Securing a Reasonably Clean House: Initial Steps & Secrets

Begin with the introduction to the Reasonably Clean series to get the foundation and the linked table of contents for the series!

The Original Reasonably Clean Source

The chatty, photo-laden, good-humored original.

  1. The Reasonably Clean, Fairly Neat, and Comfortably Tidy House.
  2. A Pep Talk for Organization.
  3. In which I give you a secret to get you started on The Reasonably Clean House.

My Summary & Reflection

The basics

Leila gives us 4 steps to taking dominion in our domain:

  1. Know what is for dinner. Plan your menus.
  2. Catch up on laundry. Establish a system for addressing laundry.
  3. Get up on time to be on top of your day.

Then, you know what she says?

“Yea, if you do these three things, you will have a deep satisfaction in your home life.”

THREE things, then number FOUR is

/4/. Keep a reasonably clean and tidy house.

The first three are first because she says — and I have found it to be true myself — that when any the first three slide, the fourth is sabotaged and nigh impossible. Now, I linked those first three to her posts on those topics, because I am not going to address them directly myself. I do plan my menus and check the dinner plan the night before and first thing in the morning, I’ve been mostly keeping up with laundry, and I know that number 3 is vital particularly to me, yet I have been failing miserably lately. Can I still claim sleep deprivation nine months later? Humph. I think I was a morning person until Knox’s first year; now my mind counts sleep as a scarce resource, not to be so lightly tossed aside at the sound of an alarm. Anyway….we’re not going to talk about that now, ok?

So, then. Number four. A reasonably clean house. After the initial steps, come Leila’s pre-secrets:

  1. Take a shower, get dressed in regular clothes, add an apron if you’ll get dirty.
    — This invigorates, emboldens, and prepares you to take on the day
    — You are now dressed and ready for action, for whatever the day holds
  2. Be fast and lively in your work.
    — get through it quickly
    — work will fill the time allotted to it, so don’t allot it much time; attack it.

I am a firm believer in #1, but that is primarily because it fits my type. I tend toward the formal rather than casual, and so I feel more “me” when I am dressed nicely. When I am in yoga pants or the like, I feel lazy, sloppy, and like the most appropriate thing to do is curl up on the couch with a book. I am a “dressed to the shoes” type wholeheartedly, but I do think it’s a personality thing.

Number two has slowly come to me, I have realized, as more and more things have been added to my plate. I get much more done now than 6 or 7 years ago, and part of that is simply because I have more to do. My inherent procrastination tendency has had to make way for reality. I can’t put everything off until 3 or 4, then go into whirlwind-panic mode and whip things into shape so it wasn’t obvious that I had spent hours reading and letting the baby make messes he shouldn’t have. The more I see that my time is limited, and I have things that must be done, the easier I find it to get on with my work. But those whirlwind-panic modes and the whirlwind modes that I learned when the house was on the market and realtors would call with 15-20 minutes warning, at least taught me that much can be accomplished with short, focused bursts.

That focus that drove the bursts, however, was given by a real deadline. It is a little difficult to manufacture such deadlines, but timers go a long way toward inducing the mode.

Next come Auntie Leila’s starting secrets:

  1. Start your efforts in your bedroom, where your day begins & where your marriage is renewed.

“So, although Flylady has you start with your kitchen sink, and certainly, much has to happen before the sink gets shiny, which makes her idea clever, I wonder:

If you start in the kitchen, will you ever leave?

The Sidetracked Home Executives have you start with your entryway, which I do not dismiss. It’s about seeing yourself as others see you — we’ll get there.

But after about thirty years of reflection, I am having you start in the room you share with your husband.


If it weren’t for the intimate aspect of your commitment, your family would not be.”

  1. When decluttering, remove everything from the surface. Only put back what belongs, then deal with the leftovers. Do not declutter-in-place.

This is total, immediate commitment and instant gratification, plus an easy, quick start. It’s brilliant.

Lastly for this post are Leila’s two secrets for keeping the house on track during and after the decluttering efforts:

  1. The Moderate Clean — Sparkle & Shine — Afternoon Chores

The moderate clean is 20-30 minutes committed daily to cleaning one zone of the house.

  1. The Blitz

The blitz is 15-20 minutes of a rapid pick-up and returning-of-stuff for the rest of the house.

The blitz is a lightening strike on a room that has been reasonably maintained (in other words, not a room in need of a deep clean but simply one that has endured three nano-seconds of kid-exposure).

Even accounting for the realities of multiple children and homeschooling, one hour, she promises, is a reasonable amount of time for cleaning the house and keeping it decent and presentable, livable, “reasonably clean.”

On these two concepts we will spend the bulk of our musings.

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