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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Change your life in 15 minutes!



For the past several weeks, a couple of times a week, I have been posting on social media my "daily 3": three 15-minute housekeeping challenges. It's been fun to watch a few people join in and do a micro-blitz on some section of their home. Some days, I'll do all three at once, though usually, if I'm honest, I'll dilly-dally around and drag them out till after lunchtime. Last night, I offered to do one with a couple of friends this morning, so I made and posted my list and set my timer:

C and A, (and anyone else) here are my 3 15-minute challenges for today:
1. The 3-load pile of laundry on my couch (fold, put away)
2. walk-about and dust (general tidy/pick up around the house)
3. clean the windows around kitchen/den (back deck, puppy "smarms"...bothers me every time I see all those smears)
Bear is my "helper". We make it a race... he will get first turn at the duster and help with a window or two. Have fun!
The timer is in the kitchen, so by the time I walked back to the bedroom, where the 3-load pile of laundry awaited me, I already felt "behind the gun", but apparently, I wasn't too overwhelmed, for my folding rather resembled a pleasant stroll than a sprint. As I continued folding (and realized this pile was not made up of giant, easy towels, but lots of socks and little kid shirts and underwear), my pace picked up because I could tell, this was going to be a miracle to finish this before the timer. "Fold and put away." As the compressed pile of clothes continued to expand, the deeper I went, reality hit: no way is this pile getting finished in 15 minutes. What to do? What to do? These napkins really needed to be ironed first, they were a wrinkled mess. I debated putting them in the charity pile, but simply folded them instead. I can iron later. As my folding started to hit its rhythm, I thought ahead to the next challenge. It was kind of a "cheat" 15... I mean a walk-about could be anything and if I didn't quite get the clothes done, walking them to the bedrooms and putting them up would still "count", right?
Right.
So I folded and folded and folded and started to put things away. Mid-stride, the timer went off and I briskly walked to the kitchen and reset it and kept briskly walking to the children's rooms to put away their piles. Make a bed here, open curtains there, put the shoes in a nice line. I walk past the timer thinking I will have at least 10 minutes remaining before this challenge is up. Five minutes and 20 seconds remaining! Yikes! How did that happen? Quickly, I pick up dust bunnies. Where's the duster? Bear has decided to use one of his 30-min "tech blocks" and is busy playing Angry Birds. I thank God as I am now on my hands and knees under the table trying to gather up what seems to be an exploded part of last night's dinner. There are dust bunnies everywhere. They swirl around just out of reach as I swat at them with my duster. The old electric clock starts its quarter-chime and I know that I've got about one more minute before the kitchen timer goes off. Kitchen floor crumbs or bedroom dust? I choose kitchen floor and grab the dust pan. By now, my face is turning beet red and my hair is starting to stick out in all directions. As I sweep, I think about the next challenge: windows. Why the HELL did I say I was going to do that one? They are filthy and there are 7 of them in the kitchen/den area...and they have TWO SIDES, an inside and an outside! Bad idea, Erica. Bad idea.
The timer dings and I reset it and grab the paper towels and windex and start cleaning the interior windows like my life depends on it. Spray, spray, wipe, wipe, wipe. Up. Down. Figure 8. I am grunting and huffing and my back is saying, "What are you doing all this moving about for?" Is this sweat? How did I become so lazy that this simple chore is kicking my butt? Quick. Quick. Quick. Inside panes done, I grab the ratty broom out of the garage and quickly wipe down the two sides of my glass back door. Ugg. There's a chocolate milk ring on the glass patio table. I clean it as I set down my supplies. Gross! What did I just step in? Chicken poop? I had seen Pilot up here yesterday, stupid bird. I wipe down my foot and take the broom to attack the spiders and cobwebs and leaves that are all over the sills and edges of these windows. My reflection stares back at me: who is this woman acting like a maniac? I spray and wipe as fast as I can. When did I do this last? Thinking back, and back, and back: springtime maybe? No wonder it looks so bad. Finally, I finish. There are still two more windows, but those are a part of the master bedroom and technically do not count, so I gladly walk back in to check the timer. Seven minutes blinks back at me. I have seven minutes remaining? What the heck? I laugh and go back on the deck and clean the other two windows, then do the inside panes that they belong to. Then clean two toilet bowls, and wipe down two bathroom counters, and a light switch that looks amazingly spattered with grime. There is one minute left and I wipe down the kitchen counter. Somewhere in the world, two women are believing me when I say I'm going to do something. They are doing their little somethings, too. And though my house is not fully clean, it has been cleaned enough for today. Anything extra is a bonus. And the bonus doesn't need to happen to make me feel better about myself. It is enough for today, in and of itself. 
Bear is restless now. The library and park are on the agenda today.
15 minutes can change your life.
It's changed mine.
~e