Sunday, November 14, 2010

broken windows.

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House [Book]

It needs to be said that while I am actually terribly inconsistent (and consistently terrible) when it comes to housework and cookery of any kind, I l.o.v.e. reading about it. I guess I erroneously believed that if I learned enough about it, I would somehow be motivated and skilled enough to execute it. Not so. (Too bad.) I guess I'm going to have to resort to practical application and lots of dedicated practice huh?

One of my most favorite housekeeping books on the planet comes from Cheryl Mendelson and is called "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House."  I love this book. In fact, several years ago, when I first ran across this book at the local library, I nearly read it cover to cover (quite a feat when you take into account the fact that her book is roughly 800 pages in length.) I was riveted. (Strange, I know.) I renewed the book three times straight, then, when I could not get any additional renewals, I returned it, waited one day, then went and checked it out again and renewed it three times straight again. The hubs caught on and bought me a copy of my very own, and we have been blissfully happy together (my book and I...and the hubs too...) ever since.

I. love. that. book.

In it, (my BFF) Cheryl explains the Broken Window Theory. She says:
"Modern police successes are allegedly built on a sociological principal called the "broken-window theory." This theory says that any sign of social or physical neglect in a neighborhood causes people to who are disposed to antisocial conduct to feel more inclined to commit various crimes and misdemeanors. If there is one broken window and it isn't fixed, this suggests to malefactors that no one cares and no one is in charge- that therefore it is safe to write graffiti on the walls, litter, and break other windows. This in turn suggests to more determined wrongdoers that they could get away with mugging and burglary. The first broken window, if not tended to, leads eventually to total social deterioration. Thus, by making sure that graffiti, broken windows, and "quality of life" crimes are immediately stopped or tended to, police have drastically reduced the serious crime rates in many big cities. At least this is the claim, and there is good evidence that it is true. It sounds like common sense to most people.

The broken-window theory certainly applies to every individual home, and the reason why it does is clear. When people are cooperating in maintaining a household, the domestic equivalent of an unrepaired broken-window can result in a chain reaction that eventually sees the home in complete chaos."

Cheryl gives an example of how this works:
"In the hallway between our son's bedroom and our own stands a chair that serves various minor functions. One rushed morning I made the mistake of throwing my bathrobe and newspaper on it as I passed by. That evening, the chair held not only the bathrobe and newspaper but also my husband's dry-cleaning, a plastic replica of the Millennium Falcon, along with Luke Skywalker, a tube of antiseptic ointment, a copy of PC Magazine, and five Tinkertoys. (I remember because I recited the entire list to my smirking husband.) Yet this chair had stood entirely empty for the preceding six months." 

This makes so much sense to me! As I read this section, my mind instantly made a list of all of the broken windows in our home.

The list goes something like:  
Dining Room Table
Corner of the hallway by Kort's room
Baker's rack
Writing dest
Top of the fridge
(Yes, I just said "Top of the fridge"
- the hubs's favorite spot to put all sorts of crap.)

and the worst one of all:
the ledge of our split entry way. 

I mean, it makes perfect sense to stash a bunch of clutter (dog leashes, mail, sunglasses, keys, dishes to be returned to neighbors and even more often to Kyle's mom who makes my most favorite soup on the planet... and sends over all sorts of other delicious things on a regular basis...etc.) right out in the open and in the very first part of our home that anyone sees, right? I mean, who wouldn't want people who come to the front door to see a whole mess of crap right off the bat? I know, right? Who's with me? Yeah, it drives me sort of nuts. Biggest broken window ever.

So, goal numero uno this week? 
Repair (and maintain!) one broken window a day.

I will set a timer and take ONLY 15 minutes (and 15 minutes only) to do this each day.  Then, I will maintain the un-brokenness of the now unbroken windows from here on out so as to not raise a household of window-breaking, graffiti-spraying, mugging, burglarizing deviants.

Where are your broken windows? 
Are you going to repair them this week? (Say yes. Yay us!)

P.s. I think that the FlyLady is a stinkin' genius. To have the very first baby step be "Shine your sink and keep it shiny"? g.e.n.i.u.s. When the sink gets bogged down with dishes, it throws a wrench into all of my other housekeeping practices. In fact, I usually do the dishes at night and start the dishwasher. Then the hubs has a late-night milkshake, and leaves his cup in the sink, and then my window is "broken" right at the start of a new day. (And then I have to yell at the hubs and say "Quit breaking my windows!" Which sounds all sorts of weird.) What a smarty pants that FlyLady is! A smart little smarty pants indeed.

1 comment:

trevandjules said...

Oh my heck Laura I'm the WORST! I have these all over my house ha ha. So does trevor..not a good match. ha. Thank you for showing me this. I'm getting on at least one today!