Fall Cleaning

I would be the first person to admit my housekeeping quirks. Perhaps that's a nice way of saying I'm a slob. I haven't always been that way. When I was a kid, I loved having a clean bedroom, with everything in its place, the decorative pillows stacked neatly on a freshly made bed. Somewhere along the way, though, I decided not to sweat the details. I started tossing junk in drawers, underneath beds, in corners of the closet.

Since the kid was born, the clutter has increased 100 times, it seems. What to do with the piles of clothes, toys, school papers, craft projects, baby teeth, and so on? All those LEGOs! They are everywhere. They seem to multiply like sewer rats. And they seem to find the bottoms of my bare feet like magnets to sharp, jagged metal.

This fall, I've decided to do something about the mess. I created a spreadsheet to organize a plan for cleaning, color coded by room and divided into particular tasks within each room to break down the monstrous tasks into bite-sized segments easier to complete. Nothing thrills me more than crossing off items on a to-do list. I'm a geek as well as a slob.

I've started with the upstairs, the living spaces that, once devoid of clutter and dust bunnies, help me settle into a sense of calm I have not felt in quite some time. So far, I've checked off the guest room (please visit so I can show off!), the guest bathroom, some hall closets, and parts of the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom. I am anticipating completing the first floor by the end of the month. Then comes the real challenge: the basement. It's cold, dark, spidery, and a general pit of doom. Whenever there's anything we don't want to deal with or look at on a daily basis, it goes there. Maneuvering through the piles has become an epic obstacle course. I challenge you to find the floor. I'm sure it's still there, but I haven't seen it for months.

The goal is to rid the basement of all unnecessary junk, designate one corner for storage, and then work to "finish" the living room and Tim's office. Goodwill, you better set aside serious space; you've been warned. We need to bring in an electrician to wire for extra outlets and lighting, and then we need to get some drywall up. Eventually, we plan to put the TV in the basement, install surround-sound, and set up Tim's space -- affectionately known as "The Man Room." Making the basement homey and livable will nearly double the finished space in our house. It will be like moving to a bigger space, but without the relocation costs and manual labor.

I have other plans, too. Tim installed beautiful laminate flooring through most of the first floor a while back and, once we complete the ceramic tile entry way, we can finish up some woodworking details and call the flooring project complete, once and for all. I would also love to install a screened-in or three-season porch on our back deck as well.

One step at a time, though. That's becoming my mantra, not only for cleaning but for life in general.

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