As the days get shorter and the weather turns colder, this is normally the time of year I start to feel a twinge of anxiety. When the grocery store starts trying to foist their free turkey on me and the front of the hardware store is filled with Christmas decorations before Halloween even hits, that twinge grows into a sense of almost dread.
I feel Grinchy even saying that, because for the most part, I really do feel like the holidays themselves truly are “the most wonderful time of the year.” I treasure the traditions, the time with family, the food, the fun. But it’s the crazed frenzy to get ready for the holidays that feels a little less than wonderful to me. I’ve written about that stress before, right here in this blog.
Well, like just about everything else in 2020, the holidays this year are going to look a lot different than what we’re used to. As I write this, I’m still not sure exactly what they will look like for our family, but I can tell you what they will NOT look like. There won’t be fancy Christmas parties to buy new outfits for, office parties to attend (or host), Secret Santa gifts to buy, big holiday meals that require moving extra tables and chairs into the dining room to accommodate super-extended family, Black Friday shopping sprees to crowded metro malls, taking kids to sit on Santa’s lap, Christmas caroling at nursing homes, or even overflowing candlelight Christmas Eve church services. I won’t be frantically trying to squeeze in baking and shopping and decorating in between working and entertaining and volunteering and visiting.
That’s just the way it has to be this year, and the way I see it, we can either lament everything we are missing, or we can embrace things the way they are. I’m choosing the latter. I’m going to look at this as a gift.
When my kids were in preschool, parents were invited to attend their Thanksgiving feast each year, in which the kids would put on a little program. It always included an old Shaker song, “Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free…” Well, much like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life was given the gift of seeing what the world would have been like if he’d never been born, maybe this year could be our gift of seeing what life would be like if we learned to celebrate a little more simply.
So for this year, I plan to focus on making the holidays as beautiful and special within our little home cocoon as possible. I’m still going to get my house cleaned, decorate, cook special meals, fill the house with music, send cards, reach out to loved ones who we’ll be missing, and just celebrate everything on a smaller scale. When we are able to get back to normal (next year!?!), maybe we will appreciate all of the trappings of the holidays more than ever. Or maybe we will realize that we can actually permanently let go of some of the craziness. Either way – tis a gift!
By lifestyle blogger, Karen Walker. Check out her blog here.
Social responsibility and “COVID CleanTM“ are keys to normalcy
I know in many ways, 2020 feels like an endless nightmare we are having a hard time waking up from. It feels like we’ve been stuck in some bizarre state of limbo since March, while the world waits for a vaccine, a life-saving treatment, or a miracle.
But if you really think about it, we haven’t been totally stuck. Things are progressing toward “normal,” albeit maybe not at the rate we’d prefer. In just a few months, the experts have learned a lot about this “novel” coronavirus, the likes of which they’ve never seen or studied before.
For one thing, they’ve figured out we don’t *really* need to suit up in gloves, booties, and hazmat suits to be safe at the grocery store. They’ve also learned that COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted person-to-person over a 15+ minute exposure through droplets and aerosols that come out of our noses and mouths and fly through the air, ultimately landing in someone else’s nose and/or mouth. (Blech.)
With that knowledge, the CDC now recommends wearing a face mask when going out in public – and frankly, thinking about the grossness of droplets flying into my mouth from someone else’s nose almost makes me want to wear a face mask for the rest of my life.
Pro tip: Think of a mask as a 2020 fashion accessory, and invest in some that you’ll actually want to wear! Those disposable blue masks are so “blah.” But talk about progress: an accessory that did not really exist anywhere in America 6 months ago is now easily found in retail stores. Check out the cute masks at Old Navy, for starters.
So, wearing a face mask is one of the most basic steps toward allowing us to safely shop, work, socialize, and hopefully, get back to school. It’s just one way to be socially responsible. Social responsibility and a spirit of cooperation amongst community members are almost certainly what we are going to need to get back to normal.
Social responsibility also means doing things the CDC has been calling for since day one: staying home when you’re sick; covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow; and social distancing. As we all know by now, that means staying six feet apart from people outside of your household, and avoiding large gatherings.
It might bring a strange sense of comfort to know that this concept of social distancing during a pandemic is nothing new. Even back in William Shakespeare’s day, theatres – including his own Globe Theatre – were frequently closed for many months at a time during outbreaks of the bubonic plague. Somehow, he managed to become the world’s most famous playwright in spite of this. That gives me hope that before too long, we will not only get back to normal, but come back better than before.
