Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Malaise

Make no mistake ladies, my feeling two steps behind isn't going to get you off the hook this morning, nor will I be exempted from my duties. It's a Monday, and while I have heard that some thoughtful husbands cleaned up after dinner, I'm sure there are plenty of chores giving you the evil eye this morning.

I hope everyone rested yesterday. Several people asked me if I followed my own orders, and my answer to that is yes, and I took it to the extreme. I felt like my insides had been scraped out like a Jack-o-Lantern, and nodded off all through Mothers Day brunch, and afterward, while grocery shopping with Todd, I had to excuse myself to sleep in the car. Upon returning home, I passed out on the couch, and basically my body was cement the entire day.

Thankfully, 55 non-sequential minutes of sleep was enough to reboot me, so I wanted to post today's plan in time to be seen by any eager mamas or Jacobs who feel up to the challenge.


1. Drink your coffee/tea first thing, no guilt! You'll need that boost. But mamas, please don't neglect to eat something too, lest you crash like flight 1549 into the Hudson around 3:00. (I can make this blithe reference because it's funny and because everyone on board survived that crash.)

2. Take a mindful stroll through your house, starting at one end and going to the other. Grab a moist dishcloth first. You needn't bother with side rooms, bedrooms, etc., unless you want to. I'd like you to move slowly but deliberately, opening your eyes to the things that are amiss. This could be towels on the floor, hanging photographs that are dusty and/or askew, cereal bowls on the coffee table, junk mail, a smudgy wall or window, a stain on the linoleum, you get it. Set your watch/phone/timer for five minutes and see what you can achieve in a slow stroll across your house. Five minutes ladies, I've pushed a baby out in that time, you can certainly pick up some laundry off the floor. :)

3. Those of you who have kids old enough to boss around, instruct them to pick up everything that they do not want thrown away in, you guessed it, five minutes. These things should be put in their bedrooms with some sort of purpose, rather than just thrown in haphazardly. Every kid is a little different but teaching them the correlation between tossing shoes/coats onto the living room floor and having to pick them is a habit whose benefits you will happily reap later, once it becomes habit. (FYI: Putting a shoe rack by the door, as well as a coat rack [or step stool in the hall closet] and drilling into your kids to put their things away will make a huge difference in the clutter that assaults your eyes daily.)

4. Get a load of laundry started, pile all clean clothes onto whichever bed or couch you prefer to sit on to fold later. Once you hear the hum of that washer, head to your kitchen, take a deep breath, and do the following (don't forget music):
a) Scan your kitchen and dispose of every scrap of garbage/recycling you see.
b) Toss all food scraps, whether into the compost or (gasp!) the garbage.
c) There should only be dishes remaining, so move them all to the sink.
d) If the dishwasher is full, have a child unload it, or curse a lot and do it.
e) Start some warm water and load, starting with cups, ending with silverware.
f) Run your dishwasher and arrange your remaining dishes in a neat stack on the left side of the sink, preferable soaking in soapy water, and be sure to soak all pans in scalding suds. This will cut the fear factor in half later. Scrub right side.
g) Use the wipe(s) of your choice to scour all kitchen counters, making sure to get under coffee makers, canisters, toasters, etc. Do not be scared of the stove top. Get out a Brilo pad and see what you can do. Personally, I don't cook, specifically to avoid undue messes, but I know stove tops are scary. Perhaps Jacob will pipe up with a helpful hint.
h) You should be feeling pretty good, taking it step by step, and all you have left to do is sweep, possibly Swiffer, the floor.

I'm guessing this took, at most, 30 minutes, and now your kitchen is clean and you need only watch for that pile of dishes that sneaks up on you throughout the day. As I've said, wash 'em four at a time.

i) It's probably time to rotate laundry now, so do that, and then do five things in your entry room that you'd do if you were suddenly expecting guests.

That's it. Find a time later to fold that laundry, and you've made a major dent in your week. Spot check that kitchen, don't let those dishes pile up, load them up as you cook lunch and dinner. Ladies, I swear to you it only takes seconds longer to clean as you go, as opposed to hours or days longer to slay the dragon that is your entire house later.

I'd like to issue a few personal challenges to some close friends:

Sam--If you have time, I'm challenging you to set your timer for five minutes and clean your computer desk. Set your brain to determining in an instant whether something is essential or non-essential, and place it accordingly. Then wipe it all down, empty the waste basket, toss the garbage. And no re-thinking what gets pitched. Once it's in the garbage, it's dead to you. :)

Gail--If you have time to read with company there, I want you to limit yourself to three tasks each day they're there. You worked your ass off preparing to have them, and I want you to enjoy your visit. I know you must cook, but aside from that, three tasks, on your honour. (And yes, adhering to this command makes you eligible for the Starbucks drawing.)

