Housework and I haven’t always been friends. It was always a bit of a struggle over the past thirty+ years of married and family life to learn the habit of keeping a neat and orderly home. Some days I was more successful at it than others, but I’m still learning and growing in this area constantly.
I often found that reading assorted books by housework “experts” were more depressing than they were inspiring for people like me, those of us who are a bit domestically challenged. Yes, these experts know what they’re doing. But so often I didn’t feel like they had even a glimpse of how difficult basic housekeeping could be for someone who just doesn’t seem to have it in their genes to do it naturally.
One of the most helpful and simplest things my children and I did (the kids are all grown now) to maintain our home was something we dubbed the “Ten Minute Tidy.” We were inspired by the old children’s TV show, The Big Comfy Couch, which had a Ten Second Tidy scene at the end of each episode.
What our version of a quick Tidy involved was this: Everyone ran around the house picking up clutter and putting it away as fast as they could for ten minutes.
Whenever I noticed that the main living areas of the house were getting that well lived-in look, I called for a Ten Minute Tidy. Everyone dropped whatever they were doing and then flew into “pick-up-the-stuff” mode. I actually set a kitchen timer for ten minutes and when it went off, we were done.
Usually I tidied the kitchen and main bathroom myself while the kids worked in the living room, family room, and if there was still time left, their bedrooms. It was amazing how quickly the house went from looking messy to looking neat when everyone worked fast, worked together, and worked smart.
The purpose of the Ten Minute Tidy wasn’t to actually deep clean the house, but to tidy up the rooms so our home looked neater and livable again. The cleaning and regular maintenance was done during a scheduled “Upkeep” time each day. I always focused the Ten Minute Tidy on the areas that made a first impression when people entered the home. In our case, that was the entryway, living room, kitchen, and main bath.
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