Meanwhile, though, there’s something else the CDC has been preaching since day one, and that is the importance of cleaning and disinfecting. Even though it may not be the primary way the virus is spread, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can certainly be transmitted via surfaces, especially if you touch it and then rub your eyes or your nose or your mouth (again: Blech).
I think overall, we’ve always been a pretty clean society, but “COVID Clean” is the new standard we need to strive for if we want to stay healthy.
So, what exactly is COVID Clean? Well, for one thing, it includes good hygiene. “Hygiene” is a word that always makes me feel… awkward. I guess because it reminds me of health class in junior high, when the hygiene unit covered uncomfortable topics like hormones, body odor, and acne. But from day one, “hygiene” has been a big part of experts’ advice to combat the coronavirus.
That means lots and lots of handwashing, something we’ve all received a crash course in over the past few months… Wash those hands in soap and water for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, they say. Easy peasy, except at those rest stop sinks with the press-on faucets that shut off before you can even squirt the soap onto your hands (pet peeve!). In that case, and in situations where you can’t use soap and water, hand sanitizer will do.
Pro tip: I love me some lavender-scented hand sanitizer that doesn’t make me feel like I’m just soaking my hands in vodka.
Of course, “COVID Clean” goes beyond our own personal hygiene. It extends to our surroundings and the things we touch every single day.
I was today-years-old when I learned that “cleaning” and “disinfecting” are distinctly different concepts; I’ve always used them interchangeably. According to the CDC, “Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces, AFTER cleaning.”
Immaculate Clean knows the difference, and they offer their clients a “COVID Clean” sanitizing services for high-touch surfaces. This includes cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas like door knobs, stair railings, small appliances, TV remotes, keyboards, light switches, chair backs, and of course, counter tops. They use hospital-grade disinfectants, and they’ll do this high-touch service as either a stand-alone service, or as an add-on to your regular cleaning.
To do your own disinfecting in between services, the CDC lists a ton of household disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19, including many familiar brands like Clorox and Lysol.
Here’s what it all boils down to as we are slowly finding our way back to normal life: We don’t have to remain isolated to be safe. We just have to be socially responsible – and COVID Clean!
“Quarantine fatigue,” they’re calling it. I suppose it’s as accurate of a description as any… And I want to preface the rest of this by admitting that I realize I don’t have much to complain about. I already personally know 4 people who have died from the coronavirus, including my beloved Aunt Nancy; I have friends who are Emergency Room physicians and nurses who are not even able to live with their families right now for fear of bringing the virus home; I have friends who own small businesses who are worried about how they are going to continue to exist when it’s finally safe for the world to re-open, and friends who have been laid off from their jobs. So believe me, I understand that many people have REAL problems right now.
So take this for what it is—the grumbles of a “non-essential” worker who has it pretty darn good. I think there are a lot of people out there who can relate, so I’m just going to say it: This combination of forced isolation and forced family togetherness is getting old.
Just when we were getting used to being empty-nesters, our college sophomore son is back, along with his 6-month-old yellow lab. They’re both here 24/7. One of them sheds like a maniac, and the other has stopped shaving. And they both try to eat everything in sight.
With my husband and me both working from home and the kid waking up at the crack of noon to do his classes online, we are seriously competing for resources. Desk space, WiFi, peace and quiet— they’re all at a premium in our house right now. My poor husband has been reduced to using an old laptop with a broken “J” key, so he has had to get really creative with spell check and cutting & pasting. And I have had to make work phone calls from a quiet corner in our master bathroom while he’s in our kitchen participating in an office Zoom call, where for some reason he feels the need to SHOUT to be heard every time it’s his turn to talk.
We’re even competing for TV time every night, trying to decide what movie to watch or what kind of show to binge…. I usually lose that battle; no “Little Women” in my house, it’s been all Ozark and anything else with lots of action, blood, drugs, and f-bombs… I actually miss the days of aimless channel-surfing; it’s exhausting that every night becomes a television “event” that we all must agree on.
