To all my friends who've seen my home before I've had to chance to "tidy up", I'd like to properly apologize.
Sorry for the crumbs on my dining table, and the ones underneath it, for the dishes in the sink, and the dishes too big to fit inside the sink, the tea rings on my counter, the unmopped floor, and the nervous giggle I make when I say with genuine embarassment, "Please excuse the mess".
You know how it is.
It's impossible to keep your house clean all of the time.
If you have kids, pets, and people all smushed together in one place, things can get pretty out of control.
As messy as my house becomes I can take pride in my ability in keeping it clean once I've, you know, *tidied up*.
If you happen to be interested, I have some very helpful tips and habits that will make your house look totally pulled together so you can avoid having to say "Sorry for the mess".
#1. Make your bed every morning.
A quick fix to keeping your room neat and tidy (even with clothes all over the floor) is to make your bed, because it's usually the focal point of most bedrooms.
But if anyone does notice the clothes all over the floor, just say you're sorting them for the wash. *Wink, wink*
#2. Empty sinks make a kitchen look clean even when it's not.
So keep your sink empty. Unload your dishwasher every morning or at night so you have room to put in your dirty dishes as soon as they're used.
#3. Do one load of laundry every other day.
A lot of people say you should do a load of laundry every day, but all that really does is put you in the laundry crutch every day of the week... Yeah, no thanks.
If you do it every other day, you won't get overwhelmed and you'll have more time to fold and put it away.
#4. Wipe down your bathroom daily.
Nobody likes looking at toothpaste splatter, so don't be scared of a good bathroom wipedown. Wipe your counters and mirrors, give your toilet a quick scrub, and sweep the floor.
If it's done regularly you'll have a perpetually clean bathroom in only a few minutes.
#5. Have a laundry basket for each bedroom.
My kids and my husband always have dirty clothes lying about. Having a laundry basket that's easily accessible keeps each room tidy, and keeps clothes off the floor.
Cheapskate tip: Buy a dollar store basket for your kids' dirty clothes. Instead of taking up valuable floor space, hang it on a hook. When it gets full, have them unload it into the central hamper for washing.
#6. Clean as you cook.
Sometimes I make the mistake of acknowledging my kitchen in the aftermath of dinner-making. It's just easier to pretend the giant food mess isn't there.
But some nights I look at my kitchen and realize there's nothing to do except put away the leftovers. Let me just say... I love those evenings.
When you put dishes in the dishwasher as you wait for food to cook, or wipe down counters as you go, or put away spices as you finish with them, it will all add up to a super fast post-meal clean up.
#7. Helping hands make lighter work.
Chores get done a whole lot faster when everyone pitches in. Having a chore chart for the whole family really encourages everyone to work together and offer a helping hand.
The best part of when it's all done and clean? Pouring yourself a hot cup of tea and sitting down to watch YouTube videos uninterrupted (or Hulu, or Netflix, or PBS cartoon re-runs of that really quirky cat-in-the-stripey-hat with your kids... Whatever floats your boat).
#8. Put it back where you found it.
This is why we organize! When everything has a place, it takes no time at all to put it away where it belongs.
Finished with that craft? Pack it all up. Homework all done? Put it away. So simple.
#9. Get rid of junkmail before it hits the counter.
I know we think we'll go through it later, but we won't.
It's scientifically proven that 70% of people don't actually look through their junk mail. (Disclaimer: Made up statistics, like the one just mentioned, are purely used to make a point.)
Before you put your stack of mail on the counter, sort through what's important and what's not. Throw away junkmail, and open up bills and other important documents, and clip them up somewhere visible for later. And keep the magazines as close as possible to your coffee/tea station for later, of course.
#10. A "Donations" box is a great organizational tool.
We all have things that we don't wear or use sitting somewhere in our closets attracting dust. And everyone thinks that going through their closets for donation-worthy items is a monumental project that requires lots of spare time and energy. It really doesn't!
Keep a box or bag in a hallway closet, or the garage, specifically for donations. When you're going through your clothes, your kids' clothes, or the hubby's, just take out one or two items at a time and throw them into the box.
Yes, it'll take a little longer to fill up a box this way. But on the bright side, you'll have more time to decide whether you're going to wear those saddle shoes from the 90's, or that fave top your kid threw up on as a baby (she's 8 now). You don't have those things? Oh... well, neither do I...