You look around your home, and can't even decide where to begin. There are piles of laundry in various states of completion. There are dirty dishes in the sink while the dishwasher, needing to be emptied, is full of clean dishes. Every wastebasket seems to be full or overflowing. Every surface seems to have clutter, fingerprints, dust ... or perhaps all three! When you open a window, it just blows the dog-hair-tumbleweed around.
And then the doorbell rings.
Do you wonder to yourself, how is it that some people never find themselves in this predicament? Or better yet, how did your grandmother, who had 8 children and a wringer-washer, always manage to keep a handle on her house? Was she a slave to her family, never having a moment's rest? Not likely.
What grandmothers and mothers in past generations had, that seems to have been lost in the last couple of decades, is a routine - a daily routine of housekeeping that kept a lid on the mess. My mother and aunts still have a routine to this day. My mom calls it "tidying up" and she does it every single morning. I have an aunt who uses the expression "doing the house" ... as in "well, I did the house and then took the dog for a walk". Whatever you call it, this daily routine of cleaning maintenance goes a long way in keeping on top of things.
Here is what I do, more or less each day:
- Unload the dishwasher from last night & clean the kitchen up from breakfast.
- Make the bed and make sure the kids made theirs.
- Start a load of laundry.
- Do a check of the bathrooms - give them a wipe down.
- Run the vacuum every 2nd day (we have a Lab - this is a necessity).
- Empty wastebaskets every few days.
- Pick up stuff that's in the wrong place and put it back where it belongs.
- Recycle yesterday's newspaper.
- Shine anything that has fingerprints on it (stainless steel appliances - ugh).
All in, this process takes about 20-30 minutes without vacuuming and maybe an hour on the days I vacuum. But by 9:30 on most mornings, my house looks pretty good (notice how I didn't use the word perfect - that is most definitely not the goal here). Someone could stop by and I wouldn't die of embarrassment. Further to that, on the days that I actually "clean", it doesn't take nearly as long because the mess hasn't been allowed to get out of hand.
Now, before you email me in a state of rage, let me make 2 points absolutely clear:
- "Doing the house" does not need to be done in the morning.
- "Doing the house" does not need to be done by a female.
It makes a lot of sense for those who work outside the home to do their daily cleaning maintenance in the evening - perhaps after dinner. And the job should be done by whoever hates it the least ... or by the person who can do it the fastest. I'm the type who enjoys a bit of housecleaning ... and have become wickedly efficient at it as a result. Find the balance that works for your household.
If you've been finding your home in a state of chaos more often than you'd like, give this a try. It's how women coped with large families and busy households for generations ... and might be the one secret to keeping a tidy house!