Emerging from the Cleaning Vortex

I've been silent here for the past couple of weeks. But I've not been idle - not by a long shot! In fact, the main reason I've not posted recently is that I've been so occupied with other endeavors that I haven't had much discretionary time for anything. And, when I have found a bit of free time, I've been too tired to focus on writing - even though I had at least a dozen topics swimming around in my head.

So...what's been filling all that time?

Well, I found myself unexpectedly engrossed - beginning on Christmas Day - in what became a major house "renovation" project. Not reno in the sense of tearing down walls and installing new appliances a la my two favorite TV shows, Love It or List It and Property Brothers. But I feel as if I've done just about everything short of that.

I hadn't planned on it. But, when I learned on Christmas that I'd be getting a new computer to help me in my new role as Communications Coordinator for my husband's ministry, MissionGuides, inspiration struck. The computer didn't arrive until December 26, but the promise of its coming motivated me to begin a much-needed reorganization of my little home office, starting with making the behemoth-sized desk a more manageable size and rearranging all the furniture. My husband was willing to help on Christmas Day - the only day that week he didn't have to go to work - so I dove headlong into the project I'd pondered for at least all of 2012, happily de-junking and cleaning, and ended up more pleased with the results by the end of the day on the 26th than I'd ever imagined I would be.
We'd also promised our daughters months ago that we'd make The Great Bedroom Switch the week between Christmas and New Year's, trading rooms with them to give them more space. They'd spent the week before Christmas cleaning and de-junking their old room, so we couldn't very well renege even if we'd wanted to. And we decided to make the move when my husband came home from work on the 26th, pushing dressers and hauling bed frames and mattresses between the two upstairs bedrooms.

After all the furniture lugging, I was on a roll, and I decided I'd deep clean and reorganize my entire house - basement excepted for now - by the end of the year. So, with the girls set to work arranging their new room (more de-junking, filling new bins and totes, etc.), I got going on everything else, working all day long over the next few days to get rid of - whether by throwing away or preparing to donate - everything except what I "use all the time and what I love."
And, in the process, I dusted and wiped and scrubbed, with views of each new clean closet, cupboard, and room motivating me to move on to the next.
I took a break on the 30th to host my brother and his family for a belated Christmas celebration, and by that time I'd tackled everything except the kitchen. My energy waned a bit after my day off, but I reminded myself that I really could say the entire task would be done if I could only plow through one more day. So I dove in again, cleaning out every cupboard, scrubbing the oven and refrigerator - inside, outside, under, and behind - and even hosing down the icky kitchen garbage can. And I finally finished around 8:00, just when we'd planned to begin a New Year's Eve family movie night/living room campout. Of course, I fell asleep long before midnight, but I slept very well knowing that I'd wake up to an entirely "new" house in 2013.
In the week since then, I've continued to clean and organize in other ways, starting with the computer that launched the whole project. My husband helped me transfer everything from both of my old, increasingly-obsolete machines onto the new one, and then I took time to arrange many of the preferences and files, including my address book. In fact, I used the opportunity to update our old "analog" address book, transferring everything onto the computer. And then I set up my 2013 computer calendar.

Lest you think I'm some sort of super woman, think again. In fact, I freely admit to being anything but a "Susie Homemaker." I am very pleased with how much I accomplished over the past couple weeks - it really was time well spent - but, despite the fact that I've always tried to keep a "decent" home, this sort of concerted, extensive cleaning effort has been rare for me. If you could see all the windows throughout the house that haven't been thoroughly washed - inside and out - in at least five years or if I'd taken a picture of my filthy, grimy oven before I cleaned it for the first time in the six years we've owned it, you'd believe me.

So I know it's going to be a struggle for me to keep up any semblance of order and cleanliness despite how much I love the results of my work; after all, in addition to my preference for writing and social networking over cleaning, there's the fact that four people live here - three us nearly 24/7/365 - and that at least two others (a toddler and a baby!) spend significant amounts of time here as well. But I've decided I'm going to try - if for no other reason than that I might avoid the need for another extensive cleaning project for several more years. So part of what I did in setting up my 2013 calendar was to create a weekly cleaning schedule - honestly, the first time in all my adult life that I've ever initiated such a specific plan. But, by keeping up with a simple, personalized system that seems like it'll work for me, I hope to keep our ever-multiplying "stuff" in check and to prevent future accidental "science projects" from growing in our fridge.

I still have some rather big projects on the docket - catching up with my scrapbooking, with which I am woefully behind; creating a home learning portfolio for our last year and a half of activity; re-vamping my menu planning system, to name just the few most pressing - and I wonder when any of that will get done in between everything else. But if there's one thing I learned during my time in the "cleaning vortex" these past couple of weeks it's that diligent progress as I'm able eventually yields wonderful results.

I also learned that I like accomplishing concrete tasks a whole lot more than I enjoy wiling away my afternoon and evening  hours in front of TV punditry. Of course, I need time to relax as well; I know that, and getting back to regular blogging - as well as allowing myself to occasionally crash in front of the TV - will help me in that regard. But my general plan going forward is to be purposeful about tackling my daily household responsibilities and various personal projects as time allows in between my main roles as mom and homeschool teacher, instead of just "wishing" it would all be done already.

After all, now that I've actually tamed my disgusting kitchen appliances - of which I really should have snapped before-and-after photos - anything is possible!


Conny said...

YEH!!! That is actually very inspiring for me becuz I am slowly working on the same thing. We are (hopefully) moving soon so that motivates me even more.

Q said...

What a fabulous start to the year! :) Routine, routine, routine will keep it looking lovely. Don't give up, you'll find what works for you!

Tina Hollenbeck said...

You're right, Q! And the very best thing I did with my maintenance cleaning schedule is to come up with my own rather than adopt someone else's (posted via Pinterest - ugh - or wherever). I looked at what needs to be done each week and looked at my schedule and plunked the chores in where they fit. More individualization - just like home learning! :^)

Stephanie said...

Bravo!!! The photos look fab :) You did a great job!

Shelly said...

I'm a huge fan of deep cleaning once or twice a year. It makes it so much easier to keep up with the daily/weekly chores throughout the rest of the year. My house is almost always clean and it just take a few minutes each day!

Pamela @ TraditionalFNH said...

Thank You Tina for sharing your link with me over on Laurie Neverman's Fb page.
I'm enjoying what I am reading so far and always appreciate finding another Believer's blog and one who home schools. We home schooled our 6 K-12 and now are empty nesters and grandparents.
Take care and have a blessed day.
In Christ, Pamela Nelson

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