It happens to us all – a day when things aren’t going as planned and it feels like everything is out of control. It can be tempting to throw in the towel and pour a giant glass of wine. And maybe that’s the best option once in a great while. However, that just adds pressure to the next day and doesn’t usually make you feel very good about yourself. I have a better idea: A three phase plan for getting back on track.
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Let’s say it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You’re still in your pajamas, the house is in total disarray, you have no idea what’s for dinner and you basically feel like life is out of control.
Hey, it happens to the best of us. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t compare yourself to that friend with the spotless house who always has it together (Note: She probably doesn’t.)
Instead, we’re going to take a deep breath and redeem the day. Go light a scented candle or get the essential oils going in your diffuser. Turn on some music, a favorite podcast or an audiobook and let’s get back on track!
- Get dressed. Nothing fancy, just neat and clean. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on some lipstick. Don’t get carried away and start experimenting with some exotic eyeliner technique but do take a few minutes to make yourself look presentable.
- Make the bed. I know you’re just going to get back in it in a few hours but it makes the room look so much better and it’s nice to climb into a neat bed at night. You deserve that.
- Toss in a load of laundry. Now, maybe you have a one-day-a-week laundry system and this isn’t your laundry day. If your system in running flawlessly, fine. But let’s be honest. If everything is falling down around your ears there’s a good chance laundry is out of control, too. Go ahead and put in a load. It won’t hurt a thing.
- Do the dishes. If you have clean dishes in the dishwasher or dish drainer (or both), put those away first. Load the dishwasher, if you have one, or fill your sink with hot, soapy water and make quick work of those dirty dishes.
- Decide what to do about dinner. Do you need to pull something out of the freezer to thaw? Is there some part of the meal that needs to be started now? Or maybe this is the night to order pizza. Just make a plan so when 5 o’clock rolls around you’ll know how your family will be fed that night.
Okay, let’s take a minute to evaluate the situation. You are dressed and won’t scare the UPS delivery man. Your bed is made, you’ll have clean clothes for tomorrow, the dishes are done and you know what your dinner plans are. Good job!
You could stop at this point and feel pretty good about things.
But maybe you have a bit more time and are feeling a bit more motivated now. Let’s move on.
This is where you restore basic order in the main living areas of your home. We aren’t scrubbing baseboards or reorganizing the linen closet here. No, we are simply tidying up so things look relatively neat.
Our focus will be on the entry area, the primary living area (living room, family room or den), kitchen and bathroom (if you have more than one, just pick the one guests would use).
- Entry – Put away the pile of shoes or at least straighten them up. Quickly put away things that don’t belong in this area. Sweep or vacuum if needed. Just take 5 minutes to address this area of first impressions.
- Living room – Again, put away things that don’t belong in this room. Fold blankets, fluff pillows, toss trash, neaten up the piles. Vacuum just the main traffic area. Remember, this is 5 or 10 minutes to restore a bit of visual order. You aren’t cleaning right now.
- Kitchen – You’ve already done the dishes so all we are going to do now is a quick wipe down of the counters, put away or at least straighten up stuff on the counters, and sweep or vacuum just the obvious stuff on the floor. Set the table. There’s something about a table set for dinner which feels sort of “1950s Housewife“.
- Bathroom – Again, we’re just taking 5 minutes or so to make things look better. Put away grooming supplies. Hang up or straighten bath towels. Wipe splatters from the mirror. Squirt a bit of cleaner in the toilet and give it a quick swish. Quickly wipe the sink and countertop. Set out a fresh hand towel, make sure there is soap and toilet paper. Good enough!
By now you have restored basic order to your surroundings. Good job! Let’s take it a step further and shift the focus to YOU. It’s all too easy to spend the bulk of each day on the hamster wheel of domestic tedium. Yet you deserve attention and care, too.
- Take a short walk or do some other type of body movement. You could turn on your favorite song and dance. Do a few yoga poses. Jog in place. Stretch. Just something to get your body in motion for a few minutes. Don’t look at this as a “workout”. We’re simply showing our body a bit of love by moving it.
- Meditate, pray or simply sit quietly for a few minutes.
- Sip a cup of tea, coffee or your favorite beverage.
- Make a to-do list for tomorrow. You can combine this one with the tea-sipping above. Consider this day “done” and plan to start fresh tomorrow. You’ve covered the essentials for today. Call it good and move on. In the words of Scarlet O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
It’s possible to do all three phases in about 90 minutes if you stay focused and don’t allow yourself to start cleaning out a closet or reorganizing your spices. I find it helpful to pretend someone just called and said they are coming to visit in less than two hours. Sure, we should take care of our homes for ourselves and not visitors but the truth is most of us do care what someone else thinks of our homemaking. We might as well use that as motivation, right?
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