It is a truth universally acknowledged that last-minute guests want to visit busy families during the holiday season. We're expected to be gracious and offer last minute hospitality to these pop-ins, but don't people know how young families live? Not in an orderly fashion, to put it mildly. So how exactly are moms supposed to fake a clean house in 10 minutes (or whatever tiny fraction of time your guests give you as notice)?
Over the years, each child of mine has taken a turn leaving a cereal milk puddle to congeal on the counter while we all assume our burdens for the day. Breakfast dishes are strewn haphazardly around the kitchen, as are clothes that have been unearthed from the dryer and discarded in the living room when a better option reveals itself. The disarray of every morning all stays where it is until we return to restore our surroundings later in the day. Of course during the holiday season, that mess gets even messier... and the likelihood of surprise visitors popping in before it gets cleaned up is much, much higher. So should you receive the dreaded call that someone wants to "pop in" for a quick visit in the middle of your daily mess, here's how to achieve the illusion of a tidy home.
1. Clear the Floor & Countertops
Organization is not the point here. Youtube vlogger Jordan Page recommends grabbing laundry baskets (assuming they aren't already full of clothes waiting to be folded) and tossing everything you can inside. You can hide them in closets, the garage, your car — anywhere your guests are unlikely to go.
2. Load The Dishwasher
As the website Kitchn says, even people who tend to always have a clean kitchen sometimes fake it, so now it's your turn. Stash the dishes in the dishwasher. Don't worry if the dishes inside are clean, just take enough out to place the dirty ones in — it doesn't hurt anything to put them through two cycles if necessary. Also, if you don't have time to actually wash the dishes, toss them in the sink and cover with soapy water. The point is to give guests the illusion you're not actively in the process of letting them pile up.
3. Give The Bathrooms A Once-Over
Unfortunately, people will need to use the bathroom. That's why this area gets priority cleaning as well, and Good Housekeeping had some great tips on to get it done fast. Shove all those toiletries into drawers, cabinets or even into the bathtub. (If people are peeking behind your shower curtain, you have bigger problems than whatever's stowed behind it.) Straighten hand towels, and if the bath towels are manky, toss them behind the curtain too. Give everything a quick wipe, toilet seat and lid included.
4. Wipe Down The Living Space & Kitchen
Grab a squirt bottle and a paper towel to clear away the cheerios, dried play-doh, paper clippings and all the detritus that has built up on surfaces over the course of daily use.
5. Square Everything Up
Cabinets fully closed, chairs pushed into the table, coffee table books and mags neatly arranged — whatever stays in sight will look a lot better when it's all aligned.
6. Sweep & Vacuum If The Floors Are Really Gross
This step gets lower priority if the floors don't have immediately visible grime, so do what time allows. In her Youtube video How To Clean Your House Fast, vlogger Jordan Page says guests won't pay attention to your floors... so if the clock is ticking, feel free to ignore them.
7. Open The Blinds & Light A Candle
Fake freshness with sunlight and good smells. Ah! Now this is a home worth visiting (briefly).
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.