3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Home Guest-Ready

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Everyone has those days - the house is a mess, nothing is put away... then the doorbell rings. Ugh! The last thing you want is someone to come in and see the disaster! I have found a few things to keep in mind, for keeping my home guest-ready. Regardless of the day's craziness, I can keep my sanity and not worry as much about drop-by's if I stick to these couple of self-imposed rules.

1. Give Everything A Home

I am an organizer in my core. I dislike having things strewn about, without a home. I give everything a home - a permanent place it stays when not in use. If I let things just pile up in a corner or on the table, I feel completely out of control. Ok, so I may have a problem; giving everything a home, though, helps with quick clean-ups and last minute organizing to entertain or welcome someone in unexpectedly.

2. Pick Up As You Go

I am all for kids staying busy and doing lots of projects and learning through play. HOWEVER, I am also a stickler for picking up as you finish playing with or using something. My boys will get all their matchbox cars out to play, but I am always sure to have them pick it all up before they go play something else. My girls play Barbie or Legos or dolls, but I make sure they clean it up before they start a project or go in the basement to play dress-up. It makes the day go much more smoothly because we don't have a huge pile of toys, games or projects to clean up at the end of the day. It also helps my sanity if someone comes by. I don't have to clear a path for them to walk in the door because there should be only ONE activity out the kids are playing with (or a few, if the kids are playing different things...but you get my point). We lose enough pieces to games and toy sets as it is; I cannot imagine how much more we would lose or break if we didn't clean up after we were done playing with a particular item.

We do one big clean up time before lunch, and I usually end up helping them because they get distracted and start playing again! And we have one smaller 5 minute pick up time before Dad gets home, so things aren't all over the floor when he walks in.

3. Clean Every Day

Cleaning is therapeutic.... for me. There are some days, though, that I would rather not clean a thing. With seven people in our house, it is impossible for me to clean only once a week. The dirt and grime just builds up and annoys me to no end. Plus, if I leave cleaning for just one day a week.... what happens if something comes up that day? Or if someone comes by... the day before I clean? I set out to clean a little bit each day, leaving only the big items or the deep cleaning for once a week.

I wash laundry every day, at least one load. I vacuum about every other day, at least on the main level - the rooms that guests would normally see. I keep the kitchen cleaned up and the counters wiped down. I keep the bathroom on the main level clean, lightly cleaning it each day (or a couple times a day if the kids come in really dirty from outside and decide to splash the mud everywhere outside of the sink. Of course, that never happens. Ha!)

Sure, it takes time and I have to set aside time to do it, but it really cuts down on the amount of time I have to clean on my deep clean days. On those days, then, I just have to tackle the longer cleaning projects like showers and washing floors. And when I notice fingerprints all over a window, even on a day when I'm not cleaning windows, I wipe it down rather than wait. It takes a whole two minutes to clean, so why not do it then, instead of waiting to do it all on one day?

I don't get a lot of people dropping in, but I don't mind making plans last minute now for friends to come over.... because I won't have a lot of prep to clean up. And I can spend my time in my favorite place - THE KITCHEN! - making something yummy to share with our guests.

How do you feel when unexpected guests stop by? Is your house ready or do you panic?