HERE IS THE THING:
I do want to clean the house for my mother-in-law's visit. I do. Not ONLY for her visit (though that is the motivation, just as a dress-up occasion might be the motivation for a diet) but also because BEEZUS. It's due for an overhaul.
HERE IS WHAT I'VE NOTICED:
1. Tidiness is a knack and a skill and an inclination, and it requires an allocation of both time and energy. I am not sure those of us inclined to messiness can ever truly become Tidy, but certainly we can learn to fake it for special occasions.
2. Tidy people disagree vehemently on what is the best way to achieve and maintain tidiness. One tidy person will say "Get rid of every single item you haven't used in the last week/month/year!" while another has a storage system. One tidy person will say "Decorative items do nothing but collect dust! Pitch them out!" while another suggests you put out the pretty stuff currently taking up basement storage space. One tidy person will say "Don't get overwhelmed: just concentrate on cleaning one small area thoroughly, then move on to the next small area" while another will say "Let's not polish dark corners while we still have heaps of stuff in the middle of the floor."
3. Just as there is no one single diet/fitness program that works for everyone, there is no one single tidiness program that works for everyone. For myself, I find I like to take a little of this, a little of that. There are some times when I would rather take everything out of a closet, clean the closet, and carefully sort/clean/organize everything I put back in. There are other times when I need to be reminded that it's better to make a passing swipe at the counter with a damp rag than let it stay covered in crumbs and puddles because it seems like there's no sense bothering if I'm not going to pick up every single thing and clean under it and then use a toothbrush on the rim of the sink.
HERE IS WHAT I SUGGEST:
Those of you who are tidy and willing, will coach those of us who are messing and willing. Each session, we will address one problem. All the tidy people will weigh in. Messy people who have learned a good coping technique for that problem will weigh in.
Anyone can then go through the suggestions and choose the one that makes the most sense for them. I think it would be fun to say "OMG what do I do with my messy bookshelf??" and then choose from "Take everything off, dust, sort, donate, organize by size!" and "Organize by color for fun!" and "You should not even own any books you don't need at least once a month: all they do is collect dust and you should let the library deal with them" and "Stack paperbacks horizontally, hardcovers vertically" and "Leave the bookshelves for now: there are more important areas to tackle first" and so on. Like a choose-your-own-adventure!
HERE IS WHERE I THINK WE SHOULD START:
If you were at the door to my house (it doesn't have to be MY house---just ANY house where your advice was requested), what would you say was the FIRST THING that should be done? A chart? A shopping trip for supplies? A run-through with a garbage bag? A plan? Choosing a room? Setting up empty boxes? A blowtorch? First step, small or large, practical or philosophical, GO.
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