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Yes. I said it. Black Mold.

June 22nd, 2011 · 73 Comments · Daily, Will it make me sick?

Every time we go on vacation (which isn’t often) or away for a weekend (again, not often), I absolutely hate the thought of returning home. Last year, two days before we even LEFT for Jackson Hole, I said, “I’m so bummed out. A week from today we’ll be back home.”

Yesterday afternoon, I picked Harper up from her friend’s house. Even after spending less than two minutes in that beautiful (and clean and fresh-smelling) home, I found that I didn’t want to return to my own house.

I don’t know if you remember this, but we used to pay for a cleaning lady to come into our house every two weeks. It was WONDERFUL. Budgeting for her started getting a bit tricky, so we started having her over every four weeks. That lasted for several months, and then suddenly the money just wasn’t there any longer.

Every month or so, I go through this THING. Some people would call it a FUNK. I have a hard time saying that word without it sound like The F Word, so I’ll stick with THING. (By the way, last week Meredith said, “Is there a bad word that starts with F U? Does it end in C K?” I grabbed her baby book and noticed that there is no space to commemorate the spelling of baby’s first bad word.) Anyway, my THING. It usually begins with me seeing someone else’s home and then returning to my own home. I look around at all of the accumulated crap and wonder what to DO with it. What do people DO with weird reusable water bottles and half-used lip glosses and old cookbooks and toy guitars? Is it really okay to throw these things away? (We donate a TON of stuff every few months. Where is all of this piled up stuff coming from?)

Inevitably, I go to bed crabby when The Thing is brewing. And then? The next morning I step into my disgusting bathroom with the black mold (!!!) in the shower that I can’t seem to get rid of and I reach for my shampoo but end up knocking over fourteen or more OTHER bottles of shampoo that came from hotels or something that I’ve never stayed in, and suddenly the suction cup on my razor gives out and it crashes to the floor and breaks and I’m drying off with a wash cloth because the towels have to go through three dryer cycles to actually DRY and I had time for only two cycles yesterday, and the bracelet that I asked Meredith to put away THREE times yesterday is still sitting in the same place, and the dirty dishes are piled up because the dishwasher has never worked very well, and seriously! How do you keep your house tidy?! How do you hide your wires and stack pans that don’t really seem stackable? Where do you keep your charger thingies when you’re not charging something? Why is that bag of handknit socks still sitting on the printer waiting to be washed?

There are so many little things that need to be done around here. When I think about it, it becomes completely overwhelming, and all I really want to do is sit on the couch and stare out into the distance. And then we get to the HUGE things—hole in the roof, disgusting stained pink carpeting, the back bathroom that stinks and is moldy, poison ivy on the slope in the yard that needs to be dealt with professionally…

I’ve read this entry by The Trephine at least ten times now. I would love to be able to reach the point where it becomes time to part with everything but the very few things that actually MEAN something to me. These candles and bamboo stinky things on our mantle mean NOTHING. These tiny tea cups that are too tiny for tea mean NOTHING. (But they’re Fiesta! And we got them when we got married! But STILL! THEY’RE TOO TINY!) This basket of CDs that has been sitting on our kitchen divider for as long as I can remember means NOTHING. I always find myself thinking about the people who have lost everything, and my heart breaks. With that said, my heart would be so much better off if I could simply make the CHOICE to lose 80% of my things.

The Fly Lady does not work for me. Setting a timer for twenty minutes and cleaning like a mad woman until I hear the buzzer doesn’t work. Our original plan was to live in this (tiny—like the tea cups) house until 2012, and then try to find something where the kids can each have their own bedroom. 2012 is less than six months away, and our house is in the worst shape it has EVER been in, and we have no PLAN.

I’m the first to admit that I’m Very Lazy. With that said, I’m not doing my kids any favors by allowing them to be lazy, too. When I go nuts on them about not cleaning their room, I pray that they haven’t yet learned the word Hypocrite.

What do you do? How do you do it? Is anyone else as frustrated/frustrating as me?

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73 responses so far ↓

  • 1 effie // Jun 23, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Once you find out what works, let me know. My husband hates clutter, but also can’t pass up a sale. He is his own enemy. It drives me crazy–but I do love some of his finds. I am a bit of a clutter-er (read: really bad clutter-bug). I have about 3 bags of clothes for the Sally Ann hiding in a closet and I’m *sure* I could find about 10 more bags in a few hours. The combined result of my husband’s fantastic finds and my clutterability = FULL HOUSE.

