Imagine this – it’s 6am and you’re up for a Zoom meeting for work. Your head is achey from watching the fifth episode in a row of Schitt’s Creek when you should’ve been asleep. You’re trying to set up the coffee pot but bang into the pan with spaghetti sauce still caked on from last night’s dinner. SHHH! Don’t wake up the kids! The kitchen table is sticky from the kids’ ice cream bowls. You peek into the living room to find LEGOS strewn about, clothes on the floor, books and newspapers everywhere. We’ve all been there but starting your day like this is no bueno.
Now Picture this. You wake up to a clean kitchen with an empty sink, a cleared off breakfast table and a tidy living room. Everything in its proper place. Ahh.
My solution is so simple. Take ten minutes to straighten up each night before bed. Everyone has ten minutes. Set a timer! This ritual has become vital to my happiness in the morning. And during these Covid times, we need all the clarity we can get.
Now, no matter how tired I am, I always take the time to put the dishes in the dishwasher, wipe down and clear off all surfaces we will use in the morning, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket and do a general sweep. I don’t necessarily put every thing away perfectly but at least put the items in the room they belong.
This simple habit has become as automatic as brushing my teeth. Not perfect but tidy. You can focus on the day at hand without playing catch up. We have enough filling our brains without adding excess clutter to it.
Step Zero: Reduce the number of things you have in every category from underwear to dishes. It will be less painful to put everything back in its proper place if you have less. I prefer the KonMari method. Marie Kondo knows what’s up. I’ve had trouble keeping my kids’ room under control as you can read about here but every other category I’ve only had to do once.
Step One: Put everything back where it belongs. If you can’t fold and put all your clothes away at the end of the day, at least put them in the correct room in a tidy pile.
Step Two: Do the dishes after dinner. If you can’t face completely cleaning the kitchen, rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher and soak the pans overnight. If you don’t have a dishwasher, God help you. No, just kidding. My advice in that case is to reduce the number of dishes you allow yourself or your children to use. Make a rule they must reuse the same glass, bowl or plate for every meal – unless they can wash it, dry it and put it away themselves.
Step Three: Completely clear off your breakfast table and wipe down the surfaces you use in the morning. The mental calm that comes from this simple action is huge. After Alan and I got married we visited family friends in Italy. We stayed with them in their exquisite apartment in Milan. Before turning in for the night they would wipe down the kitchen table and lay out the coffee cups with the spoons and sugar and coffee next to it. It was so lovely to wake up to that simple set up.
Extra credit: When you get out of bed in the morning, take the 30 seconds it takes to make the bed. If it takes much longer than that, your bed set up is too complicated. Go for a sheet and comforter combo that you can pull up quickly. Fluff up the pillows and be done.
I know these sound obvious. But these small steps add up to a whole lotta peace of mind. In my house, we’re all home, so by the end of the day the kitchen’s a wreck. All the games and LEGOS are all over the place. PJs and bathing suits get thrown on the floor. It’s chaos. But I always reset the house before bed. I make the kids put away their toys or at least put them back in their room. It’s the only way I keep my sanity living in 700 square feet with three other humans and two beasts. I’d love to hear your comments! What are your tricks for keeping a tidy house during Covid?