Two secrets to keeping a tidy house

The house needs some attention, which is why it is probably time to have a party.

The truth is, our place never looks better than when we have people over, especially strangers.

We discovered this after having our first child. For six Monday nights we sat with five other couples on the floor of a children’s clothing store after hours, hugging pillows, practicing breathing, “Hee, hee, haw, hee, hee, haw,” listening to a birthing coach tell us that labor and delivery were nothing more than discomfort.

We agreed to get together after we all had experienced “discomfort” and delivered our babies. Since nobody wanted to take infants and meet at a restaurant, we offered to host.


Although these were people we barely knew and they would all be bleary eyed from exhaustion and sleep-deprivation, I cleaned the oven, polished glassware and washed an enormous picture window holding 24 framed panes of glass with an infant strapped to my chest. The husband trimmed shrubbery, cleaned the basement and hosed down the driveway.

As guests began arriving, the husband was still repairing a lock on the back door that had been broken for months. I neatly folded every towel, hand towel and washcloth in the linen closet.

People complimented us on how nice our place looked.

We said thanks and asked if anyone cared to see the linen closet.

The place did look good. As a matter of fact, it looked so good, we had another kid two years later.

Today, the trim on our house needs painting. Spring is threatening to arrive, which means the firewood on the front porch needs to be moved out back and that sorry excuse for a grill on the patio needs carting to the trash.

Over the years, we’ve hosted a lot of baby showers and bridal showers, which has kept the house in good shape. But most of that generation is married and on their way to second and third babies. The showers have dissipated and so has our motivation for thorough home maintenance.

Clutter needs eliminating, the hall closet needs organizing and a general purging of kid drawings, junk mail and expired coupons is overdue.

I have a theory that frequent travel is the secret to keeping an immaculate home.  If you’re not home, you can’t mess it up. That’s why there are never people in the pictures of homes in decorating magazines. They have all been sent on long trips so the rooms could be cleaned and kept clean for the photo shoot.

So, buy a house, get in good shape and then leave. Voila!

My second theory is that if you don’t travel a lot, the next best way to keep your house looking good is to have people over. Hence the party.

The husband just commented that there seem to be a growing number of small projects around the house needing attention. “Maybe it’s time to have a party,” he said.

“Probably,” I said. “And then we should take a really long trip.”

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