Housecleaning… and Parenting

Three long weeks ago I set out on a quest to clean and organize my home from top to bottom. I literally started at the top- in the upstairs, and worked my way down to the basement, which we finished yesterday.

I cleared my social calendar- well, not literally. It was more like I didn’t pursue anything much social in that time. I was hoping it would take me two weeks. It took three. Granted, other than the basement, I pretty much did it on my own, while being a full time mom, so I guess in all, it was okay that it took three  weeks. Some days I didn’t do much cleaning and some days that’s all I did. Kendall worked a lot of long days and overnights in those weeks, so that meant I couldn’t beg him for a lot of help.

I started in the spare bedroom, cleaning and clearing and organizing and rearranging, trying to make room for the crib/toddler bed that I wanted to move Emily out of. I painted the windowsills and fought the urge to paint the entire room. It needs it, but that would be a big project in itself, and my mission was to get things clean and relatively organized, not to fix things.

Our doorways upstairs are super narrow. At my heaviest, I could hardly get through the doorways. Hahaha. No, that’s not true, they aren’t that small or I wasn’t that large. But they are smaller than average, and I couldn’t move the crib from one room to another without disassembling it.

I was so proud of myself that I was able to figure out what tool I needed to take the crib apart, since it doesn’t have  regular screws. I took it apart, moved it to another room, and started putting it back together. I got the middle piece attached to the end pieces in short order, only to discover that I got it upside down when I went to put the drawers back in. So… I wasn’t as good as I thought I was! (read below:IMPORTANT! THIS SIDE UP! the problem is that when it’s upside down, it doesn’t say “IMPORTANT! THIS SIDE DOWN!)

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Meanwhile, I started painting some things for the girls’ room. Last summer we painted it a light gray, and obviously anything brown just doesn’t look good. Painting some of these things has been on my radar for awhile, but I just never got around to it.

The sanding part wasn’t too bad, but then I had to prime them and paint them. There were SO many corners! And I began to realize that I put it off for a year for a reason! I had to do 2-3 coats of paint AFTER the primer, so in the week that I worked on that (while I wasn’t cleaning) I didn’t think I had very much fun.

Here are before and afters of the things I painted.

The little toy box isn’t going into the girls’ room after all, at least not now.

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My Grandpa Eberly needed things to do in his old age,  (he died a few years ago) so he made a box out of scraps and gave this one to me. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it, but Kierra loved it. She wanted it to be painted pink, but I couldn’t find the can of pink, so I painted it white instead. She keeps her “treasures” in there!

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I hang the girl’s extra blankets on this rack.

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I bought this cradle at my Grandma Miller’s auction. I remember playing with it as a child. I really like it, but it needed a little help. This thing was THE hardest thing to paint. Oh my. I want to make some pink bedding for it. My girls are girly girls and really love pink a lot!

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Kendall’s mom gave this to Kierra for Christmas, along with figurines to put in it. I just couldn’t hang it on a gray wall. Actually, it’s still not hanging on the wall- Emily’s sleeping on a crib mattress right now and whenever we get her headboard painted and another twin bed in the room, we will be able to figure out where it should be hung.100_7932  100_7957

It took me almost a week to get the upstairs done, and a little over a week until I finished painting entirely. I only got two rooms cleaned the second week, although the living room did take awhile. I guess it IS the largest room in the house and it’s not an empty room, by any means. There’s a large bookcase and a sewing machine cabinet that’s full of things to be organized (why IS it so fun for kids to rummage through drawers and make a mess of them?!) and a chest of drawers full of fabric… all those things take time to clean and organize.

As I was cleaning, I was contemplating painting the hallway downstairs. It has a dark ceiling, dark knotty-pine walls, and a dark floor. It just struck me a few weeks ago when I walked in from the garage how VERY, VERY gloomy the entrance to our abode is, and how much painting it a light color would make it seem so much more welcoming and less like the entrance to a dungeon. It’s bothered me for a long time, but it bothers me even more now… but in the end, the desire to be done cleaning sooner won out, and we decided to postpone painting- but it’s definitely a project for this winter when there’s not so much going on and Kendall can help me.

One thing we did not postpone any longer was resurfacing our bathtub downstairs. It’s an old porcelain tub that the finish wore off long ago. We don’t have the best water most of the time, so the tub just never looked inviting. There have been times that I have literally scrubbed it for a couple of hours with all the best tub cleaning products out there, and I couldn’t get it to look much better. The picture here was after I scrubbed it for a good 45 minutes. It’s actually really embarrassing to look at this picture, but I promise, it is not dirty! I had checked into doing something about it earlier, and from what I determined, it was a project that would cost $300-500. I suggested getting a new tub, but Kendall said that the tub was built in and getting a new tub would end up being a big project. Recently when I researched our options again, I found this stuff  and we ended up getting it. For under $50 and afternoon of Kendall’s time, our tub looks 1000% better. Of course, we have yet to see how it holds up, but so far, it’s great and turned out better than we expected.