    I feel swamped….

  • 2 NovelTeaMommy // Jun 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Like almost everyone (51) who has already commented, I share your pain. Perhaps times two, as both my husband and I are slobs. I too can’t seem to hop onboard with The FlyLady. Good system, just not for me. BUT, I recently found a new (to me) blog. I find this person to be so real, and honest, and most of all…HELPFUL. Check her out. She isn’t trying to sell you on her system, just inform you of her journey and share the things that have worked IRL for her.
    http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/

  • 3 Venita Michelle // Jun 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

    My husband and I thought a bigger house would help, so we bought a huge home. Now it’s full of nearly empty moving boxes that I can’t throw away because they contain something totally useless like the heating coil from a lost hot plate and 3 lightly used paint brushes. I have no place to put the THINGS because I spent all of our furniture money buying this humongous house, but I also can’t just throw them away….can I? Anyway, I suggest you take it one room at a time.

  • 4 Lisa // Jun 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t usually have a hard time with the everyday tasks around the house–dishes, laundry, tidying, etc. However, the BIG task always fill me with dread and get put off time and time again. A few months ago my sister (who conveniently lives 2 streets over) was complaining about having to organize her closets while I was complaining about doing the same to kitchen cabinets. Our solution? I don’t mind closets so much, she does not mind cabinets–we traded tasks. I cleaned her closets in exhange for her cleaning my kitchen cabinets. A more efficient job was done by both of us because we had no attachment to items. It has worked well for me, so I thought I would toss it out there.
    Also, about the bad word…when my now 10 year old was younger he asked my father a similar questions. Grandpa’s answer? Why, yes there is a word that begins with FU and ends with CK…Firetruck! We shout firetruck a lot in my house :)

  • 5 Jane // Jun 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    @Peggy, you just described mine!
    FP, You are not alone.
    p.s. I knew before I was halfway through reading this post, it would garner many comments. I was right.

  • 6 ell.uu // Jun 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I’m drowning in a never-ending sea of junk, barely clinging to my life raft made out of dust bunnies. I feel like I’m constantly purging, sorting, donating, and trashing, yet still can’t seem to tame the mess.

  • 7 yama ernastine // Jun 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    1.Topic totally worthy of 56 comments. Make that 57.
    2.I thought I was the only one that came home and silently screamed, “Junk mail, 7 shoes, toilet paper roll, crunched goldfish cracker, tangled earbuds, uuuuuuggghhhhh”

  • 8 ccr in MA // Jun 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    “There are so many little things that need to be done around here. When I think about it, it becomes completely overwhelming”.

    Yes. YES! I practically have a panic attack sometimes because everywhere I look is something I need to do. Agh. And I have no one to blame but myself.

    Well, the cats produce the tumbleweeds. But everything else is on me, drat it.

  • 9 joan // Jun 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    House cleaning and losing weight are very similiar. Both are difficult, there are many solutions etc, however you just have to do it. Make up your mind and do it. You are bigger than the problem, so instead of letting the housework take over, just start in. Same as losing weight. My only little tip is to have a friend or relative get you started. Another person will help you get rid of the stuff. Good luck and just get going. You will feel a lot better.

  • 10 Gina // Jun 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Wow! Let’s start a club. Or a support group! It does get a little better when your kids get older. I no longer have baskets of Legos in the living room. Now they are stashed under the bed!

  • 11 Rhi // Jun 24, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I need the secret. Because my method of hiding crap in drawers is not working. Also: I am married to Pig Pen.

  • 12 Nancy R // Jun 24, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Would it help to tell yourself that you’re decluttering for that future move?

    I too find my mental clarity is tied to the clutter in my home.

  • 13 Christy @ cat fur to make kitten britches // Jun 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Oh, FP, I know exactly how you feel! I could have written those same words myself! And overwhelmed? That’s exactly how I feel when I think about my to-do list, every single day, and it sounds like a lot of other people do too. Sometimes I’ve thought, maybe if I gave up blogging, and reading blogs, I’d have so many more hours in my day that could be put to a more “productive” purpose, and my chaos would be more managed. But then, I would just be organized, with a streak of miserable and cranky. I think I much prefer my chaos, with a side of commiseration.

  • 14 AccidentalPoet // Jun 24, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Wait, you have an entire BAG of handknit socks?

