As a mum of three boys – oh, oops – two boys and one husband – all I seem to do is tidy up their mess.
Despite daily reminders, the clothes are always in a pile by the bath, the packaging is always on the counter, not in the bin and the toys… I mean I’m drowning in rainbow plastic.
If, like me, the summer holidays have meant more children and more mess for you, then hopefully this will help – how to tidy in 13 steps.
Step 1 – Open all the curtains and make all the beds. This way you can see what you’re doing and you have a flat surface in each room to pile shit on.
Step 2 – Empty all the bins. You’re going to need somewhere to put all the shit.
Step 3 – Do a laundry audit. Where are you in the process? (Yes, boys, laundry is a four stage process. Shoving some pants in the washing machine does NOT mean you’ve “done the washing”.) Take the dry stuff off the clothes horse/radiator/back of the chairs – or tumble dryer if you’ve thrown money at the problem – and chuck it all on the biggest bed you made, then work backwards. Hang up wet stuff, throw in a new load of dirty clothes – cos let’s face it, that laundry basket is never empty.
Step 4 – Clear the draining board and empty the dishwasher. Now you have somewhere to put the dirty stuff.
Step 5 – Gather all the dirty stuff – the glasses from the bedsides, the cups from the tables, the random spoons from the floors/garden/toybox and dump them in rough size order near the sink/dishwasher.
Step 6 – Do a sweep of downstairs and pile all the stuff that should be on the floor above, on the stairs.
Step 7 – Tackle the living room. Tidy it, plump the cushions etc and then, if there are no little people around (hurray!) light a scented candle. This will be your sanctuary while you tackle the rest of this dull-as-shit process.
Step 8 – Tidy the rest of downstairs but not the kitchen. If you have a downstairs loo, clean it. Take a quick run upstairs with that pile you made and dump it on another bed.
NOW STOP. Sit in your sanctuary with a cup of tea – or something stronger – and decide how arsed you can be with the rest of the house. Technically, you’ve done the most important bits. This is all that visitors will see – unless you have one of those fabulous open plan kitchen living diners – in which case karma has got you and you’ll need to tackle that kitchen before you call it a day.
Step 9 – The kitchen – take a box or nice paper gift bag with you for all the paperwork I know you’ll find there. Start in one corner and work in a circle, putting stuff in cupboards or toys on the stairs or dirty stuff in the sink. If in doubt, bin it. Put the dishwasher on or wash the stuff by hand. Dump the bag or box of paperwork in a drawer, at least it’s all together, you can handle that later. Clean the surfaces then open a window.
Step 10 – The bathroom. Do a towel audit, fold the clean ones and get your marigolds on for some scrubbing. I insist on the rubber gloves – your hands will always give away your age and your nails will thank you for them too.STOP AGAIN. You’ve done very well. You can totally delegate the last bit – except we both know it won’t get done, or will get done in a haphazard, substandard way, which you will pay for when you try to dress your children the next day… So take a deep breath, you’re almost done.
Step 11 – The bedrooms. Start with those clothes and stuff you dumped on the bed earlier. Once they’ve all been put away, tidy the rest and clean the surfaces. (I don’t believe in ironing piles – I iron as little as I can get away with, approx five minutes before I wear it.)
Step 12 – Get the Hoover out. Except no one has a hoover any more do they? Get the Dyson or whatever and sook up all the shit on the carpets.
Step 13 – Fill your sink or bucket with the pink Flash (smells so good) and mop. You may have a smug smile on your face at this time, for mopping means you’ve made it.
Step back and admire your tidy, sweet smelling haven, with toys relegated to boxes and cupboards, clothes hanging and cutlery sparkling. Savour it, for in no time at all you’ll be back in your pigsty. If anyone knows how to train small boys (and a big one) how to tidy up after themselves please God tell me how.
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