I read something a few months ago that repeats in my mind daily: her house might be messy here and there, but it's always clean despite the presence of 4 children. Or something very close to that.
Each morning the best thing that can greet me, besides my family, is a clean house. When I walk downstairs and find a mess -- any mess -- I'm a bit more on edge. Can you relate?
Instead of starting with a clean slate and having only the day's matters to attend to, I'm playing catch-up from the day before. And I feel it immediately.
So it's important to me to straighten, wipe down, sweep, and leave the place in a pleasant state so that the next morning when I hit that prepared coffee maker, I'm a happy woman.
Though not anything remarkable, I'd like to share with you my nightly method for returning the house to its mostly-happy* state.
Here's what I do:
1. I give myself a time-sensitive incentive. I read recently that a task takes all the time it is given. So if I give myself an hour to clean the kitchen, it will take me an hour. If I give myself 10 minutes, it will take me 10 minutes. And the less time doesn't have to mean less quality.
So I either take out ice cream to thaw or a beer to warm (which is how good beer should be served, with the chill off and not genuine-draft-cold). I may toss it back in the freezer once before I'm ready, but it keeps me moving.
2. I watch the clock, and I'm done at 9:00pm, with a 5-minute grace period. Ace's bedtime is 8:00pm, which means we're out of his room by 8:15pm. On a night like last night when Hawk was at the Brewer game (and dropped a ball off one of Braun's fouls -- DOH!) and I put both kids down myself, I was downstairs by 8:30. Everything below took 30 minutes.
But that 30 minutes was worth every second.
3. I have an order, and I keep to it. This is key: the kitchen comes first. Ms. Mendelson suggests leaving the kitchen until last, but I'm the sort who feels peace if the counter is cleared, the floor is wiped, and everything is put away in the kitchen. If there's food out, I'm annoyed. If there's a dish awry, I'm irritated. Plus, it's usually the area of the greatest mess, so when it's done I know my work gets easier from that point on.
To me the dining room is an extension of the kitchen; technically I start there. Here's the order:
- DINING ROOM:
- Clear dishes, discard/store food, load washer
- Put away all food items from table like salt, olive oil, etc.
- Brush all crumbs onto the floor from table, chairs, and Ace's seat
- Wipe down table
- Reserve/discard food from pots & pans in the kitchen
- Start dishwasher (unless I think there's room for breakfast's dishes)
- Hand-wash pots, pans, & plate chargers (we use for every meal)
- Spray and wipe down counters & stovetop
- Sweep & discard crumbs
- Wash floors (really, this takes like 10 minutes max and is totally worth it)
- POWDER ROOM:
- Put away items like make-up, magazines, etc.
- Use a baby wipe to clean sink and toilet top
- Sweep up whatever might be on the floor
- LIVING ROOM:
- Put away toys
- Put away clothes and diaper materials (with kids, something is always out)
- Straighten furniture
- Clear off entryway bench & bench bins
- Straighten/store shoes
- Crack open my Hopilicious
What do you think? Do you have a similar or totally different routine you'd recommend?
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*Mostly-happy in that I am working to totally declutter every single room in our house before Christmas. My goal is to truly have a place for everything and everything in its place. I hate clutter. I hate mess. I hate things stuffed along a wall or kitchen counter. But right now we have a few things on the stairs and more things than places.