In Like a Lion; Out Like a Tornado
by Laurie Alice Eakes
I sit on the floor of my walk-in closet. Piles of shoes surround me. If an observer overhears me and thinks I’m talking to those shoes, she is right.
“You go. You go. You stay. You are out the door. If I don’t find your mate, you are out too…”
And the dictates to inanimate objects continues in my office, my bookshelves, even my kitchen gadgets. Not even my husband’s closet and drawers are spared.
This is March after all. It comes in like a lion and goes out like tornado of re-arranging, donating, discarding, and scrubbing. In other word, the time has come for spring cleaning.
Don’t yawn and say, “Not another know-it-all telling me how to clean my house.” I am the last person to tell anyone how to clean. If I didn’t have company fairly often, I would have no motivation to clean. With two dogs and two cats, three of those with long hair, cleaning seems counterproductive. Yet cleaning must be done, so I asked some of my friends for their tips on spring cleaning and, without them realizing it, they gave me ideas on how to make a tedious task more enjoyable.
Of the many suggestions I received, some themes arose, mainly fresh air, something to listen to, and help. We shall ignore my Canadian friend (even though she may have a great idea) who says she has two seasons up there—winter and road construction. Since she gets no spring, she doesn’t need to spring clean.
Let’s start with fresh air. If you have actual spring where you live, pick a nice day. Sunshine is a bonus. Temperatures that will let you open windows are essential. Doing so serves numerous purposes. First of all, when cleaning, one stirs up dust and pet hair, and fresh air will minimize the sneezing effects of these pollutants and spar your lungs. Sunshine at the end of the winter is simply a precious gift. It has the downside of exposing those dust bunnies and cobwebs more easily ignored beneath clouds and artificial light of winter. The upsides are its warmth and how it helps by showing you all those dust bunnies and cobwebs you want to get rid of.
And speaking of help, let’s consider getting some of that. Yes, one can sometimes manage to hire someone to do the cleaning for you. If you cannot, consider trading with a friend. She helps you clean your house and you then help her clean hers. While you clean, you laugh and talk and maybe even sing together. Tasks performed with someone are always more enjoyable—provided you like the person with whom you are working.
If your closets are, like mine, too messy to share even with your closest friends, then consider asking her or a relative to babysit the children for the day or until you take to complete the job. If you aren’t interrupted by their needs, the work goes by much faster. Then, when you are finished, you take fifteen minutes, or even half an hour, to sit and enjoy your clean house before the hordes return.
And speaking of noise, another way to make one’s cleaning more enjoyable is to listen to something. If you have a favorite kind of music, play it as loud as you dare. After all, you need to hear it over the vacuum cleaner. Sing along. Of course, if you have the windows open, some of us don’t want to do the singing along part, but make it your own little party. Another thing to listen to are books. My friends ask me how I get so many books read while writing full-time and the other craziness of my life. Recorded books is the answer. I listen when I clean. I listen when I cook dinner. Sometimes I sit on the porch in the sunshine and listen. Hundreds of thousands of books are recorded. You can get them on CD and—gasp!—cassette from your local library. You can buy them at your local bookstore. Some libraries even have digital audio books you can download for a short period of time to listen to on your smart phone.
However you choose to have a little fun while getting your cleaning done, it’s an accomplishment. Reward yourself. Flowers or scented candles are lovely. Chocolate is delicious. Or treat yourself to a dinner you don’t prepare. For me, sometimes the clean house is reward enough.
With twenty books in print, Laurie Alice Eakes is living out her dream job of being a full-time author. She works from home in Texas, where her cat sleeps on her desk to “help” and her husband shows great patience with her absent-mindedness.
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