You deserve a clean house!I’ve had a hectic month. I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve been helping my eldest son move out of town to start his first “real” job… and I’ve been neglecting my work and my home. So when things finally settled down last week, I found myself facing some tight deadlines. But when I sat down to get to work on some of my writing assignments, I found I was having a hard time focusing. I was not accomplishing anything. As I sat in front of my keyboard, I would look around and see nothing but MESS: piles of unread newspapers and mail on the kitchen counters, rumpled clothes (my own!) thrown into heaps on the bedroom floor, loads of clean laundry that needed to be put away, dirty dishes in the sink, and, heck—Lent had begun, and our boxes of Christmas decorations were still stacked at the bottom of the basement steps, waiting to be put into storage. I hadn’t wanted to take the time to clean any of this stuff up because I had real WORK to do, darn it! But the truth was, just being surrounded by the mess was causing me to waste my valuable time. It was stressing me out and it was making it hard for me to concentrate. That’s when the old cliché popped into my brain: “Messy house, messy mind!” It suddenly made perfect sense to me. Deepak Chopra once wrote: “Unhappy people with messy emotions live in messy houses; happy, contented people live in orderly houses.” I believe there is something to this, but I don’t believe that being unhappy necessarily leads to mess or that being happy leads to order — I think it works the other way around, at least in my case. Being surrounded by chaos can lead to stress and unhappiness, for lots of reasons. It’s stressful to see mess and feel that you really should be cleaning it up instead of doing whatever it is you’re currently doing, whether that be working or trying to relax in front of the TV. It’s stressful to have to worry about being embarrassed by the state of your home if your friends or neighbor unexpectedly drop by. When my kids were young, I felt like I had an excuse for not cleaning my house. I was a big proponent of the “Pardon my mess, my kids are making memories” school of thought. But deep down I think I realized—that is utter BULL CRAP. Studies have shown that children are negatively affected by an environment of mess and chaos, too, which can lead to trouble concentrating on homework and even depression and anxiety. The importance of keeping a house clean goes far beyond clutter, of course. A dirty, dusty home can affect our families’ physical health as well as our mental health, for obvious reasons. Germs on surfaces cause the spread of illnesses, and a build-up of dust and mold can cause asthma and other chronic allergic reactions. If you are like me and you are not a naturally neat and tidy person, you don’t want to hear any of this. Maybe you think I am being all judgy, and you, like me, feel like you don’t have the time or the energy to be constantly cleaning, and you have better things to do. Listen—I agree with you. But cleaning doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Just taking a few extra minutes each day to clear off a surface or put away some clothes can help a lot. Getting house cleaning services in Westminster MD like Immaculate Clean to come in on a regular basis can make a world of difference, too. I know it costs money, and I know it takes some effort—we all do the “clean before the cleaning person” thing. But I have come to think of it as a form of self-care. Most of us go to great lengths to make our home look clean(er) when we know guests are coming. Why do we respect our guests more than we respect ourselves? You deserve the peace that comes from a clean house, and your family does, too.
How to be the Hostess with the Most-estIt’s October, y’all! That means the big “hosting” holidays begin next month. Are you ready? Because my family lives in a college town, our hosting duties are not limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have overnight guests for just about every home football game, as well as other big events like festivals and concerts and other sporting events. Also, because we are geographically located halfway between my parents’ house and my brother’s family’s home, we are frequently the host site for any family gatherings that come up during the year. I just looked over my calendar to try to calculate how many days we’ve had overnight guests so far this year, and I came up with 40 as a rough estimate. That’s 40 overnight guests since January. So you could say I’m kind of a pro, although I don’t get paid—except in memories and countless bottles of wine. (Which I’m not knocking! Please don’t stop bringing me wine as a hostess gift!) I’m no Martha Stewart. I mean, for one thing, I’ve never been arrested for insider trading; and I also don’t leave little chocolates and towel origami on my guests’ beds, and if you’re staying here, don’t expect to wake up to the smell of cinnamon buns made from scratch coming from my oven. But I have learned a few things over the years about the best ways to get ready for overnight guests. If you’re planning on hosting guests this holiday season, here are a few tips.
Actually, I lied. I only have ONE real tip. And that tip is:
Seriously. That’s the tip, and it is absolutely crucial to being a good host or hostess. So if you want to know how I go about getting organized, I’m about to fill you in.
First of all, I am a huge believer in lists— and I mean the good, old-fashioned, written on lined paper with a pen kind of lists. When I have guests coming for a weekend, I start several different lists the Monday before. One is a menu, one is a shopping list, and one is a to-do list.
