I spent the first two years of my marriage feeling really freaked out about the state of our home. Despite my best efforts, we just cannot keep the place picked up and free of clutter. This is just happens when a neat freak (me) marries someone who doesn’t give a second thought to leaving dirty dishes on the coffee table for days at a time (him).
I’ve begged and pushed and pleaded and tried to convince my other half that tidy-ness is the way to go, to no avail. I’ve proposed a “compromise” many times, but all I really meant was that I didn’t want to compromise at all, I just wanted our belongings to be put in their proper places at all times. Oh, how easy it is to confuse “Let’s compromise” with “Just do it my way like I’ve told you a million times and then everything will be fine and I’ll be happy again.”
However! Recently, I’ve developed what I like to call the 5-Minute System. This three-part system makes it much easier for my neat-and-tidy self to live with (and truly be okay with) our not-always-neat-and-tidy home. Here’s how it goes:
5-Minute Rule: We never let our house get cluttered enough that we couldn’t make it completely presentable in 5 minutes or less. The theory is that as long as we have 5 minutes of warning for company coming over, we’ll be good to go. No panicking, just a quick sweep and we’re ready!
5-Minute Pick-Up: If the Rule isn’t currently in effect and the clutter is building up too much, we take five minutes to pick up as much as we can. We do this once or twice a week. We literally set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes and both work to pick things up around the living room and in our bedroom and put things back in their proper place or throw them away (you know, like the Dr. Pepper cans that have inexplicably collected on the coffee table). Once the timer goes off, we’re done for the night and, usually, order has been restored enough to live with once again. If not, do it again the next night!
5-Minute Tasks: Throughout the week, I’ve assigned one 5 minute task to each day that’s quick and easy to complete (some of the tasks are actually in the 10-15 minute range, but we’ll say they take 5 minutes so I don’t have to change my system’s name). By spreading out these tasks throughout the week, it prevents me from having to have one big clean-fest over the weekend, plus the rotation helps keep things somewhat presentable at all times. Here’s my list (keep in mind, as of now we live in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, so I don’t have that much space to deal with!):
Monday: Wash/fold bathroom towels
Wednesday: Clean kitchen (I wipe down the counters and do dishes everyday, but this is for sweeping and Swiffering the floor, clearing out the fridge, scrubbing the stovetop, etc.)
Thursday: Clean bathroom
Friday: every 3rd Friday, I wash and change our bedsheets (all the other Fridays, I get a break!)
There you have it! Do we have a perfect household? Not even close. Is this system good enough for me? Most the time, and I’m learning to let go my OCD grip to make sure that it is good enough for me. Or more importantly, for both of us.