Cleaning Your House for the Holidays in 50 Steps

Image Source: Think Stock
Image Source: Think Stock

With the holiday season fast approaching you want your house looking its best for all of those relatives you aren’t sure you wanted to invite over in the first place, right? Right! Now sure, cleaning isn’t fun for anyone (except for that Type A friend of yours), but don’t fret. With these easy* step-by-step instructions your house should be spic and span by oh, let’s say Groundhog Day.

*May not be easy. Okay, probably won’t be.

  1. Consult friend who doubles as your housekeeping crush for tips on how to tame the beast that is your unkempt casa.
  2. Feel genuinely puzzled at her panicked disbelief at your lack of a regular cleaning schedule.
  3. Accept her offer to loan you a copy of her cleaning schedule.
  4. Immediately regret decision and try to think of a way to gracefully return schedule, as it was clearly written for people with a cleaning gene you do not possess. (We’re supposed to dust the baseboards?)
  5. Shrug off pangs of housekeeping inadequacy while thumbing through inspirational holiday catalog.
  6. Resolve to somehow turn house into charming catalog-esque cottage full of festive artisanal knickknacks. Or at least to uncover mystery smell emanating from son’s bedroom.
  7. Begin decluttering dining room table, removing extraneous junk mail, soccer balls, half-eaten granola bars, and unfinished kids’ projects. Decide to finally put away decorative Halloween plate as well.
  8. Forget to hide discarded kids’ artwork under other paper in recycling bin.
  9. Console crying daughter with crumpled up map of Zimbabwe in hand, suggesting that the cat must have somehow thrown it away, as you would never be so thoughtless.
  10. Determine that best time to rid house of similar previously-forgotten-but-now-precious works of art would be at 3 AM, when everyone is (presumably) asleep.
  11. Create elaborate plan to do so, channeling Ocean’s Eleven.
  12. Upon recalling Ocean’s Eleven, also recall irresistible charm of smolderingly gorgeous George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s “I Haven’t Had 27 Kids Yet” brand of hot.
  13. Decide to reward self with short eye candy break, courtesy of Google images.
  14. Realize that 45 minutes have passed since starting short eye candy break, and first step of Holiday Cleaning Extravaganza is still only 1/3 complete.
  15. Recruit kids to help with clean-up after remembering advice of numerous parenting articles. Feel pleased with self for building grit, personal responsibility, and similar in children.
  16. Turn on lively holiday music to drown out complaints of unwilling participants. Feel certain that moods will change with help of elbow grease and Bing Crosby.
  17. Return to dining room table task.
  18. Find unpaid credit card bill under empty donut box.
  19. Stick bill in back pant pocket — it’s the only safe place from the cleaning frenzy.
  20. Resolve to call credit card company to ask if late fee can be waived because of undue holiday preparation stress.
  21. Fantasize about doctor’s offices handing out “Holiday Prep Stress” excuse notes, getting adults out of unwanted adulting obligations.
  22. Return to dining room table task. Again.
  23. Notice son attempting to yell over music and finally pantomiming hunger pangs in belly while pointing to crying baby.
  24. Wonder how anyone expects you to get anything done when they continually demand food.
  25. Make mental note to look up new independent baby parenting philosophy that claims to teach them how to prepare meals for themselves at 6 months of age. Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it, so it must be good!
  26. Recall that strange time in the ’90s when Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt were dating and seemed to morph into a single stylishly coiffed and highlighted pixie cut.
  27. Feel newfound shame at having gushed over Brad Pitt pics earlier. Reason that pics were taken post-Gwyneth and therefore totally respectable.
  28. Prepare lunch for kids and baby while simultaneously throwing out expired food in fridge to make room for impending holiday turkey.
  29. Guiltily notice irony in throwing out food to make room for more food.
  30. Scoop up baby, who has started to eat cat food while waiting for equally nutritious meal you are in the process of preparing.
  31. Offer her organic, free-range, cruelty-free, and taste-free cereal instead and place back on kitchen floor.
  32. Mentally calculate cat food amount to probable medical bill cost ratio as she discards cereal and heads back to pet’s feeding bowl.
  33. Decide to let nature take its course when numbers come out favorably.
  34. Finally finish preparing lunch and take advantage of the few minutes that everyone is seated and occupied.
  35. Use extended arm to sweep remaining dining room table occupants into large cardboard box.
  36. Toss box into bottomless pit (garage) after concluding that ain’t nobody got time for this. Maybe you’ll go through it after the holidays. Then again, probably not.
  37. Dust off favorite holiday centerpiece and place on table. Feel great sense of pride and accomplishment, as first item on cleaning checklist is finally complete after only 3 hours.
  38. Notice that decorative bauble has broken off of favorite holiday centerpiece.
  39. Locate super glue and begin to repair decorative bauble.
  40. Hear puking sounds coming from sibling lunch and pray that they are a figment of your imagination.
  41. Determine they are not after using razor-sharp detective skills, with primary clue being that baby is now happily splashing hands in cat food/baby vomit.
  42. Clean off pukey baby, highchair, and surroundings within five-foot radius after receiving confirmation from pediatrician that ER trip to pump baby’s stomach is not necessary.
  43. Realize only now that you forgot to wash super glue off hands after bauble repair. Also realize that fingertips are now permanently adorned with paper towel bits and unpaid credit card bill.
  44. Notice five-second spans of time during which you silently:

    A) question life choices that led you to this moment,

    B) consider spending remainder of holiday season sprawled out in middle of floor, refusing to do anything ever because you don’t wanna,

    C) mentally scan pantry, searching for chocolate, alcohol, or preferably chocolate with alcohol, and

    D) try to control rage threatening to burst like steam from ears, a la every Looney Tunes character ever.

  45. Abandon House Cleaning Extravaganza entirely, reasoning that relatives don’t care about state of house as much as seeing you, your husband, and your cat food-eating children.
  46. And if they do care about the house, they can buzz off. Happy Friggin’ Holidays.
  47. Locate alcohol-filled chocolate in special secret hiding place in back left corner of pantry’s top shelf. (You knew you had squirreled some away.)
  48. Load kids in car to see showing of favorite holiday movie — yours, not theirs — at amazing, life-saving theater that serves beer and pizza.
  49. Cross ‘clean house’ off endless holiday to-do list.
  50. Feel immensely better already.
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