The Write Tools


Shoveling Out June 19, 2008

One room clean, ugh many more to go My kids and I are on an epic “adventure” in cleaning this week, I call it shoveling out the house. While I am pitching bagfuls of cheap plastic, I think to myself, “Why do I buy so much (well I must say it) crap?”

I am struck by the words of a wise friend who was channeling her inner Peter Walsh… “You won’t have to clean so much if you don’t keep so much.” Or, as my good Midwestern, sensible husband might add… buy it in the first place.

I love a clean house… I really do… I enjoy sitting on my cozy couch, my warm and fuzzy blanket drawn up…a cup of warm jasmine tea in hand… a great book open on my lap (my children blissfully asleep in their OWN beds)… and looking over the vastness that is a clean house… the Lego and Polly pocket free floors, the stacks of paper gone from all horizontal surfaces, the fact that I can stretch my legs out on the couch without knocking over two weeks of junk mail and seven loads of unfolded laundry… Awe BLISS.

However, I am not a talented homemaker… in fact I despise the tasks that it involves all together. I have distinct memories from childhood praying for angels to come overnight and clean my room. Alas, I hadn’t learned yet that God uses room cleaning to teach patience, discipline… needless to say, I never had any angelic maids feather dusting at night… and have tried to avoid as much as I possibly can ever since.

Good on you Fly-Ladies, but… I just can’t seem to make cleaning the house EVERY Day work for me. Instead I choose to marathon clean… meaning when the house starts to have Pre-Cambrian layers it’s time to start shoveling… Indiana Jones style. This is not the method I would recommend, however it seems to be the pattern that I am stuck in…and sick of.

So, I have decided (for the tenth time…at least) that I am turning over a new leaf. That it is time to teach my children to live clean and relatively clutter free lives…and do OTS…(Opportunities to Serve… fancy acronym for chores) I am not without a heart, and realize that it is easier to maintain and do said OTS’s in a clean house, so it’s “kill the first week of summer and get rid of everything” time.

Now, if you are a parent… the dilemna is this…motivating said children to 1) clean at all 2) not move into the clean areas you have just finished, because it’s so much “funner” to play in the part that is not at critical mass 3) get rid of the toy that has been collecting dust behind the couch for 3 months…because it is their FAVVORITEE…  Awe, I can see you sympathise.

So my answer and advice is to bribe with abandon. Instead of popping a coronary…this time… I make up great rewards for achievement… Sure mommy will sit through Kung Fu Panda with you… for a price, just your room clean. Laser Tag?? No problem, the living room is all yours, make sure you dust.

And hey, guess what…

It still didn’t work 🙂

So 3 bags of trash, 5 bags of old clothes and toys to give away…I have 5 rooms down, 3 more and 3 bathrooms to go… I have come to this conclusion and written a sign that is posted on the door out to the garage… it reads

People/Time over Things: 7 days of bleach fumes is not worth buying ___(insert items)____.   

So, You Fly-Lady’s who love to write me whenever I moan over housework…bring it on. I would love any suggestions that actually work…not in theory, but are time tested and successful. I will post the good ones to encourage us domestically challenged…come on, I know you are out there…

See you on the Flip Side! Amie



4 Responses to “Shoveling Out”

  1. Kym Says:

    I’m periodically good at housecleaning (I think it is time to get good again 8)

    The way I get started is set a timer for 15 minutes walk into a room and bust my buns. Repeat in each room until house is much cleaner. I have 7 rooms thus in less than 2 hours I have made substantial inroads. I repeat daily until I have enough time to devote an additional hour to one room. I start at one corner and clean madly. Repeat usually in about 1 to 2 weeks every tiny corner is sparkling. Then I can just do the 15 minute per room…unfortunately then I slack off and have to start again. At the end of March all was beautiful but…


  2. Amie – I have a mom-tested system to solve your housecleaning woes! Honestly! I am a mom of 2 and a Professional Organizer in Indiana, who also hates house cleaning and maintenance. Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it? They say that organized people are just lazy because we don’t want to look for things. That’s true for me.

    As a fairly structured person I needed a concrete system to calm the chaos in our home and teach my children to be cheerful contributors of home maintenance. I turned the system I created for our family into a system for friends, family and clients, and have recently published it – titled ‘Mom, Can I Help Around the House? A Simple, Step-by-step System for Teaching Life-long Skills for Pitching in and Picking up! It works!!! Found on my website: and You can receive a free chapter of my book from the website.

    Hear me on & Blog Talk Radio next week (don’t know yet the air date of the interview).

    I can relate to your housecleaning woes … I’ve been there!

    Write if you have any questions.

    Janet (AKA The Organizing Genie)

  3. writetools Says:

    Thanks Ladies for the advice so far… keep it coming everyone!

  4. Pascale Reeder Says:

    Hi Amie
    I just want you to know that I’ve been praying for GOD to bring your husband home to you & your family. GOD has blessed me with your presence in my life. Thank you for helping me to understand GOD’s word. I love you so much. I’m the worst housekeeper ever but what helps me that I put on worship music & dance to it while I clean!

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