I assumed that as we entered the “empty nest” phase of life, our home would stay much neater. That turned out to be a bit of a myth.
It appears that Mr. Wonderful and I are also clutterbugs. Somehow we replaced a pile of soccer cleats and book bags with work boots and work gear. All these years we blamed the kids! We also added two beloved dogs and one fluffy emperor — I mean — Maine coon cat.
I try to stay on top of good advice like “vacuum the refrigerator coils for optimum efficiency” and “slide the stove out to mop underneath it from time to time.” That also works out well because we do live in a very old house in a very country setting. I think the mice appreciate a good deep cleaning once in a while.
I also add “move the sofa and retrieve all the errant pet toys and slippers that somehow slid under there.” It’s like Christmas when I drag all that stuff from time out. Still, I like to think we have standards. I enjoy a clean, tidy and fresh home. I also live with a man, though, so that is sometimes balanced out by reality.
“So glad my day off is here so I can mop the floors, dust the baseboards, wash walls, scrub toilets and do all the laundry” — said no one ever. Nonetheless, I can actually enjoy the process of cleaning — within limits.
I am a homebody and my body enjoys puttering around the house. I like to set things right. When the children were small, I used to set my alarm to get up two hours before they did so I could clean and plan meals before my parenting day began.
I know it sounds absolutely crazy but I loved that time in my life. Bonus: both my children can sleep through just about anything. Granted, there is a risk that the sound of a vacuum cleaner might actually lull BoyWonder to sleep.
My hobbies include decluttering, organizing and according to Mr. Wonderful, “moving things so he can never find them again.” He is not wrong. My “hide the spatula” game is strong.
Last weekend, I rearranged all the kitchen cabinets — again. I have lived here for two decades, but there might be a better way to store pots and pans. It never hurts to try. Plus, I think it helps a man to enjoy the thrill of the hunt, even if he is just trying to locate the skillet.
Having a home we love is a blessing; I know this. The process of maintaining it can be seen as a sort of desirable servitude if I am in the right frame of mind. It is an adventure and not an ordeal, after all.
It also helps that I can go on at length about my favorite mop. Welcome to adulthood: I have a favorite mop now. It has a spinning bucket and washable mop heads. It is magnificent.
I recently added a cordless vacuum cleaner to my arsenal as well. I can run up and down three flights of stairs without tripping over a cord. It feels very fancy. I have found myself wide awake at 3:45 a.m. ordering cleaning products because that is just how exciting I am.
This dedication to keeping the house clean and tidy aside, I am the first to admit that sometimes I get more cleaning done in the hour before someone stops over than I do the entire rest of the week.
It seems no matter how I toil to scrub and sweep and polish to within an inch of my own life, seconds before guests arrive, I will find one errant cobweb. It’s always bathed in a glow of light as if to best highlight that I missed a spot.
I decided that this week I was going to dig in and really spring clean. With the children moved away, I find there are areas of the house we don’t visit as often as we should. I asked friends to remain vigilant. If they didn’t hear from me by the end of the weekend, it was safe to assume the dust bunnies had taken me down.
In the meantime, we have been having terrible storms in the region. As I was standing on a ladder attempting to dust a chandelier, it was tempting to simply open some windows and let the 50 mph winds do some of the work.
I stuck it out and got the job done. My baseboards and crown molding are gleaming — for now.
I’m not spending too much time patting myself on the back though. I haven’t tackled the third floor of this old house yet. I suspect that’s where the dust bunnies really have strength in numbers.
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