Then there’s the weekly grocery store run involving the donning of the suit of armor— face mask, disposable gloves, bottle of hand sanitizer—and the weirdness of following traffic patterns in the aisles and not being able to socialize when you run into acquaintances, topped off by the frustration that comes from not being able to find toilet paper, frozen vegetables, and the kind of wine that I like— and by the end of the day, I sometimes find myself repeating the Seinfeld Frank Costanza version of a “serenity prayer” with fists and voice raised: “Serenity now! Serenity NOW!!!” You’d better believe I’m ready for a Zoom happy hour almost any night of the week—but in some ways that makes me miss my friends, family, and normal life even more. I haven’t been anywhere worth dressing for in so long, the pierced holes in my ear lobes are closing up.
But this is all the easy part. Even though our workloads and our incomes have decreased during this great pause, my husband and I at least have enough work to keep us engaged during the day. But at night, when everything is quiet and I’m trying to sleep—that’s the hard part. That’s when the worry sets in.
I worry about my oldest son, who is working from home and living with his girlfriend in a city a couple hours away. He’s the newest person in his company—are they going to have to lay people off? Is he struggling with his anxiety? I worry about my parents. Are they staying safe? Is this isolation too much for them? When will I get to hug them again? I worry about the economy, about friends who are struggling to pay bills, about young family members and friends with pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable during this time, and so much more.
That’s the time to bring out the REAL serenity prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Even though it feels like so much is out of our control right now, there are things we can control. Action conquers fear. Personally, I am trying to embrace action by taking control of my daily routine, by staying in close contact with the people I worry about, by working hard, by following safety guidelines, and by looking for ways to help people who need it. I’m also trying to let go of worrying about things that are out of my control; sometimes this takes incredible effort. My weekly Zoom yoga classes help me with that.
How about you? What can you control in your own environment during this crazy time? What do you need to accept and let go of?
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look
for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’— Fred Rogers
Our country, and indeed, the whole world, is certainly living through a difficult time. Many of us are isolated at home, missing our friends and family. Some of us have lost our source of income, at least temporarily. Some of us are juggling learning to work remotely and educating our kids at home. We are bombarded with scary reports about COVID-19 on tv and via social media 24/7, and we are worried about our health and about the people we love. It’s hard to escape feelings of anxiety and fear.
We need to step back from our anxiety every once in awhile and look for things to be grateful for. Even amongst all the negatives, think about what is going right in your life right now. Are you healthy? Are you still employed? Are you lucky enough to be isolating with your family and your furry friends? Do you have the technology to stay in touch with loved ones in a safe, socially distant way?
These are all things to be grateful for right now, and I am. But I am especially grateful for the helper—the unsung heroes who are out there on the front lines keeping the rest of us safe and healthy.
Of course, the first people that come to mind are our healthcare workers. I have friends who are Emergency Room physicians and nurses. They are worried about the same things the rest of us worry about, and they also are already reporting that they are dangerously low on equipment to protect themselves. But they still show up and do the best they can. They are saving lives even as they are risking their own through exposure. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
I’m also grateful to the people who are keeping us fed. The truck drivers who continue to deliver food to our grocery stores; the grocery store workers themselves, who are working in one of the only places that everyone is still allowed to visit freely; the restaurant workers and owners who are providing take-out and delivered meals—even though it is financially difficult for many of them to stay open without dine-in service; the delivery drivers who are taking groceries and meals to strangers’ houses every day…
I’m grateful for other “essential” workers (as defined by the government, but also as defined by those of us who truly need their services), who, let’s face it, are at a greater risk than those of us who are staying home: The mail carriers and UPS/FedEx drivers. The sanitation workers. And yes—residential house cleaning services!
These are just some of the helpers and the heroes that are keeping us safe and keeping our country running during this turbulent and strange time. But even those of us who are deemed “non-essential” can be heroes right now. We can donate to food banks and homeless shelters. We can sew face masks for first responders and healthcare workers. We can support local small businesses by buying gift cards or ordering take-out. And, perhaps most importantly, we can stay home and practice safe social distancing in order to stay healthy and stop the spread of the virus!
To that end, Immaculate Clean can help us all stay healthy with their “High Touch Point Sanitizing Service.” As a stand-alone service or as an upgrade to regular service, they can come in and sanitize frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, faucets, remote controls, chair backs, appliance handles, stair rails, and more. Call 410-549-0727 to schedule!
Overwhelmed by life? Regain a bit of control one sock at a time.
I have a dream… that every sock should have a mate.
Every so often, I am haunted by the same dream. It’s an incredibly vivid dream, intense and deeply satisfying.
