If you’ve been hanging around my blog for long, you know that I often confess that I’m a naturally messy person. I’ve always been like that, ever since I was very young. So as I got older, moved into my own apartment, got married, and bought a house, those messy tendencies stuck with me.
In the last couple of years, I’ve put more emphasis on decluttering and organizing, and that feels great. I aspire to be one of those people who has a place for everything, and keeps everything in its place. I’m not there yet, but as I declutter and organize every room and cabinet in our house, I’m getting closer to that goal.
But being organized and maintaining a clean house are two very different things. One can have organized kitchen cabinets and and an organized and labeled refrigerator, and still leave a week’s worth of clutter on the countertops. And that’s kind of where I got stuck for a while. That’s a big problem, of course, because when someone comes to my front door, the first thing they see isn’t the contents of my organized cabinets, or the contents of my organized and labeled refrigerator. No, they see the mess of dirty dishes piled up on the countertop.
But I finally found the key to keeping a clean house – always having people in my house.
That’s it! That’s what got me out of my messy ways (my “pig mentality” as my mom used to call it 😀 ) and into a routine of keeping things to pick up, put away, and clean.
I have a system now that I like to call my “30-minute clean house” system. That doesn’t mean I clean for 30 minutes every day, or anything like that. What this means is that I don’t let my house (and I’m talking about the main “public” areas of our house) go beyond what it takes 30 minutes to clean it when I get a call from a friend on his way home.
Having that mindset really helped me with the little things. Where I used to get ready in the morning and just leave my makeup, hair dryer, brush, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairspray, etc., scattered on the countertop, now I think to myself, when I’m ready for the day , “Is this what I want to spend my 30 minutes on when I can do it now?” Of course not! I can take care of those things while I prepare. After I dried the hair, I put it away. After I finished my hairspray and brush, I put it away.
So that leaves only the most basic things in the bathroom, like removing Cooper’s towel that he sleeps on on the side of the tub, and making sure that the mud left by Cooper from his muddy feet gets vacuumed up. Eufy as it makes its daily rounds. (This is the Eufy I have. It makes life so much easier, and I now wonder how I ever lived without it!) So the shower part of my “30 minutes to a clean house” routine takes about five minutes. .
(Side note: Before anyone comes at me for making my dog sleep on a towel, let me assure you, that was his choice. Cooper is the most amazing dog I’ve ever known. He hates it. He refuses to sleep on it. I wake up in the morning and find him on the hard tile floor, or curled up in whatever I left on the floor, like a towel, or even a pair of jeans. But never in his bed. So I made him get a fluffy bath mat. He loved it for a few months, and then he stopped using it and went back to the hard floor. So now I spread out a towel every night, and he uses it about half the time, and the hard tile floor the other half. He’s just a quirky boy.)
However, the hallway remains clean, because how can someone destroy a hallway? Cooper dribbles water in the hallway (his water bowl is there), but that can be taken care of if I vacuum and mop the floor every week.
The music room remains clean as well. I try to vacuum every week, along with once a week vacuuming and mopping. But it’s not really annoying. 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 moving him, the Hoyer elevator usually stays here until he’s ready to go to bed. But when something comes up, it takes less than a minute for me to roll it across the room.
It’s kind of a first, seeing Matt’s chair in the living room. When there are people over on Wednesday nights, I slide Matt’s recliner into the living room so he can have his comfortable place to sit and be part of the group. Now, for the first time, he asked me not to return his chair to the chair because he wants to spend today in his wheelchair, and he wants to be able to watch TV in the chair while sitting in his wheelchair. So now, for the first time, Matt’s recliner stays in the living room. I hope this is not a regular thing. 😀
The living room has become a frequently used room, but it is very easy to get a few things and straighten it after people leave so that it is ready for the next arrival of people.
The kitchen, of course, is the most used room in the house, and it takes a lot of time to keep it clean. This is the room where I have to focus the most time in my “30 minutes to a clean house” routine, and it usually consists of washing the dishes and cleaning the countertop and stove.
You’ll see that there are still some snacks left over from the night before, but that’s easy to clean up and put away. And I’m going to do it now before I cook lunch.
And then our seat usually stays in order. At most, there is probably a plate and cup that needs to be taken from the side table to the kitchen to be washed.
And as I mentioned earlier, Matt’s chair was missing from this room this morning. But that’s a first, and I hope it’s not a regular thing.
It feels so good to have a system, and one that I can stick to. I vacuum and mop my floors once a week, and also try to dust once a week, alternating between rooms, or just dusting when I see the need. And then I developed a habit (or at least, I’m still in the process of developing the habit) to put things away after using them. (And no, that habit hasn’t started touching my tools and DIY supplies. 😀 Maybe I’ll do that next year, but for now, those things are kept behind closed doors.) And in others (especially the bathroom and kitchen), I try not to exceed what it takes me 30 minutes to clean.
I know for those of you who have spent your whole life being neat and clean, this sounds pretty simple, right? It just seems like common sense. You’ve been doing things like this all your life, and you wouldn’t dream of letting your house get dirty and dirty.
But for people like me, who have struggled with that “pigpen mentality” all our lives, it’s not natural. It’s not like second nature. It doesn’t seem like common sense. It’s a real struggle to find a system that works.
I got to the point where I resigned myself to thinking that I would never be one of those people with a clean house. But I think I have an excuse — my projects take up all my time, and my projects are very messy.
I love that I was wrong about that. There is such 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 how my house looks. It’s a new thing for me, and it’s really cool.
So if you’re like me, what’s the first step? Invite people to your home. Do this regularly – once a week, or twice a week, every week. It all comes back to responsibility. If you are responsible for people to be in your house once or twice a week, every week, you can easily clean your house, and then you will 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 purchased in 2013. Matt has MS and is physically unable to work, so I did most of the work at home by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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