November seemed to be osteotomy recovery month, and January is shaping up to be mice month.
Although I’m not sure that my battle with them is over (I’m still cleaning everything, multiple times a day but visitation seems to have stopped) I think it’s worth talking about because well mostly because this is my space to talk about what I like but also because my reaction to the invasion has surprised the hell out of me.
I know that having mice is your house is mostly not a reflection on how tidy/clean you are, I live in a city of over 8 million people, vermin sort of come with the territory (as does the horrifying statistic that you are never more than 6 feet away from a rat). I know people that have had mice and a couple that are currently fighting the battle against them. I remember we had them in our flat when I was about 4 and at no point did I think that having mice was a reflection on them or their housekeeping. Then it happened to me and I cannot emphasise my horror.
I felt invaded, contaminated and ashamed. It felt like a reflection on my housekeeping and it wasn’t a flattering reflection. I kept asking why I didn’t notice sooner, how could I have missed the signs, I wondered how long they had been there, creeping about, and I felt sick to my stomach. My kitchen rather than being a place of calm, somewhere I liked to be was suspect because the cupboard under the sink was their point of entry. I worked out that they were coming in last Tuesday and on Tuesday night, Ma (and seriously best mother ever!) who was going to help me get the tree down that night also helped me with the initial clean, my first option of burning the kitchen down was rejected as too melodramatic! At which point I got really twitchy, because they seemed to have gotten everywhere and I felt infested.We cleared and cleaned all the surfaces, emptied and cleaned cupboards, threw away food, cleaned containers, washed everything that was in the cupboards. We got through rubber gloves, bleach, cleaning sponges and tea towels at an amazing rate. Four bin bags worth of stuff was thrown out. Poison put down and prayers uttered. All the affected cupboards and a counter received little poison traps.
On Wednesday, there were signs of a little bit of visitation, which prompted me to bleach all the counters again. I swept the floor, hoovered the floor and mopped the floor with bleach. Then I mopped the floor again with floor cleaner, then I did it again with bleach.
I kept the counters completely clear, putting everything on the kitchen table, that way I had a clear counter and could see straight away if they’d been on them. I also felt that if there was nothing for the mice to hide behind then they might get bored and go away. Yes, I am aware that this was probably wishful thinking but I wasn’t at my calm and clear headed best.I also read that peppermint oil can be used as a mouse deterrent because they hate the smell. Now that may be complete nonsense but see above for what I will do when panicked and stressed out by mice and I had some peppermint oil to hand. So on Wednesday, all the cupboards that had been cleaned out, the counters and the doorways in my flat had little peppermint oiled cotton wool pads in or on them. The flat may have smelt overpoweringly of peppermint and bleach but I didn’t care and there was no evidence of mice visitation on Wednesday night that I could detect.
I also looked at how I deal with recycling and instead of a food bin, a mixed recycling bag and bag for plastics, everything now goes into rigid plastic boxes with lids (and peppermint oil pads) just in case that attracted them.
I’m waiting on someone to come and block up the holes but put mouse traps in the cupboards alongside the poison bait, so far I haven’t had a mouse and it doesn’t look like they’ve come in again. So yes, it’s been horrific and it may not be over. However, every cloud has a silver lining, even a cloud of mice. The kitchen de-clutter and deep clean I’ve been promising to do for the last 9 months or so, is done. I was halfway there after the mice discovery and Ma (who as well as being the best mother ever has been itching for me to sort out the kitchen) came over on Saturday and we finished it off. There is a lot less stuff in my kitchen which is going to be really useful as the original plan of a kitchen deep clean every 3 months has been overturned and will be done every 2 months and when I’ve worked out exactly what that entails in terms of a task list, I’ll let you know!
The mice problem has also strengthened my resolve to stick to my budgeting and finance goals. Getting rid of mice costs money, not just for mouse traps and poison (I don’t care about being humane, if they come uninvited into my space, I want them dead, dead, dead) but for cleaning products too. I’ve spent about £30 I didn’t intend to spend this month on stuff to deal with this but because I knew what money I had available, the cost didn’t send me into further panic. A rough reckoning of the food that has been chucked is about £40 which is less than optimal but it’s a clear out of a sort and I’ll gradually replace things as I need them, that will come from my £15 food budget so it’ll be interesting!
It’s also reminded me (again) of how lucky and yes I’m going to say it, blessed, I am. Despite all of the hassle and stress of this week, it’s not been a disaster (well except for the mice, I want it to be a disaster for them!). I’ve had help and good fortune; a good landlord who knows that I look after the flat and that this wasn’t my fault and is involved in fixing it, friends who’ve been there and offered help, someone (thanks again Ma) to help me clean and clear the kitchen, money to buy traps and poison and cleaning material.All of that doesn’t mean that I’m not a tiny bit paranoid at the moment. Since last Wednesday, I’ve been obsessive about the kitchen, I wash every surface with a bleach cleaner, in the morning and again before bedtime. I also give the area I’m using another clean before and after I use it to prep food and I wash chopping boards and cooking equipment before I use them. Paranoid? You bet it is. I’m also hoovering and mopping the floor daily, which given how much I hate it should give you an idea of how totally freaked I am by this. Fingers crossed they won’t be back but I’m going to be hyper vigilant for quite a while yet!