This dream involves a real-life giant basket of unmatched socks that sits on my bedroom floor. In the dream, I manage to find the mate for every single sock in that basket—even my sons’ Nike socks, with their maddening subtle differences in shading, ribbing, and swoosh colors.
I remember the first time I awoke from this dream. After the initial feelings of satisfaction and contentment wore off and reality reared its ugly head, I thought: Is this how pathetic my life has become? (You’re probably thinking the same thing about my life right now, dear reader, let’s be honest.) How on earth could I seriously be having the emotional equivalent of an erotic dream about matched up socks?
Then I had the dream again. And again. When I had the dream once again last week, I figured out that maybe this dream was my subconscious mind’s way of expressing something. I think my brain is trying to tell me that I am craving order right now. And it makes sense.
The beginning of 2020 has been crazier than usual in our household. After living as empty-nesters for a year, my 19-year-old son moved back into the house, turning our lower level into his own studio apartment AND getting a puppy. I’m not saying any of this is bad—it’s really not—but none of this was part of my plan, and it is taking some adjusting. On top of all of that, I’ve taken on some very big work-related projects which involve a bit of a learning curve and some tight deadlines. Add in some travel and a steady stream of weekend guests—again, none of this is bad; I swear, I am not complaining—but clearly something in my psyche is feeling like life is careening a teensy bit out of control.
So now that my sock-matching dream has revealed my sense of losing a bit of control to my conscious self, what am I going to do about it?? One of the first things I did was to purge that giant basket of socks.
I threw out a huge pile of “hold-out” socks—the singles I’ve been holding onto since my young adult children were in middle school, holding out some slim hope that someday, somehow, a mate was going to magically appear. So, my basket of single socks has now been reduced to about 1/3 of what it used to be — still too many, but it’s a start…
I’m also trying to take control of whatever small aspects of life that I can. I am trying to be consistent about exercising—which, in addition to the physical benefits, seems to help me calm my mind. I am making detailed to-do lists every day for both my work and personal life to help me stay on task when my mind is going in 10 directions at once. And I’m trying to keep my surroundings neat and tidy.
I am definitely one of those people who thinks more clearly and performs better if my environment is uncluttered and clean. If there are dust bunnies on my floor or dirty dishes piling up in the sink, I have a hard time concentrating, and I feel even more stressed out than normal. So I am extremely grateful for and dependent on the twice-monthly cleaning crew that keeps my floors, bathrooms and countertops clean. When you consider the way it positively affects my productivity as well as my sense of serenity, the cost of a professional cleaner is more than worth it!
If, like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the chaotic pace and messiness of life, there is an easy way to grab back a little sense of control. Give Immaculate Clean a call! And in the meantime, purge your unmatched socks, before they start haunting your dreams![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Break Out of That Seasonal Rut
Groundhog Day, the movie starring Bill Murray, has always been one of my favorite movies of all time. In the film, Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is a bit of a self-centered jerk in the beginning, to say the least. The TV weatherman inexplicably finds himself reliving the same day over and over again—Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It’s only when he starts to use the day to better himself—learning to play the piano and reading poetry, getting close to all of the local people he used to look upon with disdain (“They’re hicks, Rita!”), unselfishly trying to help a sick homeless man—that he is able to free himself from the repetitive rut he is in, find true love, and move on with his life.
When the movie came out in 1993, it spoke to me in a surprisingly deep way. At the time, I was a young newlywed working in a dead-end job that made me feel as though I was indeed stuck in a rut like Phil Connors was. It sounds crazy, but that movie truly inspired me to want to better myself. I got more involved with my community, joining a local civics organization and volunteering my time as a literacy tutor, and I started an earnest search for a new, more fulfilling job. And just the act of taking action helped me to break out of that rut.
Don’t we all find ourselves in a rut sometimes? No matter what we have going on in our lives, at this time of year, when cold, dreary days can seem to be never ending, it is easy to feel like we are like Phil Connors, reliving the same day over and over again. It can help to be reminded that when we do feel stuck, it is usually within our power to find a way to break free of that rut.
To this day, whenever I find myself in a rut, I think about Phil. Sometimes focusing on something new, like Phil’s piano lessons, is what I need: How can I push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new? Or, maybe what I really need is the energy that comes from other people: Who can I reach out to or try to get to know better? Sometimes just focusing on someone besides myself is helpful: How can I brighten someone else’s day or help someone with a problem?