Even if you are not planning on hosting a big dinner for your guests during their stay, you need to think about this. This part is not always easy for me, because I have some dietary restrictions and I tend to forget to stock my kitchen with foods that normal people can eat. So I really have to think this one through systematically. Think about what people might like for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages, and write it all down, even the smallest, most obvious detail.
Then, go through your kitchen and take inventory. Which of the things on your menu do you already have, and which do you need? If you’re going to be cooking, look at your recipes and take inventory of any ingredients you might need. Next, go through your guest bedrooms and bathrooms and take inventory of any supplies you might need there. Do you have enough toilet paper? Tissues? Shampoo? Soap? This kind of inventory-taking should naturally lead you to completing list #2: The Shopping List.
But think about other things while taking inventory. What else could you include in the bedroom or bathroom to make a guest’s stay more comfortable? Do you have clean towels and sheets? Do you have any magazines or books they can flip through? Do any light bulbs need to be replaced? Do you have coffee mugs at the ready in the kitchen and Dixie cups by the bathroom sink?
The To-Do List.
Now you’re ready to make the to-do list. Include every little thing that needs to be done in order to be ready for your guests, from grocery shopping to doing laundry to making the beds, and try to put it on some kind of a timeline.
The most important things on your to-do list will probably involve cleaning. You want to make sure your bathrooms are spotless, your floors are swept, and there’s no dust gathering in the guest room that may not have been used since *last* Thanksgiving.
Call Immaculate Clean
When you’re focusing on the menu and the shopping as well as whatever else takes up your time during your regular daily routine—like going to work, or running kids around, or whatever—cleaning for company, and doing it well, is not always easy to fit in. This is a perfect time to call on Immaculate Clean! Even if you do not have them on a regular cleaning schedule, they are available for one-time cleans and will do a great job of getting your house company-ready so you can focus on everything else that goes into being the hostess with the most-est.
Once you’ve checked everything off your lists and your house is clean, there is only one thing left to do—and this is perhaps my most important tip: Relax and ENJOY your time as host or hostess! It’s a privilege to be able to host friends and family. You’ve done the work; now don’t forget to cherish your time together!
June’s Transitions Bring Celebrations and Challenges
I once heard the month of June described as the “gateway to summer.” I can appreciate that sentiment, for sure. But, as the parent of a graduating high school senior, I find myself thinking about how June is the gateway to so much more.
To me, June is truly a season of beginnings and endings. It’s a time to celebrate so many things, like weddings, graduations, and even just the arrival of summer! But each of these wonderful occasions represent a time of transition, and all transition brings some challenge and stress.
Now that I have a kid on the brink of leaving the nest, I look back and remember, somewhat remorsefully, how I often let the arrival of summer cause our family stress. After the busyness of a long school year, the transition into a less-structured summer routine brings sometimes unexpected challenges. Finding a good balance between wanting to create fun summer memories, yet maintaining some semblance of order and productivity for our kids, all while maintaining our own professional lives—it’s hard. Add to that the fact that no matter how old your kids are, having more people in the house for more hours a day obviously will translate to more messes and more things to clean.
Now that my youngest son is about to graduate and move on to college, I long for those simpler kinds of challenges. This transition is much more monumental. On the one hand, it’s a sentimental, nostalgic time for a parent; if you’ve ever made a graduation party slideshow, you know the strange combination of tears and joy and pride that come with looking back at how your child has changed over the years in this way; it’s hard to let go of the past.
On the other hand, I also have to admit to having developed a serious case of “senioritis” right along with my son. The last half of senior year in particular is so crazy, so hectic, so up and down, between college acceptances, AP tests, senior nights, banquets, ceremonies, Prom, finals, graduation parties, dorm essentials shopping— it’s a lot of big stuff packed into a relatively short amount of time. I will be ready to celebrate the end of that madness for sure.
This intersection of sentimentality about the passing of time and the relief of putting some things behind us, mixed with the excitement of watching the future unfold— that’s what we will be celebrating this month. And you know, I think that’s true for almost everyone, whether you have a child graduating from preschool, a son or daughter getting ready to walk down the aisle, or a loved one with a big upcoming birthday or anniversary. Although this can seem like a chaotic time, it’s important to take time to reflect and celebrate together; it really does make those transitions easier.
Of course, there are stresses that come with the prospect of throwing a party. Don’t let worrying about cleaning your house be one of those stresses. Immaculate Clean can help you with their “Summer Stress Relief” offer! During month of June and July, book a One Time Pre and/or Post Party Clean and receive $40 off! (Some restrictions apply.)