Cleaning day, day of reckoning

By Mir
February 22, 2009

Yesterday I went on a cleaning tear, largely because I had one of those days last week when I looked around the house and realized that I couldn’t remember when we’d last cleaned, and also that there were tumbleweeds of carpet fuzz rolling past on the wood floor.

So I did the obvious things, like send Monkey off to dust (and then go around behind him, later, and get the spots he missed), and put Chickadee to work on the bookshelves, and donned a haz-mat suit and tackled the bathrooms. (Otto was out in the garage cleaning up our old kitchen table to ready it for sale, and HOOBOY did he get the raw end of that deal, because apparently one of the children spilled a cup of milk down into the self-storing table leaf SEVERAL YEARS AGO. Urgh.)

After much of the basic, surface stuff was done, we found ourselves really getting into the deeper stuff.

Like, Otto found a basket just the right size for all the Wii stuff. So it no longer looks like Nintendo barfed all over our entertainment center. Hooray!

And I dove underneath the couch in the office and found three pairs of shoes that do NOT belong to anyone who is supposed to be using the office. Plus several notebooks and books which, similarly, have nothing to do with the people to whom the office belongs. Hmph.

We took a break at some point to look at various pieces of storage furniture, online, because nothing says “loving marriage” like hours spent looking at media cabinets while one person salivates over units costing hundreds of dollars and the other one keeps asking, “Wait, how many CDs do you have? No, REALLY?”

At some point I decided I really needed to clean out my closet. It’s hilarious to me that this is even an issue, less than two years after moving, because when I left my last house I’m pretty sure I threw out 80% of what I owned, including donating a huge amount of clothing. But things wear out and tastes change and, um, butts grow.


Also, I did a ruthless thinning out of my sweater collection before leaving the north, but not-quite-two-years later it’s time to admit that I will never wear a turtleneck sweater again. Ever. Don’t get me wrong—it gets cold here. Really cold, even, sometimes. But I’ve discovered that (for whatever reason), wrapping my neck up is practically an engraved invitation to the Hot Flash Gods. I cannot wear a turtleneck. I cannot even wear a SCARF. I just can’t. So maybe I should give that stack of sweaters to someone who can, huh?

The Twilight Zone-esque scene came when Chickadee joined me in my closet and started interrupting me, every third item-removal, to say, “Can I have that?”

Some items were stained or damaged, so they were to be thrown away. Of course she can’t have those.

And the rest of them, well, they’re FAR TOO BIG for her.

Um. Except. They’re not. The shirts I’m getting rid of because I’ve had them since college (shut up) and I no longer want to wear them because they’re too tight and or too short? Fit her. Fit her just fine. And those shoes that rub my feet a little? Fit her, too.

Um. I am old.

But at least my house is clean(er).


  1. Joshilyn

    Come do mine, now, Plox.

  2. Joshilyn

    OOOOH PS I was first. LARLARLAR!

  3. exile on mom street

    We’re doing a similar thing this weekend ourselves. And my son doesn’t ask to wear my clothes, so I’m safe from feeling old that way.

    But I did burn myself on the oven door and then dump an ENTIRE 4 cheese pizza upside down where the oven meets the door.

    I’d rather feel old, I’m thinking…

  4. Jamie AZ

    I’ll fly you out to Tucson if you’ll do all the cleaning here! It’s a little funny and a little sad that Chickie can wear some of your clothes.

  5. Amy-Go

    NOnono, come HERE first!! I’ll let you chuck out everything I own and then I’ll feed you BBQ and chocolate cake. Pretty, pretty please?

  6. Deva

    I need to cull my closet out soon. Growing up != keeping clothes that don’t fit don’t get worn, etc.

  7. Pat

    I was just saying today… it’s a wonderful thing when your girl-child can wear your shoes. Sort of. On the bright side, every time I buy her a pair, I’m expanding my own wardrobe. On the darker side, she wears my tennis shoes. Without socks. Ack. Yeah, I told her she could just keep that one pair. I don’t want them back.

  8. Jennifer

    Gee – my husband’s big “spring break” dream is to rent a dumpster and fill it with stuff. It must be some kind of “phase of the moon thing”!!! There’s a few things I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t throw out (like the children if they’re driving him crazy – then again, they’d probably have fun playing IN the dumpster). You didn’t need a dumpster did you????

  9. coolteamblt

    When I was Chickadee’s age, I shamelessly stole all of my mother’s old college tshirts. Without permission, even. I have many photos of me wearing her “The Wiz” tshirt from the 1981 Santa Barbara Playhouse version, and a white shirt with a sheep on it that I wore until it became see-through and my mother stole it out of my hamper one day.