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This past Thursday, I finished cleaning the main floor, ending in the kitchen, my least favorite room. Kendall had been planning to work on Saturday, so I figured I was pretty much on my own with the basement. We do not have a finished basement, and it’s old and a little on the creepy side. It’s definitely home to lots of spiders, which is an annoyance to me, but the fear of encountering mice is what creeps me out a little. I actually go down to the basement regularly since my washer and dryer and freezer and can shelves are down there. It’s been awhile since we cleaned the basement, and it was never quite as clean as I wanted it to be. I just never got around to doing a really good job of it, and this fall I was determined to do a good job.

I went down to the basement on Friday to start, and I was just overwhelmed. There was a lot of junk thrown down there to be dealt with later from other times and places, and this was later. A lot of the things were not mine, so I couldn’t say for sure what to save and what to pitch, so I was glad that Kendall was home early on Friday and didn’t work Saturday. We both worked really hard Friday afternoon and most of the day yesterday, but I think we can safely say that it was never as clean and organized as it is now. It’s not as clean as the rest of the house, because the windows are OLD and the walls are rough and the ceiling is exposed ancient log beam s and there are pipes and wires that go here and there, but I am happy. We were both exhausted by the time we got done, but we got it done!

I don’t mind cleaning most of the time (except in the kitchen- I don’t like that much for some reason) and organizing things makes me really happy. But 3 weeks of it did get to be almost too much. I let certain things go too long. Somehow I need to find a way to stay on top of things a little better! It’s hard to be a good wife and a good mom AND keep the house decently clean and orderly. Unfortunately, as I get older, I am getting more OCD about things. I used to be more comfortable with messes than I am now. As a mom of little kids and hopefully maybe more someday, I should be becoming more relaxed about dirt and chaos!

So now all I really want to do is take a day this week to go over the entire house again. Some of the things aren’t so clean and organized anymore. For some reason, when you have kids, things don’t stay perfectly clean and organized. But it shouldn’t be hard, and it should take one day instead of three weeks. And then I need to spend a day outside weeding the landscape beds and strawberries and getting them ready for winter. And then… the pressure should be off, and I hope to relax, knowing that there aren’t a hundred things I should be doing.

It’s high time, too. My girls need me to spend a little more time with them. I am afraid they have heard “I’m busy” too many times in the past couple months. Going into fall and winter, my goal is to spend more time with them, being proactive in their lives. We have been working on a different discipline approach with Emily that seems to be helping, but I need more free time to implement it a better and I need to find more ways to keep her constructively busy, instead of the destructively busy she gets when I am not supervising.

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And Kierra– she’s about 50 days into first grade, and quickly tells anyone that will listen that she doesn’t like school, and it’s going “not well.” It’s not that she’s not learning… she struggles a little with subtraction, but usually does get the right answer. She’s not reading as fluently as I’d hoped, but she is starting to enjoy it (enjoying it is key, I think), and is trying to read any signs or titles or words that she sees, so I think she’ll be fluent before we know it. She does the Abeka DVD/online program, and it takes longer than kindergarten did, and the teacher doesn’t keep her interest very well. That’s mostly what she complains about- how long it takes- but technically, we are supposed to average about 5 hours a day anyhow, so if I totally took over the teaching, which is what she wants, I am not sure how we’d get enough hours in.

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I do want to spend more time with her, doing flashcards to help with math facts, having her read more, doing more fun, educational projects. She’s stuck with school for the next 10 years, at the least, so I want her to be able to enjoy it. I do think she would love being IN school instead of homeschooling, but for this year, at least, we’ll stick with school at home, and I do want her to enjoy it instead of complaining about it everyday. I would be welcome to suggestions on how to inspire her enthusiasm!

So yes, in the coming months, I want to work extra hard on things with Kierra and Emily, getting them to a better place emotionally. I want to do a little better with sticking to my diet (although I am happy that I’ve gotten as far as I have!) and exercise faithfully instead of such a hit and miss thing like’s it’s been lately (mostly miss). I want to get caught up with scrapbooking and I am looking forward to spending time at the sewing machine making some clothes and blankets and other projects.

