Towels and toilets

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I have a confession. I am a horrible housekeeper.

It’s true. I know at some point in the past I was pretty good at it. In fact, I remember enjoying cleaning the house. It was nice to have rooms sparkly and clean, and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction when it all looked perfect!

And then kids happened. Suddenly I lost the motivation to clean. Not to say it’s because of them that I don’t clean, of course. But you have to admit, it’s a lot easier to keep the house sparkly clean when (a) everyone in the home works full-time and is rarely there, and (b) there is no one living there under the age of 18. Once the little ones came about and I became a stay-at-home mom, it was a lot harder to keep up with the house. Impossible for me, in fact. How can you possibly keep anything clean when you finish an area, turn to start another, and the first is inexplicably trashed again? The perfectionist in me thought, “well, if I can’t keep the whole house clean at the same time, then why bother with any of it”. And it went downhill from there.

Now, I can fake it with the best of them. My house, at least the parts that people may actually see, looks presentable when necessary. I can pick up the clutter and quickly dust (maybe) and vacuum (sometimes), and I’m great at wiping down the bathrooms (at least one of them). But it’s not really been clean – deep, down clean – in….. years? Let’s see, we moved into this house about five and a half years ago, so I’d say the last time it was really clean would have been about five years ago.

Sigh.

So things have to change, but baby steps are definitely needed.

About three weeks ago, I dubbed Tuesdays as “towels and toilets” day. Basically, I’ll wash the towels and clean (and by “clean”, I mean wipe down the sinks, mirrors, and toilets) every Tuesday. That way I know it’s been done because there *may* have been times in the past when it wasn’t done every week. Or even every month. (Oh, honesty. Ugh.) So, I made this mini habit to do bare essentials every Tuesday. So far, so good.

Then today, I had an epiphany of sorts. What if, on the first Tuesday of every month, I actually clean the bathrooms? Like, for real clean? Then the other weeks I can maintain them until the first Tuesday of the following month. Eureka! A routine!

So, I got all my supplies and headed to our full bathroom, since the powder room was the most recently “for real” cleaned (but I won’t say when). Motivation high and I started scrubbing away. The sun was shining, music was blasting – I was even using a toothbrush in the crevices, people, that’s how motivated I was! I washed the walls, ceiling, shower, floor, even the grooves on the base of the toilet! You know, the part near the floor where all the dust and hair and grossness collect? Yep. Even cleaned there.

I’d love to tell you that the burst of motivation lasted, but about halfway through that bathroom I realized something. I realized that it was hard work. I realized that no matter how motivated I was, having a 4 year old there to “help” is bound to delay things. I realized that perhaps letting it get this bad was not the best move on my part. After two hours in one bathroom (yes, two hours, partly because it really needed a good scrubbing, partly because of my little helper and all her helping), I decided to leave the deep cleaning of the powder room til next week. So a quick wipe down happened instead. And that’s ok.

Baby steps, right?

Today, our main bathroom is “for real” clean, but not perfect. The shower curtains were washed, but the exhaust fan was not. The sink was scrubbed, but the shower isn’t as good as it probably should be. But you know what? It’s a really good start. And sometimes starting is the hardest part. And getting past that hardest part feels really good. And letting go of perfect feels really good, too. Mini win for me!

Next Tuesday, I’ll tackle our much smaller powder room and just maintain the main bathroom. Then, two weeks of quick wipe-downs before another bout of deep cleaning. If this works the way that I’m hoping it works and I actually follow through, that deep cleaning should take far less than two hours – for both bathrooms! And, if I can keep it up, I’ll start adding other rooms to deep clean during the other weeks of the month. This could be huge for me!

But we won’t rush things. Baby steps are all I need.

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