Picking up versus cleaning up

tripletmom83October 11, 2012

Hi everyone. I've been thinking about this goal of having a comfortable, neat, clean house that I am always proud to invite guests into. There are two processes involved. On this forum we concentrate on the "picking up" versus the "cleaning up", by which I mean mops, brooms, vacuums, sprays, cleansers,you get the drift. I actually don't mind the "cleaning" process, so long as I'm starting with a picked up house. It is so much easier to clean a clean house than a messy one. But I think you get more bang for your buck picking up and straightening out than you do shining and polishing. A neat house gives the impression of being clean,even if it isn't, but a messy house doesn't look clean even if there is not a drop of dust or dirt anywhere. So I think the priority has to be getting things picked up and put away. All that being said, I do enjoy the scrubbing and shining kind of cleaning much more. Probably because there is not as much decision-making involved. It is mindless. I know what I have to do,and how to do it. The results are immediate and clearly visible. With the "picking up" things are not always so clear. We have what I call "challenge spots". These are those flat surfaces that get piled with the stuff that nobody knows what to do with. Or that doesn't fit anywhere. I have successfully eliminated a few of these, for example I put a basket on the table near the front door for DH to deposit his wallet, keys, and phone when he comes into the house. My purse holds those things and that goes directly into the closet. I know that it is wise to remove your shoes when you enter the house, but having five pairs of shoes in the front hallway is really messy looking. Other than insisting that everyone put their shoes in their rooms, or carrying them all up myself, is there a good solution? Also, I think we get so used to our own "challenge spots" that we don't notice them anymore. I like to start at the front door and try to look at the house as if I were a visitor.This helps me see those messy spots that I have gotten immune to.

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"Picking up" is what I do the night before the nice lady comes that does the "cleaning up".


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:10PM
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LOL at Barbara!

I do the same.

The other reason that picking up is so important is that it makes the actual CLEANING go SO much faster.

You can clean a room in 20 minutes, if it's totally picked up (and if you're not someone w/ lots of knickknacks).

I do prefer picking up, so that's part of why I have a cleaning lady.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 3:05AM
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if you are having problems with the picking up, with having to think about where to put things, then you have things in your house that need a home.

What I'd do is let those flat surfaces collect all their junk for a week. Then take that junk, sit down with it and really look at it.

Try to divide things into categories. Maybe you have mail, magazines, papers from work, shopping bags with things that have to be put away, a dog leash, papers from school, permission slips, birthday cards, a cell phone charger.

Take each category one by one, and brainstorm places where that stuff could go. Could be a drawer, the wastepaper basket, another basket for "things that we need to think about," a closet shelf. You should probably bring your DH into the discussion, so that he is on the same page as you.

I also find that I need a temporary dumping spot, when I come home from running errands and my hands are full. In my case, it's the dining room table, which is close to my front door. I allow myself to put shopping bags on the table and my purse and coat on the back of a chair. But I have to come back and clean everything off and put it away within half an hour. My coat goes in the closet, my purse on a hook on the back of a door, and the contents of the shopping bags go wherever they belong.

For the shoes, I'd go shopping for some sort of shoe organizer or a small shelf to hold them. You can find ones that will hide the shoes, or ones that will just store them neatly in plain sight. You will have to judge how willing your family will be to open a cabinet/drawer to put their shoes away to know which kind to buy.

I know myself, and I have to make it easy to put stuff away. So if I were a shoes-off-in-the-house person, I'd have a simple shelf that I could easily plop my shoes onto. I wouldn't have the patience to mess about with opening a door or drawer multiple times a day to retrieve and put away shoes. Some families get by with a large basket for all the shoes.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Camlan wrote: " Then take that junk, sit down with it and really look at it."

This is really important, I think. Look at WHY stuff is out,and where else it ought to be.

And don't just say, "oh, I'm an awful person who can't be neat."

Assume that there's a REASON you find it hard to put stuff away. Maybe there's too much stuff in the place that's most sensible to put it. Maybe its designated place is too difficult!

But start from the assumption that the problem isn't so much YOU.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:41AM
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To me,housekeeping does have two main chores: Picking up and real cleaning. I know HOW TO CLEAN. It's easy. But maintaining order is so hard.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 5:19PM
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Exactly Jannie! Also it always involves everyone in the family. I remember when my three kids went off to college and returned home for the first time. One of my sons said "Hey it turns out that Mom and Dad are really very neat."
Now it is just DH and I at home, but we are still "storing" a lot of the kids stuff. Every time they visit I try to unload some of it, but they are too smart to take it. Just last weekend we presented the boys with a box that had all their old baseball trophies and framed team pictures. They didn't want them. But both my DH and I were too nostalgic to toss them,or donate. So the box went back in the basement. We are getting rid of stuff, but there is still a lot that we are keeping and probably shouldn't be.
Sorry, I got off track there.
Now I have a much neater house, but there are still some areas that need improvement.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:16PM
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I remember once, when she was maybe 12 or 14, my older daughter cleaned her room. All her sports and dancing trophies went in the garbage, her choice. I felt bad, "rescued" them, put them in a box in the attic. Several years later, the attic was looking pretty full, so I put the box in the garbage myself. She no longer wanted them, her soccer and ballet years were long past, and I needed the room. I try to donate things I can, like shoes and clothing and unneeded furniture and small appliances. But no one wants "used" trophies. Perhaps if you have photos of your kids actually playing a sport, those photos belong in an album but you can get the trophies out of the basement. I know exactly what everyone is going through. Childhood and the teen years are wonderful, but they slip by so fast and you can't save everything.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:30AM
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I put a shoe sorter right beside the back door in the kitchen bit looks a little strange because its something that normally goes Ina closet but it WORKS. The kids take off their shoes and put them in the little cubbies. It's about the height of a counter so I use the top for a basket for incoming mail.

And I agree - picking up is hard and cleaning is easy! I love to clean but hate to pick up!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Fori is not pleased

We have a metal bucket (I think it's for holding ice and beer at parties) by the back door for shoes. It's not terribly attractive but it catches the spouse's large shoes. Unless you have delicate shoes, I'd just get a nice large low basket. Any shoes likely to get scuffed will have to go in the closet.

If you have space for a bench to slide the basket under, even better.

As far as picking up vs cleaning up, yeah. Totally.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Maybe the solution is to do either/or but not both types of chores in the same day. Organize a room, then clean it. I was watching Hording Buried Alive last night. They had a woman, a former teacher, who had 2,000 totes in her home, neatly arranged but full of stuff she no longer needed, hobby supplies, many books, school supplies. It was neatly organized but they hit the nail on the head when they said "You have too much stuff for this small house." To add to it, she was reluctant to give anything away. She picked 16 items she was willing to donate, but that made no dent in the 2,000 "organized" labelled tote boxes. Her daughter (an adult) was very upset. No neat, happy end , showing her well-organized beautiful home. They left her with her overcrowded house and her many issues, which included family deaths, isolation, and her shopping addiction. Truly scary stuff.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Wow - I saw a similar show but don't think it was Hoarders. The woman lived in Manhattan and her entire flat was floor to ceiling shelves, rows and rows of them in every room. Things were clean but still a mess since it was impossible to live in the flat. She slept in a sleeping bag between two sets of shelves.

Ok, this is motivating me to go find 25 things to donate to Goodwill!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:25PM
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My house is neat, but not spotless. I do think I get away with less cleaning, just because things are organized. When I do clean, it is way easier to do, than in a house that is packed with stuff.

My kids had no problem throwing out trophies, once they grew up--especially the ones that everybody got just for showing up. I donated the ones that I was able to remove names from. Others went in trash. Theirs were mostly plastic ones.

Interesting topic!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:04PM
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So I 'picked up' last night. In the process, I needed to store some Costco quantity food boxes, and found some space in a lower cabinet. Spent some time on my knees moving things and putting away some things. It affirms my decision to have a person 'clean up'.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:53PM
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