  10. Karen

    Last time we cleaned, I got handed down to. I wear my younger son’s castoff jeans and tee shirts( um but only around the house, Stacy and Clinton, if you’re reading this). The stuff that’s way too short for him fits me fine, he’s 6’5″ now, and he’s 16. I feel old too. And very short.

  11. Poppy Buxom

    I read your post and this is what it said to me: Poppy, get rid of all your crap from the 80s, 90s, and aughts or your daughter will decide she wants it all and you’ll NEVER GET RID OF IT.”

    So … thanks!

  12. Angela

    Wow. Watch out. Your closet will now be an extension of Chickadee’s. That’s just a tad bit scary. And on that note, I’m now going upstairs to throw out any shirt that I’ve had since college.

  13. MaryP

    Whenever I can’t find my favourite black blouse (or the pink one, or the scoop-neck red sweater), I know where to look. I know where to look, but that is no guarantee that I’ll find it, because my daughter’s (15) idea of “accessible clothes storage” is “giant heap on floor”, this despite the fact that she has a large and lovely wardrobe/shelves/drawer unit across one wall of her room. Mostly I leave her room alone… except when MY SHIRT is in there somewhere. Then I demand an archaeological dig until it’s unearthed.

    Thank God her feet are two sizes bigger than mine, because I just bought a pair of boots she LOVES. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

    On the other hand, I guess this means that at least a small percentage of my clothes are cool, right?

  14. Elena

    Zac, my eleven year old (MY GOD WILL BE TWELVE IN APRIL) wears the same size shoe I do. Which actually comes in kind of handy because I NEVER run out of socks now, hehehe.

  15. Sharkey

    Best thing evah for CD/DVD storage: I got JP three of them for Christmas, and we both love them (he because he can now find the movie he’s looking for, and I because they’re not stacked three deep and overflowing in our entertainment center.). The price seems high until you start calculating how many storage shelves you need for 300 movies, but they also go on sale occasionally.

  16. StephLove

    Well, my daughter’s not quite three so the rummaging through my closet is a while off for us, but my son’s feet are just a few sizes smaller than mine and he’s not even eight yet. Maybe some day we will share socks. He already borrows my gloves when he can’t find his and they are only a little too big. (I suppose I should admit I’ve borrowed his gloves as well with only a little wrist showing. We share the can’t-find-my-things gene.)

    Congrats on a deep-cleaned house, Mir.

  17. RuthWells

    I cannot for the life of me remember my kids’ shoe sizes, which is inconvenient, as I cannot bear to actually bring them WITH me to shoe shop. So, I remember thusly:

    – For the 12 year old, same size as my foot
    – For the 10 year old, 2 sizes less

    Which worked fine until the 12-year-old grew and now has larger feet than me. Weep!

  18. Dawn Valero

    Ah, we have a Wii basket too! A wonderful beautiful Wii basket that holds the Wii games and Wii remotes and all the other Wii stuff that otherwise gets lost between the cushions of the couch.

  19. Jill in Atlanta

    Oh I remember sharing my mom’s clothes. Fourth grade I believe, then I zoomed way past her. But then big sister and I shared for years until she left for college and tried to take all the good stuff with her. I turned around and took everything left plus lots of good household stuff when I went to college. They visit my house now and say “hey, that’s where that great comb/lamp/table went!”.

  20. Amber

    Growing up I had a sister 2 years younger than me, who constantly borrowed my clothes without asking and hid them on me and all that jazz. I’m so not looking forward to the day when my daughter can fit my clothes. She’s just turned 4 so that’s still a ways off, although I imagine much sooner than I will be prepared for.

  21. Priscilla

    Wow, I cleaned out my dressing room/closet today also!! Was there a secret message sent out to the universe? I got rid of many pairs of cute shoes, many Bjorns that I can’t wear anymore now that I have been wearing Z-coils (the shoes with the big coil on the heel) for the past 2 years. Having much decreased back and knee pain is worth not wearing CUTE shoes.:(

    No one to steal my clothes anymore, and it is a shame since they are much nicer now!

  22. Kristie

    My 13 year old has feet bigger than mine…so I could wear HER hand me down shoes if I were to develop a taste for Vans or Converse.

    My 10 year old can wear my shoes and I frequently find my Uggs in her room. Hmph. She is also the lucky recipient of her step mother’s closet clean outs. They happen pretty often because that lady is much more concerned about fashion that I am. The fact that my ex-husband’s new wife is small enough to share clothes with my 10 year old makes me slightly bitter.

