8 Ways to Keep Your Home Feeling Fresh
I realize this may sound impossible, and downright boring or even cliché. Maybe you are reading this with some resistance. I understand.
Those closest to me know how challenging it can be to go from the creative process to then focus on the rest of life’s daily woes. Things pile up, apathy sets in, and it can be an uphill battle just to accomplish one thing for the day if the mood is not right. However, I also know that you can overcome! I say this with the utmost confidence that you can do this. But only if you are ready to start! After all, no one can make your decisions for you, and until you identify with the need, you won’t budge.
1. Start small by removing trash from each room on a daily basis.
It all starts with YOU! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your habits – whether breaking or creating them. Just go through every single room, and think about what trash is there that needs to be gone, pronto, before putting into practice anything else in this article. While you might be motivated to do more than take out the trash at first, that’s a surefire way to eventually burn out. Throwing out your trash gives you instant relief – physically (replacing smell), visually (replacing chaos), and mentally (de-cluttering the mind).
2. It might take more time and effort to do all in one day.
That’s ok, but focus on that one task in your spare time, however much trash you have, and you will get there. I promise! I used to be a total packrat, not even realizing what/when things needed to be pitched (unless it smelled – then it was out to the trash, no question.) However, there was always the dilemma of throwing out the used up books, ink-deprived ornate pens, or pencil nubs with erasers still intact. I think I drove my mother crazy with the stacks of papers I placed around my room and desk, either loose, or in pocket folders, or in bags, in much the same fashion King Midas stacked his gold to count – but I swore I knew where everything was at any given time! And for a long time, that WAS true.
3. Change your "what ifs?" to "why nots?"
Instead of thinking – “What if I need this later?” try thinking “Why not ditch this now?” and revel in the freedom you have from making the choice. This also applies in sorting through things you haven’t used in a while, have extra of, or don’t like anymore. By prompting yourself to ask and answer your own question, and then doing something about it, you will keep moving. It’s also okay if you choose to keep something now, but change your mind later. Life changes things.
I’ve always struggled in throwing away things away that I foresee using later, or if I feel I want to share them with others eventually. I am all about nostalgia, history, and family. It’s funny, too, because there was a time in my life when I was at a crossroads with my “stuff” and had an unfortunate circumstance occur in childhood, at the height of my love for the things I held dearest. It was how I learned to live off of less, yet developed the mentality of not wanting to throw out the few things I had. There was something comfortable about surrounding myself with the familiar, day in and day out. Eventually, though, I came to the stark realization that there were emotions, as well as memories, associated with my stuff, and not all of them were pleasant to revisit.
4. Put that thing back where it came from.
Everything you own needs to be in its spot. Maybe not the final spot at first, but at least you can start by moving it to the right room, or have a bin in which you toss everything that is out of place, so that later you can distribute the contents to the right room, and from there you need only to fine-tune from there.
I tried using The Flylady’s tips when my daughter was a baby, but I was quickly overwhelmed and concluded the woman was much too energetic for my taste; she was in a different phase of her life so that whatever she suggested worked better for her than for me. And as long as I couldn’t identify with the need, I wasn’t budging.
People like me are can become so distracted by mental musings and tedious tasks that we are somewhat insensitive to our surroundings and don’t care because that requires energy we are unwilling to give. And while I was certainly not what I would call a total slob, I was definitely unhappy with a few things about my life. I knew it was bad when I had to acknowledge that I wanted to be anywhere but home, simply because I felt like I couldn’t think when I was at home. And, oh, how I hated to admit that it lacked the homey feel I sought out elsewhere.
The thing is, you can fool yourself for so long under such conditions, but eventually you come to your senses when it finally affects you…like when you can’t find something, or when you notice that all those old coupons hidden with old batteries in your junk drawer expired last summer make it impossible to sneak in the pile of mail you’re trying to hide because company is coming over!
The irony for me is that I enjoy the aesthetics of a well-put-together haven – the cute containers used for taming clutter, decorating ideas, and the overall appeal and coziness factor. Sadly, even with the right tools, it was just not happening for me. I couldn’t get myself together. Not even when my parents and mother-in-law gave me well-meaning gifts as subtle hints to do so (like a coupon holder and recipe box!). I had to learn where I needed to put everything I owned before I could ever hope to appreciate the tools! So by reading through organization tips on websites and Pinterest and magazines, and even by browsing through stores, catalogues, and pictures of homes for sale, I began to figure it out like finding the pieces to a puzzle. My suggestion to you is to take it one room – or even section – at a time in figuring out what makes sense with what you have. Every closet, drawer, countertop, and shelf are all different from home-to-home.
