Sometimes you wonder if you skipped school the day they taught a particular lesson. One of those lessons for me is right and left. The fact that I'm directionally challenged is a clear sign to me that I had a cold the day they taught it. To figure out right from left, I have to imagine placing my right hand over my heart (for the Pledge of Allegiance). Then I can tell you which way to turn. It's embarrassing for sure, especially when I still get it wrong.
I also missed some crucial housework lessons. To be fair, I have heard these lessons, and people have attempted to teach them to me (thanks, Mom!), but it took a while for them to sink in. For a while, I thought I was a terrible housekeeper (and I probably was!). I couldn't seem to get ahead.
When you have a full-time job, either the house stays clean during the day because you aren't there or you don't care because you aren't there. Now I'm home all day (with a little guy running around) so I notice the mess and create more mess. Here are the lessons I should have followed earlier.
- Do the dishes after each meal. The kitchen always tripped me up. It seems more effective just to let the dishes pile up and do them all at once. In reality, it's much easier to do them as you go. That way, you don't have an overflowing sink (and thus spilling water) to work with once you finally start on them.
- Get a laundry basket. I'm not even talking about a cute one. My mom gave us a plastic laundry basket, and suddenly, our clean clothes could stay in the basket instead of on the floor. It also makes it easier to transport clothes to a convenient place for folding and hanging. And I use the laundry basket to gather miscellaneous items from each room and return them to their rightful place (it can hold a lot more stuff than my arms!).
- Do a little at a time. I can't even count the number of times I've heard this advice. It really does make all the difference. I used to save it all up for one big cleaning session. Now I try to put something up or tackle something every time I move from one room to another. This is especially important because of the next lesson.
- Clean begets clean; messy begets messy. We all know this to be true because of those dreaded surfaces that collect clutter... and more clutter...and more clutter (ours is the counter right beside the back door). But keeping things tidy generally means that more tidiness will result. If the bedroom looks neat, I'm much more likely to hang my dress up rather than tossing it on the bed. It's like messing with my own head! Gaining the momentum from putting one thing away also means I usually accomplish more than I intended to.
- Get rid of clutter. This is huge! I mentioned that I finally got rid of most of our books. Now we only keep what will fit on two bookshelves. I have also limited my clothing space to force myself to continually purge clothes I don't wear. The freedom is amazing. For more help with this one, check out my favorite blog on minimalism.
- A place for everything; everything in its place. You need a place for everything. If you don't have a space, you won't be albe to easily put it away. If you absolutely don't have space, get rid of it (see #4).
- Keep the floors clean. In my former life, I always saved the floors for last (and paid the price on the soles of my feet). But then I read somewhere that as go the floors, so goes the house. Now I try to mop or at least dust-mop at least once a week. It makes all the difference. Keeping clutter off the floors helps, as well, as The Nester talks about in her post.
- Let it go. The cleaner my house gets, the more I want to keep cleaning. There will always be more housework. I cleaned our den windows last week, and then my heart sank because I finally noticed how filthy all our windows are. I envisioned myself cleaning windows for the rest of my life! It is so important to be able to deem your efforts "good enough" and move on with life. I have been the mom with the baby crying on the floor while I try to finish mopping. Sometimes it's necessary; other times, it's just my perfectionism. Accepting limitations is a crucial lesson. And practicing hospitality anyway is also just as important.
While we're on this topic, head over to my new blog, Raising Kids These Days, and read what we learned about marital strife, housework, and kids. Then add your own thoughts!
Do you have any "duh" housework lessons to share?