One of the things that baffled me the most when I moved in with Chief was how quickly our place ended up in shambles. I felt like I was cleaning it fairly regularly, but there was always something to do! The laundry, the dishes, the bathroom, the floors, the clutter – it was constant, and is still something that I battle with. But I am realizing that there are definitely things that I was doing that promoted the constant disaster, and I feel like they are pretty common mistakes so I am going to lay them out for you and tell you how I am working on combatting them.
I didn’t have a routine.
This was the biggest one – there was no semblance for when I did what around the house, so the house was always in flux in a weird order. When I started making a pattern and a routine things went more smoothly. For example, Chief showed up when we moved with three boxes of dirty laundry – so from the get go I was struggling to get out from under it all. Especially because I use a drying rack instead of a dryer (it is better for the clothes because they do not wear out so easily, and it is obviously better for the environment as the dryer is the single most wasteful appliance in the house). Once I established a routine, however, the laundry pile went away much quicker. I did laundry every Tuesday and Thursday because I have the mornings off and on Sunday’s when I was off from work I would strip the beds and change the towels. That way there was always clean clothes and sheets.
Similarly, I used Thursday as my “deep clean” day because I had the day off. I would vacuum, sweep, do all the dishes, and clean the bathroom.
The thing is, I couldn’t allocate Thursday as my only day to do those things because I had other things I needed to do on Thursdays: doctor appointments, grocery shopping, homework, etc. So I needed to find another pattern. So I broke it down even further so that I would do one smaller task each day so that the house was never entirely in shambles. I would vacuum again on Mondays, spot clean the kitchen floor Tuesdays, organize clutter on Wednesdays, deep clean on Thursdays, and use Friday through Sunday to do specialty projects like painting or mass organization.
The clutter didn’t have a real home.
Every house has a “crap drawer” where everything that doesn’t have a home lives. We had several crap drawers filled with miscellaneous do-dads and trinkets. Some of them we would use, some just took up space, and none of it was organized at all. Even real things such a toilet paper didn’t have an official home, so I had to set about to organize things. In the bathroom I picked up a myriad of baskets at a yard sale and painted them all to match the bathroom and divided the stuff up: hair stuff, body odor stuff for him and for me, teeth stuff, medicine, soaps, shampoos, etc. Then everything had a home instead of just being tossed under the sink. It helped keep the bathroom counter cleaner too because then we both knew where to put things away.
I made official homes for everything in the kitchen. I organized it so all the plates were in one cupboard, all bowls in another, on and on. It made everything make a lot more sense. Just having a home for everything makes it easier to put things away.
The furniture didn’t match.
This sounds silly – how can it matter that my furniture didn’t match? It is my first apartment – I picked up some stuff at yard sales, was given some stuff, and bought others – of course it doesn’t match. But the clashing colors and shades of wood made a huge difference. So I invested fifty dollars in black spray paint and spray painted all the living room furniture black (a nice neutral color). The change was instant! Everything looked much nicer! Everything looked like it matched and was intended to be there which made the furniture itself look less like clutter.
I had a lot of the same thing.
When I really cleaned my living room I found that I had five candles in the living room. Not the decorative tapers, but scented candles. I bought them on sale and immediately wanted to smell all of them. But it was silly because I was never really burning five candles at once, I would burn one or two and the others would sit around taking up space. The same with pillows and blanket on my coach and bed – there were too many of them, so then when you wanted to use one the rest ended up on the floor where you had to constantly step over or even on them! Then at that point they’re dirty and end up in my laundry pile! I bought space saver bags and put the ones I didn’t want to use at this time in the closet, then when I want yellow pillows, I can just go into the closet and swap them out!
I got overwhelmed
It is so easy to become overwhelmed and let the “little things” slide. We tell ourselves that a little dust is okay, a few crumbs on the carpet don’t matter, one dish in the sink is okay, but then things build to the point where we are too overwhelmed to truly tackle it. Don’t let your home get to that point, and if you do, blitz it, call over friends, get it clean and give yourself a hard deadline. I always invite over family or friends at around 5 or 6 on a day when I have a lot to do, otherwise I will get distracted by my phone or a book, or making cookies, and let the cleaning (or some of it) be put off until “later” which turns into “tomorrow” which turns into “my next day off” and then “my next day off when I have nothing else to do”. The deadline and the time crunch give me the necessary pressure to get things done when I want them done.