When we panic! Our brains quit working. Take a few minutes to read this story! It will give you a plan of action! When you establish routines and get rid of the clutter; you will never have to crisis clean again.
I have had starts and stops on my journey with my cleaning problems, but I have a dramatic story now.
I recently had a young girl I will call Sarah, come to me in tears. She had had a social services agency called about her living conditions in her home. Sarah had just moved from her prior home and was not really put together in her new home yet. But low and behold the social worker came a visiting. The worker not one to take any guff from anyone told her she had five days to put together a spotless, inviting, well maintained home.
Sarah like so many that I deal with on a regular basis here, had no money, no extra anything, but she loved her children and she had spunk. So I told her to give me a few hours to think and sent her with a gift card to the local coffee shop. The children were with their father for the weekend. (I think he did the calling.)
When she left I had come up with a plan thanks to you. When she came back told her about the plan of action I had devised thanks to you. I dug out my list of when I had had the same trouble with my ex calling in crank complaints to social services and I sat down and came up with this method:
I took each of her five days and divided them into an emergency zone plan. You give us a week for each zone, we did not have that. We had five days x24 hours minus 8 hours x five for sleep time.
So here is what I did. I back tracked: 1 day one room, period we had no choice. And if I was feeling particularly good I would work a little a head.
1. Since the children were gone we could clean the kitchen and leave it alone because no one was there to mess it up.
We did general surface cleaning first
We emptied every cabinet into boxes and we labeled every door with what was to go into it. I used my handle labeler.
We then stocked and organized her pantry, right down to spices, I halved all mine with her, which gave me a chance to buy more.
We then merchandised every thing and every where.
We put down some carpet squares to catch spills by the key appliance and put up a pair of lacy curtains in the kitchen. It was like walking into a doll house. 8 hours after we started we were finished.
Then came the front room area
That was where all of her boxes had been stuffed when she moved in. My DH erected a tent in the back yard and put everything in it (the kind for events).
We cleaned walls and floors and lay down area rugs 6×8 less mopping to do. And we then placed furniture. Hers really had seen better days so I sewed up so solid colored sheets and made a sofa covering, and chair cover. She loved it.
We unpacked every box that came through the door and purged what she did not want.
When we were done I was exhausted, but so proud of her.
Well I guess that this day was the hardest because she did not have much to make the children’s rooms look like children’s rooms.
But my storage bins and attic came to the rescue. I have 20 grandchildren and 8 children. Lots of junk, left up there. Well, we went on a treasure hunt and found so much nice things to work with, the old curtains from Barney’s days and the Barbie bedspread set and then there was the old day bed that had a trundle under it. We allowed only enough time for two hours of looking and then we stopped for then.
She has two girls and two boys and each group shares a bedroom. By the time we washed and cleaned everything half the day was gone, but my dh had used our time wisely and installed closet shelves and little rods for little ones in each closet and had made rolling cabinets for under the bed. This was becoming a neighborhood thing before I realized it. My neighbor in front came over with casseroles so we did not have to stop working, and then the local mail lady came over with some sheets she had found in her linen closet she never used for the master bed.
Day 3 came to a close with every one making her promise if she needed anything to call them first. I came away with so much pride in my neighborhood that I could have burst.
Well I finished up my chores at home and brought coffee and doughnuts over and found my daughter who is a legal aide attorney there, having coffee.
I said why are you here and not in my kitchen. LOL. Well, one of our neighbors had called her and thought that Sarah might need help stopping the ex from calling in every other day. After their talk my daughter pulled me off to the side and said Mom, you are wonderful. She left and again I felt like this was going to be a wonderful day.
Bathroom, this is where I almost lost hope, this bathroom needed tearing out and redoing. But my husband said go away and come back later.
My husband took a sander and sanded out the tub and sink, he CLR’ed the toilet till you had to have a gas mask, then used appliance paint on the tub and sink. Sarah had some very pretty little nick nacks and she had some clear plexy glass shelves, we put those up higher than normal and then as the apartment did not have shower rod or curtain my husband made some out of tree branches. We draped a plastic shower curtain on the inside and another sheet on the outside, then we put up towel racks and hand towel racks made out of old ring toss game pieces. The kind we bought for our children to develop motor skills. I gave Sarah an old piece of carpet I had saved from my brown days. For the bathroom floor and it turned out to fit walled to wall.
Started at five in the morning. We all were their bright and early to do her bedroom, we had only eight hours max to finish. I hung curtains, she washed walls, she hung pictures, I hung up clothes. We made the bed and we lay the carpet piece we found in a friends garage 8×6 again a piece here and there.
When we were done at three hours to spare, I started to go out the door and I looked in the yard and there was the social worker, knee deep in a flower bed, planting flowers in a boarder around a tree. Somehow a swing set had appeared and was up in the yard, I recognized an old wagon from years gone by, and another little doll house sitting on a table next to a fenced in area, like a mini yard for it.(My own daughter had enjoyed that and I knew for a fact it was there yesterday morning at her home)
I noticed the old plastic play house that my grandchildren had even out grown. I noticed the butterfly tent the neighborhood grump had had in his patio area.
Well at 1 hour before the appointment time, the social worker got up and said she would see us at three. We all looked bewildered and she left. I went next door to fix my dh lunch and took a shower and cleaned a little of my own kitchen feeling like the day was very special indeed.
At three o’clock the social worker came to door knocked on it and introduced herself. I told you I would be back a three today to inspect. Not the kindly lady planting flowers but all business. She went through the house and talked a while, I finally came over and brought coffee and cookies and she looked at me and asked me how long I had known Sarah and I looked thoughtfully into her face and said five days. The look of surprise on that ladies face was worth all the last five days work.
So FlyLady, I personally wanted to tell you that even if you didn’t know it before you really are the FlyLady of our hearts. The guardian angel of us all.
FlyLady here: This testimonial is from 2006. We had a request to resend it to everyone.
If you have Social Services knocking at your door. You can gain control over the CHAOS in your home by starting with shining your sink! I know you may think this is stupid but please just go shine your sink!