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh start of some kind to break free. If you’re bored with your work, sometimes it helps to change up your routine and come up with a new way of doing things. Sometimes something as simple as cleaning out a desk or a filing cabinet can be a boost.
At home, the monotonous nature of housework can wear us down. Laundry and toilets are always needing to be cleaned; dust and dirt are always reappearing on our floors; clutter is always accumulating. Day after day, week after week, it’s the same thing all over again. The never-ending cleaning tasks can feel like a burden, distracting us from the potentially more enriching parts of life.
For me, periodically coming home to a clean house can be the fresh start I need to help me break free of a rut and to allow me to start to thinking creatively and positively again. If you are stuck in a rut this winter, give Immaculate Clean a call! You might just find yourself breaking free from the monotony as you see your home, and your life, in a whole new light!
It’s January, and another holiday season is behind us. The time has come to un-deck the halls and embrace what comes next: a cold, gray, gloomy Mid-Atlantic winter!
Indeed, January is a tough month for a lot of people. In fact, January 24 is actually officially known as “the most depressing day of the year.” Clinical depression is one thing—see a doctor if you feel you are suffering from that—but there is also a very real, albeit less serious, kind of depression that happens for many of us when we couple the natural post-holiday letdown with the shortened hours of daylight: this is prime time for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to set in. I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD, but I don’t need a doctor to tell me that I feel more “blah” at this time of year. So I’ve been working on a few ways to combat that feeling this winter.
- Leaving up the Christmas lights. Inside the house, we are back to normal: the Christmas tree is down, and the decorations are all boxed up for next year. But as we were packing things away this year, I asked my husband to leave our outdoor lights up for just a little bit longer. They just seem to brighten up the dreary gray evenings. And heck, if Hallmark can start showing Christmas movies two months before Christmas, why can’t I extend this little part of it for few weeks AFTER the holidays?
- Light therapy. Lights aren’t just for decoration… For people who suffer from SAD, there are actual lamps that are therapeutic in the way they mimic the natural daylight that is often in short supply during the winter months in our area of the country. I bought myself a relatively inexpensive one on Amazon this year, and I just keep it at my desk and turn it on while I am working during the day. It’s too soon to tell if it helps, but it can’t hurt, right?
- Brightening my wardrobe. My winter clothing reflects my usual winter mood. In other words, just about everything in my closet is either black or gray. In the summer, I mix it up a lot, but in the winter, I basically am deciding which black top to wear on any given day. So this season, I’ve been slowly adding in a few items to brighten both my winter wardrobe and my mood: a pink scarf; a red sweater; animal-print shoes… Again—it can’t hurt!
- Getting outside. Regardless of whether the sun is shining or not, it always helps my mood to get a little fresh air. And unless the temperature has reached dangerous wind chill levels, I try not to use it as an excuse. As my Hungarian grandmother would say: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing.” So I make a point to bundle up, put a sweater on my little dog, and head outside for at least a 20 minute walk almost every single day during the winter. I never regret it.
- Keeping the house clean. Seriously, who doesn’t feel calmer and more content when their house is clean? If ever there is a time of year that it is worthwhile to have Immaculate Clean come in and give your home a good once-over, January is it! It’s such a mood-lifter on those dreary January days to come home to a clean house—not to mention that this is a great way to combat those cold and flu germs that are so prevalent right now.
However you choose to cope with the winter blues this month, keep pushing on… Better, longer, sunnier days lie ahead!
When we change the calendar at the end of this month, we’ll not only be changing over to a new year—we’ll be entering a new decade.
I, for one, am pretty psyched about this new decade. For one thing, I’m looking forward to being able to call it “the 20s.” I have a son who was born in the year 2000. And while it’s kind of cool that he’ll never forget how old he is, because the year always equals his age—in 2021, he’ll be 21; in 2099, he’ll be 99—he can’t look back on the first two decades of his life and encapsulate either one of them in a word. I mean, I can say “I love 80s music,” but what is the equivalent phrase for music from 2010-2019? I went to elementary school in the 70s; what’s he supposed to say? “I was in middle school in the early two-tens.” Yuck.