5. Make your bed(s).
I was never a stickler for this until I began to realize how much the bedroom is like a cozy room at a bed and breakfast. Who can’t help but be relaxed and revitalized in seeing and smelling fresh, tidy linens on the bed?
It dawned on me one day that there was no reason why I shouldn’t make my home as restful, to save myself some money and sanity at the same time! After all, this is the first and last room I am in each day, and I am more likely to be in it than in a B&B or fancy hotel, so why not make it inviting? The bonus here is that by making the bed, you are hopefully also mindful of laundering the bedding so that you are always drifting off into peaceful slumber in amongst clean sheets and pillowcases. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it can still be neat and clean. If you have multiple bedrooms to worry about, it might very well be an all-day chore in itself to wash everything and make the beds. Still, it is a necessity and a way of caring for your household’s health.
6. Launder everything else.
This means all your towels, washcloths, and regular clothing. As you’ve started to freshen things up, you would have also picked up dirty clothes along the way anyway, and now it’s time to wash everything.
Doing the laundry was never my favorite task. Even now, I have to gear myself up for it. And I get rankled if my husband decides to run a load when I’m not prepared, so that I have to find the time to fold everything in between loads if I don’t want it to pile up and wrinkle. But then I initiated a system of washing certain things on certain days, where possible, which freed me up tremendously and enabled us all to have laundry without hassles. I choose to wash my towels the same day as my sheets, so that it automatically gives a fresh look to the bedrooms and kitchen and bathroom, even if I don’t have a whole lot of time to straighten or clean those rooms right then. Obviously you will have to configure a plan of attack of your own, depending on the size of your family and needs.
7. Wipe/clean sinks, countertops, tables, mirrors, toilets, and showers/tubs.
I know, gag, gag. Bring on the procrastination! But in reality, if you are doing this daily, you never have to spend a huge chunk of time to do it, and it will only take you about five minutes a day to accomplish. Really! Another way of looking at this is to think in terms of the B&B scenario, and possibly a restaurant.
Until I finally heeded FlyLady’s voice on “shining my sink” each day, I was skeptical and apprehensive about doing all the rigorous cleaning associated with these areas. It sure didn’t happen overnight for me, either. And it’s still a work in progress. But for the most part, because of what I choose to do on a daily basis, I have been able to spend less time cleaning and I have more time with my family. I actually feel like cooking because I tend to want to be home more often, and if we do go out for an adventure, or spur-of-the-moment opportunities, we can come back rest-assured that we didn’t get “behind” with tasks in the house. And since most of the rooms associated with the sinks, counters, and tabletops are ones that visitors see, I am company-ready.
8. Vacuum and sweep floors.
Yes, I know they probably could be washed or shampooed, but for the sake of making your home look fresh in a reasonable amount of time, you can get away with minimal cleaning of the floors if you are prompt at vacuuming or sweeping them. You can certainly wash the floors if you want to right then, as it will benefit you greatly! Kudos if you actually shampoo that wall-to-wall carpeting!
Floors can be a pain to (keep) clean. Sometimes they can be the last place you even look. But they are important nonetheless, because without cleaning them, you track in all kinds of muck, and that will trail it into all the other rooms in the house – especially your bed! Dirty floors can attract unwanted pests and draw attention to other messes and clutter, whereas clean floors can give a room an instant face-lift, even if the rest of the room is not completely organized! But if you have done all the other steps in order, by now you would have realized that the other 7 steps you did led up to this moment. By taking away your trash, organizing your possessions, and cleaning higher surfaces, the floor is the next and final step. All that residue from dusting, wiping, moving around, and straightening is now on your floor, and it needs to be picked up once and for all, to finish off the look of your rooms.
Your home may not be fully organized in one attempt, but that is why you will keep at the 8 steps daily, to some degree, fine-tuning them to whatever makes the most sense for you, until it does.
Resources to try:
- Make cleaning fun - FlyLady.net
- Organize your life by becoming an organizing junkie! - Orgjunkie.com
- Find great storage and DIY ideas - Pinterest.com