I've never been a fanatic about keeping a clean house, but once I could afford to hire cleaning help, the problem pretty much disappeared. At least I developed temporary storage places for the books, magazines, and papers that tended to be lying around, and I put them away on cleaning days. I always made the bed each day; I guess I did it to impress my husband and anyone else who happened to wander in. The dirty dishes were always put into the dishwasher.
Fast forward to the period from 2001 to the present: after my husband's death, I sold the house and moved into the condo where I now live. I still have a cleaning woman, but I live alone and have had few visitors over the years. During that time, I seemed to become a slob. I mentioned my messy closets earlier. I seldom made my bed; after all, only I sleep there, and no one else sees it. It's hidden off in the "master suite": out of sight, out of mind.
The few dishes I use tended to pile up around the sink. Putting them in the dishwasher would take only a few seconds, but why bother? No one else would enter my kitchen for weeks on end. Meanwhile, my closets and kitchen cabinets became overstuffed with things I didn't even remember. What a mess! Magazines and books were piled to precarious heights everywhere.
So what bought reform? The necessity of putting my condo on the market before my expected end-of-year move into The Clare at Watertower. No real estate agent would think of showing a place unless the closets and cabinets are worthy of viewing, and big stacks of anything are out. After becoming upset and feeling helpless, I hired an organizing company, and everything looks much better. These days, I usually make the bed, and the dishes go into the dishwasher at least once a day. When the agent requests a showing, the place is ready!
Today, beautiful professional photographs of all the rooms are featured on the real estate agent's web site, and a tiny picture of my living room appeared in their print ad yesterday. Everything looks so good that I'm happy to live here; I will be reluctant to leave.
So what's the message? If you happen to live alone, imagine strangers walking through your place frequently. For me, that has been the key to reform. Now, did I make my bed this morning? I'd better take a look! Old habits die hard.
Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Photo of my living room from Rubloff Real Estate site by VHT Image Works.