Thursday, December 6, 2012

Operation Awesome Marriage: Step 1 - Clean the House

So, it occurs to me that perhaps I wasn't making myself clear enough with yesterday's cleaning schedule.  That is absolutely not an "as is" schedule, it's a "to be".  If we were really already doing all of that stuff, I wouldn't need to write it down or track it.  

The cleaning schedule was a necessary part of a larger plan (let's call it Operation Awesome Marriage).  And I mean it when I say necessary - our house was affecting our marriage.  So trust me, no worries or judgement here if you aren't doing some of those things, or if you don't do them as often as I want to.  Schedules like this give me hives, I promise!  Until the day I can afford to hire a cleaning service, no baseboards are cleaned or surfaces dusted unless someone dumps something on them.  

I think the reasons our house has gotten to a state in which we needed to devise a schedule are threefold:

1) We love Lucia to death, but adding a second little person to the house was HARD.  I don't think we were quite prepared for the whole two under two thing - someone needed something from us at  all times, and just keeping the girls clothed and fed and clean and happy took everything we had.   I was on autopilot - work, home, dinner, crash into bed shortly after the girls go to bed.  Repeat.  Also - I talked about this a little bit over here - Justin was not immediately on board with having a second kid.  He was not anywhere near as helpful as he was with Adriana, and I was pretty overwhelmed as a result (understatement of the year).  Plus homegirl didn't sleep for 8 months and I was TIRED and something had to give. 

2) Mohinder was always SUPER FINICKY about the litterbox (it had to be scrubbed and the litter changed on a daily basis, no scooping, or he'd pee on things), and keeping up with cat laundry on top of real life laundry was a full time job in and of itself.  The more clutter in the house, the more things for him to pee on, the more time we had to spend on cat pee cleaning instead of normal cleaning, the more cluttered the house.  Endless cycle of cat pee doom. 

3) I had to travel a whole bunch for work, including a month where I was only home to see the girls on the weekends.  It was the suck.  

All of these things lead to a house that was cluttered, disorganized, and even downright GROSS in a few places.  It was too messy to pay someone to clean it.  It was too messy to have someone come watch the kids so we could clean or (gasp!) go on a date.  

This is no way to live.  

Now that we are all caught up on sleep, the girls are (slightly) less needy, and we are super motivated to fix all of the things causing marital stress, it really is time to break the cycle.  

We started by taking Mohinder back to the no-kill shelter we got him from.  It was a REALLY HARD decision.  If you took the peeing out of the equation, Momo was the best cat ever.  He was friendly, cuddly, sweet, didn't shed, was great with the girls...the list goes on and on.  But, when it came down to it, I'd rather lose a cat than a marriage.  Every time Momo peed on something, Justin and I would fight.  I had been fighting to keep him for years, researching preventative solutions (that all failed), paying for expensive cleansers, spending countless hours cleaning up after him, and I just couldn't do it anymore.  I tried to keep him, I really did.  And I'm sad that it didn't work out.  But I think it was the right choice for our family.  (Does anyone want a post on how to get rid of cat pee?)

The next step was implementing Swistle's Drops In the Bucket strategy.  This is one of many posts of hers that I still think about, years later.  If you've never read it, please do!  If you get overwhelmed like I do, it really is a lifesaver.  Swistle is so smart.  

Once those two things happened, Justin was a lot more motivated to clean on his two kid-free days (the days he works second shift).  With the basic picking up handled, I had more time to deal with the clutter and deep cleaning.  When the MIL (yet again) informed us with little notice that she was coming to our house to celebrate Thanksgiving, I moved it to the first weekend in December and then went on a CLEANING TEAR.  (Admittedly, some of the CLEANING TEAR involved shoving stuff I didn't have time to deal with into Random Crap Bins...I'm not an entirely different person, haha).  

Just getting all of the extra junk out of the places where we spend 95% of our awake home time has been HUGE.  I don't think I realized how easily affected Justin and I are by our environment.  I honestly think that the clutter was making us feel all overwhelmed and helpless and "it's never going to get better so why should I try."  Since the CLEANING TEAR, we have both repeatedly said "[This newly decluttered space] is making me so happy every time I look at it!"

So.  I think the goal setting and cleaning schedule will help us.  I successfully decluttered the dining room in (late) November and the kitchen in December.  I plan to just make that a way of life, rotating rooms.  Once the big declutters are done, I will probably move it up to 2-3 rooms a month since it won't be as large of a task, and add in a certain number of Random Crap Bins to deal with per month.   I will go back to posting them, of course, because who wouldn't want to see a stranger's random crap?


susan said...

For just the two of us, I'm amazed at how messy and cluttered things can get. I have one basket for mail, i can't even remember when I looked in it last sadly. And I know there are two random bills in there I need to acknowledge. I need to purge and minimize asap. I can nly imagine how great it would feel to look around and not see "stuff" everywhere...

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

If I were smart, I'd re-read your posts from yesterday and today ... and then, I'd read them to my husband. I think we largely feel the same things you've been feeling regarding the overwhelming level of chaos that's taking over our condo and we're feeling paralyzed. Too tired to do anything about it, but not entirely ignoring it (in fact, it bothers both of us a lot). Just the other day, I spent a few hours going through A LOT of paperwork on my desk (some stuff dating back to 2011 - that shows you how bad the piles were). I feel infinitely lighter now on the days I work from home, because I don't feel like the piles are caving in around me. I should probably follow the "drop in the bucket" motto and work on it a little at a time. Now, if it only weren't the crazy holiday season ... =)

Kara Keenan said...

Oh man, I feel for you about getting rid of the pee cat. We had one of those too. We turned her in at a no-kill as well, and I drove away in tears. There was nothing wrong with her- $1000s of dollars in vet check ups showed nothing. She just refused to use the litter box more than once.

Jessica said...

I have to say again, I think you're amazing for working to making your marriage awesome. I hope Justin knows how crazy lucky he is:)

Swistle said...

Oh, it is so hard taking a cat back, but can make SUCH a difference!

Erica said...

We re-homed our two cats and I am so happy about it! So much relief! They were getting sick and puke/diarrhea every time we traveled. It was too much.
One way I fight clutter is by giving tons of stuff away. I get rid of at least a bag a week. It's amazing how junk piles up!

A'Dell said...

We hired a housekeeper when Claire was 9 months old and have never looked back. I SWEAR it made our lives happier and we just....stopped getting annoyed about the floors or the counters, etc. We didn't even realize it was such a stress point for both of us until it just....went away! We were so much happier living in a clean place. IMAGINE THAT!

So no matter how you tackle it (hire or figure out better ways to fit it in your schedule or split it up) I think just IDENTIFYING the stress point is huge huge huge.

StephLove said...

That "Drops in the Bucket" post stayed with me, too. We're trying to keep our filthy house cleaner, too, and we've made some progress but not as much as either of us would like. We're planning to make a big push the week the kids are off school for winter break. I hope we can be as organized about it as you.

StephLove said...

Oh and I sympathize about the cat. One of ours had a urinary tract infection and started peeing all over the house and then the other one decided he would, too and it just seemed so hopeless. Once the infection cleared up the first one slowly started to use the box again and the other one followed suite but it was miserable even for the several weeks it lasted. I can't imagine dealing with it for years.