I came across an article the other day called “Dirty Little Secrets of Tidy Families”, a cute set of observations from a non-tidy person about habits that seemed common to tidy people.
When I dissolved in tears of laughter at point #2 -“They surf the internet less” – I knew it was my sworn duty as a tidy-person (with borderline-internet addiction) to set the record straight.
Here are my top 10 tidy-person tips. I promise you that not one of them is “have less stuff”, and you can still indulge your online addiction. We might be neat freaks but we’re not freaking Amish.
Pimp your house with pretty things.
The day I decided to pimp my house was the day I finally had an incentive to keep it tidy. It wasn’t always that way. I’ve lived in houses full of mismatching furniture and ugly blue sofas that – frankly – looked better when they were covered with piles of unfolded laundry. Once I filled my house with cool and beautiful things I wanted to keep it clean so I could admire all of it. My tidy house is a form of self-congratulatory pretension. I’m owning that.
Everything has its place. Put it there.
We live by a few simple rules here. Shoes don’t get dumped wherever, laundry doesn’t get piled on the dining table and random crap is not allowed to accumulate on the breakfast bar because it sends out clutter-spores at a terrifying rate. We have places for things, and that’s where they go. Preferably “immediately”, but “eventually” is cool too.
If a particular item doesn’t have anywhere to live I do one of two things:
1) I find somewhere for it to live
2) I find somewhere ELSE for it to live. (It’s brutal, but effective).
Hidden storage conceals a multitude of sins.
I used to live in a tiny 3 x 1 house with two kids, no garage and zero storage. We had to store so much stuff in the roof that I often went to bed wondering if our Christmas tree was going to come crashing through the ceiling. I’m exaggerating of course, but the principle is the same: hidden storage is the best. There is nothing more satisfying to me than neatly-stacked wardrobes. Or messy ones. Whatever. I can’t see it, so I don’t give a crap. You don’t want to see my linen cupboard.
No hidden storage? If it’s visible make it pretty.
I have a rule that I like to call “Pretty or Practical”, which means that the things in my house need to be aesthetically-pleasing or useful in some way. The application of this principle goes something like this: If items are useless they need to be pretty. If items are practical they ALSO need to be pretty. I have no time for ugly things. So if I’m going to have visible storage it needs to look good – think baskets, trinket boxes or colour-coordinated options.
Neutralise known dumping grounds.
Our kitchen is a notorious dumping ground for unsightly crap. Keys, wallets, sunglasses, junk mail and an assortment of used phillips-head screws that my husband is holding onto because I don’t know. Out of frustration I came up with the ingenious solution of using a bread box as an all-purpose dumping ground. He still mocks me to this day (Where’s the BREAD? Hur, hur, hur…) but it works. The clutter is invisible, contained and stylishly-integrated with my kitchen decor.
Make morning and evening “quickies” a habit.
Quickies are a fantastic way to start and end the day. A twenty minute whip-around in the bedroom (and beyond) will work wonders. I can generally take my house from “Oh no!” to “showroom” in less than half an hour, as long as I make a habit of it. I have no stamina for longer sessions anyway. I’m not that turned-on by cleaning that I want to spend several hours doing it every day. That would cut into large swathes of my precious internet-surfing time.
Clear surfaces are your friend.
This one is my favourite, because it’s a TOTAL CON. I make people swoon at the state of my totally unclean house by keeping surfaces clear of clutter. I literally TRICK people into thinking my house is clean. I’ve cultivated lots of little habits like removing shampoo bottles from the shower, storing toothbrushes in the vanity and making sure the dining table is clear. People think I’m some sort of cleaning genius, but they could actually write their name in the dust on the hall table. It’s magic.
Hi ho, hi ho, we tidy as we go.
If I can’t take a step without impaling myself on a piece of Star Wars Lego (SHITTHATSTUFFHURTS!!!) then I know it’s time for a tidy-up.
Use the kids. If they can walk, they can work.
I know it depends on the kid. I ask my 5 year-old to put his shoes away and it can take him 40 minutes, because he gets side-tracked making Lego, eating cherry tomatoes and chasing butterflies around the backyard en-route to another completely irrelevant task. Conversely, I can issue my 3 year-old a list of six separate instructions and he will conscientiously do all of them in order before putting his older brother’s shoes away and making me a pretend cup of tea.
Banish toys from
I love my kids but I don’t want their toys in every damn room of the house. Don’t get me wrong, they can make a mess and play wherever they want but toys ultimately live in the bedroom and everything gets packed away at the end of the day. I want to settle in and enjoy the latest episode of Mind-Numbing Reality-TV without being menaced by the looming spectre of monster trucks, Mega Bloks and the entire cast of The Avengers. It’s a house. Not a small regional franchise of Toys R Us.
Are you a tidy or a non-tidy person?
Anyone got any more hot tidy-tips for me?