7 Inspiring Ways to Keep your House Clean
May 27, 2009
I returned home at midnight this morning, after being gone for two weeks, to find the house a disaster. Molding rice in a child's bowl, on the kitchen table. A bathtub with sticks in it for bow making, and a hamper overflowing with dirty laundry! Did I leave for vacation, with such a mess in my house? No!
My husband has been home, fending for himself, but not by himself: Before I left, I did all of the laundry, froze meals, took out the trash and generally put the house in order. The morning we took off I had a number of errands to attend to, and my guess is that some child was still eating when the dishes were being done, hence the moldy food -- I don't think my husband was eating out of a Peter Rabbit dish...
So, as I survey coffee mugs from the last two weeks, a refrigerator full of moldy food that I left ready for him to eat and overflowing trashcans, I am searching for inspiration. Part of me wants to just forget the whole mess, and go plant my waiting garden. Heck, paying bills would be more enjoyable than dissolving this mess; but, a woman must do what a woman must do, and children deserve a clean home to learn and create in. So, here is a list of inspiring thoughts to keep the cleaning going, even when you would rather be having brain surgery done by a pre-med student.
1. Make Something Every Day
Creativity is one of the driving forces in my life. Without a project or two on my horizon, I feel lifeless. Chores can be dull and uninspiring or a creative outlet. I choose to make, from start to finish, at least one thing every day. It may only be the bed, or a gourmet meal, but it is something that brings a smile to my face.
Thing to Make in the Home
The Bed: Make the bed in your favorite manner. Set out your nighttime book and favorite pajama's. Cut some flowers for the bedside table, and prepare to love your husband.
Meals: Eating supper together helps to hold the family together. Make it something to look forward to. When the meal is the focus of my creative efforts, I strive to serve it with high-end restaurant flair. This means that the colors of the food and its arrangement on the plate have been planned. Instead of eating the whole meal at once, serve the salad first, then bring out the main course. Dessert is always appreciated.
Set The Table: Simple, fun, whimsical or elegant, even the simplest meal is enhanced by a thoughtful setting of the table. Break out the tablecloth and napkins, even if you are serving macaroni and cheese, or give everyone a few crayons and a paper place mat. Don't have paper place mats? Try some large drawing paper, or even the old computer paper that is all strung together. How about using up those leftover party supplies, even if they are totally out of season? Serve with a smile and plan a party game or two. Children love to play telephone.
Clean Landry: Start a load. Hand wash your bras or wool sweaters. Grab a load of clean clothes and fold them, then put them away, rearranging drawers as needed. Throughout things that are never used. Match those socks and get rid of the mate-less ones.
Bread: Making a loaf or two of bread, by hand, is therapeutic and pleasing. The results delicious!
2. Do the Worst Job First
Choose the job you are dreading the most, and just get it done! Oh, the stress and worry that will lift when that job is out of the way. I just did my refrigerator, and it feels great to have it out of the way!
3. Pick A Number, Any Number
De-clutter one thing from every surface in the house. Don't cheat, just clear one thing.
One bag of trash. Grab a trash bag and fill it full of items that are no longer needed. See how fast you can do it, then tie it up and take it to the dumpster!
One surface. Choose one surface, clear absolutely everything off of it, and keep it clean for one week. At the end of the week, chose the decorations/accessories that are most appropriate, and put those back on the surface. Enjoy!
One box. Find a box, and fill it with usable things that you do not love anymore. Tape it up and mark it for good-will. Put it in your vehicle, to take to a second hand store.
One load. Completely do one load of laundry, even if you have mountains waiting for you. While the machines are running, do other small projects.
Two minutes. Set the timer for two minutes, and see how much you can get cleared off the end tables, or other commonly cluttered surfaces. Put things away as you work, so when the timer goes off, you are done! Do this twice a day.
Two things. Choose two things from every cupboard, closet and drawer that are not needed/wanted anymore, and toss them.
