Family are coming May 14 and the house is a disaster!

yeonaskyMay 4, 2006

I need to clean this house top to bottom, and I'm not a good cleaner. I usually procrastinate or get busy with work, family, etc and use that as an excuse. I want this time to be different! I work at home on our business, so can be flexible as long as I get the work done. Problem areas are everywhere. Not so much excess clutter, but there are recycling pile ups, all over the kitchen. The fridge experiments are gone, but the whole fridge, shelves and all, needs cleaning. All floors need washing and carpets cleaned. All walls need wiping down and kitchen ceiling needs cleaning! Not to mention the garden needs tidying and grass needs mowing. As I write this the lump in my throat of fear and trepidition I always feel when I have to clean, grows. I don't want to put it off until the last minute, but I don't want to do anything over again either, so don't know when to start what. That is my question in part to you. When do I do what? My work for our business is very time consuming and I tend to freeze up for a bit about that too if I let it slide at all, so I have to keep current with that. That's our bread, butter, and plants!!!, so I have to try not to get overwhelmed by the housework and freeze up and not do work. Can you tell I have anxiety problems? Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

BTW re the recycling, DH, it appears, just doesn't have time in the morning to deal with it and is too exhausted to do it at night. He works for our business as a working construction sub contractor. In other words he works physically for 10 hours a day. Before when there wasn't as much business work I could do all the stuff. Now that I'm working 3/4 time, I find I can't get to many things. I know it's me. I've always had less energy and drive to do lots, and seem to need lots of down time compared to others, but that doesn't make any of this easier. I have, before major, now minor, kidney problems and have suffered from serious adrenal exhaustion on and off for years, so that explains the energy part apparently. Childhood difficulties and family heredity explains the anxiety stuff. Unfortunately meds don't work for Anxiety in my family, not to mention that most of us are allergic to most of the meds. We found out the hard way. It's frustrating, and difficult to work with these problems, but I have to, so I will.

I know there's no pat answers for my particular peculiarities, but maybe a step by step or day by day plan will get the work done for the moment.

Thanks for listening, and any insight and ideas.


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First--you DON'T need to clean the house from top to bottom! Your family is coming to see YOU.

Here's a possible plan. Take seven days and divide the house up into seven sections. Kitchen, living room, dining room, bathrooms, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, hallways and stairs.

Focus on a room for a day. Set a timer and work for a half hour in the room-just putting things away. Then go do your business work. Come back and re-evaluate the room and decide to throw away stuff, put more away or can you vacuum and dust?

Do this in each area. Each night do a quick pick-up in any area you have already attacked.

Two whole days left, so focus on getting clean sheets and towels out if they are staying over. Mop the kitchen floor. Vacuum. Make sure you have food in the house and then relax.

You cannot deal with a year of unfishised stuff in one week. Please don't set yourself up for that. If the family becomes critical, have a mental list of jobs they could do (like washing a window) that would help you out.

Don't look at the entire house. Mentally break it up into areas. Don't hyperfocus and clean stuff with a toothbrush while piles of stuff are falling over. Try and manage the clutter, wipe what you can see and let the rest go.

I would make a chart for myself for each day and what room is assigned. I would list things like put away items, dust, vacuum, etc. so that I didn't get sidetracked.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 3:03PM
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Whoa! You don't need to do everything!! Wiping down walls and cleaning ceilings? Tidy the garden? No way - that's too much!

I know you want it to be perfect, but how about aiming for "pretty good" first and then perfecting a few areas if there's time left over?

I usually make a list of things I want to have done before company comes. Then I look through it and find things that don't absolutely need to be done, those "nice to have" things (like clean ceilings!), and I move those to another list. Maybe I'll get to some the stuff on that list, maybe not (usually not).

You don't need to clean the whole house - just the public areas (living room, kitchen, guest bathroom, dining room). And a guest room if they're spending the night. If the fridge is just normal dirty, then I'd skip cleaning that for now - if there's something growing or a pool of sticky goo, then I'd clean up that one spot, not the whole thing.

I think that Flylady has a good "crisis cleaning" system. It's similar to what quiltglo described. You work on one area for 15 minutes and then move on. It's a good system because you could do it in small chunks through out your work day.


