Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Of The Week: The House That Cleans Itself

Those of you who have followed me for any length of time know that housekeeping is not my strong point.  My carpet is stained, the walls are covered in crayon, there are crumbs all over everything (and I've stopped even seeing dust) just happens.  Before kids, I was relatively neat.  My nerves thank me greatly when my house is in order.  But now that I've got three wee ones running around, I've sort of decided that you just can't fight entropy, and tend to let things go. 

That's not to say, however, that I like how things look.  I'd LOVE to give this place a serious overhaul and make things tidy again.  And I'd like to keep them tidy.  Part of my problem, though, is that we're working on building a new house.  And by 'working on,' I mean we're talking with builders and trying to pin one down.  Which means we have no idea when the house ball will really start rolling or how much longer we'll be here.  But the working theory is, by early next year, we'll be in a brand-spankin' new house with a much much more efficient floor-plan.  And that leaves my brain in a bit of limbo.  I know that I could work on getting this house neater and more organized, but a little part of my brain is already sorting out the organizational system for the new house.  Which isn't even officially drawn up. 

Enter Mindy Starns Clark's book: The House That Cleans Itself.  This book was recommended to us during a presentation about 'getting you life organized' that was given to my women's group at church.  I thought "well, that sounds intriguing" and I bought a copy.  Mind. Is. Blown.  I've expended so much energy trying to convince myself that I will change my ways and learn to work harder on my home.  Ms. Clark argues that we can't effectively change our behaviors - you're either neat or you're not - so we need to modify our homes to adapt to our natural (untidy) tendencies.  I love this lady!  In her book, she walks you through her 4-part system to converting your house in to a HTCI (house that cleans itself). 

I'll be honest - this is not a quick fix.  She has you sketch house plans, divide rooms into zones, take lots of photographs, gather supplies, make lists of things like "stations" and "rabbit trails" and create a bunch of checklists - before you can even begin cleaning.  She estimates the whole process could takes a few weeks to 6 (+) months depending on the size of the mess and your available spare time.  She warns you that things will get worse before they get better.  And yet, I have never in my life been more inspired to get out my boxes and bags and dusters and sponges and clean.  I want to start NOW (if I could only find time to sketch that house plan) on this house that we live in here.  If I can purge the clutter and set up my organization system right now, imagine how much less work I'll have to put into moving and setting up once (God willing) we have a new home! 

Each chapter of the book is capped with an embarrassing cleaning story to give us motivation, and her chapters go into such detail about the process and how to solve your cleaning problems that you are more than prepared to tackle your entire house before you begin.  I recommend reading the book through at least twice, pen in hand, before you start on anything, however, to make sure you don't miss any important steps.  The more organized you can be about your organizing, the less time you'll waste rummaging for things you could have been setting aside all along.

So, if you're cleaning impaired like I am - or even if your house is 'pretty good' but you want it to be spectacular - I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.  You won't regret it!

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  1. I've been trying to figure out how to "reorganzie my life" for months now and while I've made progress I can't help to think this would help greatly.

    Thanks for the fantastic review, I'll be purchasing soon! =)

  2. I fell like I am pretty good at cleaning my house, somedays I will clean all day, because I get a wild hair!! But I have 3 boys, and there a holes, paint peelings, and crayons, and food on my walls!! It is never ending, I swear. But this books looks very helpful. I like how she helps you step by step,by sketching your house and creating a checklist!! I love Lists. Great review!!!


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