Okay, so my title is a corny spoof of a classic radio show, but it seemed really apt, given what we did today! Now, reader, beware — if you get queasy at the site of unadulterated clutter, you might want to reach for the airsick bag or click away to another, safer blog. This one’s not for the faint of heart!
While we do a thorough house-cleaning every Friday, we also have a once-monthly “deep clean” to kill the Clutter Monster in the children’s rooms. I can always tell when our once-a-month date has rolled around by the level of frustration in my children’s voices. I hear laments like the following:
- Where are my pajama pants? I haven’t seen them in two days!
- But I can’t find my church shoes! I’ve looked everywhere!
- OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! I just stepped on that Lego in my bare feet!
- How come I have no clean shirts?
- I’d rather sleep in another room; my bed is too lumpy (followed by the revelation of what lies beneath the covers — and it’s always more than just the child in question!).
Last week I helped the girls tackle their room, but I didn’t think to photograph the process. This week the lightbulb went off, and I reached for the camera. Hold your hats, folks — we’re about to have full disclosure of just how cluttered a room with four little boys in it can be! I used to scratch my head and wonder how on earth it could get so mind-bogglingly messy, yet the boys would confidently assert that they had “cleaned” their room each week. Once I found out that clutter-blindness is inherent in males (who just don’t notice the stuff piling up and over and under), I got over it and learned to show the boys the “leftovers” they’d missed!
The first photo above shows the view under the bed of my third son. Shadowy and mysterious, eh? Not for long! The first order of business for my boys is to pull every last bit of stuff out from under the two bunk beds. They started with this one. I lifted the mattress back to give them better access, and here’s the pile that resulted after five minutes of “fishing” beneath Bed Number One:
And we were only just beginning! Now I jumped in to help, removing the bed slats so the boys could really see what was under the bed, and Son #3 pulled out still more:
Now it was time to vacuum under the bed. I sent my second oldest son for the Kirby, and he asked, “How on earth can you vacuum under the bed, Mom?” I gave him a raised eyebrow and said, “Watch me!”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! With all the dirt and crumbs sucked up and out of the way, we had a nice, clean canvas for our next work of art:
Cleanliness — it’s a wonderful thing! What actually belongs beneath this bed is a pup tent in a carrying bag and two sleeping bags. So we put them there and carefully replaced the bed slats:
Now this bed could be made up with fresh sheets. Ah! Wonderful feeling!
A little side note here: It is very encouraging to children (and even mamas!) to meet little goals in the process of running toward the big one. Having the bed freshly made is a small goal in the plan of the whole-room overhaul. It really feels great to be able to turn toward the next section, knowing that what’s behind you is clean and neat. The boys and I high-fived at finishing this first part of the room, then turned toward the next bunk:
This bunk has a small mattress under it for guests, so you’d think it wouldn’t hold as many “surprises” as the first one. But that would be incorrect thinking! Not only was there a pile of gunk under this bed, but there were interesting “treasures” stowed down between the bed and the wall:
We found missing laundry, dirty socks, a ziplock bag full of long-lost Legos, and all kinds of books. We tossed all of this into the growing pile in the center of the room, bulldozing it all into a heap to make room to walk. Then we made this bed:
Now we moved over to the bookcase and pulled everything out from under it (yes, all this stuff fit into that tiny wedge of space!):
Finally, we pulled the junk out from under the dresser:
It was time to confront The Pile, so the boys and I began sorting it into different categories–dirty laundry, books, Legos, pencils/crayons, misc:
My older son had since moved on to his other big task of the day–cleaning out our 14-passenger van–so my 8-year-old son and I dove into the job of sorting and putting things away in their places. Starting in the far corner of the room, we got all the loose Legos back into the big military footlocker in the closet and vacuumed the closet:
Next we made a “garage” for the amphibious tanks under the desk at the window, vacuuming before the tanks were “parked”:
I tackled the bookcase myself, as it really is full to bursting (there is no such thing as too many books in this household!):
We high-fived each other for these met goals and kept backing our way toward the door, putting things away and vacuuming as we went. By the time we got to the door, the laundry and missing shoe pile had really grown:
My older son had come back in to report that he’d finished the van, so I asked him to take this pile to the laundry room, putting the dirty clothes in the hamper and the shoes away in the utility closet. I gave one last swipe with the vacuum where the laundry had been, and we stood back to survey the morning’s work (all two hours of it — this once-a-month thing is intense!):
Is that a collective sigh I hear? Yes, there really is something wonderful about a freshly cleaned room! Everyone notices. The stress level drops perceptibly. My daughters came in smiling, and the eldest said, “This looks like a home now!” I chuckled and asked, “Why do you say that? Wasn’t it a home before?” She grinned and shrugged, then pointed at the neatly made beds and clean carpet and said, “But now it feels like a home!” I smiled back and nodded my head. “Isn’t it nice to know where things are and have everything in its place?” My third-born son ran over to the cleared and dusted desk and declared, “This is the nicest spot for making Lego sets!” So out came the Legos, and a happy 8-year-old busied himself building. In a month’s time, we’ll no doubt be ready for another deep clean. That’s just the way it is in a house full of children…and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Post Script: Remember the boy I sent to put away the shoes in the closet? Well, when I went to start a load of laundry, this is what I discovered:
Ahem. I called my son back to have another go at it, explaining that just making sure the shoes arrived at the closet wasn’t the point. Five minutes later, he had rectified the problem nicely:
Oh, and we managed to get rid of one full bag of trash and fill one bag for Goodwill in the course of the morning. Well worth all the effort!