Ah, the perpetually tidy home – highly sought after, rarely attained. While having a tidy home is not everyone’s top priority, I have yet to meet an individual who adamantly prefers to live in chaos.
Admittedly, I have often sat on the tidier end of the spectrum. Yes, there is photographic evidence to suggest that as a child, some of my favourite toys were of the “homekeeping” variety, most notably, my Black and Decker Junior Dustbuster. I would often take it with me on family trips, play dates and on one occasion, to school for show and tell (I wasn’t the most popular child).
This enjoyment of all things “homekeeping” has followed me into adulthood. When my husband and I moved into our first apartment together, I celebrated the occasion by picking up a copy of Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook. For a recent birthday, I excitedly received a new vacuum cleaner and garment steamer from my husband. When Marie Kondo released her now famous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I purchsed a hard copy for my bedside table and an electronic copy for on the go (what if someone asks me for tidying advice on the street?) For better (or worse), some are just born with the tidy gene.
However, tidy gene or not, life can be a tornado of deadlines, dance lessons, dinner, dishes and diapers. The pace of daily life does not often allow the time necessary to maintain a perfect home. The pursuit of perfection may leave you feeling inadequate, so I suggest that you instead, pursue tidy. Wherever you sit on the tidy spectrum, there are simple habits you can adopt that will significantly impact the look of your home. The best part, many of them only take a few minutes a day. They key is consistency.
In the first of what I expect will be a reoccurring series on this blog, I present to you, four simple ways to pursue tidy:
Make the Bed
“Why make the bed now, when I am just going to unmake it later?” Chances are you have either heard this phrase or uttered it yourself at some point over the course of your life. While it may seem too small to matter, starting your day by making the bed gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment. It is a quick win! You feel organized, empowered and ready to take on the day.
The practice of tidying your bed linens each morning is what Charles Duhigg refers to as a “keystone habit”, meaning that it can trigger a domino effect, spawning other positive practices throughout your day. In his book, The Power of Habit, Duhigg notes that, “making your bed every morning is correlated with increased productivity and a greater sense of well-being.” It’s not that a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending, but somehow, those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.
Ultimately, the theory is, that once you adopt the habit of making your bed, you will crave a little more organization and overall tidiness in the rest of your home and in life. I don’t know about you, but that is certainly a risk worth taking!
There is a fine art to bed making (cue my husbands laughter). If you are interested in upping your game in this area, here are a few resources from one of my favourite homekeeping gurus, Martha Stewart:
Clear and Clean the Bathroom Counters and Sink
Does the thought of cleaning your bathroom send chills up your spine? Like many, this is one of my least favourite tasks because the bathroom is home to grime, hair, sneaky bacteria and fungus. This coupled with regular daily traffic; bathrooms can get out of hand quickly.
However, there is one thing you can do everyday that will up the tidy value of this room. Once you are finished your daily preparation (shower, hair, makeup etc.), take a few minutes to put away your beauty products and toothbrush and wipe down the sink and countertop. Whether you decide to bust out that trusty Lysol wipe or use your favourite natural solution with a microfiber cloth, the choice is yours. My current favourite is “The Ladies” Bathroom Cleaner by Murchison-Hume. I recently came across this brand and am obsessed with the natural cleaning power, the gorgeous australian white grapefruit scent and the countertop-worthy packaging!
While this is not meant to replace your regular bathroom deep clean, these few minutes will help to keep your bathroom looking its tidiest.
Clean the Dishes, Counters and Sink
The household kitchen was originally designed for preparing meals; however, over the past few decades, this room has morphed into the epicenter of the home. Kitchens now have a multitude of uses – a place for gathering with family and friends, a makeshift home office, an entertainment center and a children’s art museum to name a few.
Essentially, the kitchen is the heart of the home, which also makes it the room that sees the most traffic and left unattended, the room that can easily become a nightmare. Picture this, you wake up from a restful night sleep (like a Tylenol PM kind of sleep), put on your luxurious robe and head to the kitchen to make that first cup of coffee. As you stroll into the kitchen, that smile is smacked right off your face by the load of dirty dishes sitting in the sink, last evening’s spaghetti sauce, now dried like crazy glue to your countertop and with the amount of crumbs your slippers have just picked up, you could make a loaf of bread. Quel Nightmare!
To awake in better spirits, try spending a few minutes each evening tidying your kitchen. If available, enlist the help of a family member or friend to finish this task more quickly. Following dinner, load your dishes and utensils in the dishwasher and clean all hand washable items in the sink. Next, tackle the countertops and sink with your preferred surface cleaners. For my granite countertops, I use Method’s Daily Granite and for my sink, I use a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. While regular white vinegar will do, I don’t always care for the odour. So, often I will mix a little of The Laundress’ Scented Vinegar in with my water instead.
Trust me, the few minutes spent refreshing your kitchen each evening will ensure a brighter morning.
The Nightly Tidy
To all my readers living in clean and tidy homes, I salute you. For all those who do not, this one is for you. If you adopt only one new habit in your pursuit of tidy, this should be it!
All you need is a basket and 15 minutes. Set a timer, pick up that basket and make your way around the home, picking up what doesn’t belong. The dog toy in the middle of the living room, throw it in the basket. The mail on the dining room table, throw it in the basket. While you’re at it, pull the television remotes out of the couch and put them in their proper home. Straighten those throw pillows and fold that blanket. If you still have a few minutes, put your shoes in the closet and hang up your jacket. Mark my words, you will be shocked to find how much you can accomplish in 15 uninterrupted minutes.
Need a little motivation? Go out and find a beautiful basket that you can use for your nightly tidy. The great thing about a nice basket is you can leave it out all the time. If one evening, you only have five minutes to tidy, you can leave the basket with those items out and not worry if company comes over unexpectedly. The items are corralled and ready to be put away the next night. Just remember, the items have to eventually be put away! Otherwise, your tidying basket will become an untidy mess. A few baskets below for inspiration:
Wherever you are in your pursuit of tidy, embrace it. If you are the tidiest of tidy, then put your feet up and enjoy your handiwork. If you aren’t quite there yet, don’t fret! A few minutes a day and you’re on your way!