The holidays are over, the guests have left, and peace and quiet reign once again in your house. Everything is back to normal, right? Wrong! Now the fun starts. Strip the beds, launder sheets and towels, clean bathrooms, dust, vacuum, move the furniture back to the usual places, put back knick-knacks which were removed for the visiting children, and clean out the refrigerator. A daunting job which I used to try to do within the first twenty-four hours after the last guest left.
Getting older brings common sense along with gray hairs, and I have now learned to pace myself. No longer do I try to do it all in one shot. After all, where is the dust going? Does every breakable have to be put in its place immediately?
Decide what task is most urgent. Plan on doing two or three tasks at most on one day. After all, you have a whole new year to finish the job. I usually opt for cleaning the bathrooms first, although this might not be your priority. Cleaning the bathrooms and laundering towels and bathmats are jobs that seem to go together. If this poops you out (after all, you will have entertained houseguests for the past week and greeted the new year in with them even though your usual bedtime is 10 :30!) then that's enough for day one. Tomorrow is another day.
On day two you can tackle the beds which have all been used, and although your guests were "good" guests and stripped them before they left, they still have to be made up again with clean linens. Well, maybe not. I've found it saves time and energy if you put your bedspread or coverlet on top of a stripped bed so the bed looks made up and then put fresh sheets, pillowcases, and a blanket on the bottom of the bed folded in a neat little pile, ready for the next guest. The room is still neat and it saves you the trouble of making all those beds. So, day two, launder those sheets your guests have put in the hamper, fold them and do up the beds as I do. If you get as much company as often as I do, you will appreciate being spared the task of putting all those sheets back on the bed again.
This will leave you enough energy to do the dusting and vacuuming. Do your dusting with a damp cloth. It picks up faster and more thoroughly than a dry cloth and all those little fingerprints on the coffee table will quickly disappear like magic. Vacuum your kitchen floor before mopping it. Today would be a good time to clean out the refrigerator and rearrange the magnets. Since it's now two days after the holiday, most of the leftovers are probably gone so there's less to discard. Be strong. Throw out that wilted lettuce, the limp carrot, the browned grapes on the bottom of the bowl, that sad little dried out piece of cheese. Smell the milk. Yuck! Out! You bought apple juice for the grandkids but never drink it yourself? Get rid of that unfinished quart. Wipe the shelves down, wash the vegetable drawers and replace the Arm and Hammer baking soda packets. Whew! Good job, well done.
Day three can be devoted to straightening out the CDs and videos which were used and replacing the knick-knacks. Now is a good time for a shopping trip to restock the refrigerator with YOUR favorites.
It's taken three days to put the house back in order. Everything is neat and clean and in its place. Three days is not too bad. Sit down, put your feet up and wait for the next guests to arrive!
Joan L. Vitale has been a freelance writer for over ten years. She writes articles about conservation and family life, and humorous essays.