Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How I Keep My House "Clean"

How I Keep My House "Clean"

Most days, if you decided to pop in on us for a surprise visit, you'd see what at least appeared to be a very clean house. Many people remark on how clean I keep my house: leaning toward the windowed front door as they drop off kids, they might even say something like, "You must have spent your whole day cleaning!" Usually I smile and say thank you because I've learned that denying well-meant compliments is often false humility. But I know that what my friends really mean is, "Your house is neat and tidy." Not "clean" necessarily.
So how does this happen? Well, it's your lucky day because I'm going to give you how it happens--not that you'll want to adopt any of these practices necessarily(there's that word again; it just keeps popping up today) but just in case you come over. You can let your eyes twinkle a bit when you compliment my house and I'll thank you with my eyes twinkling as well, and we'll both understand each other a little better.
#1. Everything has a place to live. If you've ever read the old Cheaper By the Dozen, you know that I'm just stealing this idea. And I guess the goal is that "Everything has a place and everything is in its place." But we're getting to that.
#2. I don't pass things out of place. If something's out of place as I'm walking through the house, I pick it up. Anything that doesn't belong on the floor, any toys out of the kids' room, any papers spread about or trash sticking out from under the furniture. I pick it up.
#3. I have a few drop places in the house. If, after I've picked up a misplaced item, I'm not already headed to where that item belongs, I drop it on the black bench near our front door or on the brown shelf in the kitchen. These places are allowed to be untidy for a while at least. (Oh, and the trash can is always the place for trash, btw.) The living room couch is sometimes a drop place--and it's the place where I fold and sort laundry--but I try to empty it even sooner than other drop places.
#4. If I have more than two misplaced thing in my hands, I definitely take them all to where they belong. I'm up anyway, right?
#5. After I put kids in their rooms for rest, after dinner and right before bed, I empty the drop places or have kids empty them. I'm hoping that with training, the kids will automatically pick up their things from these places and take them back to where they belong.
#6. After every meal I clean the kitchen counter. I put dishes in the dishwasher or wash, dry, and put them away. I wipe the counter down and move anything that doesn't belong on the counter either to where it goes or to one of the drop places.
#7. I sweep once or twice a day. Quick and easy--wherever I see dust or dirt. I wipe down toilets and sinks with Lysol and a tissue maybe twice a week--whenever I think about it.
#8. Once a week, (give or take) I dust and vacuum. Once every two weeks I wipe down my kitchen cabinets and clean my bathrooms. Once in a blue moon I wipe down walls, door frames, etc.
 #9. Oh, and there's one anomaly to this plan: the kids' room. Every time I play with them, I am half playing and half sorting. Don't get me wrong, I want them to play with their toys. Toys that are looking pretty in their place on a shelf are worthless toys in my book. But, I like to look and play and be in their room more when it's clean and organized, so I labor in their room more than in the rest of the house. I'm sure you can identify. (Oh, and where--in the world--do all the jibbles of paper come from? They are constantly covering the kids' room!)
So there you have it. Nothing tricky, just stuff moving. All day every day. If you could have a camera on me throughout the day and do that fast playback thing, you would see me pick up and put down things all over the house over and over and over and over. It would be quite amusing. 
But, in the end, the house looks clean. When I want to sit and relax with a cup of tea, I'm not constantly jumping up to do things I see I've forgotten. I can rest.And that (to me) is what a home is all about.

I'd love to know your cleaning tricks of the trade!

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