Oprah used to say that your home should “rise up to greet you.” Isn’t that a nice sentiment? It does feel good to walk into (or stay at home all day in) a tidy house with gleaming furniture and a floor that feels nothing like the boardwalk at the beach.
And yet, I let my house go for weeks at a time without cleaning, only finally attacking the task because I’ve invited company over for the sole purpose of forcing myself to clean. I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year just to get my house spruced up for the holidays.  
Here’s how my pre-visitor-cleaning normally goes down:
1)      One week prior to our guests’ arrival, I begin stressing about how much there is to do. I think, I should do the master bath now, that way it will be sort of clean just in case anyone needs to use it in an emergency, but I won’t have to clean it in the two days leading up to visitors coming. I do a lot of thinking about how I should clean the master bathroom, but I don’t actually do it, because after all, there’s still a week left till our visitors arrive.
2)      Five days prior, I make a list of all the things that need to be done. After writing it out, I decide it would be way more organized if I put the list on an excel spreadsheet. That way I can save it for other occasions and print it up whenever I need it! Genius! When I sit down at the computer, I figure I’ll spend five minutes checking my Facebook feed. An hour later I decide that my hand-written list will be just fine, but at least I’ve printed what looks to be a super-delicious recipe for homemade granola bars. Here are a few of the things on my list: Pick up random crap lying around everywhere (none of it is mine), organize random crap (none of it is mine), sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, bathrooms, baseboards, mirrors, doors, doorknobs, and possibly walls (these last three are only dirty if you have kids), fan-blades, outdoor patio area, sweep front walk, weed flower beds. Oh and laundry because I can’t have laundry piling up when guests are over, and I don’t really want to do laundry while guests are here, either.
3)      Four days prior, I look at my list and map out how long each of my tasks is supposed to take. I underestimate on every single one of them so that I can justify going for a jog, playing My Little Pony with my three-year-old, or writing a blog instead of doing anything from my list.
4)      Three days prior to guests’ arrival, I look at my filthy, cluttered house and get super-disgusted with all of the crap lying around that was put there by someone other than myself. I say to myself, I’m not their servant! They can pick up all their shit before I’ll vacuum! And I go on strike until everyone picks up their crap.
5)      Two days prior, I yell at everyone about how I’m not a maid and whoever lives in this house needs to be responsible for picking up their own crap. I point, yell, and gesticulate wildly as I deliver my demands. The kids try to pick up their toys, but they are flustered because I’m issuing so many commands at once, so every task takes them ten times longer than it should. The husband is annoyed that I’m asking him to do stuff. The dog is hiding under the bed.
6)      The day before guests arrive, once I’m satisfied with my family’s efforts at not being filthy, selfish, lazy pigs, I really start cleaning. Mid-way through the upstairs hall bathroom, knowing I still have the half-bath and master-bath to clean, I decide that our family of four plus mother-in-law could really do fine with sharing just one bathroom. I think maybe I should take a break from cleaning and go to realtor.com to search for a home with less square footage. But I know I can’t procrastinate anymore, so I press on. As I finish the half bath, I realize I’ve completely forgotten to feed my three-year-old lunch and also we are almost out of milk, eggs, bread, cereal, coffee, and juice. So I load the three-year-old into the car and hand her a granola bar and a cheese stick to eat on the way to the grocery store.
7)      The day our guests are scheduled to arrive, I’m still scrambling to finish all the tasks from the day before because of course the laws of physics would not have allowed me to do all that stuff in one day while simultaneously taking care of a three-year-old. Duh. I make myself a stern mental note that next time, I really must start cleaning four days prior to guests’ arrival. I give the kids a couple of moist rags and some water-vinegar cleaner and assign them to clean the doors, doorknobs, and baseboards (they’re the ones that got them dirty anyway!) When I’m finally done with my cleaning, I light a candle and look around at my spotless house. I breathe a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction and think to myself, I should really put more effort into keeping my house clean. This feels GREAT. I think I’ll even clean the master-bath after my guests leave! 
8)      And then, as the doorbell rings, I notice the windows are filthy and the kitchen-island light has cobwebs hanging from it.
So how do you clean your house? Is your routine anything like mine?


  1. I was LOLing all along, Kristen! OMG – this is SO ME and I don’t even have any kids. heheheheheh

    So the RANDOM CRAP is all mine! lol No, wait, it is actually my hubby’s *that jerk* 😛

    I don’t even enter ‘his’ room – aka our guest room with his closet – because it is literally a PIG STY! I simply apologize to my guests and move on! heehhehe

    I ONLY clean when someone makes a planned visit – god bless unplanned visitors!! 😉

    Sorry for all the Caps Locks, but LOVED IT! <<>>

    • I think we need to start an international movement encouraging moms to teach their boys to pick the frick up after themselves. My husband didn’t even know how to use a vacuum when I met him. WTF.

  2. “I’m not their servant! They can pick up all their shit before I’ll vacuum!” And I go on strike until everyone picks up their crap.

    My wife and I went that way with our kids a couple of years ago. We conditionally surrendered about a week later.

    • I’ve been a stickler on it. It means living with mess for a few days, sometimes weeks, but I always make everyone pick up their own crap. If I get REALLY desperate, I’ll load up said crap into a box and tell people they have until a certain date to put away their stuff or the box is going out with the trash. =)

  3. Anonymous

    Are you sure I didn’t read this?
    The only real difference is we only have 1 bathroom (usual in Belgium) and 2 cats….

    • You’re in Belgium??? Are you American? How do you get to live in Belgium? (I WANT TO LIVE IN BELGIUM)

  4. Anonymous

    I meant are you sure I didn’t WRITE this….

  5. I have a big, ass grin on my face! 😀

    We’re have a small Thanksgiving here for about 10 people that I have to cook for and also CLEAN for. Ugh! I usually clean only what people will see. So I shut the blinds (to hide the dirty windows), close the office door (to hide all the odd crap) and if someone is nosy enough to peek around my house, they deserve what they see!

  6. Anonymous

    That sounds remarkably like my routine! Although i do try to clean up a little on the weekends.. But with 4 boys, 1 hubby, and my dad living here… My house looks like a tornado went through it more often than not. And i now have my in-laws coming over for Thanksgiving! EEK!!

  7. It is as if we were separated at birth. This is totally me. I’m mortified if anyone ever shows up unannounced. Having a newborn was a good excuse. She’s now 8 months. I’m going to have to come up with something new…

    • Well that’s just a relief. I always assume everyone else always has it together way more than I do. =)

  8. Anonymous

    I just read this on mamapedia! You are so funny! I believe I have visited your blog before but I just had to tell you how I managed to solve the company/house cleaning issue. It is soooo simple! I have a very tiny house. Yes, it fills up quickly and we don’t really care how dirty it is, but it also doesn’t lend itself to having more than 4 or 5 adults in it at one time. Since my children are now adults the house feels just at the right capacity when we are all home. All 3 of us, cause we also have the cats and the dog. No holiday hosting for us. No need to force clean. We’ll get to it when we get to it. like maybe when you want to eat and all the forks are dirty. Time to do the dishes… HAHA!

  9. I could not stop laughing as I read and re-read this post. I too am a SAHM and I think we just all deserve that ‘mysterious magical salary of 200k’ that gets written about. Love love love your blog, I will be reading all of your posts and forgoing any cleaning until I’m finished

  10. Pingback: Holiday Cleaning Tips