How long will it last...

marie26February 8, 2006

I cleaned the house and it looks great. The only thing left to do is to get my dd to come and clean her room (she moved out a couple of months ago). But I keep that door closed.

I cleaned the kitchen and library on Sunday. Then I've been working really hard on the rest of the house Monday, Tuesday and today after coming home from work.

DH has been out of town since Monday and returns late tonight. I wish he were coming home tomorrow just so I could get to enjoy the clean house a little longer.

He is the mess and dirt maker. When he arrives home, I just know that his briefcase will go on the island and he'll throw papers onto the island from it. Then, he'll open the mail and packages that came for him and leave them lying around. After that, he'll just start making a mess as he gets ready for bed in the bedroom. I hope I'm wrong and he appreciates how hard I worked on this place but it will shock me if it looks as good tomorrow when I come home from work as it does now.

Since I'm starting with a clean slate and it's only the two of us living here, I'm just wondering how to keep it looking this way.

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You've probably already done this, but you need to have a talk with DH. If he does not explicitly know how much the mess bothers you or if you're not sure he knows, he needs to be told. This way, you two have a starting point for negotiations. You'll have to figure out a way to accommodate his preference for a higher clutter level and/or not putting things away in a way he considers complicated or unnatural, and he'll need to accommodate your preference for cleanliness and order. You might also need to discuss his effort in keeping the house at some level of order and cleanliness. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 6:50AM
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This goes back to Talley's remarks of being disrespectful by pitching the dirty laundry by the hamper, but not in the hamper.

I know you didn't ask for a lecture here and I'm really not trying to browbeat you. I'm very happy for you that you are getting things into shape and having a home which is comfortable for you. You have to give him time and you have to help him want a neat and ordered home also.

One thing to go back to is that you are changing and changing the way YOU want to live. Now, you've made this decision and he wasn't exactly part of the decision process. So for now, it is going to take more work on your part to lead him where you want him to go. If it has been ok for the past 20+ years to pile newspapers, etc. this is a big change.

First question. Is there really a place for him to have his things? Really a place? A place convenient for him and not just you? I've found people will gripe that household members don't put things away, but often there isn't a good place for the messier family member to just "be" and have their stuff.

Now you have taken up a certain amount of the house with your files, personal papers and ideas. Does he have a space designated for him? How about that spare bedroom?

When I started decluttering, I knew I was changing how we lived. My DH first thought every clear space was a place for him to put his mail, magazines, etc. I wanted thoses spaces clear, so I told him first what I would do with his stuff. I made no effort to see if it was bill he needed or just junk. I got a box and piled it in the box. Put it in his chair. He had to move it everytime we wanted to sit down. Fine, he just set it on the floor. Fine with me. Next time I went through, I put it back in the chair.

I call this our dance of the paper piles and we did it for months and months. But he knew if he needed to find something, it was in that box. After a while he finally did deal with those items.

We each have a personal space in our home. You can hardly walk through his office for all of the boxes and piles. It is not in the public family spaces and I don't care. I don't have to function in there. Same with my craft/sewing room. It's my personal mess. My messes are just much neater than his now.

Some basic rules of how the public spaces are to be kept are in order. Someone leaving a mess makes it difficult for the other person to function. You can't cook if the kitchen island is loaded with crap. I don't buy the idea of "it's my house too, so I get to make a mess." That's disrespectful of the person who mainly maintains the home and is makes a statement that the home and who/what's in it is not valued.

One thing that is super important is that you stay on top of your own messes. Can't gripe at someone else if you are piling things and then go on a cleaning spree. It has to stay consistent.

He may not notice all of the work you have been doing. It would be great to get positive feedback, but try and remember that you are doing this for YOU. You want a nice home. He will notice if it stays consistent. If you throw in the towel the first time the house reverts to previous conditions, then you are really back to square one.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 4:00PM
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Although, I think basically when you have more than one person living in a place, it is close to impossible to have it stay clean. I know in my family, even if someone isn't being a messy, just having several folks *living* in the house dirties/messes it up pretty quickly.

I also think this is why housecleaning, especially for a family, is such a thankless and tedious and discouraging job! Because it really never lasts anytime at all. Do I sound bitter or what?! I clean the house every Saturday morning. Literally by Sunday night things aren't pristine again. Heck often by SATURDAY night we're down for the count.

I can recall one of the very nicest aspects of living alone was that after I finished my routine cleaning (and I"m naturally pretty tidy) everything *stayed* *clean* and uncluttered until and unless I got messy. I always appreciated that but never as much as now that those days are a distant memory. A couple of times in the past few years by circumstance I've been left alone at home and had a brief taste of that heavenly clean house again. Not often though and not nearly enough :).


    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 4:14PM
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Ann said, "I also think this is why housecleaning, especially for a family, is such a thankless and tedious and discouraging job!"

I'm confused here. Really am and not trying to be a smart***. While pristine is not something I've ever gone for, all of our family spaces stay clean with the daily maintanence system we use. Only takes minutes and everyone participates.

I honestly haven't cleaned on weekends since we adopted flylady. While it's a frequent occurance for toys and books to be around, come bedtime we all put our stuff up. Wiping of things like kitchen and bathrooms just is done daily and only takes a minute.

I can see that if things are left to build up during the week and only one time per week assigned to clean it could be a bit overwhelming. With the daily family participation, it hasn't felt tedious or thankless for a long time.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 12:33AM
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I don't clean on weekends. Luckily, I work out of the house, so Monday is the day I go through the house and clean everything out. I pile all DD's stuff from all over the house and pile it in her room and sweep, mop, take out the trash, and it stays pretty clean for the rest of the week.

My DH is usually a piler, too. Since we work together and are here all the time, it used to drive me crazy to have piles everywhere. So I started organizing for HIS clutter. He uses the dining room table as his desk (as opposed to the desk in the office). So I moved a set of underused shelves from the office into the dining room. It may look unconventional, but it gives him somewhere to pile his mail, papers and other stuff without it taking over the whole dining room. If it really bothered me, I could cover it with a curtain or something. But it doesn't, as long as he has somewhere to put stuff. He used to have piles next to the bed. I put a bookcase there, and he has a place to pile stuff next to the bed, but not on the floor. Coats and papers and misc. used to be flung on every available space in the mudroom. So I got rid of as many horizontal spaces as I could, and put up hooks (rather than the hangers by the door - I still use those sometimes, but everyone else is more likely to hang if there is a hook).

I started cleaning out for me. I didn't expect anyone else in the family to follow my example. But as I look back over the few years since I started decluttering and cleaning out, I can really see that the rest of the family has followed, in their own way (even my DD is starting to pick things up without being told 10 times first). You just have to make storage solutions that work for them, and be patient. Is there a designated place for the briefcase and mail. Does it make sense for DH? If not, have you asked him where WOULD it make sense to keep those things? Let him be part of the plan, and hopefully you can make it work. If my DH can go through old piles of papers without me asking, anyone can! This is a new development in the last month, before that it was me going through the piles looking for bills, etc. But when I went through last time, there was nothing old, and the piles weren't that big. I think you can teach people new habits if they see that it makes life easier and if they don't need to get defensive about it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 11:35AM
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Thank you for your responses. DH arrived and I was correct about what would take place. I made sure that everything was tidied up before bed and unpacked his suitcase for him. This night wasn't about me going on strike. He did comment on how clean the bedroom was (it was messier than the other rooms, though, so that's why he noticed this room in particular).

Although we do have systems in place for his papers, cd's, dvd's, etc., they are once again full. He is not thinking of selling any at the present time and there really is no need for me to push him to do that. I do not have any more closed cabinets to "hide" this stuff and that is clearly my problem. Thank you all for pointing this out to me. So, I'm going to have to search for something that will please me visually and be functional for him at the same time.

Someone mentioned him using the spare room but I assume he would never make the extra steps to get what he needs in there. I will, however, bring this up to him and let him make the decision.

By the way, when I left this morning for work, the place still looked great. It was me making it this way but I wanted so much to start the weekend on a positive note.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 12:57PM
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"I honestly haven't cleaned on weekends since we adopted flylady. While it's a frequent occurance for toys and books to be around, come bedtime we all put our stuff up. Wiping of things like kitchen and bathrooms just is done daily and only takes a minute. "

Gloria, I didn't take your thoughts as being smart*-I have to put in the same disclaimer :).

We, meaning mostly me, also do the daily tidy; I make the kids take their detritus out of the common areas every night and before I go to bed things are straightened up, dishes done, etc. Every morning I make a quick pass and do things like put away toothpaste and combs in the bathrooms, straighten up any other random little messes and so on.

But every weekend I do clean thusly: bleach clean bathrooms and kithen, dust, vacuum/mop/dustmop all floors and do miscellaneous non daily chores like wiping down windowsills, filing paperwork and bills, maybe a 'special' like decluttering and wiping out a cabinet or closet and so on.

When do you do all that kind of chore, if not weekly? I confess I"ve never done Flylady-does she include those non-daily chores on a schedule too? I once had a friend who would do one of that type of thing daily along with her regular maintenance. It's a personality thing, but for me that doesn't work because I do need the boost of at least once weekly having a sparkling clean house-every room (mostly :) clean and tidy.

