LIFE UNSCHEDULED

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August 1, 2012 by Judith Liebaert

I’ve been carrying out some practical assessment lately, something we old broads do more and more often as age creeps up. 
When I quit my day job five years ago to freelance from home on a semi-retired scheduled, I became – well – lazy.  In my defense, midlife hit me with a shit-storm akin to Hurricane Katrina and I’m not sure I’ll ever be what I once was.  Losing six immediate family members (three of them far too young to go), in the span of three years, followed by my hubby’s diagnosis of congestive heart failure will do that to a girl.
I digress. It’s not that my house is filthy  – well, maybe by my mother’s standards it is. And while it’s a cluttered mess most of the time I’m not ready to star in an episode of Hoarders (yet). But when I walked in the back door the other day and recognized that singularly distinct scent of grandma and grandpa’s house I knew I’d been neglecting the down and dirty cleaning for far too long.
It’s certainly not like I don’t know how to do it. Every Saturday my mother’s house smelled of Pinesol, Lemon Pledge and Clorox.  Windows were thrown open, even in the dead of winter at well below zero, for the entire time it took her, my sister and I to clean the two main floors of a turn of the century foursquare.
During the week there were never dishes in the sink, the kitchen was swept numerous times a day and the vacuum ran at least once a day. I recall the time my father came home from work, bent down to pick up one infinitesimal piece of lint from the living room carpet, and sighed with disdain for my mother’s careless oversight. Yeah – that’s the way he rolled.
So how, other than the blows of life, did I get so lazy? Unscheduled time.  When I was raising kids, working part time and trying to squeeze in leisure pursuits, I was acutely aware of what finite time I had for cleaning. I knew if I let it slide, I’d never get caught up.
It seems that now having an abundance of free time feeds my procrastination gene.  Why vacuum now when I have all day tomorrow?  Why scrub the bathrooms when it’s so hot and humid, maybe it will cool down tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow; it’s only a day away . . .
I need to get back on track. Today is the day – not tomorrow.  I have to institute a regular regime of household cleanliness. I want to breath the piney, lemony, antiseptic scent of my youth – or maybe just a good dose of Simple Green (hopefully more organic and health conscious).
The way I figure, I have seven basic rooms in my house.  There are seven days in the week.  What a coincidence!  One area a day.  Ah, I remember those embroidered tea towels . . . Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is dusting, Wednesday is baking, and so on.
In consideration of weekends, both wanting them “off” and the possibility of unexpected guests, I have designated Friday kitchen and master bath day. Thursday is master bedroom and a quick go-over of the guest room (again – at the ready for unexpected guests).  That leaves Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for dining room, laundry room and living room.
I’m posting a checklist on the fridge to keep me on track. Popular wisdom says it takes a month to break an old habit and form a new one.  I’ll keep you posted on how that’s working out for me.

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