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Archive for December 22nd, 2023

Acceptable Levels of Dirt and Mess

December 22, 2023

I changed the sheets on two beds today (the king in the main bedroom and a twin in one of the guest bedrooms), and while I was shoving pillows back into pillowcases (a total of twelve pillows into ten cases because two of our small pillows are too flat for comfort so they get a second small pillow to help them out), I reflected on the fact that I’ve never had what I’d consider a proper system for keeping up with household chores. I wrote about this problem in in 2002, wondering if FlyLady would be something to try. I did not follow up and try it, so that question remains unanswered. I also wondered back then about a cleaning service, expressing some reservations about strangers in my home. Not even two years later, I had a cleaning lady and angst about having a cleaning lady. For years after that, Maria then Mimi then Angela came every two weeks to scrub and mop and dust and wipe. Which meant every two weeks Mr. Karen and I had to straighten the house so they could do that. Those years are the closest I came to having a “system” that kept things clean and under control.

We gave up our cleaning lady after we retired and weren’t living full time in Michigan anymore. Since then, it’s been back to doing the essentials like dish washing and laundry when the stuff piles up to the point where it’s obvious we can’t put it off and doing everything else on a haphazard basis, so for a few days before we’re expecting visitors we have to scramble around to spruce things up. At one point, I created a system which had daily, weekly, and zone tasks written on 3 x 5 cards (I think inspired by some book I read?) but I don’t remember ever actually putting that fully into action. (I’m pretty sure I first wrote out the cards before we got a cleaning lady, but a search through my archives didn’t turn up any evidence of when. I updated the cards after we moved out here to Idaho, reusing some and just adding an “s” on the end of upstairs bathroom since we now have two of those.) I still have the box and the cards—they’re sitting in arm’s reach right now as I type this—but only one card has more than a few dates written on it to indicate I did the task. That one is the “change sheets” card, which is now onto a second card because I filled the first one up. Why that one? Because I’m a visual person and by the time the sheets are dirty enough to see that fact, they’re way too dirty, so I started using that card to note when I’d put new ones on which bed so I could quickly see how long it had been and change them at reasonable intervals. It works pretty well. It hasn’t worked for me for any other tasks, I just do those either when I can’t stand looking at the dirt or when someone is coming to visit. So I guess I do have a system, and it sort of works as long as I’m willing to overlook a certain level of dirt and mess, and I’ve shown myself time and time again that I am. Still, I sometimes think it would be nice to not put so many things off until the last minute, to act before the piles start teetering.


On this date in 2022: In the Outlet by the Light Switch
2021: Three Times Make a Tradition for Sure
2020: One Year Later
2019: Quiet Day
2018: Fonts Matter
2017: Joiner
2016: Snapping Photos is Cheaper
2015: Who Are You Calling a Western Stubby?
2014: Bad Santa
2013: WDW Day 6: Magic Kingdom and a New Hotel
2012: Sock Monkey Summit
2011: Not Yet Socks
2010: Reversible Watch Cap
2009: In the Belly of the Beast
2008: Brain Clutter
2007: UFOs
2006: Tech Cat & Accretion is for Losers
2005: Spirit of the Season
2004: I’ve Been Working on the SQL
2003: Not a Weekly Check-In
2002: Planning

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