Behind Closed Doors by Cheryl Butler


It’s nearing 9 AM as I retreat back into the house, my wrist aching from waving with zest to the yellow chariot that whisks my children safely off to school. My husband slowly follows the bus with our 4-year old in tow—saving me one leg of the pre-school transport for the day.  Before I can even reach the top stair the dog starts to whimper—our big brown eyes exchange a pitiful glance and she quickly lies back down on the couch.  She senses I have big plans today and she’ll need to stay out of my way.  I snatch a quick look at my excited face when I pass by the mirror, my rum raisin lipstick shimmering atop my front teeth.  With that I gently close the front door, nod and then salute myself for what lies ahead of me that morning—cleaning our humble home.

On a typical weekday, I normally wouldn’t be feeling such a rush of euphoria over having a crumb strewn kitchen floor mixed with three catastrophic bathrooms all to myself, but this day was anything but normal.  Today I was going to implement the mother of all finds—speed cleaning our home in 19 breezy minutes!  I stumbled upon this news breaking method completely by accident when I was searching the internet the day before looking for a remedy on how to remove small objects from a child’s ear (that so I could see if the miniscule stick-on earring my 4-year old mistakenly placed in her ear canal could possibly be treated at home as opposed to the 3-hour emergency room visit that we eventually did make!)  I struck out on the ear fiasco, but I may have hit the jackpot with this innovative process that could possibly allow us to live in a semi-sparkling environment with hardly any effort which would then afford me such guilty pleasures as showering and brushing my teeth all in the same day.

I studied the notes I had made very carefully and then set the kitchen timer for 19 glorious minutes.  According to the house sanitation experts, it all boiled down to three key factors:  Eliminate, Organize, and Hide followed with just a bit of surface fluff and the mission would be accomplished.  Sounded simple enough!

  • Eliminate: Enter each room of the home, including rooms with sinks and tubs, and scan quickly and thoroughly for areas that are piled with unnecessary claptrap on counters, coffee tables, kitchen islands, dining room tables, shelves, stove tops, and yes, even toilets.  Once you locate the items that should not belong there, simply pick them up and move to step # 2—organize!  (This was easier than I ever thought it could be.)
  • Organize:  In order to complete the “Elimination Phase” of this process, you must be willing to go one of two ways:  1.  Actually put these items back where they belong, or 2.  Move to step # 3—hide!  (Hmm, the items or myself.)
  • Hide:  You’re almost done (and hey, it’s only been 5 minutes!) so stay the course.  Now that you’ve scanned each room for clutter traps that need to be removed and have decided that there is no way you can realistically put them back in their proper places in less than 19 minutes you are ready to close the deal.  Simply find any empty drawer, closet space, cubby hole, or if need be—a large comforter or a loose rug that lifts easily and quickly sort and shove all of these items into or under their temporary new locations.  Playing upbeat music is always helpful during such a maneuver—taps and sappy love ballads are not recommended—it will only slow you down.  (Remember, we’re working with 19 skillful minutes here).

In less than 10 minutes, I had managed to complete this three step process in our 2800 square foot homestead and could now focus the remaining 9 minutes on the final steps—the actual cleaning. I rechecked my notes and wondered where I went wrong.  Now that everything was literally swept under the rug I was to bring it on home by physically scrubbing, polishing, vacuuming, dusting, straightening, removing cobwebs, plumping pillows, and freshening the atmosphere with delightful smells such as lighting cozy scented candles and even better, baking cinnamon coated apples.

Obviously this quick-fix article did not apply to a home like ours harboring 10 people, a slobbering dog and the gazillion possessions needed to  keep us all ticking day in and day out.  Today, our house was not going to be shining from corner to corner just as the article had promised it would, but I was not feeling the least bit defeated.

Because I have so much free time on my hands every day as a stay-at-home domestic engineer, there would be plenty of opportunity to tackle a good old-fashioned cleaning in the near future.  For now, I will do what any savvy housewife and mother with 19 minutes, alone, behind closed doors would do—brush my teeth in decadent solitude and then proceed to jump into a sinfully hot shower!

Copyright 2010 Cheryl Butler


About Author

We welcome guest contributors who graciously volunteer their writing for our readers. Please support our guest writers by visiting their sites, purchasing their work, and leaving comments to thank them for sharing their gifts here on To inquire about serving as a guest contributor, contact

1 Comment

  1. Paulette Russell on

    Greetings Cheryl
    I haven’t seen you or your family in quite a long time.
    Was wondering if you and family had moved.
    But strangely enough I saw your Mom in CVS/Wakefield last night
    and got the scoop.
    Hope all is going well – hope to see you soon – maybe at Christmas Eve
    Mass – YIKES!!! it’s almost here again!
    Merry Christmas and may your have a Blessed New Year!
    Your Friend from CTK

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.