Guest Ready



A few years ago I read a trick somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, but it went something like this: A friend calls you and says they’re in the neighborhood. Can they stop by in about 10 minutes? What do you do? Do you panic, and run around your house straightening up and cleaning and pushing things into closets like that scene in the beginning of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? Suddenly the mess seems overwhelming; how are you supposed to get ready for company in 10 minutes when you have to spend hours on the weekend cleaning it?

That’s the trick: rather than spending hours doing everything at once (on your precious weekend, no less!) keep your home within 10 minutes of being “guest ready” by doing a little bit every day. For me it’s making the bed every morning, wiping down the bathroom counters with a Clorox wipe, tossing laundry in a hamper, keeping newspapers and magazines stacked and off of surfaces. Then all the “big stuff” that’s left to do on the weekends is vacuuming or mopping the floors, something your guests likely won’t even notice when they pop over unannounced (for the record, this has never actually happened. I just like a clean house and this justifies it, haha).

I’ve also heard a variation on this called the “20 minutes a day” rule, which is sort of the same thing: spend 20 minutes each weekday doing one cleaning task (dusting, scrubbing toilets, folding laundry) so that it never becomes overwhelming all at once. Do you guys subscribe to something similar? It’s so much nicer to walk in the door after work and see clutter-free surfaces and a made bed. What about you?

21 thoughts on “Guest Ready

  1. Have you heard of the Fly Lady website? You might like her. She has that 10 minute pick up or 10 things or something like that. I really like her and then she gets overwhelming.

    I would say we’re generally guest ready. I do a quick Friday clean up so the weekends aren’t spent slaving away (we used to do that until I realized I resented the HELL out of it), and I try to straighten as I go. There are always things I/we could do better. Aren’t there?! We have a couple places that attract clutter (like the kitchen island), but when I get to feeling down about it, I’m reminded of something that a friend of mine (and mom of four) said when she was giving me a tour of their home (they’d just finished a reno). “We live in our house.” There was folded laundry on the dining room table waiting for one child to take to his room and sippy cups in the sink. She’d been doing puzzles with her son when I stopped by. So when I get upset about the clutter I try to remember that, my house is a place to live in, not to show off! Gah. That woman is my role model in so many ways!

    1. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you just referenced the Fly lady! It is the first “blog” I ever subscribed to way back in the day. It’s the first online subscription of any sort and any kind in my world. I don’t even know how long ago that was, yeeeeaaaars. That site is still around Lauren?! I have to say my mom told me about it but would get so many emails from them it used to drive me bonkers. I am just going to have to look that up now and see what the site looks like all these years later :)

    2. I’ve never heard of this FlyLady character! Dare I go sign up? It might help me to even make a simple schedule to hang on the fridge so it keeps me motivated. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I seriously just want to leave my dishes in the sink and pretend I don’t see them for two days, haha. I love your friend’s words of wisdom. A house is meant to be lived in, for sure! But I think people also take advantage of that and can be a bit too slovenly for my taste. But that’s why it’s their home and not mine! xo

  2. ugh, i clean on the weekends, i clean way more that 20 f^%$#&% minutes a day and there is no way that my house is ever guest ready, unless, maybe you stop by at the exact minute I stopped cleaning, and still i will have to be all neurotic and make you watch me stuff some stuff in the closet. i love my children, i love my life, but that’s the real nightmare part of it for me – that’s my daily turmoil. i know cry me river. it is more important to be living in my house than my fantasies of having a clean and organized house . . . i guess. xo

    1. You have three sons! Cut yourself some slack! I can barely keep up after my dog who always seems to want to take every toy out the minute I gather them up and put them in his basket. Sometimes he manages to dump the basket over just to be cute. I think there’s definitely an unfair level of aspiration with all these homes we see on Pinterest and on blogs. We forget they’re staged specifically for the photos! Normal people can’t live every day in totally sterile, super-neat environments. Right? xo

  3. You KNOW I’ve relaxed my standards! You father used to call the house ‘Hospital Aseptic’. Of course, the woman who cleans will no longer come once a week because she swears the house is too clean. You’re place is always comfortable and welcoming.

    1. Yeah, considering you once made me scrub the bathtub grout with a toothbrush, I’m pretty sure I’m aware of your previous standards. Hell, you even let the dog upstairs now! That’s progress in and of itself. xo

  4. I think I’m super crazy about this type of thing – I make my bed every morning, cannot stand having anything sit on the floor, hang my clothes up, dirty laundry is always hidden in the walls (thanks new apartment), swiffer the floors obsessively every day. So please, do stop by!

    1. The coffee table is my Everest. And the bench at the end of our bed. Those two surfaces seem to accumulate the most clutter and make the spaces look messy if there’s anything on them. It’s tough! I clearly need to be a stay-at-home fiancĂ©e and take care of all this stuff! Haha xo

  5. yes yes i totally follow that rule! i fail to make my bed everyday since steven sleeps in longer than i do and doesn’t make the bed when he gets up (unless i’m sad like these past two days. he knows house work cheers me up). i do tidy up everyday so that everything is in it’s place. however, i’d like to add the clorox wiping the bathroom down to my routine! that would definitely be a time saver and a dirty bathroom is totally one of my biggest pet peeves.

    1. The bathroom counter is always so dirty and I can’t figure out why considering it’s where you use soap and toothpaste, neither of which should be that messy. It’s a big help, just wiping it down, and it’s really quick! I like that Steven does make the bed when he knows you need cheering up. That’s a good guy. xo

  6. I live in a studio apartment and don’t have the option of clutter or knick knacks. I keep my scrapbooking supplies in photo boxes and baskets on my book shelves. I follow the one in one out rule. For every item that comes into my apartment something has to goes out.

    I have the same daily cleaning routine of wiping the sink, making the bed, and I make sure my dishes are done every night before I go to bed.

    I also do my laundry and mop on the weekends. I usually have to vaccuum twice a week. Dirt accumulates quickly in one room!

    You place is so neat and tidy, and it has the right amount of charm and comfort. You do a great job!

    1. I love that rule. I follow it for clothing, haha, hence those bags to go to Goodwill sitting in my closet that you saw. Studio/small space living was my favorite, because you really have to be so discerning over every single thing you bring into your apartment. And it makes you think about each piece of furniture and storage options and keeps you from cluttering things up. I miss it! I like your cleaning routines! I’m a big vacuumer, too :) xo

  7. Oh, I do like keeping my house tidy, I find it depressing coming back to a messy place after a busy day at the office but things of course get out of hands on a regular basis. One tip I heard is that if you only have a few minutes you should get the bathroom in order because that’s where the guest will be on their own and notice the mess. I wish I always had snacks for a surprise guest!

    1. That’s a really good piece of advice! Not that I love scrubbing toilets or washing floors, but I definitely see why that’s so important for guests. And I agree with you. The last thing I want to do when I come home from work is start dusting. Oy. I’m getting annoyed just thinking about it! xo

  8. I have choirs that I do every day but I have a tornado toddler who loves making messes. :) So my habit is picking up everyday and then one day a week do vacuuming/dusting/bathrooms. Oh the joys of cleaning.

    1. Haha, I don’t think we can fault her for that! The good news is that when she’s older you can delegate chores to her, and then everyone wins! (Right? That’s what kids are for? haha). xo

  9. hmmm… I keep the house kinda tidy, too. I hate cleaning days, so I do a little every day. that said, if someone comes unannounced, I think they can handle a little messiness. I refuse to go all crazy just because someone is coming for a visit (unless it’s someone important, of course). this reminds me too much of my mother who always obsessed about these things. and somehow, all her fussing about appearances took away from actually enjoying time with whoever was there. so I promised myself to never become like her. my friends know that I live in a certain creative mess. and I think (hope!) they’re o with it :)

    1. Haha that’s a good way to look at it. I don’t know who would know me well enough to be able to to drop by unannounced and at the same time expect me to have the house spotless. The queen mum isn’t making her way to my neighborhood anytime soon, haha. I grew up with a similarly obsessive clean-freak for a mother, and yeah, it could be really frustrating (she knows already :). I definitely don’t want to chase my kids around the house with a vacuum cleaner and bottle of spray bleach or anything, but I cannot deal with leaving things out for no reason. If you’re done with it, put it away. I’ll start calling my stuff a “creative mess” and that might make me feel better! :) xo

  10. I used to be quite organised and religiously run through the entire house cleaning once a week, but since being home, it’s gone a bit awry. Things seem to get dirtier quicker and I’ll just do bits here and there on almost a daily basis. I’m quite tidy though, I can’t stand stuff (mine or anyones) lying around. And the bed always gets made, every single day x

    1. Ever heard the old adage, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”? I think that’s what would happen to my cleaning plan if I ever started working from home. As it is now, I HAVE to schedule cleaning around other things (work!) to ensure it gets done. I think there would be too much temptation to say, “Well, I’ll be home tomorrow, too, so what’s the rush?” haha. I like that I’m not alone in making the bed! xo

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