Here is a link that might be useful: Flylady Crisis cleaning

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 4:10PM
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Those are good suggestions above. I've never tried the time limit strategy or the one-room-a-day plan, but I'm learning. Energy- and anxiety-wise, I'm in the same boat as you. I can keep up with the daily tasks when it's "just us," but it's hard to have everything clean AT THE SAME TIME, when company's coming.

I'll add just a couple suggestions: make a quick sweep of the *most embarrassing* things first, the things you'd be mortified to have anybody see. (By this, I mean small, specific items, such as cleaning the toilet, not the whole bathroom, or cleaning the sticky goo in the fridge, not ALL the shelves.) Getting those items into decent shape will remove a lot of your anxiety. Then do the room-by-room rotation, as suggested above. (This is really the same idea as prioritizing, but I picture it a bit differently; I think of it as spiraling :-)

My second suggestion is to alternate the tasks that are physically taxing, with the less demanding ones (or with your business work). Interspersing the quieter activities gives you a chance to "recover" your energy without being inefficient.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 5:30PM
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Here's what works for me. Remember--it's ok if you are not perfect.

Nobody has mentioned using boxes to put things into temporarily. Sometimes just getting rid of clutter helps a place look/be more comfortable.

Spend some serious time making a list--then break your list down into what you'll be doing every day--including your regular routine activities, your shopping list, the list you need to give your husband--just a very complete list.

Then when you are very satisfied that you are being realistic with yourself--pretend that you will not have the time to accomplish all the things on your list every day and allow yourself some time each day to finish what you couldn't get done the day before. Expect that unexpected things happen and give yourself some time in your planning for the unexpected.

Every day only think about what you will be doing that day--nothing else. Trust in your list. That's very important. Do not answer the phone and let everyone know that you are going to be busy--so they'll have to leave you alone. If you can't do that, then resolve yourself that you will not have things the way you would like them to be and that's ok too.

Arrange things so that everything will be done two days before your company comes. If that means you will not have time to do everything you want, then take some activities off your list. Remember that what's important is that you and your family are relaxed and can enjoy each other's company.

Have a great time.

Get to bed early every nite; take a short nap every day; drink plenty of water; plan simple meals or eat out.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 6:03PM
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Yep, I too was going to mention Flylady's Crisis Cleaning. That's what I do before anyone visits!

I had a friend who was vacuuming out crumbs from her drawers minutes before her guests arrived. She swore they'd notice if she didn't take care of it. Oh, how sad!

My aunt is visiting my mom this month. She's made it clear she wants to see all our homes. The last time she did this, it was like a contest to see whose home was "the best". So yes, there really are people out there like that. Again, how sad! I've decided she's not visiting my house this time. I don't need that stress in my life. If I were stronger, I'd let her come see it, make her comments, and leave.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 2:38AM
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My house is also a disaster, so I'm trying to learn from everyone's good advice here! But I do have one suggestion about the recycling - throw it out with the trash. Normally I prefer to recycle too, but there just isn't time to deal with it right now so give yourself permission to throw it away. Then you can try to figure out a better system for handling the recycling in the future.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 11:11AM
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Yes -- I have family coming to visit this month too!

So I try to work on zones -- and just tidy things first -- to clear the way for cleaning.

And when the house is reasonably tidy -- then I do the cleaning. And again -- I've finally learned to clean to a "reasonable" (for me!) level.

Then I really concentrate on stocking the fridge and pantry -- and buying a good sherry (medium dry) for my mum! LOL!!

As for the garden -- again -- we are going to give it a quick clipping and tidying. Just to rein in the worst areas! LOL!

Flylady does have some great ideas to break down areas in the home -- and to do things in 15-minute "parcels" of time.

