Saturday we were able to get out to a local Farmer’s Market. There’s something so nice about walking around and paying twice what you would in a grocery store for food that tastes four times as good. The market is nearly within walking distance but I was recuperating from a weird inner-ear-vertigo thing so we took transit. Keepin’ it green, people!
The reason we could get out and spend a couple of hours doing something that normally we spend 15 minutes on is because our place is so easy to keep tidy. I’ve said before that we can get the whole place looking visitor-tidy in 15 minutes. For our regular Saturday morning clean-up, we take an hour to get the place vacuumed, washed, tidied, plus sheets changed and washed and bathroom deep-cleaned. So we were able to take the time to get to a market that closes at 2 pm and wander around for a while and really enjoy the experience.
I used to be quite untidy (more on that later) but when DH and I first began co-habitating, I knew I would have to change. It’s difficult for a naturally untidy person to become more organized and tidy — but it’s impossible for someone who is obsessively tidy to loosen up. I’ve tried it — DH just cannot be untidy. Of course he’s never lived with small children while holding down a full-time job — I find that can have quite the effect on the formerly obsessive.
We also keep things tidy by avoiding the 7 ways of making house cleaning harder than it has to be. Thanks to Apartment Therapy for alerting me to things the naturally neat already know — it’s a good refresher for we less-organized folk.
We clean as we go. When I come home from work, I hang my coat in the closet, put away my keys et al in the handy stair-case drawer, and take off my shoes (another tip) and put them away. That way the entry level doesn’t have to be tidied — it stays that way. Dishes are rinsed and put into the dishwasher as soon as we’re finished eating — pots and pans as soon as we’re finished with them. The stove is wiped as soon as it is cool from cooking, the shower is wiped down while it is damp.
We use our spaces for the activities they were designed for. Yes, my office is my laptop, but once work is done it’s put away in a handy cupboard. You won’t find a dirty plate in our bedroom or in the office area. We eat at our counter upstairs.
We keep dirt out. We take off our shoes when we come into the house. We make sure we don’t drag dirty stuff through the house — and we have indoor cats (not dogs). We didn’t get them because they are tidier, but they are.
We use the proper tools we need for the job. Can you imagine? I used to own a scrub brush. I have no idea what I used it for, but it was stored with the other cleaning supplies. No room for that anymore! We have a broom we use most of the time, and a built-in vacuum for once-a-week cleaning. A damp mop takes care of the floor and a swish with a swiffer dusts all the shelves.
We’re efficient — we clean from the top down, one room at a time. Plus we have a regularly scheduled time to clean. And we keep it fun by listening to our music podcasts while we clean.
We never thought about how we keep up with the cleaning — DH just designed the system organically and I follow the leader. But I have come up with a number 8 for the list.
Don’t bring stuff into the house. I get our bills by email, and they are filed as pdfs on our computer. I do the same with bank statements. We get one magazine a month. One newspaper a day (then it’s right into the recycling bin). We both have hobbies we enjoy but guess what — we work on one project at a time, and never have to store any half-finished knit sweaters while I just whip up that scarf. I pick up the mail and bring it back to the house on a trajectory that takes me right by the recycling bin, so that junk mail gets tossed before it enters the door.
But what’s that you say? I am living in a house that was custom-designed to my needs? I don’t have small children? I live with a neatnik? What can I know of keeping a “real life” house clean?
I feel your stabby pointing fingers. And the answer is “lots”. I was once one of you. A single mother of two with a full-time job. And although I eventually relaxed my standards (to slightly above “slovenly”) I did for a time keep everything nice and tidy. And I will tell you how.