December 17, 2011

Binge cleaning

It happens every December. I click the little button that allows me to submit my grades and think to myself, “Hurray! I’m done! I can sit back and relax!”

Then I stand up from my desk, look around my house, and think, “Ugh. When was the last time I cleaned this place?”

It’s amazing how things pile up during the semester. Oh, we manage to keep up with some of the day-to-day stuff like washing dishes, doing laundry, and even occasionally cleaning the bathrooms, but still, at the end of a busy semester, the house looks worse than a cheap hotel room occupied by a bunch of Ultimate Frisbee players.

I’m a binge cleaner by nature, and I have to admit, I sort of enjoy the kind of cleaning and purging that’s necessary at the end of the semester. When my kids were little, I’d go through their toys and clothes every December, getting rid of anything that was outgrown, outdated, or broken. I still get a sense of satisfaction when I fill a bag with stuff to take over to the Rescue Mission. I’ve figured out the formula over the years: every bag of stuff that leaves the house will make my home just a bit easier to clean.

At a Christmas party last night, someone said to me, “Do you have your shopping done?”

It seemed to me a very odd question. This isn’t the season for buying stuff. It’s the season for getting rid of stuff — the shirt that doesn’t fit me any more because it shrunk, that board game my kids out grew, and that book that got dropped into the bathtub. It's time to fill up bags with clothes that just hang in our closets and let someone else get some use out of them. It’s the season for sorting through the folders, papers, and books piled on the floor of my office, or the bin of mail and papers on the kitchen table.

It’s time to clean for the family and friends we'll be seeing over the next month. It's time to make space for the new year.


undine said...

This is all so true, especially your comment about it being time to get rid of things rather than to buy things. That will come later.

Captcha is "exces"--appropriate!

Jackie said...

jo(e), I love you for writing/posting this exact entry today. I spent the past few hours doing some deep cleaning while wondering just exactly how I let it get to this state--but I find myself wondering that every year around this time, and I'm starting to think it's not a coincidence!

Janice said...

Oh, this is so my experience, too, although I've been trying to put one big cleaning task on the daily to-do list over the past few weeks as my marking won't be done until Friday.

I enjoy hosting for the holidays (it's so much less stressful than travelling with a load of kids, even as young adults, and pets galore). I don't much enjoy the huge effort that has to go into cleaning after an end-of-term rush, but I'm attempting to be philosophical about it so that I don't drive my family members to despair with my manic energy.

Zhoen said...

Binge cleaning is the perfect term, I do the same.

Lomagirl said...

I know what you mean about the house! Of course, I rarely put cleaning at the top of my to do list. I hope my husband will do it!
I did feel that sense of freedom though, when I clicked the button that submitted my grades today.

Michelle said...

The moment I click "submit" I'm on sabbatical, and already dreaming of The Big Clean!

Magpie said...

I have a tendency to wrap those things up and give them away as christmas presents... :)

Kyla said...

When I finish with finals, cleaning is always the next thing on the list. We have to de-frat-house this house when the semester ends. LOL.