I received How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind for free to review. Thanks to Proctor and Gamble for sponsoring this post. As always, thanks for supporting the brands that support Burke Does.
When I need to not do anything, I watch HGTV. I don’t know what it is about it, but every show is the same: remodel or buy or rebuild or redecorate a home. The final product is always some beautiful home with lots of natural light and big windows and spaces. The couches have pillows that match and it all looks Pinterest-perfect, because, well, it is.
Confession here: My house looks nothing like that. If you walked into my living room right now- I’m sitting on my couch as I type this- you’d find dog toys (plural because there are two) in the middle of my floor. Our couches are hand-me-down-hand-me-downs. No really, my godparents had these for 20 years before they gifted it to my cousins and now they’ve been mine for two years. They’re orange and plaid and, in total frankness, quite ugly. I thought about including pictures here but I just couldn’t do it. You’ll have to take my word.
Because of those darn couches, I’ve never really cared for decorating. Couch covers are expensive and I haven’t ever really found one I love. As a result, I never really invested in turning our house into a home. Our walls are bare.
I wish that was all, though… You see, overtime the indifference towards decoration led to an indifference over organization. I work all day and so does Casey. We make a quick dinner and then the dishes get left in the sink because we’re both too tired to wash them. The result: we would spend a whole weekend day washing dishes, and washing, drying, and folding laundry. Being the aggressively Type-A person I’ve always been, the clutter throughout the house all week made me feel anxious, but not anxious enough that I had extra energy to do anything about it.
When I met Dana from A Slob Comes Clean, I knew that I wanted to read How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets. She promised that through her book, I would actually feel less buried under the chaos of my home. It was a big promise, but I have to say, she really did deliver.
Dana lays out a 28-day plan for getting your house in order that starts with just washing the dishes. This has been a particular hot button issue in Casa Burke-Schario. You see, in my Baltimore apartment, my roommate never did the dishes, so every morning I’d wake up to a sink full of dishes. Out of spite, I wouldn’t want to do her dishes, so things in the sink would just pile up. Then I would hit my clutter threshold and spend two hours on Sunday loading and unloading the dishwasher and handwashing whatever didn’t fit. It seems liked a vicious cycle where I wasn’t doing things out of spite but the end result was me just dealing with a bigger mess at once. At Casey’s previous apartment, though, they finished washing dishes as soon as dinner was over. They got up from the table and immediately washed the dishes as a household.
We have a dishwasher now, so I thought that Casey and I would just load the dishwasher right away every night. Here’s the complicating factor, though: I don’t eat, I graze- so dinner with me is not a sit and finish eating experience. I eat and then go away and then come back and then go away and then come back. Call it non-traditional, but it is what it is.
The first step in Dana’s plan is to just wash the dishes every night. Because there’s only two of us, running the dishes every night is a huge waste of water (and money). I decided that if I was going to give this plan a try, I was going to really give it a try, so I did: Casey and I washed the dishes every night for a week right before we went up to bed. It was always an “Ugh, we have to wash the dishes”, but we did it and it was so nice to wake up to a not-full sink in the mornings.
Give Yourself Grace
I did not wash the dishes every single day. Some nights I just forgot. On Sunday, I fell asleep on the couch while watching The Walking Dead and when we woke up it was nearly 1 AM and all I could think about was my bed. Failing once could have made me want to give up, but I liked the feeling of not having dishes in the sink when I woke up. I liked waking up to clean knives and plates.
Sometimes I would fail. That’s okay.
As long as the next day I started doing the dishes again, I would be okay.
Make it A Habit
At some point, “I need to wash the dishes” is something that I will take off my daily to-do list. It’s just going to be a natural part of our daily flow. Then I will bite off the next task on the list. Slowly but surely the things that we take on and incorporate into our day will become a habit. And once it’s a habit, I’ll be able to take on the next task on the list.
Success will not come overnight. It rarely does.
Today’s house might be a mess. So might tomorrow’s. But the progress that I’ve made in keeping the house straightened out has already inspired us to start decorating. The walls are less bare. This weekend, I’ll be getting the visual centerpiece for over our couch in the living room.
Next up: Couch Covers.
You can join me in following Dana’s step-by-step guide in How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets.
What’s your best home management tip?
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She lives with her husband Casey and their pup Bo in Savannah, GA.