Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Home Notes for Today

The lilacs are in full color and we are having our own lilac festival. Lilacs on a tree, in a basket, in a vase, and even digging out any lilac-themed items we might have.

I was thinking today about the relation between clutter and frugality. Someone had written a supposedly witty saying that claimed that a clean house was a wasted life. They didn't think that one through. Does it mean the opposite is true? I've found a cluttered house to be a great source of misery and expense. If you can't find anything because the clutter is so disorganized, you end up in a store searching for it from their neatly stacked shelves, where things that are alike are stored next to each other: thread with zippers, vac. bags with the vacuume cleaners, soap with the tissue paper, dishes with the cutlery, books with the papers and pencils, etc.

Everyone has, at one time or another or maybe more than one time, wished a great big team of professional cleaners would come in and do her organizing and cleaning. It would be a nice big surprise and we would cry when we came in the door to see the transformation.

However, the best way to keep from having such a cluttered house is to first and foremost, get it cleaned up. Do it methodically by picking up things that are alike: books, then papers, pencils and crayons, then toys, then clothing, dishes, food, etc. Do that, one room at a time. Then, clean the floors and dust and decorate a little. When I wash dishes I clean up the perimeters of the place first: the stove, the little table, the center island, the cabinet top. I neatly stack everything to the right and clear off everything on the left. I sweep the floor. Then I fill up the sink with the hottest water and put in a stack of dishes. I might go put in a load of laundry while that soaks a minute.

After the major cleaning is done, the best way to maintain it is not to letter clutter accumulate. Everyone has to dispose of anything he has used, after he is finished. No one can leave anything in any part of the house to give a clue he has been there. It is that simple. Throw away wrappings and such, from take out foods. Clean up the bedroom as soon as you wake up. Clean up the bathroom while you are in there by wiping the sink and folding things. In the living area, pick up things when you are in that room. I've talked about this before in previous posts.

There is no need to have a disaster area if things are picked up, not passed up. You might think, "But it is not a housecleaning day," and walk down the hall, tripping over towels and toys. You never really have to have a housecleaning day if you clean as you go. Things won't accumulate so badly if you get in an automatic habit of cleaning as you go. The good manners of neatness will accompany you everywhere, from your car, to other people's places, to public places. It costs you less, because things do not get stepped on or broken, or put in places to be forgotten about and gone to waste.

We have a rule in our house that the floors have to be bare, to prevent accidents, but also because it prevents mold and disease. A clean house, rather than being a sign of a wasted life, is a sign of a busy, industrious person and a diligent family who cares enough to be good stewards of their property.


Anonymous said...

Great timing on this post. I am half way through spring cleaning and can use any boost I can get.

candy said...

Excellent post!

& I love lilacs...so pretty and smell so nice.


Lynn said...

I read your post at 8PM - tired - but as usual you inspire me - I left the post half way went to finish a job that has bothered me for 2 days and it only took ten minutes and now I feel fabulous. Read the rest of the post grinning!
Thank you!

Just Me said...

I get so excited when I see a post from 'Home Living'! It's like a breath of fresh air.

As a "working mother" trusting in God to bring her home soon :), I can say that having my heart turned home and keeping a neat home has made a HUGE difference in my family. Just the little things have made the biggest difference. Every little touch counts.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous lilacs!

Wonderfully-inspiring post! I especially enjoyed:

"A clean house, rather than being a sign of a wasted life, is a sign of a busy, industrious person and a diligent family who cares enough to be good stewards of their property."

And reading your technique for washing the dishes. I could envision every step and am going to try your method and see if it's better than mine. That is one thing I really enjoy from reading home keeping blogs....inspiration to try things in a different manner. Sometimes it works out better and sometimes it doesn't but it always keeps things interesting. (o;

Many Blessings,

The Chatty Housewife said...

This was a great post! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

A clean house is not the sign of a wasted life! Living in a messy and dirty house is a quick way to make you and your family quite grumpy though.

