It’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about. That time when we run non-stop, shopping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining…and we do it for weeks on end. Sometimes we wonder why we do this to ourselves every year, but the answer is obvious. We do it out of love–love for our families, love for our friends. We’re women, and it’s what we do.
But all that stress can wear you down, making you vulnerable to germs the family brings with them. So as you begin the marathon time of taking care of everyone else, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. If you don’t, you may find yourself stuck in bed while others eat all that food you cooked!
Take at least an hour a day just for yourself. Take a long bath. Take a walk. Read a good book or watch your favorite television show while curled up on the couch with your hubby or your pet. Take a nap. Take time to just breathe and relax. Then get back to the hustle and bustle of the season, refreshed and renewed.
I’m the queen of cleaning for company. Here are my top ten tips for getting ready for visitors.
1. Make a detailed list of every single thing you need to do to get your house company ready, from washing the china to dusting under the couch. It’s extremely satisfying to mark each item off the list and you won’t lie awake at night trying to think of what you need to do the next day.
2. Do one room at a time, and don’t move on to the next until it’s completed. I used to bounce around all over the house, dusting, sweeping, etc. until I realized how much easier it was to stay in one room, working until everything on my list was done. I start in the farthest room from the main living area so I don’t give up. I know the main areas HAVE to get cleaned, so I save them for the final days before company arrives.
3. Make menus for every meal you’re going to cook well ahead of time and start picking up the items you’ll need well in advance. (Make a grocery list as you plan the menu) That way you’re not spending the rent money on groceries at the last minute or spending hours in the grocery store trying to get everything on your list.
4. Take one day to wash all the bedding and make all the beds. Yes, I know I just said do one room at a time, but you can strip the bed as you clean that room, then make the bed on that one day reserved for that chore. Seriously, it’s much easier and you won’t forget whether you changed the sheets or not.
5. Make a list for hubby and the kids, too. Why should you do all the work? Yes, I know sometimes it’s easier to just do it yourself, but it’s a bad habit to get into and it deprives the rest of the family of fulfilling their responsibilities. Check items off as they’re completed so they get that same sense of satisfaction.
6. Make gift wrapping a family affair. Fix hot chocolate and a favorite dessert, put on the Christmas music, get down on the floor, and get the chore done in a flurry of paper, ribbon, laughter, and fun.
7. Cook ahead if you can. Not everyone has the refrigerator or freezer space to do this, but it’s a huge help if you can bake and freeze cookies, pies, cakes, rolls, casseroles, and even candy ahead of time. Then you’ll have time to enjoy your company instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
8. Buy the best products you can afford for cleaning and polishing. While you might be able to pick up bargain products at the dollar store, there are some things worth paying a little extra for. One of my favorite products is Howard Feed-n-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. Why? Because I can dust with it and not have to dust again for a week or more. I can clean my hardwood floors with it and they’ll shine their way through to the new year. It can turn old, faded wood into something that looks brand new, including your kitchen cabinets. Yes, it’s more expensive that a can of dusting spray, but totally worth it.
9. Gather up all the items in the main living areas that don’t add to the charm that is your home at holiday time, stick them in a box, and put them in the garage. Things like magazines, newspapers you haven’t read yet, ragged couch pillows, knick knacks that don’t go with the holiday, junk mail, coupons, whatever clutters up the house and doesn’t add to the ambiance, get it out of the way. It will make your home look cleaner and more inviting, and it cuts down on things you have to keep picking up and cleaning around. You can bring the box back in after the holidays, but you might decide you like your house better without all that stuff. Also, clear the kitchen counters of things you won’t be using during the holiday time. Your kitchen will look better and you’ll have more room to work.
10. Try to finish your list at least a day or two before company arrives. That way you”ll just need to do one last speed clean of vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting before you reward yourself with a bubble bath and a good book–which will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the days ahead.
As I write this, I have company arriving in less than 2 weeks. We’re still in the process of a total kitchen remodel, so I have boxes stacked nearly to the ceiling, holding nearly every kitchen item I’m going to need. The living room is piled high with construction materials, sinks, flooring, paint, stain, tiles, boxes, and tools, and everything is covered in a thick layer of sheet rock dust and saw dust. We have at least another week of work on the kitchen, so that will leave me only one week to unpack the kitchen, clear out the construction mess, and get things ready for company.
Can I do it? Lord, I hope so. I’m going to try my best, but my lists are going to get a real work out. Somewhere on that list is a hot bubble bath and a copy of Christmas on Main Street that I’m hoping to re-read to get me into the holiday spirit.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a great time with family and friends.