Being a stay-at-home mom of a 2 and 5 year old, my home never stays orderly and clean. At first I tried to maintain perfect order and cleanliness and just about drove myself insane! Then I decided to let it all go. I mean, honestly, why bother picking up the same pillows, blankets, toys, and dishes, just to have to pick them up 20, 30, 40 more times in the same day, only to go to bed with the house re-destroyed?
If you just let your house go, it's a hell of a job to get it into OK order if someone is coming over that you know about.
However! If your family and friends are like mine and most of your visitors are totally unannounced, aka: you haven't an idea that someone is coming, let alone have time to clean, until they are on your door step?!?! You need a plan...
Besides reciting your mantra to calm down and refocus, I've come up with a sure-fire way to have my house look better than it is at first sight.
I call it the Walk In Ready method.
- First, you have to get the chaos in order. This method calls for a walkable floor area, at least to some sort of seating.
- Once you have that done, it won't matter if all the toys and books in the house come crashing down while you have a visitor: All the adult areas are taken care of. The idea behind this: Toys are just toys and they don't lend themselves to an idea that the house is dirty. There is no helping it. The kids will be kids and their toys are their toys.
- Ok, so next, stand at your front door and look in, as though you were an outsider walking in. What's the first thing you see? For me, it's the family room (oh, crap...) So my task was to find some way to hide the chaos and instill a sense of cleanliness and order for my guests. I make sure that the blanket and pillows on the couch that you see when you first walk in are in order (this requires me to straighten them numerous times a day, but I like at least something to look nice!) I also have a coffee table that has nice orderly looking bins placed in a line underneath. Who cares that they are filled with junk, toys, and whatnot. They, at first glance, look nice. This is key: the illusion of order ;)
- Next, is the beds. Yes, I know, I know. I hate making beds too. Just make them: It doesn't have to be perfect, it just have to be done (that is another one of my mantras.) A messy room doesn't look 1/100th as messy as it really is if the bed is made. Go, try it yourself. Your room, your child's room..it's a mess, right? Well, make the bed and then look at it again. Now it looks like it was fixed up but, with during the day of play, it's gotten some toys on the floor. But it still looks nice. Thus, the illusion continues!
- Ok, finally, and this might be a hard one, is the kitchen sink. It doesn't even have to be spotless, just not filled to the rim with a week's worth of food encrusted nasty dishes. Ewe, gross! Your kitchen counters can be unorganized, the tables still with breakfast plates, but if your sink is empty or almost empty, it gives the illusion that it's all a work in progress.
It still looks OK because the beds are made (not perfect, just done), the dishwasher is running (a sign of progress), and the pillows on the couch are just that (STILL on the couch, not on the floor). I have a pretty good idea that, if given the chance to have company and I actually get to SIT DOWN and TALK to this person, my home's order will suffer.
But not for long, as another one of my mantras will come into play: if you make the mess, you clean it up! And that's another post for another day...how to get kids to pick up after themselves...oh, boy...