    Colour me envious.

  • 15 Christie // Jun 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Ok, how did you get inside my brain and steal my thoughts and write about them?? Cuz seriously? I relate so well I’m pretty sure I just read my inner monologue on your blog. I keep blaming the state of our home on the fact we have kids, then I go to someone else’s house who has kids AND nice things, and I get all depressed and overwhelmed and I just don’t know where to start making it better. Now I’m going to go read the comments in search of good advice…

  • 16 Sarah // Jun 25, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I keep my house super tidy, I have place for all of those phone/kindle/battery chargers, and the place generally smells nice-ish. But it still gets overwhelming from time to time. And chances are those house you go into have bad moments, you just won’t ever know because the mom is going to meet you on the front porch with your kid. If I lived closer to you, I’d come help you organize and clean out, but I don’t. It sounds like you need a major, major clean-out before the 20 minute timer will work. Put the CD’s on your computer and get rid of them. Any article of clothing that doesn’t make you look and feel awesome(!) gets donated. Get rid of anything that you describe as “stinky.” Tell the taller of the girls that one of her daily chores is to restart the dryer every once in a while. (Mine takes two cycles and I abhor it.) I think once you let go of all of the bs, you’ll find a lot of peace in your home. Maybe you could do the 20 minute timer to fill up a garbage bag of stuff to donate to goodwill?

  • 17 Sarah // Jun 25, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Oh! And buy a bottle of clorox clean-up and keep it in the shower, and use it every day.

  • 18 blackbird // Jun 25, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Somewhere between you and The Trephine is the answer.
    Certainly you cannot get rid of everything – you are in charge of making a home for your family (right?).
    It would appear that you are overwhelmed.
    Get past that and make a list of what is important to you.
    Having things clean is sort of vital.
    Having candles on the mantle? Not so much.

  • 19 Heather // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Just another comment saying I could have written this. I woke up with The Thing just this morning, and so did my husband. Currently we are grumpily working on it. (Though actually, currently I’m taking a blog reader/bagel break. And therein lies the problem.)

  • 20 Kristin // Jun 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Last week Alexa @ Flotsam linked to this post (http://swistle.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-bucket-in.html) from Swistle. I have a LOT of trouble motivating myself to even get started on tackling the overwhelming house stuff that always needs to get done, but if I can feel good about picking up that one thing and putting where it belongs, it’s a start, right???

  • 21 Leslie // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I am so with you on this.

  • 22 Anne // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I am brilliant at getting rid of stuff. I get a greater thrill from giving stuff away than from buying it. Apparently my grandmother was the same. My parents NEVER throw anything out. Action/reaction My reputation is such that when I visit my parents, I am no sooner in the door than they say, “Anne did you throw such-and-such out?”

    Also I am slightly OCD on tidying up. I can’t sit down, if there is something on the floor. This drives my loving family insane. For what it’s worth, I start in one corner and make my way in lines like a lawn mower or that cleaning robot on WALL-E. You could try it. It probably only works because of my OCD though.

    On the minus side, that’s tidying, not cleaning. Our bathroom smells odd. Alas.

    Also on the minus side, our house is tiny. Even by Irish standards. By American standards it is an infinitesimal speck. We have one room downstairs. If I didn’t spend my time surreptitiously throwing out plastic we would be swimming in it. We want to move. But my husband is self-employed and although house prices are falling, I am a bit nervous in the current delightful economic climate. Also, alas, the value of our own house is now about 1/3 less than we paid for it 9 years ago. Never good news. So we are probably doomed to stay here forever. And I am useless at design stuff, so it is not beautiful. Tidy but not beautiful.

    One of your commenters said about managing five people in a house that is 1,500 square feet – this is what we can’t afford to trade up to with our 5 people – how depressed am I?

    So, it’s good that I’ve got the thrill of giving away/throwing out to fall back on, isn’t it? I’ve just put two buggies up on freecycle.

    Oh yeah, finally, years ago I read somewhere that if something small is annoying you every day – like tupperware falling out every time you open a certain cupboard – deal with it and your life will improve immeasurably. I have found this to be true.

    Gosh, this post is playing to all my weirdnesses and obsessions – thank you for sharing.

  • 23 schmutzie // Jul 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Yes, I AM just as frustrated. I could spend all kinds of time working at keeping my apartment together, but it just seems like such a waste of time, and then it’s too overwhelming to conquer.