Thursday, July 7, 2016

One Small Habit at a Time

After spending a week with my sister (followed by four days with me), Mom commented time and time again about the way my sister cleaned invisible dirt, picked non-existent weeds and was constantly shining up her kitchen appliances "like they would never get dirty again". I listened to Mom's description of my sister and wished she had been talking about me.

I explained to Mom that it is so much easier to simply keep on top of the dirt (and weeds). If you don't, the dirt and weeds continue to grow and a small jobs become big ones. I know that because I am smack dab in the middle of a very big, dirty, grime, dust and weed infested home. Everywhere I look, there is something that needs to be done.

I keep on top of things the best I can during my daycare oriented weeks. Which isn't saying a lot, but at a bare minimum my laundry doesn't pile up, the fridge is full, the bathrooms and kitchen are wiped and swiped as we go and the yard is tended. It feels like "a renter" lives here. Someone who takes care of the bare necessities around the house. No more and no less.

Back in Daycare 1.0 I somehow managed to not only sweep, but sometimes give the kitchen floor a quick wash after lunch. Oh. My. Gosh! During my days in Daycare 2.0, I am lucky if I manage to sweep the floor twice a week. I used to have a weekly routine which included vacuuming and wiping down the couch at the end of every daycare day; cleaning bathrooms and dusting the house from top to bottom, once a week; the kitchen floor got washed twice as much as it now gets swept; door frames and pictures were dusted; and kitchen cupboards were wiped down. 

And ... I used to actually cook (and bake)! I would wake up early so I could get some soup simmering or a casserole prepared for lunch and make a batch of muffins or cookies. I actually read cookbooks in those days so I could find sneaky ways of making sure the kids got a good variety of fruits and vegetables. I used to sit down every Friday afternoon and plan our lunch, snack and supper menus for the upcoming week so I not only had the right groceries on hand, but I didn't have to waste energy wondering what we were going to eat.

Life around here has become "doing the bare minimum" and not even that got done over the course of time Mom stayed with me last week. I threw in a load of laundry the morning she arrived. I tossed it into the dryer the following morning. I folded it the morning after she left. I swept the floor before she woke up one morning. I didn't touch the vacuum cleaner for the duration of her stay. Groceries were not bought. Laundry was not done. The lawn had been mowed before her arrival but missed its weekly "edging". I felt like some kind of superhero because I managed to sleep enough to keep functioning and eked out a bare minimum of quiet time which restores my sense of status quo for the duration of her visit.

I was ushered into the new week with the hardest daycare day ever. Was it harder than it had to be, because I was running on fumes? Now that I've had a few days to step back and look at it, I believe that was one of the reasons the day fell apart the way it did. Exhaustion does not look good on anyone. I was down right ugly on Monday. After my very long daycare day, I vacuumed, mowed the lawn and walked to the mailbox (a five minute walk) and I honestly didn't know if I would ever make it back home again. I was so weary it felt like I was walking the wrong way on a moving sidewalk. Step number one was to sleep. So that was all I managed to accomplish on the first day.

The second day, I edged the lawn (with household scissors) as the kids played by my side. I looked up from my work in progress (you don't get far while tending four little people playing with bikes on a driveway) and I was pleased. It was a small step, but a step in the right direction.

The third day, I trimmed some of the lawn in the back yard. My heart smiled. It was starting to look like someone who cared lived here. And it was good.

I finally had the energy to sort my laundry on the fourth day. I had a grand total of two full loads. One of the loads was sheets, tea towels, dish clothes and wash clothes. It was so hard to make all of those beds afterwards but I not only managed to do so, but then I did the hardest job of all. I showered, washed and dried my hair after the first load of laundry was tended.

Clean hair makes me feel like Wonder Woman. I start to feel invincible the minute that hard job is done. I woke up this morning, turned on the washing machine to wash my second (and last) load of laundry. My household chores have finally just about been caught up to where they would have been, had I simply cleaned, washed and puttered as I went along instead of putting life on hold for four days.

The fridge is still empty and the errands that need to be run are piling up, but now that my hair is clean I feel like I may be able to tackle most of those feats by the end of today. 

I really, really need to reinstate my clean-as-I-go policy. I had some very good habits back in the days of Daycare 1.0. Why am I having such a hard time reinstating them? They worked. I felt good and comfortable and relaxed in our relatively clean and maintained home. 

One small habit at a time. That is really all I need to do. I used to dry mop the cat hair downstairs every morning, then vacuum upstairs and wipe down the couch every day. I used to clean, vacuum and dust downstairs on Thursdays. I used to dust, clean bathrooms and wash the kitchen floor on Friday. I used to buy groceries during the week so I didn't have to waste a moment on the weekend tending to that nasty job. I used to be organized. Now I am barely eking by.

I want to clean invisible dirt, pick invisible weeds and shine down my kitchen like it is never going to get dirty again. I feel energized when I am living in a clean and clutter free environment. One habit at a time. That is all. If I can't manage to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to go for an early morning stroll, maybe I can take that energy I'm not using there and delegate it to our home. 

Something's gotta change. And I think that "thing" is me. In fact I know it is. 

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