How do you keep your house neat?

Discussion in 'The Front Parlor' started by sheeplady, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    How do you keep your house neat?

    How do you organize your time and tasks to keep a presentable home? How do you divide up cleaning and organizing chores around the other tasks you have during the day? What are the things you do everyday to keep your home neat? Do you clean certain rooms on certain days? What have you tried that works and what hasn't?

    Growing up I didn't have a good set of models for keeping a neat and clean house. My grandmother was an obsessive cleaner, which drove my mother in the opposite direction. While my grandmother was the type of person who would scrub down her walls once a week (extreme), my mother was the type who would misplace the vaccuum under piles of junk and not be able to find it for a couple months at a time (extreme). I know *how* to clean (as I did most of the cleaning growing up), but I never seem to have developed good strategies to keep the house neat on a day-to-day basis. When it was my husband and I, we didn't much mind cleaning for company or when things got dirty. Now that I have a daughter, however, I want to keep the house neat so she doesn't see the house being untidy as something to be embarrassed about or have it hinder her social life. She enjoys having an organized home and is getting to the age (she's 16 months now) where she can start helping to put things away and minor cleaning, but she's not there. I obviously want to be a better model for her.

    So far I've started loading the dishwasher immediately after every meal (I used to do it before bed), doing a load of dishes after dinner when it is full, and unloading it before bed (I wipe down the counters before bed too). I also pick up the livingroom after my daughter goes to sleep. I've started a small basket for odds and ends that I can put away later, rather than leaving items laying all over the house. I do one load of wash everyday, and put that away before bed (rather than 2-3 loads some days that leads to pile-ups).

    I'm not looking for a spotless house, just a house that someone could walk into any day of the week and not be too mortified of the dirt and the wreckage.

    What strategies do you use to stay organized and neat?
  2. CaramelSmoothie

    CaramelSmoothie Practically Family

    With my Hats
    I would like some tips too so I'll definitely be watching this thread. I find that cutting down on clutter helps to keep the house neat. For the past several months I have been decluttering my house. I have a lot of paper, newspapers, miscellaneous papers and magazines that I have collected so I went through them and cut out the important articles and thrown them in the recycling bin. Just yesterday I went through several small bins of papers and sundry items that I haven't thought of in several years and threw them out. I feel that once all the clutter and clothes and shoes I no longer wear are gone, keeping the house clean will be easier.
    Bixie Bliss likes this.
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I live alone, so I've got nobody to help me clean and nobody to blame but myself if things get out of hand. My strategy is basically to limit anything that can cause clutter to certain areas of the house. The living room doesn't get out of control because I don't take anything in there that can get out of control. The little room off the kitchen I use as an office is where the clutter concentrates, but it's not a part of the house that's open to the public so I don't worry about it. As long as I can find what I need to do the work I need to do, I can deal with stuff being piled up on my desks or on the shelves next to the desk. In fact, on the odd occasions where I do clear these areas off I end up angry, frustrated, and wasting time because I can't remember where I put them away. It's much easier to find bills, etc. when you know they're in that pile on the desk.

    Dishes are simple when you live alone. Wash the dish you eat off as soon as you finish eating off it, and you won't have to worry about it. I usually do the laundry Sunday morning, weather permitting, and as long as we don't get a long stretch of rainy days it doesn't tend to pile up. I can run a clothesline across my kitchen if I have to and dry that way, but I prefer not to, since I have a tendency to walk into it without thinking.

    I don't clean as often as I should, but I don't feel guilty about it either. I work sixty hours a week at the theatre, and another ten on my other jobs, and under the circs I don't get too bent out of shape if my floors don't sparkle. Besides, I don't see well enough to know whether it sparkles anyway.
  4. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    St. Louis, MO
    Old floors are hard to shine anyway. And as Quentin Crisp said about dust, "after seven years it hardly matters."

    I agree re: living room, though I tend to do most of my sewing in there so that I can watch my old movies, and when the so-called "sweat shop" is up, the place looks terrible. It actually reminds me of the Tenement House museum in New York, which recreated one of the original apartments -- a real sweat shop from the early 1900s.

    But I digress. I'm not naturally a neat freak, but I do like living in a tidy house, so I kid myself along by playing games. I should write a book about them some time -- they're a riot! Or so I tell myself. One game is called "Ten Bad Things in Ten Minutes." which is just a ten-minute long marathon in which I attempt to tidy away or clean ten objects. You need a kitchen timer for this one.

    There's another called "Commercial Chores," which means doing or at least starting one chore every time there's a commercial on TV.