Moving into a new decade offers us more than brevity of phrasing… It is a good excuse to take some time out to reflect on the past 10 years—the good and the bad; the things we’ve accomplished, and the dreams that remain unfulfilled… And while most people do make at least one new year’s resolution every year, what if we were to make a new DECADE’s resolution on January 1?
I’m not sure yet exactly what that would look like for me, but I guess it starts with that age-old interview question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? If it’s somewhere completely different than where you are now, the next question should be: What has to change in order for you to get there?
As I was contemplating this, I came up with a deep, “life coachy” kind of conclusion: If you set a big goal for the next decade, you can intentionally make small new year’s resolutions each year that move you closer to that goal.
So, if I’m thinking that 10 years from now I want to be working in a new career, I could resolve this year to take a course or two to start learning about a new field. If my goal is to be healthy and active in 10 years, I could resolve to start running or take up yoga this year. If my goal is to downsize to an empty-nester condo by 2020, perhaps my new year’s resolution this year would be to start purging, one room at a time.
The point is, if we want to achieve a big change, we have to move toward it with intention, one small step at a time.
Okay, I get that this is not an original idea; every motivational speaker or self-help author says some version of this at some point. So I don’t know why it took me almost 5 decades to really figure this out. But until this point, I’ve chosen my new year’s resolutions pretty haphazardly, and I’ve rarely been able to stick to them. Resolutions are hard because they involve change—and I have never been very good about embracing change. It takes me a long time to warm up to new ways of doing things.
But I think as I’m getting older, I’m getting both wiser and bolder. Looking back over the past decade, I can see clearly that I have made a lot of positive changes in my life, and most of them happened one baby step at a time. I’ve learned to recognize when something needs to change, and I’ve learned to take action rather than waiting on change to happen on its own. Now that I understand this, I’m excited to see where the 20s take me as I move toward 2030 with real intention!
As you start to contemplate the parts of your life you’d like to change, think about your current cleaning service. Are you happy with the job they are doing? Immaculate Clean offers consistent, predictable, friendly, respectful service. If you have been feeling frustrated because you aren’t receiving this from your current provider, then maybe 2020 is the time to make a change. Give Immaculate Clean a try and be sure to inquire about any current savings offers.
As 2019 draws to an end, Immaculate is offering $90 off a Top to Bottom Deluxe service plan with a recurring service commitment. This offer won’t last forever (expires 1/31/20) so don’t delay, call today 410-549-0727 and let Immaculate Clean make your busy life easier. They’re your neighbor and they’ll treat you as such!
A couple months ago, our family was down one car for a few days and I had to “borrow” “my son’s car.” (I use both terms loosely, because, hello—whose name do you think is on the title to that car? Hint: not my son’s.) After my son “graciously” handed over the keys, I opened the driver’s door, ready to hop in and head off to a meeting. Fortunately, I was running early that day, because before I could even step into the car, I had to clear a path.
The kid’s car was a pigsty. It smelled like a cross between B.O. and old ketchup, there was some sticky substance smeared on the steering wheel, and the front and back seats were piled high with everything you could imagine: water bottles, fast food bags, clothing, basketballs, golf shoes… I knew I couldn’t stand to drive around in that filth all day, so I grabbed a trash can and a shovel and proceeded to scoop out all of the junk, just to make the vehicle safe to sit and breathe in once again.
As appalled as I was at the condition of the kid’s car, I realized I really had to take some of the blame. When it came to keeping a car clean and clutter-free, I had been a horrible role model throughout most of my sons’ childhood.
I’m not alone. I’m actually surprised that my friends who have the neatest houses are often the same friends who have to apologize for the state of their car if I happen to ride somewhere with them.
It’s understandable when the kids are really little. When you have to unbuckle a toddler from a booster seat while trying to juggle a diaper bag, a purse, and bags of groceries, you simply don’t have enough hands to grab the other things that may be cluttering up your car—things like receipts and napkins and a travel mug in the cup holder.
But kids grow up, and eventually you reach a point where there really is no excuse for continuing to drive a landfill-on-wheels. It’s just that old habits are hard to break.
Well, believe it or not, I think the holiday season is the perfect time to break some bad habits and take control over your messy car. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a clean car before you head over the river and through the woods to see Grandmother for the holidays? Shouldn’t you be able to offer your friends a ride to the holiday party without fear of someone sitting on top of potato chip crumbs, or worse, in their red velvet dress?
