When I woke up after spending four days alone in bed with the flu recently, I unstuck my eyelids to view some nasty rolled-up balls of tissue paper, glasses full of cloudy water, and a laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes. From there, I tottered to the living room, where I found mementos of my last vacation, such as assorted ski gear and two open suitcases spilling their contents out onto the floor.
That’s when it hit me. There are certain life events that cause a mess, such as going on ski trips and catching the flu. I shouldn’t take it to mean that I’m a slob. And since I like to clean my house in the laziest way possible, I’ve decided come up with a game plan to avoid having to deal with a mess of this magnitude again. This is what I’ve come up with.
I add “cleaning chores” to my travel itinerary.
When you’ve been living in hotel rooms for a while, you kind of get out of the habit of cleaning. After all, MAID SERVICE. And it’s so easy to forget, right? Since it will take me about a week(!) to get back to my regular routine, I think it would be a good idea to carve out 10 minutes of clean-up time before I leave for my next trip.
This would include clearing out some floor space so that I can navigate the living room and spread out my suitcases when I get back. Anything is better than stepping on the contents of my luggage for days because I haven’t yet gotten around to putting stuff away.
Another problem is laundry. Most of the time, I have a laundry schedule. I do it every Saturday, etc. But whenever I come back from a trip, all that goes out the window. The contents of my laundry basket will spontaneously multiply while I deal with the tedious task of catching up on the TV episodes I missed while I was away.
So next time, I’ll do at least one or two loads of laundry either before a trip or immediately after. That way, I get a little breathing time before stuff starts spilling out of the hamper.
What comes next may be common sense to you, but it wasn’t to me at first. It was something that I had to learn on the path to being a grown-up. You know how you count the days of your trip so that you can pack the correct amount of underwear? Well, I do the exact same thing with the food in my kitchen in the days before a trip.
I clean out the fridge, checking the expiration date on the milk and tossing any leftovers that won’t survive until I get back. That way, I won’t have to deal with yet another nasty chore later. For the same reason, I throw out the garbage two minutes before I walk out the door with all my suitcases. After all, garbage doesn’t keep.
I plan ahead when I’m about to get sick.
The biggest problem when you get sick? Garbage. It tends to pile up when you’re not well enough to totter outside to put in the bin. So, I think it would be a good idea to use one or two of these pop-up trash bins to keep things from piling up.
Another thing I can do is order a supply of cold meds and ginger ale from the local grocery store. I haven’t used this service before but I know that the elderly have been taking advantage of it for years. There’s usually a minimum order amount, but delivery fee is surprisingly affordable, running to about 2 to 5 dollars.
I’m also working on making my husband cooperate the next time I get sick. There have been times when I’ve crawled out of bed before I’m completely well, crying weakly, and try to clean house, because he doesn’t see messes the same way that I do. I think it might help to give him an incredibly specific and achievable goal that he can stick to doing, such as washing the dishes everyday. That could totally work, right?
I expect boxes to pile up when I do Internet shopping, or do home improvement projects.
Recently, Mr. Min replaced the bedroom chandelier with a ceiling fan, and the curtains with blinds. He dug into the wiring and installed everything himself. Normally, this would mean that our bedroom would be littered with cardboard boxes and Styrofoam for days or weeks. We’d keep them around just in case we didn’t like the ceiling fan, or it broke, or whatever.
This time though, I had the foresight to clear out some room in a closet for those boxes. So when my husband finished installing everything, our bedroom was surprisingly uncluttered. And later, I had the luxury of waiting a few more days before I pulled those boxes out of the closet and threw them away. It was good lesson on trying to predict what kind of messes our home improvement projects would make, and coming up with a plan to deal with it right away.
I think ahead when I’m about to have my period.
You know how you always try to stock up on tampons and Midol just before you have your period? Well, that’s the same time I think I should focus on doing at least one or two loads of laundry. It’s the sort of thing I tend to put off doing when I’m feeling out of sorts. But it’s absolutely necessary because I know I’m going to need an ample supply of fresh underwear, stretchy pants, bed sheets and towels.
Another thing I do is set up a laundry center when I know that my period is about to start. This means placing some detergent and a clothesline, or in my case, a couple of suction-cup hooks by the bathtub. Leaks happen and when one does, I can give my underwear a good scrub and let it drip dry. This is my best defense against bloodstains, so that I don’t have to toss my period panties or use a powerful stain remover. Gross yes, but it happens.
I follow a sequence, whether it’s vacuuming, mopping or moving house.
Some things need to be done in the correct order. I always pick up before I vacuum, and I vacuum before I mop the floors. If I do it any other way, I might end up trying to suck up wet dirt, or navigate a cluttered floor with my vacuum cleaner.
The same rule applies to moving. When some people do it, they live out of their moving boxes for days, maybe even weeks. That’s not me. In fact, the last time I moved, I unpacked so quickly that our two-floor apartment was livable within a few days. I was able to do this because I had decided that the act of unpacking should be just as planned out and methodical as the act of packing up a home.
For example, I was able to identify why I might be tempted to put off doing this task. It was because I didn’t want to put my stuff in places that were still covered with the dirt and grime of previous tenants. To overcome this mental block, I cleaned all the floors before arranging the furniture in places that I might not be able to reach with a vacuum for the next few weeks.
And before I put my clothes and dishes away, I got over the ick factor by wiping down surfaces like the walls, inside the closets, the kitchen counter, and the inside all of the kitchen cabinets. Creating a plan and doing stuff in the correct order made it a lot easier to take things step by step, until finally, I was able to put everything away.
Now, it’s your turn. Should I shut up now because all of these tips are really obvious and you already do them? And do you have any tips to keep the mess from getting out of control? Talk to me! I’m ALL ears.
I’m on twitter -- @minjams.