Now, lest you think I am some kind of neat-freak (you know, not that there's anything wrong with that), the vacuuming is mostly to reduce airborne allergens.
We got birds in April. And we all promptly fell completely in love with them.
In May, the girls got sick, then Mike & I got sick and then we all coughed for well over a month. We finally got everyone to stop with all the coughing after a walking pneumonia diagnosis for the four of us (the well-worn Oprah trope was used frequently as everyone in our immediate family PLUS my mom and stepdad got prescriptions for antibiotics: "YOU get antibiotics and YOU get antibiotics! And YOU! AND YOU! ANTIOBIOTICS FOR EVERYONE!!! WOOOO!") and some oral steroids for the girls.
School ended and everyone was reasonably healthy.
And then Emily started running a fever and complaining of an upset stomach. I was giving her the stinky side-eye, but was waiting to see what would happen. (Gone are the days when I would run her into the pediatrician's office on Fever Day 1, they left when the co-pay went up to $30.) Then, on the night of Lucy's birthday, Emily had a really, really, really, really, REALLY bad asthma attack. So bad, that it landed us in the hospital at 6 am. She came way closer to getting an ambulance ride than I even like to think about now, several weeks and a complete return to health later.
ANYways. Birds. Vacuuming.
Mike also started coughing again when Emily got sick in July and it was around then that Mike and I realized that the coughing might actually be partially related to the birds.
We got the birds, then we got sick, then we got somewhat better, then we got sick again.
I looked up the girls' allergy test results from last summer and sure enough, they both had significant reactions to bird feathers (and presumably their dander). Mike was last allergy tested when he was a teenager, so I haven't even bothered to dig out the results, but we're assuming that he is also allergic to birds.
So! Since we want to keep the birds, something had to be done.
- vacuum the house every day.
- empty the vacuum canister into the garbage. every day.
- change the papers in the bird cage, put those in the garbage. every day.
- empty the garbage. every day.
I've been doing this for just over a week and we actually are seeing an improvement. Which is nice, so that I don't feel as though my vacuuming efforts are completely wasted.
A couple of days ago, I decided to time myself while I went through the vacuuming process. Our house is just over 1400 square feet and while I'm not lifting couches and moving stuff every day, I do try to be fairly thorough so that I get all the dog hair and bird feathers up. It took me just over 10 minutes to run the vacuum through all of the rooms of the house, including the kitchen and entry way.
I knew it wasn't taking me a long time and discovering that it was only 10 minutes was really quite nice. 10 minutes is nothing, in terms of time it takes me to do something. I could vacuum the house FOUR times in the time it takes Mike to get home from work.
So I have been vacuuming for 10 minutes every morning. And it's been kind of nice. We're enjoying the tidier feel to the house (because toys have to be completely picked up before I vacuum) and we're not getting the dog hair tumble weeds we used to have in the kitchen and dining room.
And the fact that it seems to be helping is really just the icing on the cake.