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You just need some incentive for cleaning a house

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Don’t cry over spilt milk. I have to admit, this adage was pretty hard for me for the first few years of having small children. It seems that there was a spill at every meal, every day, sometimes from every kid. Occasionally I’d be so focused on who was going to spill next that I’d knock my own glass over, much to the delight of my family. To my credit, I didn’t get mad on the outside, but if I had hair, I’m sure it would have changed to gray over the frustration on the inside. But as with many aspects of life, with age comes wisdom. And with spills come clean ups. Where I once despised a spill, I now look at it as about the only time the wood floor gets cleaned. This is no slam to my wife. We don’t end a day without the house looking like a model home. This is more about me. My job is mopping the floor. I’m not a big fan of mopping the floor. I used to mop once a week. Then the frequency slowly moved to once a month, once a quarter and now, well, I just wait for the spills. The only problem is that, as the kids get older, they grow more adept and the spills are less frequent. So sometimes, if I notice that a particular patch of the floor is dirty, I’ll make sure and fill the Kool Aid up to the top, hand it to a kid and then tell them to look at something on the floor. A couple of them still don’t quite have the concept down that you can lean your body and not tip your hand. Spreading a small spot of peanut butter on the floor isn’t a bad way to go, either. We have two little dogs that will take over and leave a pretty nice clean patch. If you’ve never watched a dog try to work through peanut butter, well, there’s definitely a comedic factor, too. I’ve taken this spill approach into other areas of the house as well. For a couple of years, we always had a puppy in the house. Puppies have accidents so I bought a portable carpet cleaner, the Spot Bot. It literally cleans a perfectly round spot on your carpet. Every accident required a cleaning and, before long, our carpet looked polka dotted with the round, clean spots it left. But today, my wife took it to an entirely different level. She spilled a bucket of paint on the carpet in the upstairs hallway. A heavily trafficked area, I might add. She lost it, freaked out, went bezerk. My wife started grabbing wet towels and frantically tried to soak up the paint but all that she was doing was smearing the paint everywhere. I calmly got up from my desk, went to the garage and fetched the big carpet steam cleaner out of mothballs. I’ve been meaning to steam clean the upstairs hallway for years, just never found the time. I poured the cleaning solution and, within an hour, the paint was gone. You can’t believe how clean that patch of carpet is. I guess it’s a similar concept to the “company clean.” Sometimes, there’s nothing better than finding out somebody is coming over in an hour. That gives you just enough time to go into last-minute panic mode cleaning the house. Better yet, you can bring it on yourself and even have some control of the timing. We recently scheduled an energy audit; a local company will run a test on my AC unit, tape up leaks in air vents and show me where my insulation wasn’t. It turns out there are vents in every room of the house! We cleaned cracks and crevasses I haven’t seen in years in anticipation of the big audit. At the day’s end, I ended up saving money, I found an old set of keys and a pair of shorts I thought I left at a hotel and I went to bed in a spotless house! This can be carried over to vehicles, too. We use a company that comes to our home to repair our cars. I can pay $100 to detail my car or I can cut a nick in a nonessential engine belt and pay $50 to have him come over and fix it, giving me the incentive to clean my own car. Overall it boils down to looking at these opportunities as the glass being either half full or half empty. Regardless, at the end of the day, I’m dumping it on the floor. Tony Overbay is a Lincoln resident.