my being home part of the week is in part to facilitate getting the kids to school, after school activities and play dates and an ongoing commitment to get Jackson to be able to spell competently by adulthood, I still have 6 hours on Monday and Friday sans kids.

Speaking in my own defence, some of these hours are taken up by my role as CEO: Chief Executive Organizer. It's a role I get some satisfaction from: keeping up on school notices, remembering when to sign up for swimming lessons, responding to birthday party invites and keeping the sacred calender up to date. Less enjoyably, on Fridays I also do the weekly grocery shopping and on a good week do some meal planning.

However, I cannot say that these tasks take 12 hours per week that must be done on Mondays and Fridays during school hours. And any housecleaning that I do accomplish is unfocused so I may pick up a few things from the kitchen table and collect up some socks from around the house and wipe one counter in the kitchen, I don't see or feel any progress. I constantly interrupt myself from what I'm doing to say, check for any new Facebook status updates so I feel as though I have not accomplished any goals and the house looks the same or worse as it did when I got up. Plus I spend too much time at the computer.

So I challenged myself this morning to spend two hours this morning on house chores. Solid. In one go. Without checking my email. Or making a Scrabble move on Facebook. It's an iron woman event of housekeeping.

I came home from dropping the kids off at school and I still hadn't had breakfast as out of laziness I stayed in bed 10 minutes longer rather than get up and make a cup of coffee. So I made my coffee and I long ago learned (but recently have been trying to forget) that the time it takes to brew my mug of coffee is almost exactly the amount of time it takes to empty the dishwasher. So I emptied it.

I gave myself 40 minutes to enjoy my coffee and to do whatever I want on the computer. But they must be for my enjoyment and I can't google for lamps for the living room or search for any kid activities. After 25 minutes I had literally run out of things to do. I was about to order the Sunday school materials online but that is a job not for my enjoyment so I deferred it. I decided to do another of my personal goals, and spent about 10 minutes praying for 3 specific things I had chosen earlier.

I then put the timer on the oven clock for 2 hours and got to work. I spent 12 minutes getting project laundry underway. While most of the dirty laundry has been languishing for a week in the laundry room, I sorted and started the first load. But now, where do I start? Every room in the house needs attention.

I started in the family room which was not in bad shape. Husband and I have been trying to pick up the odd thing occasionally and it's paid off as there is less laundry litter on the floor. I organized the ottoman tray which has become a catch all. I took the time to go through Jackson's Indiana Jones playing cards and vexingly discover the 3 of hearts is missing. I dusted, I vacuumed and even looked under furniture where I discovered more socks, cellophane wrappers and the missing 3 of hearts. I put away a few CDs and resisted the very strong urge to fix a problem in the alphabetical sorting of our CDs. I did not resist the urge to put the Simon and Garfunkel CDs under S instead of G. Don't ask me how that escaped my attention for so long.

As I moved on to the adjacent kitchen I thought it was too bad I spent so much time in the family room since it wasn't in bad shape. I bet I spent an hour there. Actually, it was 22 minutes and that included my getting side tracked by tidying up stuff in the hallway.

The kitchen too was not in horrendous shape. Husband did a good job on the counter clutter and vacuumed the floors over the weekend. The kitchen table AS ALWAYS has a wide array of stuff which I repatriated. I did my list of weekly kitchen cleaning tasks (then never gets done weekly) like cleaning the microwave, giving a good wipe to the stove, de-greasing the hood, cleaning the sink well and a spot cleaning the white cupboards. This was under an hour of work Just enough time to do a bathroom.

After I rebooted the laundry I moved to the powder room and cleaned all surfaces, and spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning toothpaste off the sink and counter. I had 12 minutes left and moved the kids' bathroom and finished it almost exactly when the timer went off marking 2 hours.

Who would have thunk it? I still have rooms that need attention including another two bathrooms, but I can hold my head high that by 11:20 on a Monday, I have rooms that look picked up and tidy and even clean. I know it won't last as the kids will spew their clutter I hope it lasts at least long enough for Husband to witness it.

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