There are ways to keep the house looking presentable. What do you do when someone calls and says, “I’m on my way over?” Frantically run from room to room, throwing stuff into closets? Or do you simply say, “Sorry, I’m just walking out the door?” Get into the habit of doing the following tasks to have your house ready for any pop-in that may come. If you get in the habit of doing these things every day, it takes no time at all.
The kitchen is often the one room we let go first. Make a habit of always including cleaning up as part of any meal or snack. Always do dishes or load the dishwasher immediately after a meal. If you handwash your dishes, scrub the sink with some cleanser. Dry the sink and faucet with paper towels. Wipe down the microwave as soon as you take out the food. The inside will be warm and steamy, and it only takes a minute. Wipe down counters, the stove, and the refrigerator. Put dishes away. Take out the garbage at least every 3 days before it smells. Lastly, do a quick sweep of the floor.
The living room really does not get dirty per se like the kitchen, but it can get unruly in a hurry. Here it is good to have a place for everything. An end table with a drawer or cabinet can hold remotes and charging cords. An ottoman that opens can hold blankets, shawls, and pillows. Try not to eat in there but definitely bring any dishes back to the kitchen where you will wash them and put them away! A magazine rack can also hold books. If you still watch DVDs, put them back in their case and away in their designated storage spot.
The bedroom is often a place where we just close the door and hope no one goes in there. But this room can look in order with a few things done every day. Make your bed! Nothing makes a bedroom look like a disaster than an unmade bed—no need for hospital corners. Buy a pretty duvet with a couple of fancy pillows, and you are done in two minutes. Put your jewelry away as you take it off. Hang up or put your clothes in the hamper, and store your shoes in the closet. Get bedside tables that have storage and places to charge your devices.
A lot of kid’s messes can be solved by a good-sized mudroom. Use hooks for coats and sweaters, shelves for hats, and cubbies for shoes. Cabinets can hold sporting goods like baseball gloves and volleyballs. Teach the kids to keep their belongings organized. You can use these storage ideas in their rooms also. Make the bedtime ritual include picking up toys and putting them away. Have the kiddos get their backpacks ready for school the next day. Bonus points if you can get them to lay out tomorrow’s clothes to avoid any morning craziness.
The bathroom can be done in less than three minutes. Spray down the shower with daily cleaner and squeegee. Wipe down other surfaces after showering when they are still steamy with a microfiber cloth. Keep all necessary bathroom items in a pretty storage cabinet or linen closet. Keep extra toilet paper and tissue handy.
Keep your office tidy and clutter-free by taking five minutes when you come home. Go through the mail and shred anything with your name and any other sensitive info, especially credit card apps. I keep a couple trays where I can place items needing attention quickly or those that can wait a few days. Empty your pockets or purse of receipts and file accordingly. Use good storage here also.
These are a few constants to keeping your house presentable so that even your mother-in-law can pop in and not think you are a slob. Have good storage for everything and use it. Clean up after eating; this includes washing and putting away dishes. Teach the kids to take care of their space too. A place for everything and everything in its place. It is an old adage but goes a long way.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO