My husband knows a lot of tricks. He knows how to say just the right thing to make me boiling mad. He knows how to make me purr like a cat with a surprise shoulder massage. He knows how to jack up houses and make the car run when it’s broken. He knows how to bake an apple pie. He knows how to fold a shirt (and soon after meeting my mother, he liberated her from the bondage of wrong shirt folding).
Which is another trick he knows: how to think he always know how to do something better than other people.
Problem is, he’s often right.
I don’t know about you, but I was raised to clean a room in the most traditional of ways.
1. Generalized pick-up.
2. Dust, from high to low.
My husband doesn’t do dusting (he thinks it’s unnecessary, instead preferring to better insulate the crawl space so dust doesn’t keep blowing up through the floorboards—I guess you could call it Big Picture Dusting?), and when he vacuums, furniture gets tosses helter skelter in his attack on the linty floor crumbs.
However, it’s his pick-up skilz that I want to talk about. They’re tricky smooth. He can clean a room more thoroughly, more efficiently, and more quickly than anyone I know.
Here’s how he does it.
Step One: He enters a child’s pigsty—I mean, bedroom.
Step Two: He looks about him, at the mountains of clothes, bits of paper, scissors, pens, needles, cups of water, books, feathers, pillow stuffing, string, plastic toys, stuffed animals, empty boxes, decapitated glass figurines, Sunday school art projects, scarves, games, puzzle pieces, and underwear, and…
Step Three: He roars loudly, angrily, frustratedly because getting emotional and angry is key to good deep clean—you must HATE the mess. He shouts: THIS IS A DISASTER! YOUR ROOM IS FULL OF CRAP! THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!
Step Four: And then—here we go, people, it’s Trick Time!—he throws everything that is out of place into a pile in the middle of the room. It’s brutal. It’s swift. It’s— Hey! The room is clean! (All except that mountain there in the middle of the floor. Shall we name it? How about… Crap Mountain?)
Step Five: With the meek owner of the messy room at his side, he begins to methodically dismantle the pile. Some of the things he might say while wading through:
“Do you NEED this?”
“Will you ever actually USE this?”
“Where does THIS go?”
“Fold up these clothes and put them in your drawer—good grief, you’d think you were born in a barn.”
“These papers are trash, right? Please tell me they’re trash. Your room will look so much nicer if they’re gone. Yes? They’re trash? Good! RIIIIP. If they weren’t trash before, they’re trash now!”
And that, my friends, is how to clean a room using The Pile Method.
I’ve taken his method and adapted it to suit my needs. I call it The Wash Basket Method. When a bedroom needs to be cleaned, I send the child upstairs with a wash basket and orders to fill it with all the junk on the floor. Once filled, the wash basket gets hauled, thumpity-thump, down the stairs to the kitchen where I help sort and organize and the child runs hither and yon putting everything away.
The genius of this method is that…
*it cleans up large sections of room in mere seconds
*it centralizes the mess in a neutral location
*it removes distractions (like, I wonder how high I can stack these seashells)
*it provides a clear ending, i.e., an empty basket
Of course, all this would be much easier if the kids would just put the freakin’ stuff away to begin with. But they don’t and I’m not going to go around banging my head against the wall for the next ten years over it. I’d rather save myself the headache and hand them a wash basket.
Actually, that’s a lie. I still get headaches over their messy rooms, but a wash basket and an Aleve do make a killer team.
And if all else fails, I can always send my husband in to work his magic.
This same time, years previous: almond cream pear tart