Stage 1: Let’s Not Get Nominated for Hoarders
If you think I'm joking, you apparently missed the pictures of my kids' bedrooms in last week's post. The best time to do it is after you have tripped on some useless hunk of plastic and the twinge in your ankle is a reminder with every single step that you MUST declutter. Two weeks of a crying kindergartener who can't find her shoes puts you in the right frame of mind as well. Pull out ALL the stuff into one huge pile. Sort out as much as you can to the trash and give away piles. Next you have to skip ahead to stage two for a bit to wipe down shelves and dresser tops. Then put things back where they belong. Last, take what is left and throw it in the crap box referenced in my last post. I prefer to do most of this stage without help. My oldest daughter is an awesome organizer, but this is a rare child. Most kids will be a hindrance to this process. The most important part of this stage is to explain to your kids each day, or twice a day, or 18 billion times a day, that PLAYING IS NOT ALLOWED until spring cleaning is over. I let them watch too much TV and play on the computer too much during this time, but it helps tremendously.
Stage 2: Scrub-a-dub-dub Whole House in the Tub
Vacuum and shampoo every carpet, move every piece of furniture, deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen, clean the fridge. Younger kids love to help with this stage. I am excited to give them my new e-cloths this year because they clean so well without having to worry about the kids ingesting toxic sprays or wasting expensive sprays because they like to spray soo much. I also force older kids to begrudgingly join in. Alternately keeping them busy helping and giving them breaks outdoors is super important because it will be extremely tempting for them to play with the newly tidied up toy areas. Remember the PLAYING IS NOT ALLOWED rule is still in effect.
Stage 3: Extreme Makeovers Reveal-Worthy Touch Up
The .2 seconds you have been waiting for are at the end of this stage. Motherhood is often akin to running in a hamster wheel. You go, go, go,and never seem to get anywhere. Kids get more clothes dirty, get out more toys, make more messes, and need to eat AGAIN! This stage creates that amazing moment when you can attain an "I'm done!" high that we all yearn for. Go back through every room in the house for a third and fourth time. If your kids are like my kids, they will toss a mess into a room that has already been retouched, so you have to go back through and take care of those things. Now, if you just can't stand the thought of this only lasting .2 seconds, call grandma and see if the kids can spend the night with her. Now you have a day and .2 seconds to enjoy the fruits of you labor!
I know what you are thinking, "EVERYTHING? Get out everything?!? Everything 'done' at once? She is insane!" Hold on just a second because I do not get to every nook and cranny of my home every single year. During the first two stages, I pick my battles. I relegate things to my ten-year plan, which means I will get to it sometime in the next ten years, but not this year. It is only for closets, cupboards, and other storage space; not for open living space. Otherwise, stage three won't work. Currently on my ten year plan is the storage closet in my office and the storage in my sewing room. My kitchen cupboards have been on it awhile and I plan to tackle a few of them this year. I used to call this my 'when I’m done having babies plan.’ The first job on that plan was the big storage room overhaul to get rid of all the baby stuff and clothes I did not need anymore. It has been about a year and nine months since I did that. My just-turned-1-year-old sure looks nice in all her brand-new clothes! You see why I changed the name of the plan:)
So what is the point of the ten-year plan? It helps me not care about the things that are not getting done. Thinking about every single thing in the whole house that needs decluttered and reorganized is too daunting and then I just end up sitting at the computer. Yes, I am aware of the irony that I had to sit at the computer to tell you about this problem! The entire plan is designed to provide me with the greatest sense of accomplishment. I have zero motivation to follow through with plans that do not have a finish line. That is the reason the plans that have you tidy up for fifteen minutes a day don't work for me. I don't feel good about the house looking slightly better. It has to look awesome to make me feel awesome, otherwise it might as well be a giant disaster. It is usually a giant disaster, but there comes a point when it is unhealthy and depression-inducing to just let the mess pile up everywhere! And that is where So-So Spring Cleaning comes in. The brutal hard work is worth it no matter what, but there is just nothing better than to do a whole house touch-up at the end and have everything just right. Even if it last only .2 seconds.
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I am the mother of seven children ranging from teens to a toddler, living out in the middle of nowhere, USA. I aim to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out. I am Christian, but not the really nice kind that is good at it. I am also conservative, but I promise not to be in your face with political agendas very often. I like to infuse humor into my writing, so don't freak out if you are offended or appalled by what you read here. There is a very fine line between serious advice and sarcastic hyperbole.