It's 8am on a Sunday morning, and a friend calls you on the phone to say "Hey! I'm in the area and was hoping to stop in for a quick coffee and a chat in the next hour." You sweep your eyes over the frightful mess surrounding you and wipe away the thin film of sweat that has just formed on your brow.
Ever been in a position like this before? Here are some tips to get you through the next hour. One hour is more than enough time to make people think you have total control over the chaos that is your life.
1. Always have a nominated room to be your 'storage area'. In our house it's the office/spare bedroom. I do a quick run around and through all bulky objects, clothes, toys etc. straight in onto the bed. Then I shut the door tightly behind me as I leave it. No self-respecting guest will ask to do an inspection of your house, so this will buy you some time until you can get in and do a real clean. If it's a real clean that you were hoping to achieve in the hour before your guests arrive, then you need to go see The Organised Housewife. As I am not an organised housewife, I am giving you the bandaid solution, as opposed to something more permanent.
2. Once you have removed all the loose objects, head quickly back to the entry that your guest will enter through. Start here. In our house the entry is across a verandah, so I remove all loose objects, tuck in the chairs around the table and dust off all tables and chairs. I make sure any odd shoes are thrown into the allocated baskets and do a quick tidy. If I have an extra set of hands around (like my kids), I bribe them into sweeping the verandah for me while I continue on my binge clean.
3. Now clean the room you will do the bulk of your entertaining in. In our house it is the lounge room and kitchen equally. I Dust off all flat surfaces (assuming I have already removed random items left lying around). I always straighten photos and tuck in books lying haphazardly in the bookcase. The kitchen is more time consuming. I unload and repack the dishwasher, put all food back in the fridge or pantry, and wipe down and surfaces. Depending on the time of the day, this job will vary in intensity.
4. Next I throw together a batch of quick and easy muffins, slice, cake or biscuits (or defrost any that I may have already done in the freezer). Whilst this in the oven, I give the lounge and kitchen a 'visitor vacuum' - that is a vacuum that doesn't require me moving the couch or cushions. Then I reload the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen again.
5. Depending on how much time I have left, I then rush through the house making beds, collecting dirty laundry to put in the machine, and throwing toys etc back in cupboards. Otherwise (if I am time short) I just shut all bedroom doors.
6. Never forget to clean any toilets and or bathrooms that guests may ask to use. I also clean the 'path' (in our case, the hallway) to these rooms, to give the illusion that your entire house is immaculate. I give the surfaces a quick spray down, and the toilets a fresh clean. I also change any toilet rolls, or top up low supplies, make sure soaps and hand towels are all in place etc. I also give these rooms a quick sweep or vacuum.
7. Ensure you give your hair a quick brush, and make sure you reapply lipstick or gloss. Give yourself a general tidy up, and change your shirt if necessary. No one will buy your domestic goddess act if you look like a train wreck.
1. Always clean surfaces with a highly potent smelling spray etc. as this gives the illusion that you always keep your house this clean.
2. Throw around phrases that demonstrate false confidence. eg. "Oh that old smell? No... I hardly had time to do anything before you got here. Thank goodness I have such well trained children/husband to make sure our house is always this clean." That way if people suspect you just did a quick tidy up, you will then throw them off the scent so to speak.
3. Over emphasise the jobs you want your guests to think you DID do before you got there, to take the focus off what they think you did. eg: "Oh no, I just loaded the dishwasher quickly after you called, but thankfully I had already put on a chocolate slice, which is quite a difficult recipe really, but that's just the kind of thing I like to do on a Sunday morning..." Never mention the vacuuming or mess in your spare room.
4. If you have a slice that requires icing, make sure you save that for just as your guests are arriving. It helps your case to be busy in a kitchen in order to convince your guests of your status as a bona fide domestic goddess.
This list is not an exhausted list. This is just what I do to trick the world into believing that I am not domestically challenged (which is in fact the reality). I do find that I can get more done in one crazy hour than in a whole day of general cleaning however, and am a big fan of spontaneous visits to aid the 'temporary clean' that sees me through my cleaning dry spells.
What are your tips to feigning an immaculate house?
PS. Thanks Leesa for the inspiration!
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