Megan--Breathe. Try to maximize the precious few moments wherein Ivy allows you to stand up, and get one box unpacked and/or one item placed/hung/tossed/whetever. If you can, fold some laundry. Maybe keep those dishes to a dull roar, extra hugs to you for having no dishwasher. Let me know when you want my help.

Jacob--Yes, Moxie even has a trick up her sleeve for you my dear. Your job is to venture into those unknown regions of your pantry and do five things that will make your cooking easier, soothe your eyes, create space, whatever. Five things, and straightening a box of cous cous a millimeter doesn't cut it brother.

Pamela--I know your house is in a (perpetual) state of flux, but I want you to go through your house, starting in your office and bedroom, up the stairs, into the kitchen, living room, and the down the hallway and into the bathroom and whichever bedrooms in which you have permission to enter. I want you to take two garbage bags with you. One is for garbage, one is for give away or the garage sale we're having this summer. Don't think, just go. If you haven't touched something in three months, it's outta there. Okay? This will take you ten minutes. Do it.

Bethany--I've not been in your house, but I have a challenge for you too. I want you to cull five toys from Tavy's collection and either throw them away if they're broken, or set them aside for a swap. No excuses. She's already drawing, she doesn't need as many toys as she has. Now, get rid of five garments that are swap-bound or too stained to be of use. No, these are not play clothes, these are garbage. Five and five in five. Go!

The rest of you, whose homes I don't know, feel free to adopt any of these challenges as your own. And don't forget to post your achievements, I want to know if these steps are reasonable, and if they're helping. Send pictures if you want.

What I did today before sitting down:

Made the beds
Started laundry
Finished loading the dishwasher, started it, and scrubbed the sink.
Wiped the counters
Folded throw blankets
Ate, made tea
Read and answered 20 emails
Tried to inspire my Moxiecleaners

Onto the real work (which adds up fast when you take one day off!)

Get going ladies, and tell us how it went.


  1. Stove top cleaning is the bane of my existence. Seriously. Every day that I am forced to dismantle and scrub the stove is one day closer to my jumping off the nearest bridge, and ending it all. And while I obviously, clearly, consistently fall short of "clean" I do my best to minimize the stove top filth. (this is one of my battles, and sometimes I simply chose not to fight it) In NM if there was ever a time where one could leave a finger print on the surface of the stove top (which, be assured, was tested several times a day) I would be forced to dismantle it, scrub it down, and soak and scrub the burner pans etc (read: every other day, for a year...Jacob-rella!!!!!!) My grandparents' house is hands down the cleanest, albeit cluttered and hideously decorated, house I have ever been in, and while my time in NM was by far the worst of my life, being put in charge of single handedly maintaining that perfect cleanliness among other things, I did learn a lot about cleaning and caring for any and all household items. But I digress (I'll save it for my therapist). My few tips for stove top care are these.: First and foremost, a stove top spill is one hundred thousand percent easier to clan up while the stove is still hot, use a sponge to wipe up spills as they happen, or just after your entire meal prep is done, this will save you from/postpone the ever dreaded full stove dismantle and scrub. When that day inevitably comes, however, bring a large pot or roasting pan full of water to a boil, add 1/2 cup of dishwasher detergent and a splash of regular dish washing soap, add your burner pans to this mixer and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow them to soak in the hot water for 30 minutes or more, then take them out and scrub them in the sink by hand. For seriously caked/baked on stains on your ceramic stove top, left behind after scrubbing with soap and water, I use oven cleaner. This also works with burner pans, as a second method of cleaning if boiling them does not work to your satisfaction. Spray on the no scrub oven clear and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing. (Wear gloves, as it is harsh and will seriously dry out your skin). After all of this, to maintain its perfect NM (free from even the slightest oily residue) no finger print perfection, scrub daily (or as often as possible) with a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.

  2. DONE. Woohoo.
    PS I took on Bethany's Challenge and now have an extra bag for swap filled with couple more books, pop-lock toys, tech deck ramps, little random whale, and threw away a few other toys not even worthy of swap.

  3. Jacob--You get extra credit for saying "one hundred thousand percent." You know I live for clever exaggeration. Also, I know you're doing your pantry right now, so your name just went into the lottery.

    Karinda--OMG seriously? I'm still in my robe! Damn! Plus you're pregnant? Your name is going in twice.

