Yes, you heard me. Well, it won’t be a show home but it will be close enough! I have one mantra I repeat often during my housework: It’s better than it was! I am a big believer in the FlyLady approach to housecleaning and organization. I was one of those people who find the e-list to be overwhelming, but I read and enjoyed the book and have employed many of Martha’s techniques in my regular housecleaning and bless her often as I look around at my (close enough to) clean house.
Homeschooling has brought new challenges as far as cleaning, for my family. We’ve had so much more time for fun at home, and for new and exciting evening activities! I’ve been having such a good time and been so invested in our learning that I let my routines slip…for several months. So when my Granmother from Canada is coming to visit, it’s panic time. Mind you, she is not a “white glove” kind of gal. She would never be bothered if my house was cluttered and dusty. She is the kind of great-grandmother you find on the floor playing with the kids and saying that peanut butter and jelly is just fine for her too. But she is a very good friend to me, a very special relative, and I want to show her how excited I am to have her staying with us for a few days before she heads to mom’s house.
Oh, and she is an excellent housekeeper herself, so I’d like her to feel ‘at home.’
I pulled out my emergency plans and wanted to share them with you. It worked for me. The house looks (close enough to) beautiful and Gramma is arriving tomorrow.
Step one: Choose an area to concentrate on (I always pick my living room and kitchen because that is what most people see when they visit and where I spend the most time). Every day for the next week spend at least 15 minutes decluttering that area as fast as you can. Set a timer like FlyLady tells you to, it works!
Step two: Make a list of the things you need to do every single day. My list looks like this: One load of laundry (this includes folding and putting away-darn it!), Make bed(s), check bathrooms, switch out hand towels (I’m a germiphobe and this makes me feel so good), set coffee maker for the next morning, plan a menu for tomorrow, check the calendar for activities/appointments today and tomorrow, load/start/unload dishwasher. This, of course, does not include things that happen every day like prepare, serve and clean up after each meal, wipe the four-year-old’s bottom, pick up seven thousand lego pieces after you step on them, yell at children to stop fighting…
Step three: Make a list of the things you want to do on a weekly basis and divide them out among the days of the week. Flylady does her house cleaning for an hour once a week, which might work great for you, but I have found I cannot make it all happen in one day with the kids underfoot. So my list includes all the things I like to have done in a week but I do one or two of them per day, which means 10 or 15 minutes of work and at the end of the week it’s all been done. My weekly list looks like this:
Monday: Dusting and clear hot spots of accumulated clutter
Tuesday: Sweep (maybe mop) and take trash to the road
Wednesday: Clean off porch and entryway, wipe down bathrooms
Thursday: Sweep (mop if I missed Tuesday), clean front picture windows
Friday: Clean out van and fridge if they need it, change sheets on my bed
Saturday: Kids pick up their rooms (which involves me standing over them)
Step four: At the end of the week pat yourself on the back and look around at how much better everything looks than it did last week! Then modify your lists if you found things that didn’t work or have ideas for what could work better. On weeks I am not preparing for visitors, it brings me lots of peace to know that anything I don’t get done will still be waiting on the list for next week and I can do it then. Keep doing this and you will be amazed at how this bit or organization staves of the catastrophic house mess that usually had to occur before I could motivate myself to tackle the huge job. I was constantly swinging from horrid to excellent, now I am just maintaining close enough.
Now keep in mind that I do all of these jobs so the house is close enough to clean. I do not do any of them perfectly. If something is in my way when I am vacuuming, I just shove it out of the way or vacuum around it. When I dust, I am not getting out anything wet – I am using a feather duster and hitting all the major surfaces. When I clean out the van, I may only have time to pull out this week’s garbage and abandoned cups but not to wipe down surfaces or vacuum. I do not clean all my windows on window day, just the giant ones that we and all our company look out of and are always getting finger/face prints as the kids watch wild turkey, deer or thunderstorms. When I clean off the porch that may mean just shaking out the welcome mat, sweeping as fast as I can and hollering at the kids to move their toys to the back porch (where they belong!). But any little bit of cleaning I can do means it is better than it was before, and better than it would have been next week when I tackle the job again. Now I always feel like my house in a general maintenance pattern, that things never get as bad as they used to and most of the time I would not actually die of embarrassment if someone pops in. There are days I may need to be hospitalized for embarrassment, but not actually die. My cleaning philosophy is to go for the appearance of regular housecleaning. I figure one day I might actually get around to some of the deep cleaning routines FlyLady talks about. But for right now my daily/weekly lists are close enough.