If you’ve been around my blog for much time at all, you know that I often confess that I’m a naturally messy person. I’ve always been like that, ever since I was a very young child. So as I got older, moved into my own apartment, got married, and bought a house, those messy tendencies have just stuck with me.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve put more emphasis on decluttering and organizing, and that felt really good. I long to be one of those people who has a place for everything, and keeps everything in its place. I’m not quite there yet, but as I declutter and organize each room and cabinet in our home, I’m getting closer to that goal.
But being organized and keeping a clean home are two very different things. One can have organized kitchen cabinets and and an organized and labeled refrigerator, and still leave behind a week’s worth of mess on the countertops. And that’s kind of where I was stuck for a while. That’s a huge problem, of course, because when someone comes to my front door, the first thing they see isn’t going to be the insides of my organized cabinets, or the inside of my organized and labeled refrigerator. Nope, they’re going to see the mess of dirty dishes piled on the countertop.
But I’ve finally found the key to keeping a clean house — having people in my home on a regular basis.
That’s it! That is what has finally gotten me out of my messy ways (my “pigpen mentality” as my mom used to call it 😀 ) and into a routine of keeping things picked up, put away, and clean.
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I kind of have a system now that I like to call my “30-minutes to a clean home” system. That doesn’t mean that I clean for 30 minutes every day, or anything like that. What it means is that I don’t let my house (and I’m talking about the main “public” areas of our house) get beyond what would take 30 minutes to clean it up if I got a call from a friend who was on her way over to the house.
Having that mindset has really helped me in the small things. Where I used to get ready in the mornings and just leave my makeup, hair dryer, brush, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairspray, etc., strewn out on the countertop (because, of course, I was always “too busy!” to put things away as I was done with them), I now think to myself, as soon as I have myself ready for the day, “Is this what I’d want to spend my 30 minutes on when I can just do it now?” Of course not! I can take care of those things as I get ready. As soon as I’m done with the hair dryer, I put it away. As soon as I’m done with my hairspray and brush, I put them away. Seems like common sense, right? Yeah…unfortunately, it’s not for all of us.
So that leaves just the most basic things in the bathroom, like putting away Cooper’s towel that he sleeps on that is on the side of the tub, and making sure that the mud that Cooper has left behind from his muddy paws gets vacuumed up by the Eufy as it makes its daily rounds. (This is the Eufy that I have. It has made life so much easier, and I wonder now how I ever lived without it!) So the bathroom part of my “30 minutes to a clean home” routine may take about five minutes.
(Side note: Before anyone gets onto me for making my dog sleep on a towel, let me assure you, that was his choice. Cooper is the quirkiest dog I’ve ever known. We bought him a thick $85 memory foam bed, and he hated it. He refused to sleep on it. I would wake up in the morning and find him on the hard tile floor, or curled up on anything that I had left on the floor, like a towel, or even a pair of jeans. But never on his bed. So I got him a fluffy bath mat. He loved that for a few months, and then he stopped using it and went back to the hard floor. So now I spread out a towel each night, and he uses it about half the time, and the hard tile floor the other half. He’s just a quirky boy.)
Anyway, the hallway stays clean, because how does one really mess up a hallway? Cooper dribbles water in the hallway (his water bowl is in there), but that gets taken care of when I vacuum and mop the floors each week.
The music room stays clean as well. I do try to do some dusting each week, along with the once a week vacuuming and mopping. But it doesn’t really get cluttered. The biggest thing in the music room is Matt’s Hoyer lift, which is what I use to get him from bed to his wheelchair. So after transferring him, the Hoyer lift generally stays in here until he’s ready to go to bed. But if someone were coming over, it would take me less than a minute to roll it into the bedroom.
This is kind of a first, seeing Matt’s recliner in the living room. When we have people over on Wednesday nights, I slide Matt’s recliner into the living room so that he can have his comfy place to sit and be a part of the group. Today, for the first time, he asked me not to put his recliner back into the sitting room because he wants to spend today in his wheelchair, and he wants to be able to watch TV in the sitting room while sitting in his wheelchair. So that’s why today, for the first time, Matt’s recliner has stayed in the living room. I’m hoping this won’t be a regular thing. 😀
The living room has become an often-used room, but it’s so easy to just pick up a few things and straighten up after people leave so that it’s ready for the next time people come over.
The kitchen, of course, is the most-used room in the home, and takes the most time to keep clean. This is the room where I would need to focus the most time during my “30 minutes to a clean home” routine, and it generally consists of washing dishes and cleaning the countertop and stove.
You can see that there are still some snacks left out from last night, but that would be a breeze to clean up and put away. And I’ll do it today before I cook lunch.
And then our sitting room generally stays pretty tidy. At most, I might have a plate and cup that needs to be taken from the side table into the kitchen to be washed.
And as I mentioned earlier, Matt’s chair is missing from this room this morning. But that’s a first, and I’m hoping this won’t be a regular thing.
It feels really good to have a system in place, and one I can actually maintain. So my overall routine is this:
- Vacuum and mop the floors once a week. (I have this mop, which is fantastic!)
- Dust at least once room a week/dust as needed (For some reason, my living room mantel seems to need dusting more often than anything else.)
- Clean the sink, toilet, and tub in the hallway bathroom once a week, or as needed.
- Put things like hair dryer, brush, hairspray, makeup, etc., away after I’m through using them. (And no, that habit hasn’t even begun to touch my tools and DIY supplies yet. 😀 Maybe I’ll work on that next year, but for now, those messes are hidden behind closed doors.)
- With the rest (mainly in the bathroom and kitchen), don’t let the mess get beyond what would take me 30 minutes to clean up.
I know for those of you who have spent your whole lives being tidy and clean, this sounds so simple, right? It just seems like common sense. You’ve been doing stuff like this all your lives, and you would never even dream of letting your house get and stay dirty and cluttered.
But for people like me, who have struggled with that “pigpen mentality” all of our lives, it doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t feel like second nature. It doesn’t seem like common sense. It’s a real struggle to find a system that works.
I had gotten to a point where I had resigned myself to the thought that I’ll just never be one of those people who has a clean house. But I thought I had an excuse — my projects take up all my time, and my projects are very messy.
I love that I was wrong about that. There’s such a sense of peace in knowing that if someone comes to my front door unannounced, I won’t die of sheer embarrassment when I open the front door. I can open the door, let them in, and be proud of the way my house looks, even if there are a few dirty dishes on the kitchen countertop, or a few clumps of mud from Cooper’s paws on the bathroom floor. And that whole “not feeling embarrassed” thing is a relatively new thing for me, and it feels great.
So if you’re like me, what’s the first step? Invite people into your home. Do it regularly — once a week, or twice a week, every week. It really all comes back to accountability. If you have that accountability that people are going to be in your house once or twice a week, every week, you’ll get your house clean in quick order, and then you’ll find your own system to keep it that way.
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.