A confession: I am a neat freak*. My wife, Nancy, is not. When she was the house parent and I worked full time, coming home from work at 9:30PM to our bombed out disaster area of an apartment was almost enough to send me into a catatonic depression. It was a serious (but not the only) strain on our relationship, but we got past those hard years and don't look back. When I became a full time stay at home Dad almost three years ago, I made some serious changes, believe me! I made vast, dizzying sweeps of our condo and purged it of everything that was broken, not used, or clothing we didn't wear. For some reason, I find myself purging unworn clothing twice yearly, even though I don't purchase more than 3 or 4 items a year. (NOTE: this does not including shoes and boots. Those are necessities for a person with an active lifestyle) Once that first mega-purge was done, I had a written schedule of which rooms got cleaned on which days, and keeping the place in good order was easy-cheesy and freed me up butt loads of time to run, bike, explore new places, and still be home in time to get Kole off the school bus. After Elliette was born 15 months ago, obviously I had a bit of a harder time keeping up with it all. Having to take a baby into every room with you while you work isn't ideal, or sometimes not even practical. My laundry room is in desperate need of a nice hard purging, but it's very cold and there is no place to let her play while I work my magic. On top of having to lug the baby around with me, I broke a bone in my foot in September, temporarily disabling me and leaving me (for all intents and purposes) couch bound and allowing WEEKS of house work to fall to the wayside. The place is a MESS. It has been VERY stressful. (I have an appt with my doctor to talk about anxiety meds, but that's a topic for another day)
Having an emptier house works for me in two ways:
1: It's very calming to live in a minimalist house. There is just something about not being overwhelmed with clutter and knick-knacky crap that puts the soul at ease. When I see a big mess, I need to see it go away. It's like a sneeze. I CAN ignore it alone and go on with my day, but it is very unpleasant, and as it goes on longer it gets uncomfortable, then painful. If I can nip all that in the bud by cleaning, or just NOT making a mess, so be it. Case closed.
2: It's less cleaning. Which means less work. I HATE work. I want to play all day. But this isn't very realistic. So, when my house is "very" clean, I can get away with about an hour or two of straightening up everyday just to maintain.
Over the past week, I've made significant headway into getting the place back to ship-shape, and getting my head to shut up and not scream every time I walk into a room. I even had a sit down meeting with Koletrane and Nancy and discussed things we can all do to make life a little neater. Kole is doing well with the general rule of simply "NOT making a mess!!!" Well, as long as I'm there to remind him. Nancy, not so much. She thinks that since shes going to come home from work and put on her sweatpants right away, that it is perfectly OK to leave them on the couch all day. But she is making an effort to change the trash when it needs it, and not just pile trash up next to the sink. I'll take what I can get for now. Small victories, no matter how small, are still victories.
*I am not a germophobe, down on all fours scrubbing out corners at 3AM like an ODC poster child. I don't very often use chemical cleaners, often opting for warm water with vinegar. I simply abhor mess, and clutter.