Ok, ground rules first. No one is allowed to tell my mother that I wrote this post. She’ll tell you that I have no authority whatsoever to write a post about being tidy, because I’m the messiest person in the entire world ever, closely followed by two of my brothers.
Both my parents are tidy in the extreme, so the house I grew up in was incredibly tidy. We were made to tidy our rooms weekly, so they didn’t get unmanageable. Sometimes my mum would clean our rooms, which basically involved her throwing away all our possessions unless we could argue a case to keep it. My mum is one of those naturally tidy people – she doesn’t enjoy it and she certainly isn’t obsessive about it – she just accepts it needs to be done and does it.
As a result, I’m an incredibly messy person that hates a mess.
It makes me angry and unsettled and anxious. I can’t undertake any task unless my entire house is tidy. Which, as a messy person presents a problem. I live with a man who, like many men, appreciate a clean house but can’t really tell the difference between tidy and messy.
I think, left to his own devices, Dave would be quite the hoarder. He makes piles of things and then thinks that’s tidy – you know, the kind of person that puts all of the washing up in the sink rather than actually doing it.
So what does one do?
I’ve devised, over the course of a decade (yes, it’s taken me that long) a few tips that help me keep on top of the housework. I’m not saying I do them all the time, or that my house is always pristine, but I always like to keep it half-an-hour-from-guest ready at all times, and guest ready at least once a day.
1. Make vacuuming a priority.
It’s the easiest thing that makes a difference quickly. It also forces you to pick up stuff that’s on the floor. Commit to vacuuming every room in the house at least once a week. If you don’t want to, assign the job to a significant other or child. I’ve had limited success in training the rabbits to hoover, but if you have a particularly intelligent dog, maybe it’s worth trying to train it? If you’re in the financial position to do so, buy a Roomba, so I can live vicariously through you 😉
2. Chuck your crap out
I hate clutter. I don’t like stuff. I own no CDs or DVDs (I have books, but only one’s I read), and I regularly get rid of stuff to the local charity shop or chuck if they don’t want it. I’m yet to read the Marie Kondo book, but I’m pretty sure it’s right up my street. I’m not sentimental about ‘stuff’. I don’t have ornaments or trinkets or anything that’s just collecting dust. The only decorative items I have are a piggy bank (that’s pretty stylish actually) and a porcelain rabbit my mum gave me, that’s awesome.
3. Find a schedule on Pinterest
If you’re the kind of person that thrives on routine, there are a tonne of cleaning schedules on Pinterest. I personally don’t stick to them, since I don’t find them personalise-able enough – they never mention rabbit hair or fish tanks or the kinds of things I have to deal with. Also, I’m too lazy. I make up my own, which I also don’t stick to.
4. Find a baseline
One day, when the mood strikes, clean and tidy your house until it’s perfect. That way, you know what your end result will look like. I find this a great motivator since it tells me that my house CAN be clean, despite its current state. If you believe your house is unsalvageable, it might be worth saving up and getting the professionals in.
5. Get a second opinion
A friend, your mother, whatever. Before rushing off to Ikea to buy stuff that you think will immediately turn your house into an organisational haven, ask someone who doesn’t live with you to take a look at your house. Perhaps you could do theirs in return. A solution to a storage woe could be apparent to a fresh pair of eyes. This is particularly useful when it comes to arranging furniture and storage.
6. Form habits
This is self-explanatory, so let me give you an example of a habit I formed; disorganised, messy me. It’s an easy one. Every morning, whilst I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, I put the washing up away. Whilst I’m waiting for the coffee to cool (if you put almond milk in boiling coffee, it will curdle like a mofo), I wipe the kitchen surfaces. There. It’s something I barely even think about now.
If you can afford it, get a cleaner. Even just once a week. I cannot justify the expense, but trust me, I’m all in favour of hiring someone to help. My mum used to have a cleaner that actually didn’t clean: my mum would clean and Barbara would do the ironing since my mum hated it, and Barbara didn’t mind. I do my own cleaning and don’t bother ironing. I don’t even have an iron. A bold choice I know.
If you have kids, make cleaning a family activity – tell your kids cleaning’s fun and they’ll probably believe you. Tell them it’s a chore and they’ll be less inclined to help
I also pay £5 a month (ish) for the nice man to clean my windows. They look so shiny and clean it encourages me to make the inside of the house as pretty as the outside (although I don’t do the inside windows as often as I perhaps should).
8. Make your home somewhere you want to be
Spend time getting your home to be a cosy sanctuary, and you’ll be more inclined to want to keep it pretty. Get yourself some fairy lights and some pretty cushions and you’ll want to keep it pretty.
9. Get all your equipment together
Stop procrastinating by popping out to the shops every few minutes to pick up more rags or bleach or whatever else you need. Buy it, put it in a bucket you can carry around the house, and stop making excuses.
10. Enjoy it
A bit of a long shot, admittedly, but we can but try. Personally, I like to crank up, erm, the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire audiobook and get to work. Set aside a designated time, and get on with it. Make yourself a cup of coffee/glass of wine afterwards and pat yourself on the back. I do my cleaning mostly on a Monday morning (it’s my day off), go for a run afterwards and then spend the rest of the day doing what I want to do.
I hope at least one of those tips was useful. Please note, if you’re one of those naturally tidy people, I’m incredibly jealous of you. One of my best friends claims she hates cleaning (she used to own a successful business and had a cleaning lady, but no longer has that luxury) but her house is always spick and span – it’s almost effortless. She always washes up as she goes along and is always subconsciously tidying. A far cry from me, who at the age of 30, cannot be relied upon to not just drop her coat on the floor when she comes in.
Please leave any additional tips in the comments. Ta.