Guideline #4: Clean Your House Once, Then Never Again

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If you’re like I was, you get so busy with life (or tired) that you let the housework go until it builds up to an overwhelming mess.  You have aspirations of a sparkly, organized house that never quite come true, and the intense Martha-Stewart-like cleaning you strive for seems impossible.

Well, duh, it is.  You don’t live in a sanitized laboratory and, really, would you want to?

However, a neat house helps you have a neat soul and reduces stress.  So ya gotta find a balance between the anxiety-producing clutter and the anxiety-producing desire to be the second incarnation of Martha.

I’ve found that doing one super-duper scrub-down, followed by daily super-light maintenance, fits the bill.  My hubby and I spent a Saturday cleaning and scouring our house from top to bottom.  We got rid of the clutter, put everything in its place, dusted, cleaned the floors, and even cleaned out the basement!

From then on, it was easy-peasy.  I got into the habit of picking up after myself.  (My mother would be so proud–it only took 30 years.)  I abide by the “two minute guideline” for every room.  Whenever I’m in a room, I spend no more than two minutes straightening up and cleaning.  For example, in the morning I make the bed and toss the dirty clothes in the hamper.  After a shower, I may straighten the bath linens, clean the vanity mirror, or empty the wastebasket.  While I’m cooking a meal or prepping a snack, I put away the clean dishes, load the dishwasher, or wipe down the counters.  I take a few minutes after a workout to load the dryer or fold a stack of clean laundry.  Notice I said “or”–doing everything in a room would defeat the two minute guideline!

This keeps the house neat during the weekdays and leaves me time to focus on exercise or relaxation during those precious after-work hours.  On the weekends, I have more time to do chores, but I still don’t slave away for hours and hours at a time (like I used to) just to clean the house.  By spending a few minutes on spot cleaning Monday through Friday, I find that I really only need about five minutes per room on the weekend to do the things I didn’t get to during the week (usually just cleaning the floors, scrubbing the tub, or vacuuming hard-to-reach places).

It feels so nice and calming to walk into a neat room, and even better knowing I don’t have to carve out a four-hour block of time from my day to clean the whole house.

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