Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What to Do When Everything is a Mess

A friend of mine requested a blog on what to do when your house is a mess. It is so easy to have your house take you over. I know that we all have great intentions to clean as we go and organize things and keep them that way, but nowadays we are all so busy running here, there, and everywhere, with spouses, kids, and friends to our activities, that before we know it our house looks like a tornado hit.

Have no fear, a plan is here. Okay that was cheesy. ;)

Step 1 - Rally the Troops
I tend to do about 90% of the housework on a normal week as I am a full-time homemaker and my husband works full-time, but when chaos hits or we have people coming over and I don't feel caught up, I get everyone on board to help out. A great way to do this is to offer an incentive. If you have kids that can earn money, you could bribe, I mean encourage them, to help. Or my favorite, offer to take the family out to dinner or an activity when things are back to clean.

Step 2 - Divide and Conquer
I find that when I am cleaning it helps if I don't have someone in the space I am working in. Assign each person a room or a task and send them off to do it. I like to make a list and color code who is going to do what and work our way through.

Step 3 - Straighten
When you walk into a room, the first thing you need to do before you deep clean or organize is straighten up the mess. Put things back where they should have been. Put dirty clothes in the hamper or bring them to the laundry room for a power laundry session (more on that below). Throw all trash into a can or a trash bag if you are carrying one from room to room. Make the bed. This will make a huge difference. I find that most of what drives us crazy isn't the dirtiness but the clutter everywhere. Anything that doesn't have a designated home and needs to be organized should go in a spot of the room or a basket until you do the other steps.

Step 4 - Clean
Dust. Vacuum. Wipe down countertops (they should be clear). Scrub toilets. Scrub showers. Mop the floors. Do any cleaning that the room needs.

Step 5 - Organize/De-Clutter
With everything that you had left over from the straightening step, you now need to decide where to put it. If you don't want it, trash it or put in a donate or yardsale box. If you do want it, figure out the best place for it. My rule of thumb is to group like items. Put books in one spot. Put toys in one spot. Put things that go together together. Also, try to think of the way you would use it. If you would use it with something, put it with that something. Think of the frequency of use. If you use it all the time, put it somewhere easily accessible. If you barely use it, store it somewhere that you can remember where it is.

Step 6 - Try Your Best to Keep it that Way
We spend a lot of mental energy, physical energy, and time letting our house get out of control and having to get it back in control. If you try to keep a routine, it will make things much easier and way less stressful.

*** If your house is crazy and you can't tackle it in one day, break it into pieces, starting with the rooms you need cleaned the most - for me that is always my kitchen and family room. ***

POWER LAUNDRY SESSION - I hate to have to do loads and loads of laundry in one day, but if you are really behind, this is the way to catch up so you can get back to the load a day or every other day rule. The best way to do this is to collect all the laundry in the house. Then make piles/baskets near your laundry room (most needed first). I like to do a whites/white sheets, darks, dark towels/sheets, khakis/nice whites, and nice darks. ALWAYS DO THE PILES THAT NEED IRONING LAST SO YOU CAN CLEAN WHILE YOUR LAUNDRY GOES AND NOT HAVE WRINKLED CLOTHES WAITING FOR YOU AT THE END OF THE DAY. As a load is done, fold it. I like to use my master bed or guest bed after they have been made. At the end of the laundry session, put it all away.

I hope this has helped! :)

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