My tidying the house strategy, for the longest time, has been this: it gets messy, I let it get messy, I have an epic cleaning day to clean it up. Been there, done that? Haven't we all? But actually, there is a better way...
Here it is: Don't clean up some of the time, clean up all the time. Cleaning needs to stop being a part of our schedule, and become part of our normal activity of living, like breathing. I realized recently that my house is the tidiest when my hands are just engaged in tidying as though it was part of their muscle memory, that they are doing it of their own accord - picking this up, wiping this down, moving this here and there.
Here's how to start: as you move between rooms of your house, pick something up that is in the room you were, but belongs in the room you are intending to be. As you wash your face at the sink the bathroom, tidy around the sink. As you wait for something to heat up in the microwave, or the kettle to boil, wipe down the benches or put away groceries.
It may seem crazy, tidying all the time. Like you will never get a rest. But actually, here's why it is so much better: because instead of special time being cleaning time, special time becomes the not-cleaning time. If your normal mode of operating is cleaning, then there can be this amazing, precious time at the end of the week that is rest. Stop the cleaning, sit in an armchair, read a book, read a book with your kids, go out to the park as a family. Give yourself a half day off, a whole day maybe. Because if you have been tidying all week, the weekend is reserved for the very best thing. That is what is left over after tidying all the time. Rest. Doesn't that sound great? Doesn't that make it all worth it?
*Re-edited from a post originally published 9.12.2013 - AB
(Image credits: Kathryn Bacalis from Rachel and Brett's Resourcefully Chic Family Home House Tour; Chris Perez from Misha & Nick's First Passive House in Texas)