And that is what I find thankless and tedious...because that lovely 'isn't this house looking fine' feeling just doesn't last long. Heck as soon as we've all had our daily bath/shower the bathrooms aren't pristine.

Anyway, for those who don't do a weekly cleaning day, how do you keep up with it?


    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 8:59AM
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I'm lucky in that I don't have anyone "helping" me keep the place messy or clean. If I've had one of those 12+ hour workdays, some stuff sits (dishes in the sink, etc.). I then devote half an hour of the next available day to catching up. Though I prefer things really neat and clean, my tolerance for some clutter and disorder has gone way up since I was married (it was that or have a coronary). I just remind myself that keeping the place clean is not the most important thing I have to day in any given day -- it's not even third or fourth on the list. It will get done (if it doesn't, the effects force its priority up the list to the other "important things").

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 9:52AM
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Ann said, "Heck as soon as we've all had our daily bath/shower the bathrooms aren't pristine."

I think the pristine concept is sometimes associated with smell (like the bleach or cleaners) or even just the thought that something is somehow cleaner after that effort. I just wipe with soap and water. Always have.

With Flylady's routines and zone concepts, it looks something like this for me.

Every morning before work: I've time myself and it's less than 15 min.
Make bed
start load of laundry
empty dishwasher
wipe bathroom counter, toilet and swish with brush
sweep entry hall (our huge dirt catcher area which spreads everywhere)

After work and late evening: (again less than 15 min.)
clothes to dryer/folded and put away before bed
make sure dishwasher is loaded and ready to run
Room zoom for kids pickup
stuff ready to go for morning.

Since I'm what's called a payroll SHE in the Flylady system, no one day is spent doing anything more than 15 min. of cleaning jobs for me. I feel like I'm being punished if I have to do more than that.

On Monday I set my timer and think floors. In our old house it meant run the vac in the traffic areas. Now that we don't have carpet I just use a broom. The main areas actually get swept almost daily as part of dinner clean-up.

Tues. I mop the kitchen and bathrooms and do the mirrors.

Wed-Fri I do cleaning jobs in specific zones. None take very long at all.

Examples of my kitchen zone jobs:
check for decluttering under sink and in drawers
move stuff and wipe counters/items well
clean microwave
wipe fridge
get stickies off of table legs and chairs (I still have three smaller kids)
check and declutter broom closet
wipe down cabinet fronts

Our house doesn't have forced air heat or air conditioning, so in my opinion it isn't dusty and I just dust with my feather duster when I'm in that zone.

Our house just has a constant flow of sameness. Since we rotate through all of the areas of the house within the month, I never end up with an area which as been ignored and gotten in bad shape. I'm not a neat and tidy person by nature, so it has taken some discipline on my part to do that 15 min. a day of what I consider "cleaning."

But the payoff in time and effort for me to learn this has been huge. I had company fly in from the lower 48 today. Aside from giving my daughter's room a good sweeping and changing the sheets, we removed some toy items and put them in the laundry room for the week to give my friend some extra room. The only other thing I did was since normally I would have mopped the bathrooms on Tues, I cleaned the bathroom mirror again and made sure I wiped up any lurking dust/hair on the floor corners. And that the tub was really clean. Took me all of an extra 30 min. to get ready for a week visit, when in my pre-Flylady days it would have taken me a week to get ready for a week visit.

I find the sameness comforting. It's nice to know that someone can always drop by and I don't feel embarrased. If it's 4 in the afternoon, they'll be stepping over some toy cars, but the bathroom will be usable. If it's 7, I may not have all of the dinner pots and pans finished and put away, but you can tell it's one meal and not a week's worth of dishes. If they come on Tuesday the kitchen floor will be cleaner than if they come on Friday. But unless someone spills a pitcher of juice I'm fine with it until the next time.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 4:00AM
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Gloria, I wish I had your discipline. Since it's just me and DH living here now (and we both work full time), I envision me being the one who is in charge of cleaning the house forever, just like his mom! And I can see me resenting it. This is what I'm sure is bothering me: seeing the future and not liking it one bit.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 3:30PM
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susan_on only takes discipline to get started...and then it's second nature. I started doing this years ago, before I ever heard of flylady. In fact, it seems like it's taking the easy way..because you never face a big cleaning spree to get your house in shape.

I don't post much on here, but I think you will really like this cleaning strategy.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 4:01PM
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Marie, I do everything around the house. DH would choose to hire help so he wouldn't have to do anything. Now, this does not give him permission to make a mess, but I just realize that if I want the floor clean I will be doing it. Otherwise, it would be on his schedule, like once a year maybe.