  23. Elaine

    OK, the true definition of feeling old is when your daughter is the same size and she DOESN’T want to wear your clothes. So sad … I remember raiding my mother’s closet regularly, but my teen has not once step foot in mine. I gotta go shopping …

  24. Little Bird

    I know that cleaning! I just did it myself! Several bags of crap gone and I’m STILL not done. My hall closet has never looked better though.
    I remember the days of raiding Mom’s closet. Every so often she has something that no longer fits her and she offers it to me. Of course these days that means that she lost even more weight and the item on offer is now too big for her. I hate getting old too.

  25. Lady M

    House cleaning is not something I’m probably going to embark on – just plain giving up. So at least our lives will diverge again for a while.

    We have a big CD rack you can have though. Just that little problem of delivery . . .

  26. Audi

    We are doing a slow deep cleaning disguised as painting the kids rooms. We have to take everything out of the room to paint it. Then when we are done they have to go through there things before it goes back into the room. They get the new paint colors they wanted. I get to get rid of the clutter monster from there rooms. Next is the kitchen and my closet.

  27. Tam King

    Oh yoohoo, yes you, over there, yes YOU! The PRETTY ONE!! Would you mind terribly just jumping on a plane and shooting over here to Aus and giving my place a lil tidy up?? I’m sure Australia isn’t that far away, and well, did i mention, your SOOOOOO pretty! ;)

    All jokes aside – Your So Pretty…..


  28. Marissa

    Take all of your CDs out of the jewel box cases and put them in CD books, it will give you soooo much more space. My husband and I did this before our big move from DC to NY, and despite having a child together, to him this signaled that we would always be together, we combined our CDs. It works well, you can put them in alphabetical order and slide the little books behind the CDs in the pockets and they are more like to stay alphabetized because you can’t show them in the wrong spot. Of course, it’s not like anyone really buys CDs any more anyway so it is unlikely you will out grow whatever size book(s) you need now.

    The whole process took a few hours and getting rid of all the plactic was hard, but worth it in the end.

  29. Jess

    exile on mom street:
    I have done that thing with the pizza. I had a burn mark on my forearm for 2+ weeks before it faded. I ended up salvaging the pizza by leaving the cheese on the oven door and melting new cheese on the top. And I am in my 20’s, so I don’t think (I hope!) it’s an old thing.

  30. Ani

    You’re not old, your daughter is, er, freakishly fashionably forward.

    And what;s wrong with having clothes from college? (go class of 1992….never mind)

  31. Megan

    Thank goodness for the local charity that hangs a bright plastic bag on the door and then comes and removes whatever you leave out the next day. They even drove off with the ancient (bulky) television two weeks ago! Unfortunately since they come fairly regularly I am not quite as ruthless with the pitching as I should be… still, baby steps!

    Now, someone tell my Mother to stop off-loading her de-cluttering treasures on my Children!

  32. MomCat

    Oh, I was going to say the same thing – save those turtlenecks and anything classic that Chickie may want/says she wants, even if they are way too big. The years fly by and, before you know it, there is your daughter wearing the short, black leather miniskirt that you wore on that ill-fated, one date with….what was his name again?

  33. Anna

    I had that kind of weekend, too. I shifted my maternity clothes into my closet, and non-maternity stuff out. I did a toy culling, AND a kid shoe culling. YAY!

  34. Katie in MA

    Please, oh please, oh please dear Mir (and dear commenters) – don’t ruin my illusion of how wonderful it will be when my girls are big enough to share my wardrobe. Right now it still seems sweet and far-offish. So just let me keep my delusions, mkay?

  35. Alix R

    As an aside — media cabinets? Great for paperbacks and Trade paperbacks, as well. If you’re like me and aspire to having totally segregated book collections with the hardcovers off looking stuffy and intellectual, and the paperbacks mixing it up in the back rooms.

    But most perople are sane.

  36. Jo

    Um, yeah, my 10 year old son can wear my bathrobe–it is hugely big on him, but does not drag on the floor, as he is only mere inches shorter than me. And when he would not give it back to me on lazy-stuck-in-the-house-cuz-it’s-raining-Sunday,I ended up wearing his the rest of the day. Yes, I made his a little roomy to grow into, but it was not tight on me at all. The belt was way too short, though. And part of the reason my robe was so humongous on him is bc I made it big enough to fit me when I was expecting his little brother…so, yeah it’s way big on me too.

  37. jennielynn

    You should have heard the sqealing when my mother found a box of my clothes from high school (which, WTF she kept that?) and gave it to my daughter. She went to school today in polka dot palazzo pants from Contempo Casual. Oh the humanity.

  38. KL

    My mom only wishes I want her clothes. But then again, the only jacket that I want from her, I haven’t been able to wear since I have longer limbs than her. It’s sitting in my closet waiting to be altered.

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