    You guys are awesome!!! See how good it feels?

  4. Can I just say that you and Jacob are an awesome duo. I enjoy his comments almost as much I enjoy your witty posts.

    This morning instead of plunking myself in front of the computer I:
    1)unloaded and loaded the dishwasher (I'm ashamed to admit that dishes were above the sink. AGAIN.)
    2) Did a load of laundry
    3) Did the swipe and pick-up challenge
    4) swept the bathroom
    5) made coffee, and cleaned up breakfast
    6) prepared and hosted 6 toddlers for a marker and coloring party.

    Yesterday, I dusted and mopped and tried to work on your and Jacob's motto of fixing what annoys me the most first.

    Now, off to try to get some paid work done during nap time. Just being reminded to do SOMETHING is helping so much.

    Here's my trouble spots: I own too much stuff. I seriously want to take a blowtorch to 80% of my possessions. Surfaces collect papers and random items like magnets. I forget to dust, vaccum, and mop. I neglect to put stuff back whence it came. Sigh.

    I'm going to do your personal challenge after naptime.

  5. today i: made the bed; unloaded the dishwasher; cleaned a toilet. is that my 3? <3

  6. Wavy... I totally agree about all surfaces collecting papers and random items. My son is a Lego freak and there are pieces to every something somewhere!!! Aaaahhhh!!

    I never dust and think about mopping often but never do. I wanted a steam mop for a really long time but the reviews are so mixed I'm not sure what to do.

  7. It might take me 6 months to actually get the house clean, but I'm working on it. Today I painted the bathroom and dug out a crapload of invasive Jack in the pulpits (NEVER plant these), then planted new pretty things. Then I moved onto the inside stuff. Did 10 minutes of moving through the house with a damp rag and picking things up- 5 just wouldn't cut it here. Cleaned the kitchen- including removing all stove knobs and getting the nasties off of them and scrubbing the tiny scratches in the sink that always look dingy (why did I get white again?). Laundry is cycling and I'm taking a break right now.

  8. Just found your blog through pamela, and I'm loving it! I read all your posts, but after seeing how much good stuff is in the comments, I'll have to go back and read all of those, too. I have nothing but time right now--I am attached to the bed via my sleep-nursing 2 year-old. :) I also have a 3 year old and a 7 year old, and a deep desire to have a clean and organized house (which is never satisfied these days with all of the small tornadoes whipping around me constantly). I do love Flylady, but I think it's because I'm able to take what works for me and leave the rest, but I'm SO looking forward to jumping in here. :)

    My biggest challenge is that I can have every intention in the world of doing x,y, & z, but if my little guys won't stop strangling & biting each other for longer than 10 seconds (which is usually the case) I can't do a damn thing. I know there is no secret to this and that it will be easier to do the chores I want to do, the older and less impulsive they get... I think it's just about maintaining my motivation and perservering through the next 3 (being optimistic here!!) years.

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is: THANK YOU!!! :) I look forward to tryig out your suggestions and completing your challenges.

  9. I took your "5 things" challenge for me today to the next level, and just went ahead and emptied the entire pantry, then cleaned, reorganized, and restocked the whole thing, from top to bottom. (pats self on back)

    I was so proud of myself that I posted some (shameful) before and after pictures on my own blog (

    Thanks for the challenge, it was just the kick in the butt I needed to stop complaining and finally get off my ass and do something about it.

  10. All the dishes are done and put away.
    Unpacked 1 bag and 1 box.
    Washed and dried 2 loads of laundry and figured out why the washer was making that noise (it was a penny stuck in the seal).
    Only folded the sheets and towels though.
    Vacuumed one room and need to do another.
    Cooked and ate 3 meals.
    Changed innumerable poopy diapers (her 4th and 5th teeth in a week broke through today).
    And dealt with overly tired big kids that stayed up way too late last night but still woke up dark o'clock this morning.

    I wish I could have done more but I can honestly say I did all I could today.

  11. Ah, hell. I said I was in, didn't I?

    Well, I dragged my butt, and my sore throat, out of bed too damn early, drank some coffee, woke the kids and got one in the shower, encouraged them to feed themselves breakfast, crushed & mixed meds, made a kefir supplement smoothie (thank god she doesn't have to taste it!), administered the meds and smoothie while still offering encouragement (nice way of saying "not-quite-yelling") to kids to get breakfast & clean clothes.

    And then we were out the door until almost 4.

    So... at that point I:

    1. had a cup of tea
    2. took that stroll and felt like putting the entire house in the trash. Instead I moved some medical supplies out to a more reasonable place to live in the garage (took more than five min hefting those boxes) and cleared off one end of my desk. {Oh, and for the "I've pushed a baby out in that time" comment, I should make you suffer through my birth story again.}
    3.Then I reminded the kids that their DS' were on the short list if their chores weren't done, so they hopped up to help. V did dishes. C helped me move the laundry. They didn't have many toys to pick up, amazingly.
    4. While C collected laundry, I was rotating it. I then joined V in the kitchen. We don't have a dishwasher, unless you count V. In that case, the dishwasher was already fully engaged. I set to work on the counters & stove top. Um. In whose world was that supposed to only take 30 min? Not mine unfortunately. But C helped by sweeping, and V helped finish the counters.

    And then it was time to cook dinner. So, GDI, my kitchen is a mess again.

    Then you switched to letters, so:

    i) I rotated the laundry once during dinner prep, which btw, was spaghetti and homemade sauce with lots of mushrooms, miso, garlic, onion, spices. Oh, and some asparagus. The best part was when the kids licked their plates clean.

    Oh, this isn't my blog, is it?

    Moving on:

    The 5 things in the entry room... um... I had the kids close the curtains and pick up their toys in there. Does that count. No.

    Personal challenge, cleaning off my desk. Shit. I started. But it's pushing 9 now and I think I'm just going to have to say I'll try again tomorrow. I may earn a slip in that glass bowl someday. May being the operative word there.

  12. Okay. An hour later, and the kitchen is back in order. Did I mention we don't have a dishwasher?

    Now to do nighttime meds & then bedtime with the kids.

    I don't think I'll be pulling off that 5 minute straighten thing on the way to bed tonight. I'll get sucked into the clutter vortex. It would take hours to break loose.

    Oh... did you want long, ridiculous comments here? Or should I just be posting, "Yup. Did it," or not.

    I won't be offended if you tell me to keep my thoughts to myself. :)

  13. First of all, please note that not all comments are coming to my email, no matter how many times I set it. Ugh. So I'll check here as often as I can, but forgive late responses, it's not for a lack of cleaning!

    Bethany: Damn girl, all that plus six toddlers? Your name just went right in. I have some ideas about your problem areas, I'll tell you about them when I come over.

    Gail: Of course that counts, especially when you have a house full of company! Putting your name in now. <3

    Jennifer: I saw what you posted on fb and entered you. As for the Legos. God, Legos. My best advice is to gather the errant ones that end up all over and put them in one bowl and have Elijah put them away. I could tell you tales of Lego woe that would bring you to tears. I'm so proud of you! Oh yeah, get a Swiffer Wet Jet. Just do it.

    Chelsea--Um, painted the bathroom? Cleaned the kitchen? I'm seriously impressed. In you go, great job!

    Urban Hippie Mama--Thanks for joining us. I find FlyLady too regimented and not personal enough. We're a team here, and we can all learn from each other. Who has time to do a checklist? I try to set reasonable daily goals so that no one is ever faced with the entire house again, you know? Anyway, some ideas about your kiddos: Do you know about Raffi? He's an amazing children's singer, and my kids loved listening to him so much suddenly our horizons broadened immediately. I have his cds, can burn them if you want. Crank it up, let them dance, and walk through your house like you always do, picking up things you see, wiping a surface, just making a little more effort with movements you're already doing. Do small jobs when you can--forget the enormity of "everything."

    Dear Jacob--Yes I knew you needed that one, lol. You did such an amazing job. I'm buying you a Starbucks franchise (except they aren't franchised)! Can't wait to go see your pictures, I hope you're very proud of you, I am!

    Sweet Megan--Damn, two entries, right away. You're a rockstar! Also, "dark o'clock this morning" made me pee my pants. I'm putting your name in again, lol.

    Samwise--By all means, spill your guts here. You never know what others will glean from your experience. First of all, no dishwahser = entry. Second of all, enlisting the kids = entry. Taking care of your mama and putting so much thought and effort into your family's diet right now = entry, and, you know, saving my life yesterday = entry. Four entries entries ain't half bad for someone who never feels like she does anything. We'll set you straight. <3

  14. Thanks, C! But I feel like I cheated. ;)

    Have you considered switching to a yahoo group format? I also don't get email updates from my blogs anymore. Wonder what's up with that.

    But you could post your challenges and such here and we could be chattering on the group.

    Just an idea...

  15. Oh no-please don't! We need the lovely blog to look at-with all the pics!