I remember hearing her say, more than once, that she was raising her daughters to "have a good career and pay someone else to do the drudge work." While we were off at school, the house magically cleaned itself. Well, really, I know it didn't, but I saw little of the process. When I went off to college, my roommate had to teach me how to use the washer and dryer in the dorm basement.
My Saturday job was cleaning the bathroom. I grew up knowing how to clean a bathroom!
Since I loved chocolate chip cookies, I tended to hang around when Mom baked them. (She did most of her baking, too, when we were at school, but there were a few times I remember adding ingredients to the mixing bowl under her direction, turning on the mixer, scooping out spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a greased baking sheet...) My cooking skills were pretty limited when I left home. My repertoire included the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies, milkshakes in the blender, sandwiches, and heating up canned soup.
My older sister taught me a few more skills, the year we shared an apartment (some years later). She was quite a good cook, and I learned a lot from her about taking basic ingredients and turning them into good food. I also learned a little about keeping an apartment clean with an intensive weekend cleaning session, but not a whole lot about daily upkeep. I certainly wasn't in charge and didn't give housekeeping any thought; I just did what my sister said to do.
Over the years of having my own home, I've been frustrated by the difference between how I'd like the house to look, and reality. I can't tell you how many how-to-keep-house books I've read over the years. I finally came to the conclusion that I know all the theory, but reading isn't going to get the house clean so much as doing.
I'd try, in spurts, and burn myself out pretty quickly. I tried different systems. Some worked better than others (Sidetracked Home Executives was one, and FlyLady was another), but if I got sick or life got busy I couldn't keep it up. Not to mention my lack of self-discipline (I need a bumper sticker that says I'd Rather Be Reading) or cluelessness about setting up a cleaning schedule and sticking to it. Add to that the clutter (mostly paper and books) that keeps adding up, and you've got a problem. I mean, I have a problem. So does my family. I'm not the only one who didn't learn how to keep a house from my mom -- my daughters are in danger of the same thing, for different reasons!
A Slob Comes Clean. (Yes, I was still reading about cleaning, more than actually doing it. However, my reading had changed from books to the Internet.) I read the title of Dana White's book with a jaded eye: 28 Days to Hope for your Home. Yeah, right, I said to myself. I've seen this kind of thing before. Only, this was different. It wasn't promising a clean house in 28 days, it wasn't promising a clean house with no effort, nor a house that (practically) cleans itself. This book was promising hope. Believe me, when you're feeling desperate, hope sounds good.
Just reading about the book at the webpage was different. I got the feeling that Dana knew exactly how I felt. (In chatspeak: BTDT.) Moreover, she wasn't offering a spotless house in 28 days. She was offering four habits. Four. Would four habits really make that much difference?
Like I said, I was desperate. I bought it and downloaded it to my Kindle. (I don't have a Kindle, mind -- I would like to, someday, but that's another story -- but I do have a Kindle app on my PC.)
I read the Introduction. Well, okay, Dana calls it something else, but it serves as an introduction of sorts, taking you gently by the hand and leading you into the meat of the book. Which, for meat, is (figuratively speaking) already cut up into small bits, set out on the highchair tray, ready and waiting.
(Let me make this clear: I am not saying that the author's tone is demeaning or that I got the feeling she was talking down. Rather, she was rolling up her sleeves, getting ready to get into the trenches right alongside me, after already having been there at the start of her own battle. I'm mixing my metaphors between battle-hardened soldiers and highchairs, but, as FlyLady so eloquently puts it, Baby Steps...)
I shook my head, reading Day 1. This is too simple, I thought. It's not gonna work. It's just too simple.
Nevertheless, I rolled up my sleeves -- see, Dana, I'm not just reading but doing and following your example -- and I did the assignment for Day 1. I must admit, I peeked ahead and read through the first half of the book before I could restrain myself and return to trying this program as it was designed, one step at a time.
As I went through the first week, I got the eerie feeling that Dana was right there with me, reading my mind. (Well, in a sense... she really has been there. That's why this book has worked for me as well as it has. She understands my mindset, because her mind appears to run along in a similar fashion. Poor woman.)
By the end of the second week, something was working. I wasn't sure exactly what. Having little-to-no homemakerly instinct made it difficult to realize that, while I was doing so little that was different from the way I'd managed (or rather, not managed) before, new habits were being laid down, and (let's mix in another metaphor for variety, shall we?) dominoes were beginning to cascade. In slow motion, but one domino had knocked against another, and... We're talking hope, here.
So I made the book assigned reading for the girls.
I knew I was on to something when one of them said, "Wow, Mom, this sounds doable."
Let the training begin.
Dana has a new book out, which I haven't read yet, called Drowning in Clutter? (It's on my list. Yes, we've graduated from the 28 Days program, after several re-starts, and we're decluttering, in fits and starts as we work around debate tournament schedules and flu epidemics.) Anyhow (almost distracted myself, but whew, I got back on track), you can get both e-books together for a discounted price.
Right now, Dana is offering a special discount to my readers. Click here to go to the order page for 28 Days to Hope for your Home. Use the special code SWEET to get either e-book for $4 or the pair for $6. This deal is good until midnight, 2/6/2013, so if you've been looking at one or both of these titles, it's a good time to order.
******************* But I promised a giveaway! *******************
...so here it is. Leave a comment below, and on Valentine's Day I will draw a name for a free copy of 28 Days to Hope for your Home. If you decide you can't wait and go ahead and buy the book and not wait for the drawing, Dana has promised to refund your purchase price if you win.
If you'd like to enter the drawing, but don't have an account that will allow you to comment here, please hop on over to my Wordpress blog and leave a comment there instead. Comments there are moderated, and you can leave your email address in the comment (so I can contact you if you win) without it being posted publicly.
Disclaimer: In a burst of desperation, I bought 28 Days to Hope for your Home. I did not receive a free copy for review, nor will I receive any compensation for writing this review. However, the links in the review are affiliate links, so if you buy the e-book by clicking on a link in this post, I will receive a portion of the sale, which (if I didn't mention it before) I hope to add to what I'm saving to buy a Kindle. Thanks!