The other day I posted this photo on instagram; My lovely friend a million baby steps said for the love of god, there is no clutter on that bench (ok she didn’t say for the love of god it just sounded better ;) ) Anyway, there seems to have been quite a number of posts I have read where bloggers have lamented their messy house and also among my own friends and family there have been comments about my house being neat and because I have absolutely nothing nice to say about making babies, nothing interesting to say about parenting and I am sick of talking about infertility I thought maybe I could restart my blogginess by addressing these questions.
As a disclaimer I think there are a few things that make it easier for me to keep a neat house
1. We have a large house with only three people that live here (and two dogs but their combined weight is less than 8kgs so it probably doesn’t count)
2. Our large house has lots of storage
3. I work three days a week which means I have two extra days that a working mum doesn’t have to keep the house clean and I think this is important in maintaining the balance because no one wants to spend their entire weekend cleaning. That said I actually don’t spend that much time cleaning.
Chon’s guide to having a bench clear of clutter (and other stories)
I don’t subscribe to the minimal way of life – I am far too much of a consumer for that but I do practice some of the principles just in my normal life. I don’t like clutter, I tend to clear things out when I purchase something new. I probably should sell the old stuff on eBay or gumtree or on any of the buy swap sites but I usually give it to the Salvo’s or my sister who promptly sells it and makes money on it. This means I don’t have an overabundance of things I don’t need. I do have a lot of things that I might only use once a year or for just in case but I have one junk drawer and I clean it regularly.
Kitchen bench: I had a funny discussion with a group of other bloggers a few months ago about keeping the bench clean. I HATE a messy bench. The hardest thing for me living in P.reston Street was the fact I had zero bench space. The microwave, fruit bowl, knives and dishrack all fought for space leaving a chopping board area free for me. Our bench – even at our old house – is always clear. A clear bench means when I start dinner I don’t have to start by putting away everyone’s crap because it is already away and on work nights when I get home late, I am tired from working all day, I have a stroppy toddler I can just start cooking and get the nights activities started. I keep it clean by having a designated spot for everything.
Appliances are not out on the bench. I do, to be fair now have a butlers pantry and this keeps some of the appliances out (kettle, toaster, coffee machine). If we didn’t have that the toaster would be put away. Then when I use it, it gets cleaned and goes back in it’s spot. I don’t look at it for 100 years willing it to go away by itself. If you are in a position to build your own kitchen – design it so that things like microwaves, long plates and big pans / cooking items have spots that they can fit and still can be accessed easily.
Following on from the kitchen I attempt to do my dishes every night (every now and then I am like I can’t be fkd doing this and flake on the couch) but waking up in the morning is much nicer. I am shocking at unpacking a dishwasher – it’s kind of weird but I take forever to unpack and tend to handwash. Silly, i don’t know why I don’t just do it but sometimes I can’t be bothered. I throw out old fruit n veg but I try to use everything in at least two weeks. I have fruit n veg delivered once a week and this has helped loads with wastage.
Office / study: when I leave work I always try to have a clean desk. Sometimes I rush out the door and it is messy which means I waste valuable time the next day sorting it out so I can start again. Therefore at home I always try to keep a clean desk space. We use our office a lot as I do Chippie’s paperwork for the business, he uses it to read plans, draw plans, meet clients and do his own paperwork. I throw out / shred personal bills once they are paid. I don’t need to keep them. Insurance, loan docs, superannuation and tax information is filed. I file all of Chippies paperwork. I have a bookcase of folders that all match – seriously the aesthetics of it make life so much easier. We bought Chippie a plan file which hangs all of the A1 plans so that I don’t have them lying on the floor and I archive old client records. I have in trays for invoices to be processed, paid and filed and a try for banking / insurances / tax things that need to be dealt with quickly. Chippie and I have our own in trays where miscellaneous crap can go but I try to keep on top of that every few months and after 5 minutes it is cleared, tidy and ready to get messy again! I also have a filing system for his work emails.
Bedrooms: Really we have super minimal bedrooms with hardly any clutter. We have built in wardrobes so no dresser. I have bedside tables that are just tables. We don’t use condoms so clearly I don’t need to pull them out ;) I try really hard to put my clothes away after I have dried them and since Chippie bought me the worlds smallest clothes horse for winter it means I need to clear that pretty quickly and not use it as a secondary wardrobe. Every morning before I leave for work Molly and I make her bed and my bed – it’s a doona / duvet so you know I pull it over, straighten it and put the pillows up – if it takes any longer than 60s I would be surprised.
Bathroom: I absolutely hate it when towels are on the floor. I really do. So I just hang them up after I use them. Toothbrushes are in a drawer in a tray. i have nothing on my bench apart from a little collection on a concrete tray that looks super cute. it’s always pretty neat. same as master bathroom. Living area: I think this is where I got lucky. Firstly, we have a play room so at the end of the day I throw any of Mollys crap in there or we have a corner in the dining area that has her most used stuff – art / craft supplies, dolls etc. Secondly, Molly is not a messy kid. You know some kids that literally leave a trail of destruction behind them wherever they walk – that’s not Molly. She’s also not really into stuff. She doesn’t need much. If we had more kids I probably would have got the messy one in there but I don’t have to worry about Molly drawing on my couch, or shredding it with scissors or bringing out every toy she owns and leaving it there. That’s not to say there aren’t times when the house resembles a bomb site on my stay at home days because girlfriend needs fun but we just put it all away after she goes to bed.
I mean really the above is not rocket science but I just find if I do things as I go it means on my days off I might spend 1-1.5 hours a week cleaning (vacuum, dust, a real clean of bathrooms) and the rest of the time I just chill. And having neat spaces devoid of clutter takes stress off me. I stress in a messy environment and I can’t think straight. I am not a creative who thrives on mess. I see straight lines!
I think it also helps that Chippie is pretty neat – yeah he leaves his jocks n socks right next to the laundry basket every.single.time and he never makes the bed and hardly cleans the dishes but he is neat and he is externally very neat. I never ever have to ask him to mow the lawns, take out the rubbish, go to the tip he is all over that. His family have definitely rubbed off on me because they are OCD neat and I like it! My mum is also tidy (hampered by my messy dad!!) but i grew up in a house that was always tidy so it just rubs off. I think the biggest way for me to keep on top of it is to just do a little bit each night so it doesn’t collate and make an even bigger mess. That way Molly and I get to hang out and do fun things. I have also got her to help me as well she follows me with her toy vacuum or I get her to put dishes away or I ask her to wipe her table and they always have to pack away at kinder and I make her do the same at home (with mixed results!)
Sometimes I get a little offended when people are all I leave the mess so I can play with my kids or insinuate that I mustn’t play with Molly because my house is clean because I am fun. I just have a different approach to getting shit done that works for me and reduces my stress levels significantly. Now, if only I could apply the same determination to reigniting my workout / eating regime I would be an all round happier person!!