Homeschoolers live in our homes…I mean we REALLY live in them. I serve twenty-one meals around my table each week and snacks in between with a minimum of 6 people at each of them. Kids are ALWAYS around. This means…toys, books, clothes, socks, diapers, dishes, crumbs, papers, pens, crafts, are around…all day long, every day.
We think of our home as a haven and want our doors open to family, friends, and neighbors as often as possible. My goal isn’t to impress our guests with an amazing home, but I do want people to feel comfortable and not worried about sitting on week old wet socks or a crumpled bag of Cheetos.
Here are some ways that we reign in the chaos so our home can be “hospitality ready” within 15 minutes.
Give Up Perfect: Let go of “Pottery Barn Catalog” perfect. Open the door with a smile and a “I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you so much for coming!” This first step is most important. If an unexpected visitor walks into my whirlwind, I smile, ignore the mess around me and invite her in with confidence, warmth, and grace. She didn’t come to see my cleaning skills. She came to see me and I am going to set aside thoughts of self and love her.
Clean up every meal, right away: It is our goal to keep our kitchen clear every day, after every meal. We accomplish this by assigning the following jobs: unload dishwasher, load dishwasher/clean dishes, clear and clean table and countertops, sweep floors. Each of my older kids is assigned one of these chores for an entire day. We rotate jobs daily so no one is stuck all week with the same thing. Mom supervises and helps in areas that need help. If the kitchen is always clean…half the battle is won.
Light a Candle: I know it’s not very granola of me to fill my house with flaming bowls of cancer…but I do love a Bath-n-Body works three-wick candle. The scent and the warmth makes for an inviting space. (And yes, I have an entire drawer dedicated to candles.)
5 minute round-up: Before beginning this step, turn on loud music. We have a special “friends are coming” playlist we blast as we work through these steps. Once the playlist is on and properly amped up, we take a laundry basket and go into every room where a guest might wander and we collect any superfluous items lying around. When everything is tidied up, the laundry basket items get distributed to assigned bins. Each family member has their own temporary storage area where displaced items are placed. The set up is right in the heart of our home, between the kitchen and family room. The containers are like white-washed tombs in that they look beautiful on the outside, but the beauty stops there; the insides are a disaster. In order for the system to work well, bins need to be emptied regularly.
Quick Vacuum: While one person is piling up the laundry basket with clutter, another family member can trail with a vacuum for a quick sweep. Nothing feels better than the carpets and floors having a face-lift before you open the door.
Lysol wipes: You may not have time for a heavy duty bathroom scrub, but if you do a quick wipe down you won’t feel mortified when your guest wants to use the loo and you remember the last time you walked in it looked like a crime scene.
My kids and I have this down to a science and we can entertain at the drop of a hat. Not only is it great for hospitality, but it’s fun to do before dad gets home, or before a school day begins to start the day with a clear head and space.