    My favorite is "Pick Up and Drop": I have to pick up one object that doesn't belong in the room and bring it to its appointed place. Then I pick up an object in that room and repeat the process until I'm back where I started. This can be a lot of fun, believe it or not. I have to find ways to crack myself up, since most of my friends don't quite get my sense of humor.

    I have about a dozen more such games, but I don't want to bore you all (in case your senses of humor resemble my friends'.)
  5. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Actually, those games might work for me. I do something similar to your 10 things, but I don't set a timer. (I do do the ten things though. ;)) That actually might make me more motivated. I like your idea of "Pick up and drop." I am going to try that. Your commercial game wouldn't work for me though- I actually love watching the commercials to see how they're done and analyzing them. (Recovering media scholar.)

    If you have more games, I could use them. They might also be good for my daughter too. Right now I am teaching her to put away her books, which I am having moderate success with. I want to start teaching her to pick up the living room before her bed time, and games might be a way to do that.


    I am glad to see that I'm not the only person here who isn't automatically neat. :) It makes me feel a bit better.
  6. Veronica T

    Veronica T Familiar Face

    "Commercial Chores" sounds interesting. The television is set to Turner Classic Movies (movies without interruption) unless there is a football game on.

    There are a lot of commercials during football games. My house would really sparkle.

    I am very interested in hearing about your other cleaning games, too.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  7. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat My Mail is Forwarded Here

    To tell the truth, some days I find it a mind-blowing task. Fortune has it, I still live with my parents (but that fact itself does not improve the tidines on it's own). We live in a farm-like household. Wherever and whenevry you look around - there's job to be done.
    Mother takes care of the kitchen. Alas, her eyes are getting weak(er) due to her glaucoma, so some days it's hard for her to notice the bits and pieces that don't seem to fit. She can't see the dirt, and she dosn't tolerate my "mingling in her job"; meaning I have to be sneaky and work behind her back.
    The back yard is tidied by my dad. The vegetable garden ans well. Front yard is my mom's task. Flower garden is mine.
    I clean the rooms. Not much work there, since we were taught this little rule "Mess is when things don't have their place. And what hasn't got it's place will end up in the bin!" - that was grandma's way. One more than one occasion did the things truly got thrown away; that got us under control. :nod:
    Bathroom is divided: mom does the laudry. I scrub (because of her glaucoma, mom is highly allergic to next to everything as she got older). Any stronger scent, any detergent, and her eyes go blurry. With that said, I spend most of the time in the bathroom - not all of the time is spent in front of the mirror. :)

    Sure, there are places that need more care; those will always exist, I suppose. Dusting gets more frequent in the summer, window-cleaning in the autumn. We all pitch in (fine: not all of us - my brother is the family furniture - we move him from one place to another.. nothing wrong with him, he's just "Le Petit Prince" of the house; a bit older than me, but spoiled beyond return) :doh:
    ..we did got him to start cleaning his room... mighty progress..
  8. scarlett

    scarlett One of the Regulars

    Los Angeles
    I am a neat freak, compulsive cleaner, whatever you want to call it. I put everything away as soon as I'm done with it, clean dishes immediately after use and deep clean on a weekly basis. At least one load of laundry daily, sweep dust & vacuum. I could probably use a bit of advice on how to relax a bit so I could have more time to enjoy it all.
    St Louis, I like the ten bad things in ten minutes game. That may limit my time spent driving my husband nuts with the constant cleaning and commotion. Thank you, I'll give it a try.
  9. CaramelSmoothie

    CaramelSmoothie Practically Family

    With my Hats
    @St. Louis - I love your idea of games! I will incorporate that into my arsenal of cleaning techniques. I do something that is a little bit similar and I got the idea from the movie Mildred Pierce of all places. There is a scene where Mildred tells the employee that each person coming in and out of the kitchen should have something in their hands. I live in a 3 level home and running up and down stairs all day gets tiresome, so say I'm going downstairs to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat...I look around to see if anything needs to be taken down to that floor and I do the same on my way up. Now I don't do this every single time I go up and down the stairs but I have done it enough to make a difference in having less things out of place.
  10. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    So last night my daughter and I tried what I have named the "Pick Up Game."

    Based upon St. Louis's suggestion of setting a timer, I set a timer for 5 minutes. My daughter and I then had a game of who could put away the most things in that 5 minutes. I even sang a little song I invented that goes to the tune of "The Muffin Man":

    Can you win the pick up game, the pick up game, the pick up game? Can you win the pick up game today?
    We need to put everything away neat and clean, neat and clean, neat and clean today.
    Put all the blocks in your basket, the books on your shelf, your Dolly on her seat.
    Who will win the pick up game tonight?
    We only have five minutes, five minutes, five minutes. Who can put the most away in 5 minutes time?
    We like to have a neat house, a fun house, a tidy house. Who's going to win the pick up game today?

