I mentioned upon my return from my holidays that I had borrowed a couple of books from my mom. Well, this is one of them, and frankly the more exciting of the two. I’ve borrowed it at least once before, and it’s really quite awesome.
To begin with, there’s the title. For some reason, it speaks to me. She is confessing her clean little secret, and really, she’s proud of it. I guess part of me really wants to be an organized housewife, just like her.
So what does she offer? Plenty! Here is a breakdown of the gems to be found in this book:
- pep talks that work. Really. After reading this book I often come away actually excited about cleaning and organizing my house. She points out that by working on improving your technique, you raise houswork out of the mundane into a craft. She also discusses the benefits of having a clean and orderly house, including the feelings of peace and enjoyment of the home. To me, this is a frugal thought: if we like being at home, we will be less driven to leave it for expensive alternatives.
- six “Basic Organizing Principles” including: Think Before You Act, wherein you stop working by habit and instead think through all the steps of a project or day or organization of a room, looking for the most logical time-saving way to approach it; Discard and Sort, wherein you de-clutter each area of your home so that there is “a place for everything and everything in its place” and everything you have on hand is useful and used; Group, which is pretty self-explanatory, except that she often groups by use instead of by type so that you might keep all your baking spices with your baking stuff and all your savoury spices near the stove if that’s where you use them, instead of keeping all your spices together; Be Motion Minded, considering how you move in a room, and saving time by putting things close at hand; Use Your Accrued Benefits, wherein you learn that it makes more sense to iron 6 shirts at a time, than to iron one shirt at a time six times; Do it Daily, so that things don’t get out of hand; and finally, become an “Indoor Scout“, leaving a room better than you found it each time.
- advice for building your own planner that will accomodate your and your family’s needs.
- efficient ways of moving through the house methodically so that you’re not re-tracing your steps or wasting time. The coolest idea here is her housework cart that she uses, like a hotel chambermaid. It’s totally collapsable and handles garbage, laundry, sorting of “stuff”, and cleaning all in one amazing little buggy! Seriously, I’m building me one of these.
There’s lots of other tips here, many of which involve using labelled containers to sort stuff in cupboards, etc., but you should really read the book if you want to get into that much detail.
I’ll end with the most reassuring part of the book, the second-last chapter which is called “Where to Start”. In case you have a tendancy to get massively overwhelmed by books like this, she has a little checklist with the basics that should be covered before you move on to more ambitious home organization projects. The basics:
- I am able to keep the house picked up; check, for the most part.
- I am able to keep the laundry current; check.
- Meals are well-prepared and served regularly; check
- The kitchen is usually in good order; thanks to my partner doing the dishes every night, this is also a check
- Bathrooms are cleaned and straightened regularly; this is a new one, but I’m doing pretty checking good on it so far
- I am able to keep entry areas clean and tidy; hmmm
Well, I’m doing pretty good on 5 out of 6, so maybe the entry way is a good place to start. In any case, I’m very reassured that I am winning at 5 of these basics. Her recipe for starting a new level of cleanliness is to give yourself and your family six weeks to get used to it.
So, starting today I will aim to keep my entry area clean and tidy, thus basically completing all six of her basics, and preparing to enter a new level of household organization.
That is, until Tiny Baby arrives. After that, I make no promises.