Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tidy Home Tips

The irrepressible Pooh.  
Yesterday as part of the kitchen project, which is still carrying on...  I organized all the drawers in the kitchen.  As I was going through and pitching the things without a purpose or that have been there, unused, for a while, I started thinking about some tidy home tips I've learned over the years that were and are very helpful to me. Most of which are total habit for me now, and I don't even realize I'm doing them.  Maybe they will help you!

A million years ago, when I was a stay at home mom, I belonged to a cleaning & organizing list.  I know, I know. It's just a little crazy, but when the kids were in school, I found myself getting a little bored.  Not being a shopper, and running out of sewing/knitting/crochet projects, I was a little bored.  Stick with me though...

Anyway, while participating in this list, another mom shared a tip from her Grandmother:  clean one drawer every day and your home will always be tidy.  I know it sounds impossible, but it really does work.  Substitute, shelf or table top for drawer and you begin to see what she meant. One drawer or shelf is not overwhelming and organizing it does not take forever.  What you end up doing to creating a place to put the things that come into your home on a regular basis and getting rid of things that are just sitting in a junk drawer.  I can't say I do one every day, because usually when I do a cabinet or closet now, I do the whole thing which average 3-5 shelves or drawers.

Advice from the Fly Lady (is she still out there?):  Keep your kitchen sink clean.  I swear this works.  I started doing it 12 or 13 years ago and every single time the kitchen sink fills up, the counter does, too.  To begin, clear everything out of the sink by washing and putting away or stacking in the dishwasher.  When it's empty, clean it like there's no tomorrow.  Mine is stainless steel and a little baking soda and vinegar bring out its luster.  Get it good and clean, including the faucet, sprayer and soap dispenser, if you have it.  Then dry it out/off.  Make it all as clean and shiny as possible.  Now that it's clean, keep it that way.  After each time you use it, scrub it down and dry it.  It will only take seconds after you've done the initial clean.  I swear this works.  Just focus on keeping the sink empty, clean and shiny.  What happens, I think, is a mental shift.  Because there is one sparkly clean spot, you really don't want to set down a mess next to it, so instead whatever is coming in finds a home.

Do one load of laundry every day.  This is my tip.  Piles of laundry, clean or dirty, create a sense of dishevelment that no amount of cleaning can offset.  But I do not enjoy doing laundry, so one load a day was my answer.  It keeps the laundry from piling up, yet doesn't tie me down.  One load a day enabled me to work in washing the curtains, rugs and all the regular stuff for my family of 4.  We occasionally did more than one, but we also occasionally skipped a day.  One load a day is easily accomplished around dinner, sports practice, bed times.  Since you are only doing one, you can fold it and put it away, which keeps the laundry area tidy, too.  Most laundry tasks take 5 minutes or less.  Gathering & Loading 5 minutes.  Switching to dryer, 1 minute.  Folding, 5 minutes (unless it whites 8 mins or towels 3 minutes).  Putting away, 3 minutes.  Hang everything you can.  This is my husbands tip and it's a total winner.  We hang everything we can straight from the dryer.  It eliminates most wrinkles, so very little ironing.

By the way, organizing the kitchen drawers, of which there are 7, took less than 10 minutes because most of the drawers I open, look at and close, as they are already organized.

These three once a day tips have gotten me pretty far.  They keep the house tidy enough for drop in visitors because they touch the three biggies:  Laundry, kitchen and clutter.  Mind you it doesn't mean the whole house is clean and I'm not trying to say these are the only things I do.  I'm not a born cleaner, if there is such a thing, but I live and function better in tidy.  When I was looking for a way to balance a need for clean and a vibrant, active family, I found these three things work for me.  I hope you find something that will work for you.

PS.  I actually do a 4th thing which I didn't realize until re-reading this post.  I give the bathroom a "whip 'round" nearly every day.  I use wash cloths in place of hand towels in my bathroom, because I like the size better.  Every morning after I put in my contacts, I use the wash cloth to wipe down the mirror, sink and faucet.  Then I use it to wipe down the toilet tank, seat, lid and rim, spraying with Apple Cider Vinegar as I go (have I mentioned my love affair with vinegar as a cleaning agent?).  Then I put that cloth in the laundry, wash my hands and set out a fresh wash cloth.  It literally takes less than 2 minutes and the bathroom is always pretty.  For the guest bath, where hand towels are use, I keep a stash of wash cloths so I can do the same thing when I happen to be in there, which really isn't every day.

PPS.  What sorts of things do you do?  I learn the most amazing things from other people, so please share!

PPPS.  The picture has nothing to do with the post.  I took some pictures of the drawers, but seriously they were not exciting.  So, I've included one of my favorite, makes me smile every time, classic Pooh moments.  AA Milne was a genius and the simple drawings from the original books are perfection.  ♥ Pooh

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