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Crisis Housecleaning


How are things going at your house?  Crazy?? The holidays are over and the house looks like it's been hit by a hurricane...right? Maybe..maybe not, but things are certainly not in the normal state of order--I bet! (I can tell you that a house that has withstood a hurricane (like Ike) still looks pretty bad after two weeks with no power. Stinky toilets, wax dropped everywhere, the results of washing dishes with cold water and smelly toilets...eeew! Yuck!)

My theory for the "after-the-holidays-messy -house-shock"is that for some reason, the sun hits it's zenith the week after New Year's.  I take down the decorations and all I can see is dirt!!...on the windows, coffee tables etc.  I always thought that the reason I saw so much dust after the holidays is that the sun had finally moved over the yard arm and the rooms that were shady, were now sunny and vice-versa.  Actually, I think it's just that the decorations distract your eye from the dirt...until you pack them up! The whole house gets dirty while you are celebrating, but you don't quite realize it until January.

It's crazy at my house too, I can assure you!!  Imagine that you suddenly have to leave every single week to go care 24-7 for a father whose mind has gone a little loopy with his pain medications.  You are four hours away from home and can't come home until the weekend. Your daughter has to cook--your boys have to clean-- and your hubby is suddenly in charge of homeschooling your ADHD 14yr. old.  You don't get to be on the scene at all....not one bit.. until the weekend.  You drive four hours on Friday night from Dallas to Houston, only to crash and have a little weep because you've suddenly realized just how tired and homesick you really are. 
Life doesn't happen in a vacuum...nor does homeschooling..or homemaking.  Elisabeth Elliott says that "interruptions are God's appointments".  I keep telling myself that while I cry myself to sleep in a gloomy house that my dad moved into after Grandma died. This house is full of bad memories (thanks to a dysfunctional family history going back many generations) and this is the home I have to clean and repair while caring for my him.


But the homemaking and homeschooling must go on!  Not only must my family's home keep running-- albeit long distance--but my Dad hasn't felt like cleaning for months because of the chemo treatments. The piles are everywhere..and I will inherit these piles to clean up and/or sell someday.  Not only that, but responsibilities and decisions I don't feel quite ready for, are piled in my lap...to the sky!  Our dear Heavenly Father is so good--He has met every need and conquered every hurdle.  I keep taking each hurdle to him in prayer...and voila!--it's fixed. Why do I doubt and get so worried?

Is this not the ultimate test of your homemaking methods?? To leave your family for weeks on end to keep life going  on their own while you are gone?  This next few weeks, I'll cover some housecleaning topics that I've developed in the midst of crisis.  I've had to clean under some pretty dire circumstances and come up with some pretty effective methods.  I cared for my granny with Alzheimer's disease for the last year of her life just after my fourth baby was born.  I've cared for a poor single man with extreme attention needs  who like to drove me crazy!! He hadn't lived with any one for 50 years and wasn't about to change his ways, even if I was going to help him while he recovered from a heart attack at the age of 71. No one else in our church could tolerate him for more than 15 minutes.

And then there was the cancer year. Tim, my dear hubby, was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 35. 20 years ago, that was a death sentence. It is a fast acting killer cancer.  The doctors did surgery to contain the cancer, but it didn't work. The cancer spread to his lungs and liver. Is there anyway to describe the fear, despair, and depression I felt? I had five small children to care for--ages 9 to 3 months. We had just moved to Florida..far away from family and friends. And my husband had a boss who was totally neurotic.  I expected Tim to come home and say he was fired...every single day of that year.  Somehow, I had to keep going though--just as I have to keep going now.  School starts on Monday and I won't be there. I'll be on the phone with doctors, hospice, home health care, a lawyer, etc.  The list is long. Cleaning in this mental state is difficult at best!


HOW TO KEEP UP THE HOUSE IN A CRISIS
 The first thing I want to share with you that will help you clean house when it's gotten really bad or you just don't feel up to itis the concept of 'maintenance'.  When things are going awry...think "minimum maintenance". My mom's method of cleaning was to do all our  projects and fun and then five minutes before Dad got home, run through the house cleaning like crazy so he wouldn't get upset.  I took that method with me into college.  I always wondered why 'drop by' visitors never dropped by on the day I cleaned which was about once a month! Then I came across a wonderful book-- Confessions of an Organized Housewife.

What I learned from her, was that we have to MAINTAIN OUR HOMES!! I always wondered how to get the house clean so it would STAY that way but as she said, that is "never-never land".  In the real world, we get hungry every four hours, have to comb our hair several times of day, etc. In a crisis, maintaining a certain semblance of order is the key. As Denice says, "Do it Daily" must be your motto.

FlyLady in "Sink Reflections,  says that a morning routine is like a homemaking 'vitamin'. After eight years of doing it 'her' way, I can assure you that it is true.  Every morning, thanks to her, I say to myself, whether at Dad's or at my home, "Laundry, Supper, Dishes, Trash, Toilet"...over and over.

After devotions, these are the things that matter.  That's the answer to cleaning during a crisis!
Every morning, even if it's 10am, do these five things:
1. Start or bump a load of laundry.
2. Take meat out to defrost (or decide what to cook).
3. Empty dishwasher or load it.
4. Empty trash.
5. Swish toilets.

No matter what else...these five things will keep you going!  My kids also sweep and vacuum in the morning as needed. You can go a very long time on this list of priorities!  This is how my 19year old daughter 17 year old and , 14 year old son's keep things going while I'm gone.  And this is how I am digging out and functioning at my father's home...doing these five things. This works..anywhere and in any circumstances!! We are talking about 30 minutes a day spread out over the whole day.  My dad's needs are very similar to my days with a newborn.  He's up all night and so am I. I sleep when he sleeps if I can.  I'm so tempted to work while he's asleep but that's never going to work.  So I need to clean in the most effective manner in the shortest amount of time possible.

Once you do these things, every morning, you are well on your way to a stable home environment regardless of the circumstances. Keep trying every morning to follow your morning routine. At first it will drive you crazy, but eventually it will become a habit.

The first time I did this, I started at 3:45pm.  The next day it was 12:00pm. Gradually I got to the point of doing my morning routine in the morning--amazing!  So take those vitamins..if you want your home to stay healthy!
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4 comments:

Sewfast said...

I just found your blog from a note on Trudy Callan's blog! Nice! I'll be adding you to my blog roll! Thanks! Mary

knbquilts said...

I love your Blog, it has some really GREAT things on it. I am adding you to my favorites.
Nell

Lorraine said...

also found you via Trudy. I am so sorry you have had a bad year with your family's problems..lets hope things change for the better in 2010..sending you lots of positivity. As for your 5 things..I do similiar but my first is washing all the dishes as I dont have a dishwasher, then clearing away the toys and sweeping the floor, emptying the rubbish bins and cleaning the loos. I have got a slow cooker so that is great for saving time as I put all the ingredients for the evening meal then put it on at 8am and its cooked by 5pm

coloradogal said...

Thank you for sharing these great tips with us, especially in the middle of such trying circumstances! Your positive and giving attitude is a real inspiration. Praying for God's peace and strength for you and your family.

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster
Welcome to Comin' Home! If you lived nearby, I'd invite you over to my neck of the woods for a nice long chat and a cup of tea out on the deck. But since we can't do that, I hope you'll stay and look around. I love learning new things and sharing what I learn with friends. Comin' Home is where I share tips from my many projects. Let's have some fun together! XO Donna

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