    Yeah, I know, not my most creative work. It might actually be a cross between the "Muffin Man" song and "What do you do with a Drunken Sailor?" Yeah, like I said...

    But the amazing thing is that my daughter (who won the game automatically) seemed to get the message *right away* and started to put things away. She was actually quite a big help and although I sang the entire time, I held her attention and had her helping me pick up for the entire 3 minutes it took to clean up her stuff. She's only 16 months, so that is pretty amazing to stay on a "not so fun" task for that long.
  11. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    St. Louis, MO
    That's hilarious! I have to confess that I always found the Muffin Man song deeply terrifying. I thought he was coming after me. I pictured him like a giant Boogey Man with a horrible undefinable shapeless object (I didn't know what muffins were until I was in my teens, believe it or not. because I grew up on army bases in Europe where they don't have things like muffins.)

    Stray Cat, I agree -- neatness really isn't possible if you have objects that don't live in specific places. This point actually has its own game. I call this one the "Basement Banishment."

    I am absolutely not a hoarder -- clutter makes me nervous -- but I do sometimes have a hard time getting rid of things to which I have a sentimental attachment. So I Banish them to the Basement. They go into various boxes marked "goodwill" or "clothing charity" or the like. We have a great charity here in ST. Louis that collects nice women's clothing, sells it at a good price, and then uses the proceeds to fund scholarships. Anyway, when I haven't worn something within one year, it must go into Basement Banishment. Once it's out of sight, I find that I don't miss it. I can leave it in the basement until October or November so that I can take advantage of tax write-offs. I find it much easier to get rid of things once they've been in my rather unpleasant basement for a while.

    On the other hand, if something's been in the basement and I find myself legitimately missing it or needing it, then it can come upstairs again. I think it's important not to let housework become punitive.

    Another game I like to play about twice a year: the Perilous Paper Pull. A ton of paper runs through my house and I'm not always very good about keeping up with it. When it gets out of hand I do the PPP. I get two paper bags together -- one for recycling, and one for trash. I also pull out my filing box -- this is just a wire box that contains files for health info, cards and letters, receipts, etc. Then I plop all that down on the living room floor, put on an old movie, and file, discard, or recycle everything.

    This is all totally straightforward stuff, and I'm sure everyone already does these things, but calling them by silly alliterative names and playing music or making it fun in some other way seems to help.

    Some other mild amusements: playing a golden era record or CD seems to be very helpful, because the songs tend to be a bit shorter (I think around 3 minutes.) If I switch off a task after every song I don't become bored.

    One last one -- I've taken an oath not to have ratty, holey, or stained dish cloths or undershirts around the house. For every one that I turn into a dustrag or a floor mopping cloth, I get to replace with a nice new one. Old cotton socks are ideal for dusting.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  12. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat My Mail is Forwarded Here

    She will be one tidy lady when she grows up. :thumb:

    Great idea!
    This will be tried out - surely it's far better than instantly throwing item away. :D
  13. BettyMaraschino

    BettyMaraschino Familiar Face

    London, UK
    Oh, St. Louis, your games are wonderful! That is the kind of thing that gets me motivated to clean. Can't wait to get a house just to get to play these! If you have any others please do share! :)

    Sadly at the moment we aren't living in one room, which serves as the bedroom/dining room/living room/storage/everything appart from the kitchen and bathroom. So there is a ton of clutter and whatnot. Im not a naturally tidy person (and neither is the Mr!) but this is really driving me potty, more so because we cannot do a thing about it until we get a house!
    Sheeplady, if I start singing that I am not responsible ;)
  14. KatPower

    KatPower New in Town

    Tidiness is definitely something I need to get a better handle on. Neither my mother nor my father were big cleaners and the house was always in some sort of disarray – save for when we had company come over, in which case the house would be spotless exactly until the time they left. Needless to say, I didn’t pick up very good habits.

    Like the OP, I want to have a house I wouldn’t be ashamed of when unexpected guests appear at the door. I currently live with two other young women in a townhouse and we all do our bit to keep the place in good shape. The living area is always clutter free and we all immediately clean up after ourselves in the kitchen once we’re done. The bathroom could use a little work, though, as could my bedroom. I have a lot of stuff.

