A friend is coming over in 10 minutes. The toy box has exploded in the living room. Children’s socks are littered throughout the rooms. The dishes haven’t been done. And I don’t even know about the bathroom. Hello, we’re potty training! Does this sound familiar?
Then the moment would happen. I would go into an anxiety induced frenzy of cleaning up and beating myself up. As my embarrassment grew, my confidence as a housekeeper plummeted.
Many years later, I have learned how to avoid the embarrassment of a messy home when unexpected guests come calling. I’m not talking about the time when my children were little and the toy box would blow up in the living room. That’s normal. I can look past that now as a mother. It’s not the messiness of happy littles that deflated me. It’s the areas that I could control that bothered me the most. Those areas are the Bedroom, Kitchen and Bathroom.
If the kitchen and bathroom are clean, then the house feels clean. Think about it. They are the rooms in the house that are most used and collect the most germs. If I can keep those clean and tidy, then I have a good sense that the house is clean. Anxiety disappears.
Below are five areas to focus on cleaning every day that take minimal time in the rooms I can control.
#1. MAKE THE BED
As a mother, the bedroom is my space. My sanctuary. Where I spend “me time”. It needs to be chaos free. When the science experiment is spread across the counters in the kitchen and the noise of the house amps up, I know the bedroom is my peaceful place to go to catch a breath. So how do I make this my peaceful hiding place? I make the bed every morning.
A made bed magically makes your room look tidy. As soon as I rise from bed, I make it. It takes a minute. That’s all! The bed is the focal point of the room and can overpower the smallest of piles in the room. It is an instant confidence builder when I accomplish this task first thing in the day.
Simplify your bedding if it takes too long and becomes too much effort.
My bed contains top sheet, blanket, four head pillows, one body pillow, and a bolster, comforter, and accent blanket. When I am done, I stand back and enjoy just how tidy it looks. That feeling of accomplishment and its loveliness is my motivation to do it again tomorrow. In addition, as a married couple, the last person out of bed makes it. It’s that simple.
Once the children were old enough to make their beds, I simplified the process to make it possible so they feel a sense of achievement. I stripped their beds down to include only the mattress pad, fitted sheet, comforter, and extra fleece blanket. Next, I helped them until it became habit and they see the benefit of a made bed makes the room look tidy. Finally, lower your expectations. Don’t expect perfection. That will only make them hate the task. What matters is the effort and attitude not the finished product.
#2. WIPE DOWN THE BATHROOM
As a family of five, keeping the bathroom “guest ready” was a struggle. I found there are really three areas that need to be clean regardless of the bath toys and socks on the floor. The areas are mirror, sink, and toilet.
Wipe down the mirror and sink.
While I am getting ready in the morning, I wipe down the bathroom mirror and sink. I do this in the morning because if I wait until the end of the day, I’m too tired or distracted (hello, bedtime routine for three children).
I spray and wipe the bathroom mirror with my favorite microfiber cloth (GET IT HERE). Then I clear everything off the sink and spray and wipe it down, making sure to get around the faucet and drain. Again, it takes about a minute to do.
I love using these microfiber cloths. They pickup everything and they are so soft…it just feels luxurious. I like them so much, I bought two packs.
How to make this simpler? Do you have too many things in the counter? I only keep soap, toothbrush holder, and a pretty decorative jar of cotton balls on my sink counter. Everything else is behind doors in plastic boxes.
Wipe down the toilet.
I use the what to clean first, I always clean the cleanest object first and save the dirtiest for last, being the toilet. As for the toilet, I simply spray it with cleaner and wipe it down with the same microfiber cloth I used on the mirror and sink. If the bowl needs cleaning , do so or save that task for Bathroom Cleaning Day during the week.
#3. KEEP A CLEAN KITCHEN SINK
Introduce a dirty dish tub.
Sink space is valuable. One time I needed to rinse pasta in the sink and I couldn’t! My sink is full of dirty dishes. That was it! I needed a practical solution. I bought a plastic tub (GET IT HERE) to place beside the sink for dirty dishes. All used dishes must go in the tub. This way, I can move the tub out of the way when needed for extra workspace.
At the end of the day, I place the empty tub in the empty sink. All of the sudden, my countertop is tidy.
Wash often and frequently.
We wash the dishes throughout the day. We do not have a dishwashing machine, so we hand wash everything. I say “we” because all five of us rotate the dishwashing task. One person washes while another dries and puts away. My preference is that dishes are washed after lunch and supper. This cuts the daily load in half and doesn’t cause the dirty dishes tub to overflow and the drying rack to turn into a mountain of tottering dishes.
Although I have the luxury (and it feels like a luxury) to have extra help in the kitchen, this system is achievable with only one person. I have three tips for this:
- I don’t begin to cook until the sink is empty. Too much chaos and lack of space in the kitchen makes for an unpleasant cooking environment.
- I wash as I cook. I do as much washing before we eat as possible. After the meal, all that is left are plates, silverware, and cooking pots and pans.
- Make the environment enjoyable. I turn on my favorite music. I use sweet smelling dish soap. If it is fun, I doesn’t seem like a chore.
A shiny sink is a happy sink.
At the end of the day, I wipe down my sink with my favorite microfiber cloth and baking soda. I’m really loving my baking soda mixture with drops of my favorite essential oil to scrub it down. I find if it is a pleasant experience, I’m more likely to keep doing it. Plus, a shiny clean sink is a wonderful reward.
Sink Scrub Recipe
- A Mason Jar or jar of your choice
- 1 cup of baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil
- A secure lid. I found these shaker lids on Amazon (GET THEM HERE)
Simply add the baking soda and essential oil to the mason jar. Secure the lid and shake it until the oil is distributed. Now, you can put on the shaker lid.
Currently, my sink scrub is using Balsam Fir essential oil. But my favorite mixture is sweet orange and rosemary. What is your favorite? I’m new to essential oils and would like more mixture ideas.
#4. CLEAN KITCHEN TABLE
Our table is a workhorse. We use it for homeschool lessons, crafts, games, puzzles, and work space. We use it ALL.THE.TIME. But, it has to be cleared completely before meals and bedtime.
I wipe the table down after meals with, you guessed it, a microfiber cloth and water. This task, like some of the above, takes less than a minute. At the end of the day I have a sparkling kitchen sink and a clean table. My reward is making breakfast in a clean kitchen and a warm cup of coffee at a clean table. Oh, the serenity before a busy day.
#5. SWEEP THE FLOORS
After supper we sweep the floors with a microfiber dry mop (GET IT HERE). This includes the kitchen, dining room, back porch (which is our utility room, mud room, and laundry room), bathrooms, living room, and entryways. Basically, any space that everyone visits often is swept daily. No exceptions.
Why? Because if I don’t, I am inviting ants into my house. Plus, dirt and grime will get ground into the floor and become a bigger job later when I mop.
For carpeted rooms, I use the ratio of number of people to times a week. If one person uses the room, then it is swept once a week. If two people, then twice. Add another day if you have an indoor cat and dog, as they count as a person. However, if dirt or crumbs are visible on the carpet, I vacuum it at the end of the day.
It’s a team effort.
It takes many to make the mess and it takes many to clean the mess. I included my children in the tidy up process as soon as they were old enough. Simple tasks like setting the pillows on the couch and putting your socks in the dirty clothes basket, was easy when I made it fun.
I know these seems like extra tasks that you don’t have time for in the day. For me, these seem small enough to manage and gives me peace that we are guest ready at any time of the day.
Anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.