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January 07, 2010


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Funny how we cahnge from our mothers. Mine was quite messy. I began life on my own as a total neat freak...about ten years or so, I got over it. It was just kind of an over night thing.(Actually, I started working from home, and it became an endless battle!) What a stress reduction to not care to have things perfect anymore!

Our house was a wreck when I was growing up. Both of my parents worked long hours at blue collar jobs and there were four of us kids - five when my step-brother was with us for one of his extended stays.

My house-keeping improved greatly when I married and had children of my own, then my ex took over the job when I went to work and he stayed home with the kids. He was a strange housekeeper - scrubbing floors and toilets and dusting the blinds didn't get done unless I did them, but his "things" were arranged and cared for endlessly (he is a "collector", you know).

Neatness took a back seat when I became a single parent with three kids, but it jumped right back into the foreground when Beloved and I began to cohabitate; his ex-wife was like your mother - on the worst day of the year, a photographer from Home and Garden could have waltzed into their place and done a photo shoot.

These many years later, we've reached a point where the house is more less livable - it's rarely messy (although it tends to get cluttered in the areas we occupy most), and it gets vacuumed and dusted on a more or less regular basis, but it's not the sparkling showpiece his ex's house was and is. He says he prefers our home, which you can tell is definitely "lived in" and I'm taking him at his word.

I come from a long line of house non-keepers. My grandmother hated housekeeping, but she also was a widow at an early age and started running her own business to care for her children. Mom also worked long hours and didn't have the example of good housekeeping to follow. Thus--me. That said, I do NOT like a cluttery, dirty house. Finally, I went on line to find something to help. And found Flylady. Oooh! She's wonderful! Every day I get an email. Now I know exactly what to do every day, every week has a specific room to pay extra attention to, and guess what? No spring cleaning! Everything is done gradually through the year.

Love. It.

But still, please let me know if you will be paying a call. Chances are, I'll still race around in a flurry for a few minutes to get the stuff off the floor. I'm not quite where I want to be. Yet. :)

Our house growing up was never spotless (how could it be with 3 active kids in the house)but it wasn't dirty either. My house is the same way. I'd like to call it lived in.

I don't really do a spring cleaning. I take a room a day to clean. That way every room gets cleaned at least once a week. I guess the closest we come to spring cleaning is trading out the summer and winter clothes.

I clean once a week. That means wash the sheets, clean the bathroom, wash the kitchen and bathroom floors, vacuum, dust. I don't do the living room, dining roo, and guest room b/c they're closed off - too expensive to heat. If we're having company, then yeah. I clean those rooms. I don't touch my husband's office. No! Don't come in here! Don't touch my stuff!

But it's not too hard to keep a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom clean for two people and two indoor, lightly-shedding cats. I guess I can't complain. Much. If it gets too bad, I just take off my glasses and everything looks perfect.

My friend from Belgium has by far and away the best answer. Four hours once a week she pays a woman to come in and help.

You are so funny and such a good writer. Sharp and vivid. I can picture it and feel the torture as you tried every article of clothing!

And you do not want to know how frequently the sheets in 'my' house are changed!

Wait, are we sisters and I didn't realize it? My Mom had a weekly rotation. Each day she cleaned a different room. Once a month she washed walls and polished silver.

Were you recruited to help at a small age? I can remember being handed a dust cloth when I was 4 or 5 and being told to dust the legs of the dining room chairs...

Ok. So my mom might be as anal as your mother was. Fortunately for me, my dad, while being a fantastic engineer is about the most unorganized man at home. So he balances her out. That is not to say however, that we didn't have to try on every single article of clothing that we owned as children in the exact same circumstances as you. We put the winter stuff in storage, go the summer stuff out. And vice versa with the change of seasons. I don't worry about the change of season- everything is out all the time; after all I'm in South Dakota where there is 6 months of cold air- but on a 40 degree day you want a t-shirt. After it's been in the teens for a few weeks, 40 feels great! speaking of which it's as warm as it's going to be today- it's a negative 13 outside.

I do like a clean house, and thankfully Zach helps me clean. But I'm not crazy anal about it- or maybe I am. I like everything to be really neat before we get the kids on the weekend and if I had enough storage space there'd be no clutter. :-)

It's funny how notions have changed. To my grandmothers, "Spring Cleaning" was once a year and it meant something quite specific: it was when you did all the really sucky deep-cleaning jobs that you could only bear to do once a year, all at the same time. Like wash out fireplaces, beat all of the rugs in the house, excavate the stove, etc. Everything was harder then because they didn't have the tools we have now. I've always wondered if that yearly ritual didn't somehow imbed itself in the family X chromosome because I always want to clean the hell out of my house come May or so...

I am a notorious clean freak. I like for the house to look lived in to an extent, but clutter? NO! I would rather see the counters cleared and cleaned and will run for the Clorox when John leaves stains from spilled coffee or breakfast efforts. I am just that way. John is the exact opposite. He'll do the dishes when there's no more clean dishes. He'll do laundry when the hamper is full to leaning. So, because of him, our house maintains a lived in, kind of cluttered, but heaven forbid there are no spots on our counters clean. You're linked!

I remember my father waxing the hardwood floors with a buffer he rented from the hardware store. We didn't change out the drapes but I remember switching the wool blankets for cotton blankets. My mother opened all the windows and called it "airing out the house." She also used to IRON the bedsheets. Ugh!

I only miss the changing of the seasons when I think of the changing colors of the plants and trees. Other than that, the two seasons of FL (A/C and no A/C) suit me just fine.

I can't believe your father took off work to help! Now THAT is amazing. My mother was quite the OCD cleaner. Once I came home to find her scrubbing the curb because the street cleaners didn't do a good enough job!

