I don’t want to pretend to be any sort of domestic goddess here; my house gets messy just like everyone else’s. Hell, it probably gets messier because I always have a project going. But I have made some changes over the years that have helped me keep it a little cleaner than it used to be. Since it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions, I figured I’d share some of my old resolutions that seem to have stuck. You’ll probably notice that some of these resolutions are pathetically small; this is on purpose. I know myself and this girl is the kind of person who does better with a lot of small tasks than with a few big ones.
Resolution Number 1: Roomba, Roomba, Roomba!
This one is expensive, but it made a huge difference. If you’re the kind of person who kicks off your dirty socks and might not put them in the hamper right away, get yourself a Roomba. And then schedule it to run every day. If you have any clothes or papers on the floor, they’ll get tangled up in the Roomba and you’ll have to go untangle them from the brushes. It’s not hard to untangle them, but you learn quickly to pick up after yourself when the consequence is underwear stuck in a vacuum.
Resolution Number 2: Identify and Tackle Your Specific Problem Areas
I think a lot of us have one spot in the house where something accumulates. I tend to do paperwork in bed so my nightstand is that place for me. The main thing that accumulates is drinking glasses. If I was perfect, I’d put my glass in the dishwasher as soon as I was done with it. But I’m far from perfect. So I decided that I can’t allow myself a new drink if I haven’t put the old glass in the dishwasher. Such a simple resolution but it really made a difference in my life. Clearly you’ll need to adapt this to whatever your messy place is. I have a couple more messy sites that I could certainly work on. For instance, I tend to let my recycling pile up next to the side door. This year I’m going to try to take it out every morning before I go to work.
Resolution Number 3: Don’t Wash Clothes Unless You Have Time to Put Them Up
Do you feel like you always have laundry to put up? I was often so behind in putting up my laundry that I’d end up choosing clothes out of the clean laundry basket (or even directly out of the dryer). So here’s another one of last year’s resolutions: I don’t start a load of laundry unless I’m going to be around to put it away immediately. Now, obviously the clothes I take out to air dry can air dry overnight, but everything that goes in the dryer gets put away while it’s still warm. This way I’m never coming home tired after a long day to see a giant pile of clean clothes.
Resolution Number 4: Make Your Damn Bed, Christine!
Make your bed every day. This makes it onto a lot of lists because a made bed makes the whole room look cleaner, but that’s not the main reason I do it. As I said above, getting myself to put up my clean clothes is a bit of a task for me. I sort my laundry into categories on the bed and if the bed isn’t already made then this is another place where I might give myself a chance to procrastinate. You know, “oh, I should put up this laundry but oh, gosh. The bed isn’t made. I guess I’ll put up that laundry tomorrow.” Nevermind that making the bed takes less than a minute so it’s really not a valid excuse.
Resolution Number 5: Change Up Bedding So That Resolution Number 5 is Easier
Speaking of making the bed, why do we need so much bedding? I spent about a decade with way too many layers on my bed, and making the bed really was a lengthy process. Now I have the following on the bed: fitted sheet, flat sheet, and quilt. That’s it. I don’t need to fluff a duvet or dig around for an extra blanket that got kicked to the footboard overnight. I also HIGHLY recommend these bed bands. It’s so much easier to make the bed when the sheets aren’t slipping off the mattress every night.
Resolution Number 6: Set a Timer
I definitely have a tendency to be overwhelmed by a messy house. I’ll look at the mess and look at it some more, all without doing something about it. It’s probably important to clarify that I’m talking about that stack of laundry or maybe some craft supplies on the dining room table. Not a huge mess but still something that I’d procrastinate about. In 2012, I spent several months trying to help a friend clean up his house. I’d known him for years and had never known he was a hoarder. Knowing where to start at his place was quite the challenge and the first few times I went over there he just wanted to sit on the couch and talk (he hadn’t let anyone in his house in years so he needed to get comfortable with another person seeing the way he lived). After a week or so it became clear that he had become comfortable with my presence but still didn’t want to start cleaning. So I set a timer for one hour. I told him that the couch was lava for that hour and we couldn’t touch it (deep down I’m clearly five years old). I was amazed how much could get done in an hour! So I started setting a timer for an hour at my house. I realized pretty quickly that an hour was more than enough time to clean up my place, so now I don’t set it for that long. If I set it for just ten minutes a day, then there really isn’t anything that needs to be picked up on weekends. And then maybe I’ll set it for half an hour on Sunday to get the real cleaning cleaning done. You know, scrubbing the toilets and showers.
Now, am I going to tell you that I’ve been 100% consistent with all of these? Absolutely not. When I was working on a research proposal, my nightstand filled up with glasses. And when I was in the middle of canning this summer, there were definitely a few times that I started laundry and didn’t put it up until a few days had passed. But these guidelines certainly helped me get back on track after any setbacks.