Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Discipline of a Clean and Tidy Home

A few weeks ago my parents came up for a visit, and I scrambled to clean and declutter the house the day before their visit.  At one point I called DH in despair that I hadn't left myself time to get it into the shape I wanted it to be in.  I wanted the house to be clean and tidy, not to impress my guests so much as to make them as comfortable as possible.  Okay, so maybe to impress them a little too.

In this, I reenacted exactly what was modeled for me growing up, when every time we were going to have people over my mom went into a cleaning frenzy and said, "This house is a disaster area!"

DH reassured me that of course there was enough time, there really wasn't as much to do as it seemed and if I just took it a step of a time it would all work out.  And, he would help when he got home.

Of course he was right.  I did manage to get the house clean and tidy well before my family's arrival.  I even managed to make a delicious rib dinner for us to enjoy together on the night of their arrival.  The weekend visit went well.

After they left (and after I recovered from the 24-hour stomach flu I caught from C), I surveyed my clean and tidy house and had an epiphany.

I liked my house better this way!  My clean and tidy house was beautiful, calm and peaceful. 

If my parents or any guests deserved a clean and tidy place to visit for a few days, how much more did I and my family deserve a clean and tidy place to live every day?  I didn't have to repeat the patterns of last-minute cleaning handed down to me.  I could choose to learn new habits to maintain a clean and tidy home.

I wanted outside support and mentoring to help me really cement the skills, rhythm and routines of keeping  home clean and tidy.  I'd joined FlyLady in the past, but found it a little bit too rigid and overwhelming for me.  Yet, I valued the way she divides the house into zones and creates small tasks or missions for each day. 

So, I signed up for FlyLady's overlays on Cozi to get the daily missions.

An online friend told me that she found Habit Hacker helpful, so I signed up for her Nest email reminders.  Day One's task is to Polish Your Place -- chose one small place to always keep clean and free of clutter.  For my Polished Place, I chose the bar between the kitchen and living room.  It's our family's favorite spot to dump mail and other random things we bring in with us from errands and outings.  DH also puts his keys, wallet and watch on that bar every day when he comes home.  Solution: I put out a beautiful ceramic bowl and told him to corrall his stuff there each day, and found a new place to store mail and other paperwork.

I'm helping C learn good habits too, by letting her join in on the cleaning (toddlers love to imitate and do real work!).  I also have started answering some of her requests (say, for help getting out a new toy, or for a snack, or to watch a movie) with, "Yes, after we tidy up together."  Then we work together on cleaning up whatever small mess we've made since the last time we tidied up.  Today after we had put away some foam letter puzzles, C danced around the room shouting, "I love this wonderful day!  I love our beautiful room! I love tidying up!"

Me too!


  1. So were you part of the conversation where I mentioned Habit Hacker, or is that just coincidence? Tell me how you like it!

    I totally agree about liking your house better picked up... I always feel the same way. "Hmm, it's NICE when I'm able to sit on any section of the couch I'd like and not have to clear junk first!" (teehee)

  2. I think I did get it from you! Was it in the GCM thread about motivation?

  3. Thank you for the inspiration I really need it ;-)

  4. You're welcome. Writing this out is also motivating for me to keep going!

  5. Thanks for the great post. The article is simply amazing.


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