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Fall Cleaning Fiascoes

Christine Louise Hohlbaum

Spring cleaning passed me by this year. Completely. I just seemed to miss it. So when fall rolled around, I was determined to set things straight. My house had tumbled into a state of complete disarray. The plume of fruit flies that billowed out of my kitchen when we returned from our late-summer vacation was proof that things had gotten out of hand.

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Confused as to where to start, I consulted a helpful article on cleaning tips. It promised to create a deeply cleaned home using 30 minute intervals to complete necessary tasks. The article urged not to overdo it at first, but to break up each room into simpler jobs. I was to use a timer and a pre-prepared list of to-dos. After 30 minutes, I should have the level of cleanliness that everyone deserves.

I eagerly brought pen to paper, listing all the jobs that lay before me. My list was two pages long, and I thought surely I could accomplish this in a weekend. I rallied my husband and two small children to be a part of our Fall Weekend Clean-Up Project. At 8 a.m. one bright Saturday morning, my children and husband donned their rubber boots and set to work.

The children's bedrooms seemed the logical place to start. With Playtex gloves in hand, I scrubbed their windows and furniture, vacuumed their carpets, hung out blankets, and congratulated myself on how well things were going. The article encouraged the reader not to get distracted. No matter what, stick to the plan! But then, my two-year-old fell down the concrete steps outside. I heard wailing and my older child calling for help. Would this be considered a distraction or an emergency by the cleaning guru? I quickly decided the latter and bound up the stairs.

As a boil the size of a robin's egg grew on my son's head, I reconsidered my options. The village church bell struck 9 a.m. Hmmm-a cup of coffee and a second breakfast sounded good right about then. We all need sustenance, after all. My husband read the weekend paper, and the kids pulled out a few toys. By 10 a.m. I noticed a load of wet laundry in a clothes basket molding in the corner of the living room. Maybe I'll just hang these up first before I resume cleaning, I thought. The children required juice, my husband needed my assistance in raking leaves, the phone rang, and a neighbor stopped by. 12 p.m. called for lunch time. Books had to be read, another load of laundry hung, the phone rang again. All this activity had made me sleepy so I headed to my room for a quick nap.

The next thing I knew it was 4 p.m. We were having people over for dinner so I grabbed a cookbook and started making another list for last-minute items. The vacuum cleaner still lay prostrate in the children's room, and a bucket of dirty water stood patiently at the base of the stairs. Where had I gone wrong? How come I hadn't stuck to the plan?

Despite the best advice and the very best intentions, we all get side-tracked in life. Priorities shift on a minute-to-minute basis sometimes. I suppose my house will be clean some time in the far-distant future. But for right now, I am content with my happy family that chose to play Playdoh and ball instead of whisking away the last of the cobwebs in a corner of the basement.

About The Author:

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, is a freelance writer living near Munich, Germany, with her husband and two children. Visit her web site at: http://www.diaryofamother.com chohlbaum@smith.alumnae.net

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