Friday, March 28, 2008

The Art of the Crisis Clean

A crisis clean is what you do when the house is in crisis and you have no idea where to start. There is an art to doing this and not getting sidetracked polishing light bulbs (hyper focusing) or yelling at the kids all day because they are under your feet. As this is an art I am continually tweaking and perfecting, but this is how I do it at the moment.

!. Get dressed (PJs are embarrassing when you're sprung at 5pm even if you have worked hard all day in them - take it from one who knows!)

2. Don an apron (it'll bring out your inner Suzie Homemaker, I promise!), start up some suitable music, light a scented candle (putting it out of reach of the children!) and take a big drink of water. Preparation and atmosphere are key! We will get to the cleaning soon.

3. Set the children doing a task or activity. I can only have one shadow or assistant when on a crisis clean so at least two need to be occupied. It is much easier to say "go back to XXXX now, I will be with you later" than just "go and play, I'm busy!!" My activity short list is: mat time, table activity (drawing, puzzles etc), reading, resting, DVD.

Now for the cleaning! Trust me, the ten minutes prep time will be worth it.

4. Put toilet cleaner in all the toilets and spray the bath, shower and vanity with cleaner and leave.

5. Set the washing machine(s) going. Try and put in towels etc which won't mind sitting wet for an hour.

6. Do the dishes, put tea in the crock pot and shine sink (just like Fly Lady!) and quickly wipe benches. Trust me, taking the time to put tea on is worth it.

7. Now get the kids involved. Do a 15 minute lounge room pick up together then vacuum while the kids dust (run about with dusters 'helping' Mummy)

8. Give them all big kisses and hugs for being SUCH great helps and give them another activity as a 'reward'

9. Wipe down the bathroom and finish cleaning the toilets

10. Clean the bathroom floor and take the bathroom rubbish out to the back door.

11. Reboot the washing machine(s) and leave the wet washing in baskets for now.

12. Clean the kitchen and dining room floors

13. Check the guest beds if you are expecting visitors

14. Do a quick vacuum of the rest of the house. We are talking middle of the room swipe, not a detailed clean.

15. Take the kids outside to play while you hang out the washing telling them how great they are to have played quietly while Mummy was busy! (or take a picnic rug out for those who DIDN'T play quietly to practice sitting quietly while the others play). Take out the rubbish and kitchen scrap bins when you go and don't forget to blow your candle out! You don't want to burn down your good work.

16. Walk in the house and look at it with new eyes. Don't focus on the mess that's left, mentally compare it to how it was before you started. Do the odd tweak if it's needed but don't get sidetracked yet.

17. Unload dishwasher

18. Put your feet up and read to your children

Cue Beloved walking in the door to a sparkling house (compared to when he left anyway!) that smells AMAZING thanks to the candle and the crock pot! The kids are calm and happy and want to tell him all about how they 'helped Mummy' and you are sitting down relaxed. He is so impressed he even offers to give you a back rub that night (OK, I made that last bit up, but it'd be nice hey?!). It won't be perfect, but the smell actually fools the brain into thinking it is and I am not above the odd illusion. Plus all the essentials are done. I know people who can do this in two hours, it usually takes me AT LEAST all day. In fact, last time I crisis cleaned, I had to leave out the quick vacuum. I think that is a mark of just how bad it got. But Beloved was VERY impressed when he got home anyway and I would have been happy to have visitors over for tea that night.

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