A Clean-Out Vacation

My 6-year-old daughter is away on vacation, so I have 10 days to myself. So am I lounging around the house all day, reading, writing, daydreaming?


I am cleaning the house like a maniac.

I don’t know if all 6-year-olds are like this, but mine is like a hoarder. Every scrap of paper, every plastic fast-food toy, every empty toilet paper roll apparently has sentimental value, so throwing it away in her presence precipitates an emotional meltdown. Piles of junk accumulate, stuffed in corners and closets and dressers.

My daughter, while a pack rat, is very good at being neat about it. She manages to pack a HUGE amount of detritus into a small space. Every box, every bag, every cup or bucket I found brimmed with these questionable treasures. And yet, her room seemed tidy at first glance. The living room (which doubles as a play room) appeared spacious. (The picture below was after I had moved some things into the living room from her bedroom.) But her room has a large closet, and the living room was artfully arranged so the dollhouses blocked the view of the “storage.”

Living Room Before Vacation Cleaning

Living Room Before

Combined, it took me 9 hours to sort through and clean up those 2 rooms.

I am not an unfeeling person. I understand the urge to keep all the things. I have a bit of the pack rat in me, too. So my cleaning is not dumping willy-nilly. I do actually look at every piece of paper, and every toy (albeit quickly) and decide if my child will look for it when she comes home. Did this item mean something special to her? To me? To her dad? The items that hadn’t seen the light of day for months got pitched, the rest sorted and saved.

Thus the 9 hours.

Living Room After Vacation Cleaning

Living Room After

After 5 days of cleaning, I am now at the end. The house is about 50 pounds lighter (seriously, I took 7 bags of trash and 2 loads of recycle to the curb this week), and much neater. I don’t think the house has been this clean since we moved in. The inside of the fridge blinded me when I looked in. I can see my desk in my office. An avalanche does not swamp me when I open my daughter’s closet. The whole space seems both lighter and brighter.

I dislike cleaning, but I do love the instant gratification it gives. You clear a space, and it’s clear. You dust something, and it shines. You vacuum and the carpet doesn’t have those annoying little flecks on it. Everything is in order.

Order doesn’t happen often in this world.

I plan to spend the rest of my vacation writing. Then my young one will come barreling in the front door and chaos will rule again—and I will be glad.

Are you an everyday clean fiend or a marathon cleaner like me?





  1. I enjoy one of those vacations myself – it’s a chance to catch up on cleaning. At the day job I come home bone exhausted and have no energy to contemplate any physical activity. I value my days and weekends off highly. And more writing has a way of getting done during the “off” times.
    Thanks for a great post. 🙂
    Barbara of the Balloons

    • Kerry Gans says

      The problem is I’ve spent so much time cleaning, not much time writing! But now I’ve finished, I can focus more on the words.


  1. […] child and husband just arrived home from a 10-day vacation. I cleaned the house, but I also wrote a lot. Now that they are home, I am preparing for the summer […]

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