An orderly, disciplined life with lots of God’s presence and grace and enjoyment in the small things… that’s what we are striving for!

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18 thoughts on “Housecleaning… and Parenting

  1. I love this. It sounds like what I need to be doing/am doing. I haven’t (ever) cleaned my house top to bottom….and we’ve lived here almost 8 years! Granted, we don’t use our upstairs much, only when we have overnight guests. And the basement has been cleaned thoroughly several times, thanks to Derrick. (he’s a neat freak, and I’m GLAD!) I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say that being a good wife, good mom, plus keep a house clean is hard. I try so hard to be organized, but it is a never-ending battle.

    • We’ve been here for almost 7 years, so that’s just about as long as 8 years! It’s HARD to get it all done, especially with kids!

  2. oooooh, i just got all excited FOR you, because i did the same thing this summer, and BOY, is it an amazing feeling!! i took several trunk loads to the goodwill, just hauling stuff out that i had thought for years that “maybe i’ll use this someday!” yesterday i finally finished my attic, so i’m still kinda on a high from that. 🙂 organization in my house makes my whole brain feel uncluttered. i feel like a free bird. ha ha!

    i love your painting projects!! isn’t it amazing what a coat of paint can do? it amazes me every time.

    • I had a grand clearing out a few weeks earlier- sold stuff at garage sales, online, and some stuff went to Goodwill, while other things have been thrown away. I still have some things I would like to sell, a few things to take to CAM, but I am SO happy to have fewer things and more space in my house! I kind of decided if I haven’t used it for years, I never will use it, and unless it’s a high dollar item, I can buy another later if I end up missing it, and I will still be further ahead. Let me say, I have seldom missed anything I’ve gotten rid of over the years in my fits of purging!

      and yes, i do feel so much freer! when i tie up some loose ends, i will be floating on the clouds!

  3. Audrey, this is wonderful and I just feel the relief and accomplishment with you!! But not really….because I’ve never really had my whole house clean at once. I have a serious piece of my brain missing when it comes to making decisions about what to do with STUFF. Don’t get me started on that. I have good intentions again this fall. 🙂 I’m happy for you.

    • You can always clean in your spare time next week, right? I know you have lots of it! 😉 As for stuff, that’s a hard one. It’s easier to get a dumpster and throw it all away, but that’s wasteful, so I try to dispose of things in a more civil manner- still, some of it just has to be pitched!

  4. Love your painting projects! I love redoing furniture, unless it takes too long of course.:) I think we both must have a lil Grandma Miller in us:)

  5. Good job on all the painting and cleaning! I get so one track minded about getting done when I clean like that, I don’t think I could ever be persuaded to paint at the same time. 🙂 Our basement is getting finished out right now and I can hardly wait to have ROOM and be able to organize the closets so stuff doesn’t fall out of them when you open the doors. 🙂 After that, whatever doesn’t fit is going to have to go to Goodwill unless for some reason I find out we’re going home. I am so sick of all the boxes that can’t be unpacked. Love your last paragraph ….

    • I know what you mean about getting all focused on cleaning and nothing else, but to me, the painting was part of the cleaning and organizing this time. Probably won’t ever happen again!! Our house isn’t large, but now that I have less stuff, I am thinking that it’s not so small as it seemed! It’s NO FUN to have things falling out of the closets!

  6. i’m needing to do this same thing to my house.. i feel it’s gotten so out of control! as soon as i’m caught up on editing i plan to give it a good cleaning, top to bottom! last winter was my time to really get every single corner organized and cleaned out {trips and trips to the goodwill, etc} and it was so freeing and so much easier to stay on top of – since there’s less stuff to stay on top of. haha!! ;)) love painting things like you did for the girls room – – the transformation of just a little white paint is amazing. so fresh and like new!

    have a great week my friend~

    • isn’t it crazy how quickly the clutter and dirt can get out of control?! i hope life stays less crazy than it had been so that i can stay on top of it all better. hope you get a chance soon to get your house under control.:)

  7. I am slowly organizing my house as well, but no way could I do it even in 3 weeks. You go girl! I am picking a weekly project and then a bigger monthly project to complete. I have never been so excited about how under my sink looks. 🙂 I am itching to repaint and work on all the cabinets in the kitchen! I loved how your paint projects transformed you pieces!

    • when i was cleaning my kitchen cabinets, i was thinking how much nice they would be with a fresh coat of paint- and we have plenty of paint for them– maybe sometime this winter i will decide to paint them again 🙂

      and let me say, in those 3 weeks, i did not have much of a life besides cleaning and painting and being a mom!

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