Sidetracked Home Executives*

Sidetracked 2Most folks that have known me a long, long time – you know, like my parents, my hubby, my former hubby, my children, close friends – knew me to be a messy.

It’s that clean-the-house-whole-thing that never was a good fit for me. I just never learned how!

My dad was a perfectionist and our house was always clean. When I’d come home from school, my mother would be lying down. I never saw her clean; it was just always clean. It was magic! 🙂

When I was younger and would be playing with toys in the living room, it had to be all put away by 5:15pm as Dad would arrive at 5:25pm

So anyway, fast forward to adulthood (and I use that term loosely,) I didn’t know how to clean, let alone why or when. I tried, because after all, I’m not blind. But it was tedious and would just get messy again. Sigh

I could feel the pressure from those closest to me so I started reading books: how-to; when-to, why-to. Nothing worked for long and I’d just become depressed about my lack of maturity; my lack of cleanliness; my lack of self-esteem.

Until someone (and I wish I could remember who) turned me on to the book Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones.

It truly turned my life around! The authors are sisters with an incredible sense of humor. These gals were not ‘clean freaks’ who set out to train messies. They actually were messies who stumbled upon a new way to clean and get organized. The sisters call themselves “reformed slobs” and I like to think I was not quite that bad but don’t ask those around me.

“A Sidetracked Home Executive is a special kind of person. She can never be one of the born-organized people but she can learn much from her organized friends. She must realize her self-discipline is not missing; it is just dormant. What she does lack is direction. . .”

Reading the book not only made me laugh because they tell the funniest real stories, but helped with my self-esteem, making me realize I was not a total loser, that there was hope for me.

Their motto, as well as one of the chapter headings, is “We Change Lives with 3 x 5’s”.

The sisters, over time, devised a card system to help one learn to clean,what, how, and how often. Oh my, I’m ashamed to admit how little I really knew.

I suppose my mother thought I’d learn by osmosis!

But I was so encouraged and I set up my card system. It’s elaborate and detailed and took a lot of time. Then I implemented it.

This was 25 years ago and I think my kids are still annoyed about it. 🙂  They had their own chore cards too!

On summer days, I’d spread the days’ worth out on the counter and declare “when all the cards are done and filed back into the box, we can do something fun.”

Well, they got done, probably not in the best way, but done nonetheless and then we’d go out and have fun. And hopefully the kids learned along with me what needed to be done.

I still have my file box! 🙂Sidetracked 1

I know an organized person cannot relate, but that’s OK. There are more folks like me than I ever realized.

The book has been updated and I just might buy a copy – for old time’s sake. But if anyone would like to borrow a well-worn, well-loved, dogeared copy, just ask!

But these days, once in a while anyway, I pay someone else to clean my house – because I can! 🙂 And my standards are pretty high! My dad would be proud.


*Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones




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