I grew up in a house that was always what I call Company Clean. There was some stress associated with living that way so I adopted the motto Clean Enough to be Healthy but Dirty Enough to be Happy. What that really means is I lowered the standard. That standard was further lowered when my back was broken in a jet ski accident in 1993. Around here we definitely have a difference between the way the house looks day to day and what it looks like when company is coming.
Over the years I've read many magazine articles, websites, and books on time management, organizing and cleaning. I've pulled many ideas from many sources to find what works for me. I've also helped a lot of friends tackle their houses. Ask my family. Whenever I did that our house went to pot and I didn't fix dinner. What I lack is a certain level of discipline to keep those practices I know and believe in going.
I had big plans... I was going to clean the carpet, touch up the paint in different rooms, make curtains for the laundry room and wash all the windows and blinds. Those things are NOT going to happen.
Bag-O-Tricks (in no particular order):
1. Make yourself look presentable. There's nothing worse than having to run your kid to the ER in mismatched clothes with greasy hair.
2. Drink something that gives you energy! If you need to, run to the corner gas station and get an energy drink. 5 Hour Energy shots are the best. Eat something too! You don't want to get the jitters or feel nauseous.
3. Shut down all the computers in your house.
4. Turn on some old music that you know well and that gets you moving. My mother often listened to Neil Diamond so I have some Pavlov response to it that makes me want to grab a toilet brush, sniff Pine-Sol and get busy. I also like Abba, Simon and Garfunkel and Jim Croce when I am in a cleaning frenzy. When I'm done writing this post I will be the Dancing Queen.
5. Run through the house and get all the laundry, sort it and get it started. Determine which loads are most important (towels, sheets, clothes, etc.). If you haven't done laundry in ages and have 27.8 loads, bag them by load in tall trash bags separating out the loads that must be done because you need what is in them. Take all the other bags and toss them in your attic, your crawl space or your storage area. You can pull them out when your company leaves and finish the job. It is very important you bag them by load so you can find things later.
6. Go through each room in the house and put everything where it goes. It helps to have laundry baskets or bags to be taken to their proper room so you aren't running back and forth through the house...unless you want to practice what I call Aerobic House Cleaning. We happen to have four levels so the running up and downstairs gets old quick. If you don't have time to put everything away find somewhere to shove those baskets... closet, under a bed, etc. Confession: I have laundry baskets in my storage area that contain homeschool papers. I stopped homeschooling in 2007.
7. Clean every bathroom. No, the Master bathroom is not safe. Whenever you have a bunch of people in your house someone at some time will need to use the bathroom. They will assure you they do not care what the bathroom or your bedroom looks like. If you don't want your friends or family members to meet the mold that personally hands you your soap in the shower each morning or see all the stuff you wildly threw into your room from the doorway... clean it up. Very important note: Do not leave bleach soaking in the toilet. There is a chemical reaction that takes place when mixed with urine. It forms a gas that can cause your husband to fling himself out of the bathroom sans pants with accusations that you've tried to kill him. He may remember it for all time and refuse to carry life insurance above a certain level.
8. If you don't have time to dust and vacuum everything thoroughly, dust all the flat surfaces, clean the mirrors, dim the lights and burn candles... everywhere. Unless you've got little kids coming. They may have learned how to put a candle out by an older kid by using their fingers and be alone in the bathroom with a candle burning and decide they want to try it but wrap their fingers in toilet paper first... which will catch on fire... which they will throw in the trash... Don't ask how I know this.
Really, the truth is, most people don't care what your house looks like. In fact, if your house is too clean and organized they may not want you to ever come to their house. Holidays and special occasions are, or should be, about relationships. Do what you can to make people feel comfortable (which means some of y'all might want to mess a few things up) and focus on what really matters, your family and friends.