Two phone calls. If you are like me, you hate making appointments and orders. Take a few minutes, and make two of the most pressing phone calls. No more procrastinating.
Five things. Pick up and put away five things from every room in the house. Likewise, pick up five things in the yard. This one works really well with my children, and after each child has picked up five things that belong to them, from every room, the house is presentable. It takes less than 10 minutes, when we all work together.
Five minutes. Set your timer for five minutes, and de-clutter in the worst room in your house. Repeat daily, until the room is clean.
Five chores. Make a list of five chores that most need to be done that day, and be realistic. Work at them until they are done. You will have a definite sense of accomplishment when the last item is checked off.
List ten things. Ten things you love about your life. Ten things you are thankful for. Ten things you want to do in the next week. Ten things you want to learn. Ten books you want to read. Ten movies you want to watch. Let these lists stretch you inspire you.
Ten socks. Find ten of those lonely or holey socks, and get rid of them.
Find ten items to donate to charity.
Ten minutes, to fold and put away two loads of laundry.
Plan ten main meals for the next two weeks. Make a list; be sure to include lunch and breakfast items, then go shopping. By planning ahead, you will know what you have available and spend less in the long run. Why only ten? Because there will be leftovers to use up!
15 minutes is enough time to complete most household jobs.
- Wash the dishes from a single meal.
- Change the sheets on a bed and start the laundry.
- Iron two of shirts.
- Sweep all of the floors in the house, or vacuum all of the carpets.
- Scrub the kitchen and bathroom floors.
- Pick and wash a salad for supper.
4. Contests and Rewards
Create a Contest
Time yourself and see how fast you can get a job done. Now choose another. Can you do this one faster? Are you working with someone? Challenge them to a race!
I find this works very well with my children. If I give them a small job to do, while I do a lager one, they feel that they can beat me and are motivated to do their best. When the job is done, we inspect each others work. They love finding places I missed, and work hard to make sure theirs is done thoroughly.
Designate a Reward
This is the carrot on the stick method: Choose something that you would really like, then assign yourself a certain amount of work to do, in order to earn your reward. Make it something that is useful in the long run or disposable, so that you are not adding to the clutter in your home.
My favorite reward is a long hot bath, with a good book. I will even take a special trip to the library to obtain that good book, if nothing on my shelf is begging to be read. Another reward that I cherish is a back rub from my hubby. I don't ask for them very often, so when I do, he is usually obliging.
5. Set the Mood
If my mind is not in the cleaning, the work goes very slowly. I daydream, and wander from room to room, wondering what needs to be done next. To help my mind get into the mood, I use several approches.
Music and Candlelight
I like to light a candle or two, turn on some music, roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Wear an Apron
An apron can be elegant or practical. Putting on an apron helps my to forget my inabitions about getting dirty. It is a small piece of cloth that is easily cleaned, and if it gets stained, "Oh well!"
I have a friend who swears by getting mad to get the job done. She can clean anything in record time, if she is angry. Not mad at the moment? Drudge up a memory from the past, read some disturbing news or watch a few minutes of TV. Getting angry enough to be be ruthless shouldn't be too hard!
6. Call in Reinforcements!
Friends, a cleaning service, the National Guard -- what ever you have available. I love working with someone. It makes even the most mundane things pleasant, and working alongside your child is a good way to teach good habits early on.
No one to help? Get out those cleaning supplies that you never use -- they are servants, after all.
7. Reading or Writing
Read About It
Grab your favorite cleaning, de-cluttering, or feng shui book, open it up, anywhere, and read until you find inspiration. As soon as you feel motivated, go to work! Don't wait!
Write About It
Obviously the method I am using at the moment...
I find that writing about it in one form or another always inspires me. If I have a room to de-clutter, but I am not sure of the final results that I want, I write about it, in the form of a motivational magazine article. If I know what I want, but don't seem to be able to accomplish it, then I like to write about it in a fiction sense, to see myself using the space in the desired application. If I am frustrated, I rant!
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