For those super housekeepers out there I realize that this topic will seem totally foreign and possibly even made up. For the rest of us, for whom a clean and tidy house is a far-off aspiration, it will be well-known. No, I’m not going to talk about hoarders, the topic is the Panic Clean-Up Box.
Here is the scenario. You have guests coming over. You have been gradually working on getting the house ship-shape for a week or so but now it is crunch time. They will be arriving in a matter of hours and you are not finished. What do you do? You take a largish box around with you and basically shovel everything off the flat surfaces in your house (at least the areas guests will see) into the box. That finished you shove the box in a closet or storage room, vacuum the floor, dust the now clear surfaces and collapse exhausted onto the couch to catch your breath before they arrive.
Months may go by before you miss something and go looking for it, and even longer before you think to check the PC-UB and there you discover a treasure trove of things you had not even missed. The possibility that we have far more stuff in our homes than we need really comes to the fore at this time.
There was a time when our panic clean-ups would require more than one box and happened with almost every visit. We have improved immensely and sometimes only use one grocery bag now. This is due partly to deciding that people can cope with the real us and we don’t need to pretend to be neat-nicks to have a friend in for coffee. I think the other major influence is that we don’t have young children anymore. Today I am going to go through a couple recent PC-UBs, I wonder what I’ll find?
1 Jeffery Deaver novel
1 pot holder
1 book on green philanthropy
1 taped copy of a magazine we were supposed to return some time ago,
1 package of watch batteries,
1 unused flip-light
1 power adapter (unclear what it is for)
1 deck of cards
1 notebook with sticky notes from a conference (unused)
1 plate stand
1 needle threader
1 padlock with key
1 pair of panels for a baby quilt (front and back)
1 small piece of fabric with horses on it
4 resource books for running KAIROS workshops on environment and Healing&Reconciliation
1 report from our World Vision child in Rwanda
The next challenge is what to do with this stuff. Much of it ended up in the PC-UB due to it not really having a proper spot in the house. The books I will give to the church yard-sale, the coaster will go away with the rest, the fabric and needle threader down in the sewing area. In the end, though, I know that some of it will probably turn up in another box at a later date. At least the bulk of it will be going out of the house through garbage or recycling and then the cycle can begin again.