Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Determine When to Clean Your House

When I was a kid, my mom went back to school and took some classes at the local community college. While she was a student there, she wrote an article and submitted it to the school newspaper - The Richland Chronicle. When she turned it in, they told her not to get her hopes up because it might be several weeks before they would publish it. But it turns out that they loved it so much that they published it the very next week!

My mom has been going through some old papers and ran across a copy of the newspaper in which her article was published. So I thought I'd share it with y'all so that y'all could get a glimpse into the mind of the woman who raised me! It's no wonder I love writing!

So without further ado . . . enjoy this article from the November 7, 1983 edition of The Richland Chronicle!!

"Creative people are seldom good housekeepers." This is not as official as the Ten Commandments, but it should be. If you have ever felt guilty because your home isn't perfect; if you have ever thought you could never "dig out" or catch up, just relax and listen. I am going to tell you how to determine when things need to be done so that you can clean your bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom once a month whether they need it or not. It will enable you to change from being a nervous slob without aim to a relaxed slob with a definite goal.

The biggest mistake you can make is judging your home's cleanliness by the standards of other people. Start by setting your own standards and sticking to them. Cleanliness is a continuum. At one end of the spectrum is the cold, unnatural sterility of a museum. At the other end is being "shut down" by the health department. Somewhere in between should be your starting point.

Now we are ready to discuss the bedroom. First, you should purchase a rural flood gauge. They are used by the highway department to determine flood levels and are usually about 5 ft. high. After you install one in each bedroom, take some red paint and mark a warning zone so that when the debris reaches the "red zone" you will know you need to clean. If you have very young children, or at least very short children, you need to lower your red warning line accordingly! After all, you can explain to a teacher that your child is wearing slippers because you can't find her school shoes, but you can't take her school shoes up there and explain to the teacher that you can't find the occupant!

Some people cannot stand anything lying around on the floor. Other people would wallow in 3 ft. of clothes before taking action. Remember, you are to determine for yourself where you fit in between these extremes. Hint: Measure your shortest child's height and subtract 5 to 6 inches for breathing space. If somehow your warning mark gets covered up, there are other important signals that can act as a "back up system." If, after you tell your kids it is time for bed, you go in later to kiss them good night and they are asleep on top of a dresser they mistook for a bed - clean immediately. If their sweet little voices chime, "I love you, Mommy" and you kiss a pile of clothes good night - take action.

Now let's proceed to the living room. The biggest problem with any living room is table trash. Find a decorative way to mark your table lamps. (Maybe contrasting rickrack.) determine ahead of time that when the debris on the table rises to that level you will clean it. If you don't think you can remember to check the rickrack level, just watch the general lighting in the room. If it seems unusually dark, even though both lamps have 300 watt bulbs, check the rickrack! A two-foot-high pile of last week's magazines, newspapers, mail, Coke cans, coffee cups and stale hamburger buns will obstruct even the strongest light beams.

By now, all clothes that you have evacuated from the bedrooms should be on the living room floor waiting to be sorted. (If you didn't have any trouble finding the floor, you probably don't need to read this.) If, while sorting the clothes according to color, you throw a striped shirt onto a pile and it gets up and staggers, give it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and open the front door.

If you are not able to remember anything I've told you about how to determine when your living room needs cleaning, just remember the simple statement: If you have to fall off the floor to sit on the couch - you definitely need to clean!

Now to the kitchen. First, take a spatula and scrape all left-over food from the counter tops. If you haven't used it already this month, it is probably too late now. (Scientists say that leaving food out attracts and feeds roaches. A more reasonable theory would be that if you leave the same food out long enough, the roaches will die of food poisoning.) After you have finished your counter tops, you need to determine what foods need to be cleaned out of the refrigerator. Here are the rules: If it is furry - throw it away. It if is green - throw it away. (Better to accidentally throw away an innocent head of lettuce than to try and explain to doctors at the Emergency Room how your kids got hold of a bowl of left-over Thanksgiving dressing in the middle of July.) If it moves - throw it out immediately. Don't hold it up for scrutiny, or smell it or feel it. It is especially dangerous to taste it. After all, you are probably the one who cooked it in the first place, and if your cooking is as bad as your housekeeping, you could kill yourself!

The bathroom is the simplest. If your children are more frightened of suffocating in the clothes and debris on the bathroom floor than they are of deep water in the tub, it is time to clean. If the various organisms lurking in the bathroom have grown large enough to demand a toll upon admittance, don't clean - move out!!


Jill said...

I LOVED this post!!! You HAVE to do more of these Nora posts. This was hilarious. I love the part about falling off the floor to sit on the couch. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Great Stuff Nora! Your daughter is a true product of both her parents! Loved it! DS

Cathy said...

OH MY GOSH!!! I laughed so hard. I really think I am your sister.