I'm not saying that we need to keep our houses so spotless to the point that we make ourselves miserable and stressed out, but a simple, daily housekeeping routine plus a weekly, deeper cleaning makes for a happier home. When my home gets messy and dirty, I literally can't even think straight! And that feeling magically lifts once I get to work cleaning it up.

~ Ann

Julie said...

I have to say that right now I am dealing with some health problems.
When my house is a mess, as it seems to be more often than not lately, I feel so much worse and more depressed.
It's at the times I feel my worst that I know I have to get it in gear and do something. Just picking up and putting things back in their place is so theraputic for me.
Realizing this has led me to be a better observer and do things now around the house.
Thanks for your blog that always inspires me!

Anonymous said...

Goodness...a clean home is the sign of a useful life, if you ask me. A clean home is the backdrop for all the interesting things that happen in a family, and in this day and age, it is LITERALLY the backdrop, since we photo and film everything now. It certainly doesn't take long to maintain it once it's taken care of!

Anonymous said...

We make a LOT of dishes during the day because I cook everything from scratch. When I am ready to do dishes, I cannot get to the bottom of the sink to plug it - I have to wash my way down, leaving the water running, and reapplying soap to the cloth, rinsing as I go. This uses a ton of water, but I don't have room to stack the dishes beside the sink, I have a very little kitchen.
I have a hard time washing them more often to keep the amount down. I usually do them twice a day because of the little ones.
Any ideas? I don't know how to do them right because of this.

One thing I found, though, is that Ivory dish soap won't make your hands so dry from doing dishes. Mine used to crack, they were so dry!


Lydia said...

http://www.wikihow.com/Wash-Dishes has a great list of how to do dishes.

Wear rubber gloves that are lined and you won't ruin your hands with hot water.

After you dump your wash water, put the rinse water in the wash pan and add soap.

Use two plastic pans in the sink, one for washing and one for rinsing. That way you can tip them out when the water gets tepid.

Martha Stewart shows how to wash a short stack verses a large amount of dishes, and has a video on her site about it.

You put in the plates at the bottem of the plastic dish pan.

Then you lay the glassware on top in the soapy water. You add the silverware along the sides of the inside of the pan.

That's a short stack.

The site I gave you will explain more.

Anonymous said...

yes! yes! Clutter is draining! This year I have resolved to eliminate - clutter, boxes, unused anything. We have moved frequently in our 20 years of married life. There are boxes that haven't been unpacked in 2 or 3 moves!

I have always been a neat-nick, until we started moving about and growing a family. I just find I can't keep on top of everything. So, I have decided, as I remember our wonderful pioneer ancestors, that I don't HAVE to keep every thing and am now about the business of going through every box in our (3-bay) garage and throwing away what I can and giving away anything else. (I have thus freed 5 boxes from their work.) It really is a liberating feeling.

Keep what is best and get rid of the rest. (My new motto!)

Thank you for the encouragement.

Anneatheart said...

Dear Lydia,

I love how you post how to make the home pretty with things we already have around the house and how with some creativity we can make something ordinary into something beautiful. Last weekend I hosted an afternoon tea at my home in honor of Mother's Day for the women from church. I really wanted it to look nice and was able to simply by taking things from my own home and borrowing some items. Here is the link to my blog with pictures.

It was a lot of fun and I am very pleased that I did it without spending a lot of money. Love your blog!

Blessings, Jessica

Anonymous said...

Your lilacs are just beautiful.

Great post!

It takes less time to clean when there is little to no clutter. And cleaning really can be relaxing (vacuuming...that white noise!!)...the warm dish water, a votive burning near the kitchen sink and a classical cd playing...ah! Sure picking up toys over and over, or sweeping the floor over and over is a wee bit taxing...but...if you make a game of it with your children or wait until the traffic dies down a bit it really isn't that hard.

I think we tend to think a "task" into being harder/more boring than it really is.