Tips to help you think you’re spring cleaning

COVID Chronicles. This is the fourth in a whole pandemic of columns written for The Sault Star to provide comic relief during our health crisis. This one was published April 7.

COVID-19 sure has changed the way we do spring cleaning. 

At least, that’s been my experience.

For one thing, I’m actually doing spring cleaning this year. 

Normally when a warm, sunny day tells me spring has begun to sprung, more-important things intervene, such as taking a long hike or drinking beer with friends on a patio.

But in the COVID era, long hikes already are as much a part of my daily routine as sniffing my clothes to see if they’ll do for one more day. And outdoors is no longer a pleasant choice but the only place I can have a drink with friends: no novelty there.

I’ve taken to calling them Les Moutons. But even using a romance language can’t hide that the Dust Bunny came to my house this Easter.

Why even bother with spring cleaning if no one is entering your house, you might ask? Indeed, I considered just leaving the snow shovels outside my doorways and, when physical distancing finally ends, inviting guests to shovel their way in.

But since we’re being advised to acquire new skills while confined to our homes, spring cleaning it is.

Some of you finished your spring cleaning a few weeks ago. You bought dozens of bottles of sanitizer, stripped the supermarket shelves of toilet paper, wiped every surface in your house, including household pets, multiple times and then realized you had inadvertently done your spring cleaning while you were being so ridiculous.

All that remains is to dispose of a dozen garbage bags full of damp TP and several recycling containers full empty bottles.

Most of us are just getting started. So I thought I’d share some helpful hints I’ve picked up so far. If Trump can govern a country while knowing diddly squat about anything and ignoring experts, why can’t I dispense advice on spring cleaning?

The first thing you should clean is yourself.

Your sense of smell is an important diagnostic tool when spring cleaning. If too many bad smells emanate from within your social distancing distance, you might overlook some dangerously cruddy household targets.

I started by shaving. I had been letting my facial hair grow (all of my hair, if truth be told) with the idea that if my face looked so ugly that even I didn’t want to touch it that might reduce my changes of contracting COVID-19.

But I had forgotten that a new beard itches. It’s next to impossible to follow the don’t-touch-your-face rule with an itchy beard.

My second piece of advice is to make a really, really long to-do list.

That doesn’t mean you want to accomplish more spring cleaning than in your wildest dreams. The idea is to do the same total work but in much, much smaller segments.

Break every job down into tiny bits. That way you can check off or stroke out at least one item a day while barely breaking a sweat, then reward yourself in an appropriate manner. (Be sure “Stock up on booze” is on your list early and often.)

You can congratulate yourself for a job, well, done.

“Wash all the table knives” or “throw out orphan socks” are good examples of achievable chores.

In past years my to-do list would include something like “Spring clean the house.”

Half a year later “Spring clean the house” would glare at me accusingly when I stumble across my to-do list, like a “Become a better person” resolution made by a 10-year-old confined to his room for using electric hedge-clippers to shave the family dog.

This year I have to-do listings for each room of my house. When those rooms are larger than 30 square feet I break the work down into even smaller chunks.

For example, I have a large sunroom on the front of my house with a wall of windows, the type of room people ooh and aah over until I hand them a bottle of window cleaner and a roll of paper towels.

This morning I cleaned two sliding glass doors in the room, gave myself a hearty high-five and will administer a suitable reward after just a few more paragraphs.

Yesterday I cleaned all of the lower bank of windows in that room. Yesss. Reward.

The day before that I mounted a stepladder and cleaned all of the higher bank of windows in that room. Ta Da. Sip sip.

Each day at least one item checked off the list. Each day a reward or two. Don’t say experimenting with lab rats in my animal psych class didn’t teach me anything.

As you might suspect, “Come up with an ending for this column” is an item on today’s to-do list.

Done.

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