The bad news: Immaculate Clean will not clean your car for you. The good news: if you hire them to clean your house, you’ll have some extra time to focus on your vehicle.
I suggest blocking off about 15 minutes this weekend to clean out your car from front to back. Toss out all the trash, bring inside all the stuff that doesn’t really belong in a car, run a hand vac over the seats and the floor mats, and then take some Windex and some Armor All to the interior surfaces.
Once your car is smelling and looking good, here are three easy tips you can use to keep it that way:
- Keep a little trash bag or plastic grocery bag in or on the center console— a place to toss your tissues, receipts, straw wrappers, etc.
- Make a pact with yourself to empty everything out your car every time you arrive home.
Pro tip: Never, ever leave your purse and/or key in the car, even when it’s inside your own driveway or garage. (Remember when I said I had to “borrow” “my son’s car” because we were down a vehicle? That was because *someone* in my family left the key fob in a car—and it was stolen in broad day light.)
- Schedule one day every month to vacuum out and wipe down the interior of your car (more frequently would be even better, but I’m realistic: if you’re reading these tips, you probably are not a clean freak.)
It might be too late for me to be a role model for my kids, but nonetheless, I’ve been making the effort to keep my car clean and clutter-free. It sure makes driving a lot more enjoyable—and probably safer, too!
Since I first wrote this blog post last year, I’ve had a dear friend get diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to what I learned by writing this blog, I was able to set her up with a cleaning session from Immaculate Clean, which she appreciated so much. I think it is worth reminding people of this amazing service offered by Immaculate Clean, so please share this info!
It’s Pinktober®, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985, this campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer has been tremendously successful, at least from the standpoint of making the color pink synonymous with breast cancer. Think about it— these days, we all immediately recognize the meaning behind a pink ribbon, a pink 5K t-shirt, and even pink football cleats worn by an NFL player. Well-played, Pinktober marketing people, well-played. Hopefully, all the awareness spread over the past 34 years has saved many lives by encouraging women to get mammograms and leading folks to donate money toward finding a cure. All of that is important, truly good stuff.
But, having known some amazing women who have battled breast cancer and other kinds of cancer, I think I can safely say this: Awareness is cool—but action is cooler. A woman in the midst of undergoing cancer treatment is already WELL aware of it, thank-you-very-much. All of the pink balloons and pink socks in the world are not going to solve her immediate concerns that come from being thrust into an unfamiliar world full of doctors and pharmacists and life-or-death decisions, overwhelming fears about the future, and stresses about day-to-day issues that healthy people take for granted. Her thoughts at this time may look something like this:
What is going to happen to me? How is this treatment going to affect me? Is my insurance going to cover all of this? What if treatment doesn’t work?? What if the cancer comes back? I’m sick and the treatment is making me feel even worse; how am I going to continue to work and take care of my kids? How am I going to find the energy to cook meals for my family? How am I going to clean my house?
That is a lot to deal with, but, honestly, some of it should not fall onto the cancer patient’s shoulders at all. These women have to focus so hard on kicking cancer’s a$$ that they shouldn’t be burdened by concerns about things like cooking meals for their families or cleaning their house. My personal view is, if you really want to support a friend or family member who is facing a cancer battle, you should think about ways you can ease the burdens of daily life so they can concentrate completely on the one thing that matters: getting well.
This may mean offering to bring them a meal, buy groceries for them, walk their dog, or drive their kids to soccer. Anything that seems “routine” to you is probably something that they could really use some help with. Another thing you can do—and this won’t cost you a thing—is tell them about a fabulous program called “Cleaning for a Reason.”
The Cleaning for a Reason Foundation provides free house cleaning for women who are going through cancer treatments. Immaculate Clean is a proud and active partner of the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, committed to helping women in the local community during their time of need by providing free cleaning services. The way it works is rather simple: A patient who is undergoing cancer treatments can register via the website at cleaningforareason.org. Based on a participating cleaning company’s availability, they will receive a total of two free general cleanings.
It may sound like such a simple thing, but in reality, to be able to give a cancer patient the gift of a clean home does much more than just ease a little of her workload. The peace that comes with a clean, uncluttered, fresh-smelling environment can do wonders for a patient’s spirit! It’s better for her health, too!
So, whether or not you’re wearing pink, I’m going to encourage you to spread some awareness about this important free service this Pinktober®, and take some action to help a cancer patient you may know in a meaningful way!