My house is a mess, what do I do? The first thing you do is to clean the kitchen. It will not stay clean. The kitchen is in constant use. So, let’s define clean. Wash all the dishes and put them away. Wipe down the counters. Take out the trash. Yes, there’s more to do, but now you can go in and use the kitchen without having to clean up a mess before you even start making lunches or cooking dinner. Get it to a point where it is “ready to go” when you want to use the kitchen. Clean your sink. Get a new sponge. Before you go to bed at night, get your kitchen ready for the next morning. Waking up to a clean kitchen will do a lot for your mood. Once you establish a clean kitchen, keep it clean. Once it is clean, it won’t take that long. Fifteen minutes (or less!) before you go to bed ought to take care of it. Wash as you go. You don’t have to use all the dishes before you wash them. You may be used to only washing when you don’t have any clean dishes left. Get used to only washing out your coffee cup and cereal bowl after breakfast. If the kitchen overwhelms you, set a timer and see how much you can get done in fifteen minutes. If you still can’t face the kitchen, choose another area of your home, and get it under control.
Once you get it under control, establish a system to keep it under control. Don’t get perfectionistic! Think in terms of “functional housekeeping”. What I mean by that is that the test of whether you are doing a good job is whether or not something functions. For example, with the kitchen the question is “Can I walk into my kitchen right now and cook something without cleaning up a mess first?”
Here are some examples of other functional housekeeping questions:
- Do we have clean clothes to wear?
- If someone called and said they were coming over in 20 minutes, could I get my house reasonably tidy in that amount of time?
- Do I have enough groceries in my house in case of a (short-term) blizzard?
- Can I get ready in a reasonable amount of time, or do I spend 20 minutes looking for my keys every morning?
- Can my ten year old clean his/her room in about 20 minutes, or is it so far gone that it would take a team of adults three full days to clean it?
- Could a guest use the bathroom without contracting a disease?
- Is there enough drawer space/closet space for my ten year old to put away his/her laundry?
- Can I park my car in the garage?
I think you get the idea. If pulling clothes out of a huge pile on the floor and sniffing them is your idea of getting dressed in the morning, you have some work to do. But you already knew that.