Baby Steps to an Organized Home:
There isn’t a home anywhere that stays orderly by itself. Picking up, putting away, and decluttering needs to be done every day.
You don’t have to do all the decluttering by yourself (unless you live alone). Involve the whole family in decluttering. Make it a game, such as race to see who can put away the most in ten minutes (set the timer), or race to see how fast each person can put away 20 things that don’t belong to him or her. Another day, give children specific jobs, such as “pick up all the trucks”, then “put all the books on the shelf”. Or, don’t serve dinner until the family room is in shape.
When the Professor and I were first married, we both worked nine-to-five jobs. I had a longer commute, so I left for work first while the Professor was still asleep. I usually got home first too, arriving home about 20 to 30 minutes before he did. Every evening, I walked into a home in serious disarray. At first I was annoyed, but then I decided to have a race: Would the Professor get home before I had the house tidy, or would I finish the house and be getting dinner ready before he got home? The Professor didn’t know about the game; I played alone. But I began to look forward to getting home so I could start playing.
I always began at the front door: Mail in the mail divider on the desk, purse on the hook. Then I raced through the house opening the curtains because I think a dark, closed-up house is dreary and depressing. Back in the living room, I ran as I picked up books, dishes, towels, old mail, pillows, and clothes. I distributed them to their rightful places. Then to the dining room I went, to scoop up dishes, food, mail, books, and anything else out of place. Those I distributed to their rightful places. Quickly to the bathroom: towels hung, bath mat up, hairbrushes and toiletries in the cabinet, clothes to the laundry basket or closet. Next the bedroom to make the bed, collect the clothes, books, mail, magazines, and dishes. Into the study for the same. Lastly, the kitchen, where I unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded it, put away food, wiped the counters, and finally, began dinner preparations.
Sometimes I won the game; sometimes the Professor won. But I got the job done, quickly. And I had fun while I did it.
I learned to work quickly; I learned many jobs take just five to ten minutes. This was not the time for house cleaning, but only the time for decluttering. Cleaning and decluttering are not the same thing. I also learned that, with limited time, it was best to minimize our decorative items. I didn’t keep decorative pillows on the bed, nor did I keep open shelves of knicknacks. I threw out last month’s magazines when the new issue arrived. We dealt with our mail every evening. We had a mail sorter, and we designated one slot for bills to pay, another slot for receipts we needed to keep.
Now, I have a daily routine to tidy my house. Each morning, after I get back from walking, I quickly move through the house, just as I did many years ago as a newlywed.
I begin in the master bathroom. I hang towels and the bath mat, put away toiletries, hairbrushes, and pill bottles, toss dirty clothes in the hamper, and wipe up loose hair with a damp tissue. Into the bedroom, I make the bed, open the blinds, hang up clothes, reshelve books. Down the hall, I peek in the kids’ bathroom. Usually I don’t do much more then hang the bath mat, and I ignore their bedrooms.
In the dining room I might find books, shoes, old mail, musical instruments, and crumbs on the table, all of which I quickly deal with. The living room is often tidy, but I always open the blinds, and usually I need to replace the sofa pillows to the position I prefer.
The family room seems to always have a lot of clutter. After I open the blinds across the back of the house, I collect shoes, phones, mail, dishes, books, socks, CD’s, newspapers and magazines. All get put away. (Sometimes “away” is dumping on the owner’s bed. My children really are old enough to take care of their things without a reminder from Mom. I always hope the bed dump will remind them of what they are supposed to do. I can dream, can’t I?)
Lastly, I deal with the kitchen. Dishwasher unloaded then reloaded, air drying dishes put away, sink scrubbed, food put away, counters sprayed and wiped, stove scrubbed.
Because I do it every day, and because I work fast, this usually doesn’t take even 10 minutes every morning. A dream I have is that all the tidying would be done last thing in the evening so that I could wake up in the morning to a spotless house. But it’s only a dream…
Come back tomorrow for the final post in this series..
Previous posts in the series: