How Pregnant Turtles Made Me Realize My House Is Messy

How Pregnant Turtles Made Me Realize My House Is Messy

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Tess Wilson
Jun 23, 2015
(Image credit: Antoinette Celes)

Outtake from Samuel's Glamorous Collector's Paradise

We live in employee housing on a wildlife sanctuary, and lately I've been joining the staff and researchers on their nightly-ish turtle-tracking expeditions. Once the turtles are located and their eggs protected, everyone heads back to our house for a few beers. Perhaps after enough beers they won't notice the mess?

Here's how housekeeping works in our house: on weekday mornings, we straighten the kitchen, load/unload the dishwasher, and put away any remnants of the previous night's festivities (board games, empty peanut butter-filled pretzel bags). On weekday evenings, we (but mostly my partner) do outdoor chores such as planting, watering, weeding, and mowing. I work from home Wednesdays and Fridays, so in between writing posts, I do laundry and dishes, take out the recycling and compost, clean the bathroom and kitchen, sweep and mop the floors, clean all surfaces, and generally straighten. By every Friday at 5pm, the house is in spit-spot, guest-ready shape, but over the course of the week, things tend to steadily fall apart...

On the first night the turtle crew came over unexpectedly, I was delighted to see them but mortified by the house. We were still unpacking from a little trip, the dinner detritus was everywhere, and the floors were less than sparkling. Granted, it was a Thursday, so the house was at its messiest point in the week, but the thing that got me was that I hadn't noticed the mess until they arrived.

Now that I know we're going to have folks dropping by several nights each week, I'm determined to keep the house nice every day (well, approximately every day). The best part is that I think I'll notice- and enjoy- the change far more than any guests would! I love a neat home, and I'm grateful that my eyes were opened to the little things I hadn't noticed but that were surely bugging me on a cellular level.

Here are the 7 mess-banishing tips I'm planning on stealing from other, smarter Apartment Therapy writers:

1. The 4 Things Tidy People Do Every Day (Besides Make the Bed)

An easy sweep: Tidy people wouldn't dream of going to bed with dishes in the sink. They know that doing a quick sweep for out-of-place-items every night before bed will help them and their home get a fresh start in the morning. Keeping up with the clutter frequently makes it an easy, do-able task rather than an overwhelming chore.

2. 8 Quick Tricks to Make Your Place Look Clean and Inviting

If you are a stacker — you know who you are, because there are books strewn on the ottoman, bills tossed on the counter and unopened mail discarded by the front door — make neat piles. Look at any fancy catalog and you'll find artfully stacked piles of junk on every surface. Channel your inner stylist; even a bowl of paper clips can look chic with the right accessories. Put a rock and a shell on that stack of bills.

3. The Quick Clean: 5, 10 and 15 Minute Plans to Painlessly Whip Your Home into Shape

The everyday five minute plan: Take five minutes at the end of each day to survey your space with the intent to de-clutter. Clear the clutter on countertops and off the floor. Make sure you have designated a place for each thing so that this process is quick: a place for bills and mail, a bin or basket for toys, and a coat rack by the front door to hang coats and bags.

4. 5 Things To Do 10 Minutes Before You Go To Bed

Pick Up Outerwear - It's easy to come home, take off your jacket, your shoes, your hat and get comfy! After all, that's what a home is for! But if your home is anything like ours, more than a days worth of shoes on the floor can be a disaster. Literally. Making sure that stray bits of clothing and shoes have been returned to their closets and baskets makes other chores on our list easier throughout the week.

And if things go haywire, I'll turn to our Reader Intelligence Report:
5.-7. Last Minute Tips & Tricks for Making a Messy House Seem Cleaner!

I usually wipe the hardwood floors with Bona cloth and spray some Mrs. Meyers around the house to make it smell like I've been cleaning! Don't underestimate the power of suggestion. - Parnassus

If it is an evening visit, use candles and dimmers on your lights. Our housekeeper was on a two week vakay and since we are super busy cleaning was not done. A friend recently stopped over one night unexpectedly called, and came so we just dimmed all of the lights and lit a few candles. Kept it bright enough not to seem like a love den but low enough to hide the fact that the carpets were a mess with dog hair from the three dogs we have and every inch of surface had dust on it. Our friend commented about how clean our house always is. - designerdude

Laundry baskets + Bathtub = Vanished clutter. There are times when the clutter just has to GO AWAY, so I keep handy extra laundry baskets. I go around the house and toss in whatever doesn't belong there. Then into the bathtub and close the curtain. (If guests are going to open my shower curtain, then they don't need to be my friends anymore!) - LisaGay

Please share your favorite always-guest-ready housekeeping tips and/or your favorite turtle!

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