01 November 2010

Keeping Up

I'm looking around today, trying to recall some morsel of homekeeping genius gleaned from 20 plus years of wifedom-slash- motherhood.  And the truth is that my biggest secret is this: 

I'm mellowing as I age. 

My house is never all clean at once.  Well, almost never.  One day a month, after the cleaning ladies have been here, everything is spit shine gleaming.  It doesn't last long.  Maybe two hours, tops.

And I'm ok with that. 

In years past I wore myself ragged, sweating and obsessing, pursuing the ever elusive perfect magazine house.  I cleaned before the cleaning ladies came.  Sometimes I cleaned after they left.   I ironed everything.  Cleaned the hardwood floors on hands and knees.  Many times I would open a drawer or closet to put something away and get sidetracked for hours making that one drawer/closet picture perfect.  Only problem was, it was never clean/organized/pretty enough.  There was always one thing or ten I felt needed to be done before I could pour myself a glass of tea, grab a magazine, light a candle and just relax and enjoy home.  It was exhausting.

Then I turned 40 and we sold our house and lived life in limbo for a year and a half.  Anyone who's already passed that milestone will possibly agree that mid-life crises are very real.  For me, it finally dawned one day that time marches on no matter what's on my floors or how much dust covers the furniture. No matter whether my spice rack is alphabetized or not. No matter whether my unmentionables are folded precisely into uniform sized squares or not. There will be no do-overs for today. Who knew that three storage units and five thousand boxes could change your life?

So I stopped obsessing.  It's one of the most freeing things I've ever done.

Anyway, here are my secrets for keeping up a home:

#1:  I only have one set of sheets per bed.  I've winnowed down a collection large enough to fill an entire hall closet to the point that the four remaining are not even matching sets.  My spare linen collection will fit on two shelves in one of the closets in my bathroom now. This eliminates the need to ever fold sheets, which is a task I absolutely loathe.  I do however have a decent collection of pillowcases.  That way, if I get an urge to change things up, I only have to swap out the pillowcases - much simpler! 

I sometimes still iron the cases and the top edge (only!) of the flat sheet. I don't mind this at all - it's actually sort of relaxing.

#2:  I put a bench in my closet.  This thing is such a workhorse.  It's good for folding clothes, suitcase packing, sorting dry cleaning, and of course sitting on while tying shoes. Which in turn keeps all that business out of other places and I can just shut the door on it if things get out of hand.

Speaking of closets...#3:  I hang my boots.  Years ago, The Container Store had some snappy little boot hangers in their catalog.  However, at $10 a pop, they seemed irritatingly pricey.  So I found these pant hangers with sliding clips that do the same job for about $1.50 each at Target.

It keeps the boots from flopping over on the floor and eliminates the need to keep the cumbersome cardboard boxes they come in.

#4.  There are rugs at all the exterior doors in the house except one.  Not the wimpy kind that have to be picked up and shaken out either.  I use heavy duty wool runners or sisal or something similarly sturdy that can be vacuumed.  This keeps the muck and the mud from reaching farflung corners quite so quickly.  With a husband in the wood floor business, this one is a necessity.

Update November, 2011:  Well, it seems this little post has gone a wee bit viral in Pinterestland.  Thank you all for stopping by my humble little corner of the blogosphere.  I just wanted to let everyone know that those boots are still hanging in there just fine. (with my sincere apologies for that awful pun.)  If you look closely, you can kinda see that only the insides are in the hanger clips, so if there were any marks in the boots, they'd be on the inside where nobody could see them.  However, guess what?  There are no marks on any of them, anywhere.  Yes, I actually went and checked for y'all! I don't know if that is because I got lucky with the hangers, in that they don't really have "teeth" on the clips or not, but there you go.  Happy hanging everyone!



  1. Tee, I loved your post! I can tell you as someone who has been in many, many houses from people in all walks of life that having a spotless house is NOT normal- er average! Once it sank in that even a successful, affable ceo had a few stacks of stuff around his house and had overstuffed, unorganized closets, I relaxed and realized I was ok. I've known a few crazy people who had to have clean houses at all times and it was very sad. A previous neighbor told me she couldn't leave the house until everything in her house was picked up and tidied and another neighbor would make her kids give away their toys after 6 months and were only able to keep a few of their favorite items. They had perfectly decorated and tidy homes, but at what cost?

  2. I love this post as well. I'm still in the OCD stage (well, can pick that back up when I actually have a home again) and it isn't fun. I try to relax and realize I will enjoy my life and my home more if I don't obsess over it all. I want people to feel at home when they come over and not be thinking about how I want to walk behind them and pick everything up or straighten!! =)

  3. Love the hanging boots idea. Perfecto!

  4. GREAT post! I can so relate! I look at things in my house and instead of admiring something...I see a million things I need to do! I am working on "chilling out" and enjoying! Thank you for this reminder :)

    LOVE your closet!

    Lou Cinda :)

  5. Thanks for sharing your truths and making me feel somewhat(!) "normal!" 'Cept now I have terrible closet envy... Came from Nesters and can't wait to go look around your great blog a bit more!

  6. Hi! I just found your BRILLIANT boot idea via Pintrest. Did it work out for you? And did the little clips leave creases in your boots?

  7. I found you on Pinterest too - got to love that Pinterest! I love this post! You are SO my kind of girl - since turning 40 I am also loosening up a bit on many things. I certainly think that a perfect house is unattainable and such a let down! BTW, I LOVE your boot hangers!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  8. Great post... Found you on pinterest too!

    Kansas Amy


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