I do all of this for ME. My kids follow along because I"m the mom and they do as I request. But now, really, it's just learned behavior for them to pick up after themselves. Something I wish I had learned years and years ago.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 9:10PM
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Gloria, when the kids were at home, if I (or the kids) didn't keep the house in order, it wouldn't have ever gotten done. I'm realizing that as I'm getting older, I will be the ONLY one who will ever be taking care of things in the house. And I just don't think that's fair. But how do you get someone to help out when they haven't hardly ever done anything for almost 28 years? Perhaps this is more for the marriage forum than here but I'm curious if others here are in this situation.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 11:21PM
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Fair is a concept we all seem to struggle with. But if you want a clean and orderly home, then the burden will fall to you. If you maintain this, you may be suprised at what he will really end up doing. But you must stay consistent.

I have never had to pick up after my husband (like for laundry) and I never saw my mom pick up after my dad. My husband would find his stuff all in a box. The clothing would definately not get washed. So, while he picks up after himself, in reality, the rest is left to me.

We tried hiring a cleaning service every week. Didn't work because a home need some type of daily assistance in keeping it a home.

So here is how we worked out "fair." Time for the handy dandy legal pad and the lists of who does what. At the time the DH was convinced his list would be longer than mine. Well, I bet we can all guess who filled several pages while he only filled several lines.

And with this list I was able to verbalize the need for ackknowledgement for all I do to keep this family going. I ask for this and I receive it. It now gets verbalized that what I do is of real value.

We have given a dollar amount to the jobs I do. While we don't actually write a check, it is now recognized that I provide at least $5,000 a month of services to this family, outside of the income I produce at my job. While we don't "need" my paycheck, we need my benefit package of health insurance. It was important to me that my husband acknowledge that since I get up and go to work it makes it easier for him to do what he loves and be self employed. It is of value.

When the DH does something we never call it "helping." He is doing a job to keep the family going.

Your husband doing nothing for 28 years is a deeply ingrained pattern. You have also participated in this pattern by doing his laundry when he won't put it in the hamper and picking up after him. The first person to change here must be you. Quit picking up after him and putting things away. Just tell him you will pile it in a box (clothing, papers, whatever) and where he can find the box. YOu will have a clean home and he won't have a built-in maid.

Remember the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can take advantage of you without your permission."


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 2:49AM
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It sounds like you are very resentful. I really got a lot out of Flylady when I felt this way. Her attitude adjustment essays helped me more than anything - routines, etc. I really had to start understanding that it was me that wanted the house to be clean, and that I deserved to live in a clean house, even if the other people in the family didn't help. I had to just accept that they would not help and start cleaning out with no expectations from anyone. And once I stopped being resentful, I became much happier and calmer. So if DD doesn't clean up all her stuff, I gather it all up, dump it in her room and close the door. That's much better than steaming as I look at it all day until she comes home and then blowing up at her to clean it up. So DH has piles of paper. As long as I can contain them to his shelves, and they don't overflow to every horizontal space in the house, that's fine. Our house is lived in, and I don't think I could live in a pristine house. But it is not making me crazy now. I would be miserable if I expected the rest of the family to have the same standards as me. That's not to say they don't help at all, but I don't expect them to think about how the house looks as much as I do.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 11:35AM
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I was just wondering how things are going with a less cluttered home?


    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 2:13AM
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Not bad at all. The only clutter that seems to accumulate are the dog's toys. My island is still a sore point but it really only takes a couple of minutes to put things away that dh puts up there. He's also no help with the bathroom counter. I have a huge tray on the counter and have all dh's stuff on it since he won't take things from drawers. But he still leaves things on the counter instead of putting them back on the tray. He's done this forever so I guess I'm stuck living with it and I've been pretty good at not letting it get to me. I still have filing to do but all those items are in 1 spot, ready to be filed.

I need to find a small cd cabinet for the bedroom since his collection has overflowed into the bedroom. It's all neatly on a shelf now and in 1 dresser drawer but a closed cabinet would certainly take care of this eyesore.

Lately, I've been able to locate things where in the past, I would be searching for hours. There's only 1 thing of mine that I can't find and I'm sure I had it a couple of months ago in the living room. Someday, I'm sure it will show up. And it will probably be one of those duh moments.

My biggest problem is when I've moved things that were in a kitchen cabinet (that had nothing to do with cooking) and moved them to a more "logical" spot. Once I move an item, I always remember the original spot it was in, not its new one. I should have written a list of where I put these odds and ends.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 10:42AM
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