Top ten tips when short on time.
Average house ten minutes before Shabbos (and any other occasion, really): Mother is frantically running around, scooping up toys, socks, and cleaning supplies, all the while shouting messages to whomever might be in the vicinity about turning off the oven, putting the food away, turning the lights on, turning the other lights off, and putting the tissues in the bathroom. And don’t forget to brush your hair and iron your shirt, because Shabbos is coming, and so are the guests. Code blue. Guests!
And the moment arrives. The time has come, the doorbell rings, and as the door is swung open, mother and children are looking perfect and the house is glowing in its aura of precision as the guests eye the rooms with awe! And nobody would’ve known of any chaos a mere ten minutes before!
Keeping a clean house is something we may strive for all the time; however, it also proves a most difficult task, as we women run on the hamster wheel of the week, with always more dishes, laundry, and diapers! So when we have the occasional (or for some, frequent) appearance of an outsider, or need to host an event, we may wonder how we can possibly navigate it calmly. Fear not, because although perfection is unattainable (sorry for all who thought otherwise), faking a clean house is very attainable! And it’s not as bad as it sounds!
With these home hacks, you can lie back (well, almost) and practically watch the mess disappear on its own…and who knows? You might be getting a call from the guest, post-party, asking you to share your secret.
You know how you will size someone up within seconds of meeting her? That few-second encounter has your inner radar intuiting who this person is and if she jives with who you are. Homes are like that too. They’re like those books we’re told not to judge by the cover, but discard anyway when they look unappealing. When you are hosting an event or party, or just a couple of guests, it’s more about the at-a-glance picture seen upon walk-in, versus the actual cleanliness of the counters.
Tip 1: Worry less about what goes on inside the cabinets, and more about the counters. For a quick cleanup, wash the counters and put things out of sight. This is when you and the dishwasher bond. It becomes a great area to store things in for emergency cleanup.
Tip 2: Have some large colorful pillows propped on the couch. People are drawn to a pop of color, and their attention will be subconsciously diverted away from the small couch stains to the decorative pillows.
Tip 3: Sweep, don’t mop. Reserve your mopping for when you have more time. A quick, thorough sweep can do the gist of the trick when short on time.
Piles, piles, piles
Consolidate first, organize next. So when you’re short on time, don’t get nit-picky about what goes where, but first get everything somewhere. This frees up the space, and allows you to focus on any crucial tasks.
Tip 4: Have a handy junk bin that doubles as a décor piece. Perhaps a wicker basket by the doorway, or a bench with a trunk beneath. That way when you are short on time, (or want to get to bed before the clock strikes midnight) you can throw all that random clutter in the box. And don’t worry: when you’re ready to sort, it will be there waiting.
Tip 5: Another great method of pile-moving is to move piles of dirty laundry taking up space in the laundry room… to the dryer. Gulp. Temporarily, of course. This is great when you want to get rid of the laundry from the bedrooms, but are not quite ready to throw in all the loads.
Turn a blind eye
…And then there’s the mess that’s just there. The clock is ticking, and all you can do is turn a blind eye. But even then, you don’t need to fret just yet.
Tip 6: Turn a blind eye on your blinds. To conceal dust on your blinds, turn them the opposite way.
Tip 7: Roll out the red carpet. No time to mop? No need to mope. An area rug is the perfect way to cover over the large portion of the main room. If you will be using the rug only in desperate situations, choose one that is light and easy to transport and store.
Tip 8: Close-it! Closets should be closed! Any guest coming will not (should not) be snooping in your closets, and when closed, they will give the rooms a polished look and hide the mess behind those walls.
At a recent visit to a friend’s house, I kept being drawn to some delicious aroma of fresh laundry. I asked her about it (knowing she doesn’t have a washing machine in her apartment), and she pointed easily at the scented plug-in that smelled like Tide. There’s nothing to draw a guest’s attention away from the mess more than a delicious fragrance. A great smell will have her asking what’s in the oven, instead of noticing the dirt on your floors. Go for a light scent, as some people can be sensitive to strong smells.
Tip 9: Bake something with cinnamon to fill the house with a pleasant aroma.
Tip 10: Light a scented candle before the guests arrive.
We women are often overworked and underpaid… and we all deserve to be cut some slack sometime. Sure, we wish we had a Mary Poppins or Cinderella. But our next best bet is leaving that thing called stress at the doorstep, and before we say hello to the guest, we can usher in a mindset of “faking it until you make it,” which is okay, too!
Written By: Rochel Abraham