I do love the idea that she includes to "fix yourself up" first -- this area I tend to leave until the very last -- and sometimes run out of time!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 12:37PM
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I have just had visitors, so know how you feel! I spent two or three hours ( in total) in each room ( one room per day) and at the end of each day really felt that i had accomplished so much that it spurred me on to the next dat/room. I had one area where we used to dump things and that was what took the most time to sort out. Now its done and this week i did my normal weekly clean and the house still looks sparkling clean. I will try and tidy up for fifteen minutes each day and just clean once a week from now on. The stress level has reduced dramatically and i know know that if we ever have visitors drop in, that within 30 minutes the house can be made to look tidy and clean.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 8:23AM
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Wonderful advice on this thread. How is it going for you, Yeonasty? I am not having company for Mothers Day, but we are having a big Sunday dinner with relatives the week after, so I have two weeks to clean. My plan is to crisis-clean the clutter this week, and do the actual cleaning, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, washing next week. This thread gives me confidence. In my mind, I see 80 hours of good work ahead. And in the words of Flylady, I will be blessing my family!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 9:42AM
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hire help--esp. if cleaning is going to get in the way of working on the business.

Are you sure there isn't some neighborhood kid you can hire to drag the recyclables away? (then, later, you can figure out a plan that makes moving them easier--ask a neighbor if you can piggyback; or get a routine going where you take them a few at time (is there a donut place near the recycling place? DH could get his morning cup there after he drops the stuff off, maybe--or you.)

Got kids? Make them clean the inside of the fridge (& the outside). Doesn't take much skill, and it'll feel more like fun than the bathrooms will.

You'll need to mow now, bcs it's too hard to mow grass when it gets too long.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 10:26AM
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Thanks for your great replies everyone. Though I got started on the timed daily cleaning sessions and also thoroughly scrubbed the livingroom floor, thinking that would last, I've run into a bit of a cleaning brick wall. I got a three day migraine and that shot the last three days. Now that I'm seeing thinking and eating again the panic is setting in. Work is piled high, with billing to be done tomorrow, payroll to be done for Friday, and midmonth taxes due on May 15th. And I thought I had so much time to clean! Haha the joke was on me. As they say, that's what happens to the "best laid plans" of women and wombats, and men and mice. I love the idea of hiring someone for some help and will really consider that with the time having been cut for me to do it all. Thank goodness they're here late Sunday! I'll also just pack away the recyclables for now, and DH will take them to the depot as opposed to putting them in the curbside boxes. Hopefully later I'll get a handle on my piles soon and recycle as I go. If I can't get help in I'll just have to live with my inlaws looking up at the ceiling, etc and ignore it. I'm determined to clean the fridge though.

Thanks again for your usual support and insight. I don't post often, but when I do you all always help. Actually just reading here has helped cement my resolve to never let personal clutter build up again. If only getting rid of newspapers, papers, plastics, and glass were as easy for me to get a handle on. Sigh. I haven't given up though. Someday I'll have the whole plan and time for fun, too.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 4:10AM
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you may be surprised how fast the fridge will go. I was, last weekend!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:20AM
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Yeona, don't panic! I think you're already at the point of adopting Plan B:

1) Do the billing, payroll, and taxes for work (i.e., the "essentials")

2) Work on the surface clutter, clean the fridge and bathroom, and run the vacuum cleaner; wash the kitchen floor if time permits

3) Forget the heavy cleaning! You mentioned that your company is coming late in the day; it's much harder to see dirt by lamplight! ;-) So take advantage of that.

4) Breathe. Relax. Breathe. It will be OK. What's the worst that can happen? Your guests will think you're not quite perfect. Welcome to my world!

Good luck,


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 4:42PM
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What's wrong w/ the ceiling? Did someone squirt ketchup on it? If not, I really think no one will even look at it. Most people don't look above their eye level much.

Take a stick and swab up the cobwebs if needed. Otherwise, don't even worry about it. I've never yet cleaned a ceiling. I did mop the walls once (1st apt--30 years' cigarette smoke residue--don't ask).

Is there a college nearby? You might be able to hire some kids to spruce up the lawn and maybe help cleaning the kitchen.

If all else fails, and the in-laws are the critical type, ask DH to tell his family to keep any criticisms to themselves. You don't need the grief.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 1:22PM
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My sister's approach to any fool who mentioned that her housekeeping was not up to the fool's standards was to hane the fool some cleaning supplies and say "I'm so glad you noticed that. It will only take you a few moments to ___ the ___ while I ____. "

Fill in the blanks as needed.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 4:54PM
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That's the problem with working at home, no friends (friendly coworkers) to call on for help. It's hard to cold call a friend to ask them to come over to help clean your house. I would call a service,they would clean up in less than a day and may not cost you that much, if they can come out right away. You keep mentioning recycling. If I were you I would stop recycling. This may not be politically correct but why should you clutter up your home with "garbage". I understand many communities just stack up this junk and have a hard time handlding it all. The few bucks you pick up when it's sold is not worth it to me. In out community all recyclables go into a colored bag and put in the trash can. They to through the garbage here and pull out these bags. Then it sits to be disposed of one way or another. Mine goes into the can instead of sitting around my house until something is full enough to take somewhere. Good luck with your home but I would just give everything "a lick and a promise" and carry on. When I think company may be coming, I wipe down the bathroom with Lysol wipes, throw down a clean rug, wipe down the mirror with microfiber. Then grab a box, throw in any clutter lying around and put it in my car's trunk. Take out the vacuum quickly run it (or as DH to do it as it makes my back hurt), grab a webster and dust the corners. Go over flat surfaces with barely moist dustrag. Then work on the kitchen and fridge.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 1:16AM
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I agree, you don't need the grief.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my aunt was going to be in town and wanted to see everyone's home. The last time she did this, she truly judged each of our homes and compared them and decided whose was nicer. It was awful.

That aunt is once again in town and I decided I don't need that kind of stress. I told my mom to just say I was busy or something. (My mom completely understood.) So today while I was in the house I could see my parents' car driving slowly past my house. My aunt made them at least drive by my house so she could see the outside of it! (Of course, the lawn isn't mowed and I am currently re-staining the bench on the front porch so it's sitting across our front door....)

She can go visit my ultra-neat cousin who never has a thing out of place.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 2:09AM
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Hi again.

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mothers out there.

Thanks again for helping on my cleaning journey. I got the paperwork all done so cleaned in earnest today. The livingroom floor has held up, so the livingroom is pretty much guest ready. The office/guest room is just about done. The kitchen still needs more spot cleaning, though the recycling is gone, hurray, and the bathrooms need to be spruced up. I feel like I'm going to be done by when they come, which is easing the panic some. Plus my DH has taken tomorrow off and will tackle the too long lawns. As far as the recycling goes we have to do that in this town as they only take about four garbage bags a week, and with the recycling the garbage would add up to more than that. Housenewbie, re the ceiling, no fan, :( equals a yucky kitchen ceiling. It isn't white up there any more. :( Besides my sisters in law notice everything. Hopefully I'll have time to do some ceiling cleaning. I am doing as suggested for the first night of their visit anyway, and keeping the lights lowered, lol. Thanks Sue, for that idea. :) Sorry about your Aunt, intherain. She doesn't know what she's missing when concentrating on the superficial. Your DS is braver than I, lazygardens. I always feel that if I make a suggestion that someone cleans what they don't like that they will do it, and by doing so will make my meager efforts look really bad. Terrapots you said it, no friends or coworkers around to help in my isolated world. I'm a loner anyway and have trouble dealing with more than a few people in my life, but it does make trading help with others more difficult. Anyway, I think I'm doing okay, and hope they're pleasantly surprised at my neat, clean home. I'll enjoy it as long as it lasts. Thanks again.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 3:44AM
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I hope all went well for you and that your company was not too critical. Why can't people just be nice to just visit and not judge. I just found out we are having house guests next week. House is halfway clean but have to dust and clear up clutter. I work at home so it's hard to isolate time. It was 3 PM before I got around to eating. I had interruptions while I was thinking of making coffee this AM. I think I'm done, surely people have now gone home! Tonight I clear hot spots, tomorrow go through things I can toss or donate, maybe vacuum. Good thing I polished my front door and the living room is spotless. I have to keep it that way as occasionally I have business "clients" stop in. FOUR GARBAGE BAGS A WEEK! YIKES! I'd find another place to live. There's only two of us and we use two of those big totes (we pay extra for the second), not always full but great to have when needed, and a large big tote for the garden refuse. Most things end up in a plant to be burned for energy. Plus there's limb pickups once a month except in fall when they pick up leaves. Garden stuff is made into compost for residents if they want. The city picks the cans up in one fell swope, it has trucks that sorts the garden from garbage when it's picked up. At our other location, garden stuff and garbage go in one tote, a big tote is used for recycling and it takes two trucks to pick them up. Everything in the garbage goes into the landfill.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:26PM
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