Over at the Nesting Place, The Nester has been taking us through a series of 31 Days to a Less Messy Nest. I have been following closely, because I love tips for neatness!
When my house is tidy, I can pretend that it is spotless. But even when my house is clean(ish), if it is also messy, then I cannot convince myself that it is clean(ish) no matter how hard I try! (We all have our issues.)
Yesterday The Nester invited us to share our our own tips for a Less Messy Nest, so I decided to let you all in on one of our best secrets: the Ten Minute Tidy. Here's how it works.
We come to the end of a productive homeschool day. We set a timer for ten minutes. Bekah pushes start, yells Go!, and we all spring into action and tidy up everything in sight!
We begin in the kitchen/school room/sitting room. We gather our coffee and tea mugs from the table or our reading area, clear the counters, load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, and pick up the stacks of books we've been reading and return them to their rightful places. We tidy loose papers and mail and stray shoes, plop the pillows back on the loveseat, and put away the craft supplies. All the time we are moving as quickly as possible.
No cleaning is taking place. We're just making things presentable.
If time remains, we all migrate into the living room. (This is usually a quicker clean up, as we have usually not spent the day in this room.) We put away DVDs and magazines and the newspaper, making sure that all surfaces are clear of Stuff That Shouldn't Be There. Then, we'll do a pass through the dining room, but since that is our least used room, it generally is tidied lickety split.
Unless the house is extremely messy, a Ten Minute Tidy can put it to rights. (In the case that it is extremely messy, we may decide to set the timer for another ten minutes and have at it again.) And keep in mind that, for us, ten minutes is really thirty minutes since there are three of us working.
We might call for a Ten Minute Tidy...
~ before Dad arrives home from a day at work
~ when a friend calls and says she'll be over to drop something off~ when my brain is not at peace because of the visual distractions~ before an actual cleaning session (because who wants to clean around clutter?)
My sense of order is restored and then I feel free to move on to another task or another part of our day or greet my friend or welcome my husband home. It is amazing what a difference ten minutes can make!