How to clean your house fast for unexpected company (aka you mother-in-law)!!
Okay, so am I the only one?
I’m chugging down the tracks, right? Making serious progress as a wannabe Suzy Homemaker.
The gears are turning and meshing and doing whatever gears do (I don’t know – I’m not a mechanic).
I’m so high on this housekeeping thing, I contemplate buying a frilly apron. Wait, I know – I’ll sew one! By hand! But first – first, I’ll spin some cotton and weave a beautiful hand-dyed fabric.
I wonder if Amazon carries cotton, spinning wheels, looms, bloodroot and Japanese indigo?* What?! They have live ladybugs? Are you kidding me? Maybe I’ll go dig up the yard for a garden instead…
Whoa – hold up. Focus, Squirrel-Girl. Back to your post.
Anyway, so I’m prancing down Betty Crocker Boulevard. Life glides smoothly along.
Then suddenly, everything just kind of…disintegrates.
Oh, you too?
Great, Now I’m Craving Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies. Thanks a Lot, Blog.
And when it does, it’s like my disaster area of a house sends out a cosmic message to the universe.
Hey, universe, we’d love company. Or maybe a visit from a repairman? That’s right, the sooner the better…
Or maybe it’s not that somebody’s coming over. Maybe the mess makes it so you simply cannot think. You need to get it together, and you need to get it together right now.
Unfortunately, over the past 20+ years, I’ve had to perfect the art of quickly and efficiently digging out of my messy house hole (ew).
If I’m motivated and need to wrangle my house back into submission fast, I turn to the 5-Minute Game.
The 5-Minute Game**
But Mommm, when you said we’d play a game, we thought you meant Monopoly. This game sucks.
My family detests this game, but they know it has a definite end (and it makes Mom nicer), so they play along. If your children are small, work in teams and the little guys can be go-fers.
This game is NOT for deep cleaning or organizing. Kids stink at deep cleaning and organizing anyway, and, sorry, but you don’t have time for either one of those right now.
Here’s how you play:
- Break the news that it’s time for the most funnest game on earth! Promise a reward once you’re done if everyone cooperates. As the kids get older, their favorite reward tends to be ending it early. (Psst – add a few extra time blocks that you can then remove as a reward – they’ll never know. Win-win)
- Squelch your inner control freak. The only rule is “do something, anything to improve your assigned room in the next 5 minutes.” They get to decide what that something is. Because it’s still better than Mom doing it alone.
Hint: If Dad is a vacuum artiste who doesn’t mind doing it, schedule him the last pass through any rooms with carpet. By the time he gets there, he’ll naturally choose vacuuming.
You schemer, you.
- Announce how long the game will last and stick to it. If you go over, next time you need help they will disappear.
Ask me how I know.
- Make and post a quick chart – names (team or individual) across the top, room assignments in columns underneath. I’m talking a one-minute jot-down on a grocery pad here.
If you promised, say, 45 minutes, then pick 8 rooms each (with changeover time). A room needs extra TLC? List it as many times as necessary (but not the same one twice in a row for the same person).
And use a logical order. If the laundry room is your domain and you need to get it started, put yourself there before anyone else. Rooms that require the same tools (like a vacuum) shouldn’t be on two people’s lists at the same time.
- Set a timer in a central location for 5 minutes.
- Yell “Go!” (or “Vamanos!” for you Dora fans) and encourage everyone to work as fast as they can.
- You must stop after 5 minutes and switch. Switch fast, don’t drag on whatever you were doing when it went off. This will keep you from getting hyper-focused and make your family trust you.
This game is also great for helping with focus, even when you have loads of time (yeah, that’ll happen).
Do not expect a major overhaul of any room. The point is only to get the house back to a state where you can think. Or where the thought of a last-minute visitor doesn’t mortify you.
Grace and Frankie Is Awesome and I Need Their Anti-Aging Technology
Even when we’re in the groove, there will always be times when our house isn’t at its best (to say the least).
Sometimes because we get, let’s face it, lazy. Week after Christmas, sugar coma, finally time for myself, where did all this new clutter come from, let’s binge watch Grace and Frankie lazy.
Or we go on a trip, leaving behind the teen who inherited our ADHD gene. (Thank goodness I raised my son right – he rarely moves from his computer chair. Learn from me, people.)
Or when we get home from that trip, we’re still in vacation mode and procrastinate a tad too long before switching over to real life. Or, worse yet, we switch back at such breakneck speed that there’s no time for a cleanup cushion.
Side Note: A cleanup cushion is not like a whoopee cushion. Whoopee cushions are fun. Cleaning cushions, not so much.
Many times, life just gets stupid crazy. Big, unexpected opportunities crop up, or we attempt too many messy projects at one time (famous for that one), or we take on so much in general that routines fly out the window.
I Wanna Be a Cesspool When I Grow Up
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we could let up for a bit, but our houses would still behave. They would grow up and stop playing dress-up, pretending they are dumpsters, or junk yards, or landfills??
I’m thinking that’s not going to happen, at least not 100%. It comes with the territory of who we are.
We like to do all the things. We overschedule.
And sometimes we crash.
And when we do…and we will…it’s nice to have a way to fix it. And fix it fast!
**I know your family won’t always be around to help. Or maybe you live alone. If that’s the case, use the 5-Minute-Game, Solo Edition. And for some reason, when I do this alone, 10 minutes works better.
Wait, doesn’t that make it the 10-Minute-Game? Now I’m totally confused…
Company not on the way but having trouble focusing? Try one (or more) of these methods to get out of your own way. And if you’re just not motivated, maybe one of these will help:
How To Clean Your House Fast for Unexpected Company!