Maybe it is something that skips a generation, at least for me. Both my grandmothers were neat freaks, but my mothers (yes, I said mothers (birth and step)) weren't. Just the occassional thought of the house I grew up in, makes me want to get busy cleaning, even though my house is clean. I have become my grandmother!

Oh Maureen, gardens are so much more rewarding. That said, if I lived near you, I'd come over. We could do it together. First your house, then mine. That's what my best friend who moved to Belgium and I would do with our pesky sideyards. Actually, she just helped me:O.

Heh. I'm kind of neat-freak. So much so that I think I drooled a little as you described your parents' Spring Cleaning rituals. Sigh. I'm glad it wasn't passed on to you. At least not with the same rigorous zeal. Maybe Noah will be spared. ;)


Wow... your mom's spring cleaning sounds down right painful to me!

I always think I should do seasonal stuff like this (although I larff at the idea of polishing the furniture.... bwaaahahahaaaaa) but never get around to it. My place is fairly tidy as a rule but if you look under the couch/bed (please don't! hehe) you'll probably find dust buffalos that have been growing since I moved in. I have a herd I guess! ;o)

~Penny, the buffalo farmer

I think there's a book to be written on evolving standards of cleanliness and what those say about larger societal shifts. (Oh, who am I kidding? I'm sure that book already exists.) Before I had children, I was much more obsessive about maintaining order, but now I am lucky if we get through a day without anything getting broken.

My house is trashed.
No, it's neat(ish) and it's definitely clean but I don't keep up with it obsessively. Lived in is a good way to put it. On Sunday afternoons I do a big once over (it's a teeny house), and the kitchen has to be cleaned up every night before I go to bed. But spring cleaning? Nope. Other half is far far neater than I.
My mother handed us dust rags in Kindergarten. Her mother had a schedule of household chores for each day of the week. Maybe it is generational too...

I forgot to mention that I do torture my boys with trying on all their clothes before we go back-to-school shopping.

Can you believe I have to do Spring Cleaning twice a week? I cannot BELIEVE how quickly my neat little house turns into a tornadic induced mess of clothes (clean and not clean), dishes, shoes, our yard (that still belongs outside), etc. by Wednesday. It's rediculous. Each week, my vows to keep things neat and clean on a daily basis fail after Tuesday. I wasn't dumb enough to make any resolutions around it this year either.

I try to do at least one spring cleaning and one fall cleaning a year, which includes blinds and ceiling fans and windows. I have to change out my clothes seasonally as a matter of space and access. But the rest of the time? I'm pretty darn casual. But sensible. Clean enough, in other words. I keep telling myself that if I didn't work full time my house would sparkle all the time. But I know the truth! It's just not a priority. There are better things to do than all that cleaning. I agree -- the reward is short-lived. But it does feel good when the house smells like lemon furniture polish!'ve got quite a strong connection between cleaning and your childhood, huh?

Did your parents let you rip the place apart? Seriously...were you allowed to be kids? Run a little...smudge the glass a little? Or, was the house kinda like a museum?

My mom kept the house tidy. I keep the house...tidy-like. It depends on what my week's been like. And how bad my memory is of when the last time was that I'd cleaned...yesterday? Two weeks ago??

I do laundry daily...does that count? (Do not come over here and check up on me.)

it's never really winter here so Spring cleaning has a different meaning in these parts. I never do it, as I'm doing it all year round b/c I hate clutter

I grew up in a house like that. My mother, who could not do the work but who could supervise, was a fanatic about summer/winter exchanges. I'm not. It was my job to polish the silver every week which I hated more than anything. I now have all that silver and polish it only when it gets used every third or fourth time. Which means about every five years. I do lower the lights however. Funny thing is my house isn't a mess, I do dust regularly but only because I have forced air heat which stirs up all the dog and cat hair. I vacuum too. The rest gets done if I have a party or need to move.

My mother is cleaner and more organized than I am. She scrubs the walls and baseboards twice a year; sheets laundered on a regular basis; papers filed right away. But in my early childhood, she demanded my father's help with the famous family story, "I can raise your kids or keep the house clean; you pick." At first I had my own version of clean, cluttered but everything in its place. As I grow older and am surrounded by the messes of all the boys in the household, I find I need SOME place clean, SOME place organized. I'm afraid I'm turning into my mother.

You have seasonal bedding? I guess ... I first would need to have seasons?

Wait. We're supposed to change curtains? I don't think I have ever washed mine, and I have had them easily 5 years. I better go get busy.

Maureen! What a discussion you have spurred! I want to read every single one of these comments, but right now I don't have time. I was thinking of posting almost the exact same post this week, myself! How odd is that? My mother and your mother must have been twins, separated at birth! My mother was, and still is, the Queen of Clean. And like you, I found it disturbing. I purposely let things go, because you know what? There are some things, no, wait. Almost everything is more important than having a perfectly clean house!

It is exhausting to think about, though I always become fatigued by the thought of unending cleaning, by bathrooms that never stay shiny or carpets that always need vaccuming. However, there is one thing I have never done, except for touch-ups here and there: Wash walls. A long time ago, I worked in an office with a woman who considered spring cleaning a rite of passage. She once told me over lunch how she would wash every wall in the house from floor to ceiling. I sat there with my mouth open, gobsmacked by the sheer notion of that much work. From time to time I still wonder, though: Are you SUPPOSED to wash walls?

I can't even imagine taking time off of work to polish the furniture! We're slobs around here. Actually, I'm a slob and my husband has learned to accept my mess. We're not "filthy" but cleaning takes a back seat to playing with the kids. Maybe someday we'll clean.

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