    I’ve done a few things to keep up appearances. I designate days to do certain tasks, like laundry on the weekends, clean up and sort out my room once a week, sweeping mid-week, etc. I also do an inventory of my possessions every month or so and give away, consign, or what have you whatever it is that I deem clutter.
  15. vintageTink

    vintageTink One Too Many

    An Okie in SoCal
    I work full time plus have the boys (I include dh in that!) and I certainly didn't see housekeeping emulated growing up.
    I hate clutter but never have the energy to pick up after work; no matter what I do they just mess it right back up!
    Too much stuff, not enough room.
  16. MarieAnne

    MarieAnne Practically Family

    So many wonderful ideas here! I find being tidy and organized extremely important, especially for those who have difficulty throwing things out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding on to 'stuff.' However, if you are unable to locate 'that thing' when you need it (or are just feeling sentimental), it is all for naught.

    I use large Rubbermaid bins to store everything we rarely use/need but can't throw out. I place a strip of painters tape on the bin and describe its contents on that piece of tape (that way I can just tear it off and add a new piece of tape when the bin is re-purposed).

    For children's toys—My daughter had two large bins of toys. While throwing all the toys in the bins was easy, it was a never-ending chore. I realized that when my daughter needed a specific item, she didn't think twice about spilling the entire contents of the bins onto the floor. I saved some cookie tins from the holidays and used those (along with small cosmetic purses I had lying around and old lunch pails) to organize EVERYTHING. For example, one tin is all My Little Pony, and inside the tin is a small bag that holds all the smaller MLP accessories. I guess all of her toys live in specific places! Instead of spilling entire bins onto the floor, she is shuffling through tins and baggies. It really cuts down on the clutter.
  17. Gingerella72

    Gingerella72 A-List Customer

    Nebraska, USA
    It's hard to stay organized (and motivated) when working a full time job outside the the end of the day all I want to do is eat supper, and relax on the couch. But I've realized that if I want to have a home I'm not embarrassed about, I've GOT to put in the extra effort everyday, even if it's just 15 minutes of doing some small task. I usually leave everything for the weekends, and then spend 2-3 exhausting hours doing it all at once. But then that cuts into activities that I only have time for on the weekends, so I'm trying to get out of the all-or-nothing mentality and do a little bit every day so it doesn't pile up. I've tried the Flylady routines but haven't been successful in being consistent with them. I think the key is just being consistent and making it a habit to do a little each day. Easier said than done, though!
  18. WifeyRobinson

    WifeyRobinson New in Town

    I will say keeping tidy and getting motivated to do so...isn't easy!
    I have the kids....and the MIC (man in charge) and either make it easy!! Lol
    While I would like an everything in its place mind set..he is more...I set therefore it is mindset.
    With my Lyme going for more the five or ten minutes at a time is VERY difficult!!! Motivation usually hits when I just snap and lose my mind!!!! I just attack everything in sight line. The games soundalike a brilliant idea thought I may try that. I tend to have anall or nothing cleaning attitude tout...either the whole house gets clean or nothing gets clean! Well right now I have jam prepping so I have an hour...I'm motivated to clean now ladies I'm off!!!
  19. tuppence

    tuppence Practically Family

    Hellbourne Australia
    I was given a copy of this book years ago
    It was a really big turning point in my OCD tendencies when it came to cleaning.
    I find music very motivational in cleaning, there's nothing like some cheery 1930s music to get me out of a chair. One song per room for the daily tidy up and then I have a big clean once a fortnight.
  20. RebeccaMUA

    RebeccaMUA One of the Regulars

    Santa Monica, CA
    I too am not the most eager housekeeper. It's not a matter of not knowing...It's more of a lack of motivation at times. I do find that making a schedule, like our grandmother's did, really helps me to stay on track. My husband and I own a couple of businesses and I do administrative work for them on Monday's and Thursday's so the other days of the week I have my schedule: Tuesday's: ironing, folding, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping / Wednesday's: I visit my parents and do my laundry there at the same time lol /Friday's: if I have any leftover laundry I do that. I also do a deep clean of the bathroom and kitchen if necessary. Daily, I do as needed: dishes, take out recycling, making the bed and picking up anything that is out of place.

    The one thing that in 2016 I would love to get better at is cooking! Luckily, my husband is very understanding about the amount of work it takes to keep a home (Even one as modest as ours) and he is very good about not really expecting a home cooked meal more than once a week. The days that I work at the office we either go out to eat or bring in, and the other days it is the same. I do know that he would love more home cooked meals, so I want to become a better cook and more consistent...but I know that will take time.

    I did purchase a few kindle books on housekeeping and a vintage home economics book from the 40's so that has helped me immensely.

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