I know it’s technically winter, but in CA, its spring like.

Something I’m learning about how to keep my house cleaned up/straightened up/somewhat clutter-free…so, if Aunt Clara drops by I won’t get that rapid heartbeat that I get when I feel like I’m being judged. I know it can’t all be done in one day, so I chunk it down…maybe a half or whole room a day. I do have other things that need my attention during the day besides housecleaning.

So this is what worked for me, at least for now. I started with my utility room. The smallest, most neglected and unseen room in my house. Why clean it? Who’s going to see it anyway? The answer to that is “me”. Every time I walk in there to do the laundry or clean out the cat box I say to myself “What a freaking mess”. Then I walk out and forget about it until the next time I HAVE to go in there. It took me ALL DAY to clean and organize a 5 x 10′ room with a washer, dryer, freezer and water heater taking most of the space. First of all, I live on an almond farm with a shop and tractor area surrounding my house. So dust and dirt is a daily challenge. If I let anything go longer than a few days I have a pile of dirt on any flat surface (that’s not covered with clutter). There was reorganizing the cabinets where I found an amazing amount of useful things and an equally amazing amount of junk to be tossed. Part of the re-org involved under the kitchen sink. Cleaning supplies and cleaning supplies, right? The many duplicates could explain why I run out of space.

The kitchen was next. (After I freshened up the utility room) The first thing to be dealt with was the paperwork I was using as a tablecloth…mail, newspapers, notes to self, notes to others, just notes. This took half the time because I am evidently a paperwork hoarder…well, paper hoarder in general. I needed a breather a good chunk of the way through. Don’t laugh. It’s exhausting deciding what to keep and what to let go of. I had to do it more than once. I had a notes-to-self notebook I could transfer notes to. A notes-to-someone else notebook. Each someone-else had their own page or two. A lot of the notes were obsolete. There have been many times I had to throw everything on the table into a bag and hide it in the closet or somewhere not to be seen again when I had friends over. I still don’t know what’s in those bags. So I must not need them. Right???

Back to business. Next was figuring out where to put the papers I was keeping. File cabinet, bookshelf, etc. The file cabinet pile was left for another day when I have to re-org my file cabinet. Next are the counters and the stuff on them. This had to include drawers and cabinets. I started panicking. I quickly went to the utility room and took a deep breath. I remembered how I felt, inside and out, when I completed this room. Another deep breath. Ok, I’m ready to get back to the kitchen, looking forward to the same feeling about two rooms. I started at the counter next to the utility room door (I could see my handiwork) and moved clockwise. Cleaned, re-organized, found homes for things that do not belong on my counters, etc. Most of a day. I now know how it feels to dance around TWO cleaned up, organized, I-can-find-anything-you-ask-for rooms.

It took another week before I even started to spring clean the living room. I do have another life. BUT, every day I went to the utility room and dusted it off and made sure everything was in its place. Then I did the same with the kitchen. I also noticed I wasn’t leaving paperwork on the tables in the living room so much. In fact, I started putting things away without even noticing I was doing it. So…when it was time to start on the living room it was much easier. I even washed the cushion covers from my sofa. I was getting used to and expecting to feel awesome, like SOMEBODY, like my Aunt Clara could drop in whenever she wanted and I would welcome her without one twitch. As long as she doesn’t come in further than the living room. I don’t know how long this will last, but so far it’s working. Still to be done is my bedroom and office.

It’s almost a week later. Still “freshening” up my previously spring cleaned rooms. Have not started on the other rooms. I feel so overwhelmed. Both rooms have ceiling fans that work with lights that do not. I need to replace the lights. In fact, now that I’m talking about ceiling fan lights, the one in the kitchen has the light, but not the cord to pull. Fortunately it turns on when the switch goes on, along with the fan and goes out when it’s switched off, along with the fan. Speaking of the kitchen I found two things I missed when I worked so hard to get it completely cleaned and organized. Well, three things. The top of the refrigerator. Another flat surface under the window and behind the kitchen table with PAPERS on it. OMG! The worst, however is my toaster/convection oven that sits on my counter. It was beautifully cleaned on the outside and I thought that was done. It isn’t. It hasn’t been cleaned like an oven should be cleaned in at least two years. I use it all the time. I discovered it when a light bulb went on in my head…unlike the lights in the office and bedroom. I realized the reason I needed to turn the oven fan on and open all the doors and windows about 10 minutes after I start baking. It wasn’t the PAM or the oil I used so things won’t stick. It was the baked on splatters from more than two years of baking chicken, steak, fish, frozen French fries, etc. and it wasn’t going to come off with a sponge. So I need to use an oven cleaner. Why would I have an oven cleaner under my sink (I know this because I just cleaned out and re-organized it a few days ago)? I have a self-cleaning big oven and a little toaster oven that I toast AND bake stuff in. So now I am in the middle of cleaning my toaster oven and can’t finish until I get some oven cleaner. Next time I go into town. You see, I live on a farm and just outside a tiny town with no stores that carry oven cleaner. So I have to drive almost 30 minutes away to buy it. Not happening today. While I’m in town getting the oven cleaner in a couple of days, I should pick up three new ceiling fans. I won’t be able to put the fan up in my office, where I really need the light because I’ve been using it as storage for things I took out of storage and I haven’t put in their place yet. This idea of spring cleaning came to me after that. The covered window is on the other side of the room. I’m in a conundrum – My living room looks very nice and clutter free or it doesn’t, and I’m dragging stuff in there from my office so I can get to the window to see so I can put things in their place. I’m afraid some of the boxes will stay in the living room because, as you ADHDers know, it’s not going to be fun anymore. I won’t want to do it. So what to do…

I go to the utility room and look at how beautiful it looks (for a utility room) and notice how good I feel and capture that feeling by closing my eyes and taking a deep breath and grasp the wonderful feeling of finishing something. I put my blinders on as I walk past the toaster oven sprawled out on my pristine counter waiting for oven cleaner. I walk into my living room and it’s so clutter free and I feel so good that I actually finished something. I’m starting to get pumped up again. I’ll cover up the toaster oven with a towel until I can clean it. I’ll let you know how the office and bedroom go another day.