Something that’s very important to me is leaving my home clean and orderly before I leave for an extended period of time. I like to know that I didn’t leave things to sit undone for days while I’m not there to do them. I love even more the feeling of coming home to a clean house and not feeling frantic right when I walk in the door because there’s so much to do right when I get back – especially if I’m going to be getting in late. As I mentioned in my last post, John Mark and I will be leaving for our hometowns today celebrate Thanksgiving with our families – apart from packing a suitcase, there a few things I’ll always do before I leave. They only take a little time and effort, and are so worth it in the end.
1. Make the bed
You all know by now how important making the bed is to me. It gives the whole room a fresher look, and I’m not tripping over throw pillows or staring at a wad of sheets and blankets the whole time I’m getting ready or doing other chores. I think what could be even better than this, though, is that when I come home after being away for a while, I like to crawl into nice, untangled sheets. I don’t like leaving the bed sheets tangled because, even though I have to turn down the bed before I get in it, I don’t have to crawl into a mess. It’s also comforting; it reminds me of when I was little. My mom would turn down and straighten up the bed for me after a long day because she knew I was exhausted, and when I came in from a 3.5 hour trip from school she had the bed all made up with clean sheets, ready to go. Now I’ve adapted that method, and I just don’t leave without making the bed.
2. Finish the laundry
This is something I do the day of or couple of days before leaving. Let’s face it; we all let laundry pile up too much sometimes. Depending on the load, it can take more time, but before I leave I like to make sure all of the laundry I can finish is finished before I leave – since laundry is never really “finished,” I just make sure to wash all of the clothes sitting in the hamper. I have a couple of reasons for this. 1) It’s much easier to pack when the clothes are clean, and I know where everything is. Not to mention, I don’t have to worry about a shirt or pants I’ll want to wear being dirty last minute. 2) I simply don’t like leaving old, dirty laundry in the hamper when I leave. I feel so much better having done the laundry so I’m not rushing to get it done when we get back in, in case there’s something in there one of us wants (or needs!) to wear the next day. My laundry rule takes a lot more planning and time than making the bed, but it’s totally worth the trouble to have clean clothes to take with me and come home to.
3. Clean the kitchen & bathroom
When I say “clean” I don’t mean “scrub down every surface and deep clean the floors, sinks, bathtub, and oven.” I simply mean this: I cannot stand to leave dirty dishes in the sink while I’m gone. If they sit for too long, they start to smell, and no one wants a smelly kitchen. So, if I need to, I empty the clean dishes and put them all away, then I load the dishwasher with all of the dirty dishes sitting around. If it happens to fill up the dishwasher, I’ll go ahead and hand-wash the rest, and put them all away. If the dishwasher is still running by the time we have to leave, I’ll just leave them as long as they’re clean and put them away when I get home. I try to make sure the sink is free of old food and scrubbed down. The last thing I’ll do is make sure all of the surface is wiped down with Thieves Cleaner. I wipe down all of the counters, the stove-top, and the hood over the stove if it needs it.
As for the bathroom, I try to keep it clean on a regular basis. But before I go on a trip, I like to make sure I’ve picked up any dirty clothes, washcloths or towels out of the floor and wipe down the counters. I also make sure that the toothpaste or face wash (or anything else for that matter) is in its proper place.
4. Tidy up the living room
I like to make sure that the living room space is as neat as I can make it in a short amount of time. I’ll collect stray coasters and stack them all on the coffee table, straighten the bookcase, John Mark’s desk, and the chairs. Our coffee table has a glass top, so if it has any marks on it (and if I remember) I’ll wipe that down with Thieves Cleaner as well. I throw all of the stray shoes we aren’t taking with us in the shoe bucket we have next to the front door. The next thing I do is just make sure the couch cover is tucked in well, fold all of the blankets and either stack them neatly in the basket or lay them over the couch – the ones I use the most stay on the furniture so I can grab them more easily. 🙂
5. Take out the trash
This is a MUST for me. Just like leaving smelly dishes, I absolutely will not leave trash in the cans. I make sure to pick up trash lying around the house first, then I’ll tie up the kitchen trash. If there’s room, I put the bathroom trash in the kitchen bag, as well, and then tie it up. If the kitchen trash is overflowing too much to include the bathroom trash, then I tie up the bathroom trash separately (it’s usually in a Wal-Mart bag in the tiny can). Then I set both of the bags next to the front door so we don’t forget to take it out on our way to the car.
Some people have a higher tolerance and different definition of “messes” than I do, but these are all helpful things to keep in mind so that you don’t end up with chores piled up by the end of a relaxing trip. It just hits me too hard when I get back to real life and have jobs to do that could have been done earlier.
These things might take some planning, but even just a little bit of tidying up can go a long way – and it only takes a couple of minutes to take out the trash or wipe down counters! Lately I’ve been trying to do these more often so it takes even less time if I’m in a rush to pack and get on the road. Do you have any tips to make going on trips easier? Let me know in the comment box! 🙂