Keeping the cottage in order...

Probably the most asked question I get is, "Does your house always look this neat?"

Sadly, yes it does.  I say "sadly", because folks I have a clinical diagnosis of OCD.  For reals, not just in jest.  My neat home goes far beyond just being tidy.  It is middle of the night stove knob checks, kids still breathing checks, doors locked checks, and make sure the dog didn't accidentally get into the washer checks.  And G-d forbid if the dryer has clean towels in it that are unfolded or put away.  I can't go to bed until that happens.

I wish I was kidding.

But aside from the diagnosis- I am a bit fastidious about keeping a place for everything and everything in it's place.  Here are a few tips to keep your own cottage in order:

1.  Set aside 15 minutes each morning (for me it's morning) to straighten a space.   This could be as small as reorganizing your make-up drawer or going through a room and clearing all the clutter.   Breaking this activity down into bite size chunks helps to keep the process from feeling overwhelming.

2.  For any one thing that comes into your home one thing must go out.  This is a hard rule to follow even for me!  I try really hard to keep down on the clutter by taking something out if I've brought in something new.  This keeps me from looking like a potential hoarders show contestant.

3.  Set aside one morning for cleaning per week.  As anal as I am about things being "clean" I have a hard time jump starting myself each week to do this!  My trick?  A new cleaning product.  Seriously, I've found that if I buy a new scrubber or product I am kind of anxious to use it.  Also, once I start cleaning I typically get into the groove and see it to completion.

4.  Get your kids into the act!  My kids were raised to "check" their rooms for things they could put away or clear out.  Eating was never allowed in bedrooms, so that wasn't an issue.  I would cringe sometimes at the state of their rooms, but tried to leave my need to control the environment out of their space. Are my kids neat freaks?  No, but I do see some of my OCD tendencies in our oldest daughter, Sara.  If you so much as move something in her room she knows and will move it back.

5.  Use the holidays to teach your kids something about giving.  Every Christmas season I would tell my kids about children who have nothing for the holidays.  They would scour their rooms for toys that they didn't really play with anymore, but were still in great shape.  Then we would donate those toys to our local women's and children's shelter.  It gave my kids an early sense of giving to others and it cleared out some room for any new gifts they might be receiving that year.

6.  Designate zones for your home.  I have a craft closet/over flow of kitchen appliances closet.  One side is designated for my crafting things.  I keep ONLY crafting things on that side.  The other is for my kitchen things and ONLY kitchen things are on that side.  Do I tend to throw extra crap in there?  Yep, but I use my 15 minute quick un-clutter times to straighten that up.   I also make it a point to put something away where it goes after I've used it.   This is something that after a few weeks just becomes habit. If your kids see you making the effort chances are they will make the effort too.

7.  Make your bed each morning.  This sounds silly, but I'm here to tell you that it sets the tone for your day and makes you feel good when you walk back into your bedroom later that day.

8.  Put towels in the washer after using them.  My kids were trained up to put their towels in the washer after their baths.  We don't reuse bath towels.  Let me put it to you this way- what is the last thing you dry off?  What is the first thing you dry off the next time?  Yeah, ew.  I do a load of towels every day.  It's just part of my routine.

9. I ask myself these two questions for anything I bring into our home:
-Do I love it?
-Do I need it?
If the answer is no then it doesn't come home with me.  Or, if I am de-cluttering, if the answer is no then out it goes.

10.  Designate a specific day to clean out your fridge.  This one gets overlooked a lot in homes because after all, the door is shut most of the time and we don't think about it!  I do our fridge clean out on Thursday or Friday because I know that the weekends I will be cooking a lot and stocking up my fridge for the next week.  I also keep a chalkboard in our laundry room for myself or the kids to keep a list of anything they need from the store.

Most importantly...

Don't hold your standard of clean and orderly to another person's standard of clean and orderly.  I am by nature a neat/order freak kinda person.  So is my husband.  This works for us, but I realize it is not the "normal" standard for most folks- and that's okay.  Your home should be organized and kept in a way that is functional for you and your family- not someone else's!


  1. I wish I had your motivation minus the OCD! Hehe. I am lazy when it comes to cleaning and clutter.

    1. OCD sucks. It really does- although the media has made it look kinda funny, but I do make it work for me ;)
      My dad loves clutter and his office is what I would think of as a pigsty, but it WORKS for him. He can find things and knows what each pile is. I think the bottom line is that everyone has their own standard of organization, but if you are not comfortable with what you have then there are things you can do to change it :)

  2. At first I thought you were talking about me. You missed having to watch the garage door close fully before pulling away and then returning to make sure that it really is down. I wish I had a "craft closet," in fact I wish I had a room that could hold accessories. On a tv show once I saw where they had renovated a house and behind the wall with the tv/stero/bookcases they made a long room with shelves on each side - It looked like an extra large pantry about 16 feet probably in length by 7 feet wide - perfection - I want that. I can't image not making my bed first thing in the morning. Our little fur baby Priscilla sleeps with us and sometimes she wants to lounge in the bed for a few minutes and I have to wait a little bit to make the bed but I could never go all day without making it - can you image getting into an unmade bed? Crazy! However, I no longer feel the need to be cleaning surfaces anymore and that is a good thing. I love all your ideas, especially about cleaning out the frig. Hey, better to be to clean and to neat than the opposite.
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

  3. I have never been diagnosed with OCD but I do have a lot of the tendencies. Before I go to bed pillows must be fluffed, counters cleaned,chairs pushed in, remotes in their place and so on and so on. It can be exhausting at times. When I was little and playing at a friends house I use to help them organize their rooms. Sometimes their mothers did like that so much and would ask me to leave. I have often thought of turning my OCD tendencies into a career but the timing is never right. I guess there could be worse things in life to be. Glad to know I'm not alone.

  4. I sat here and lol about the towels!! Totally grosses me out too! I am not clinically OCD although I've been accused. I love your ideas! Thanks for sharing!


Thanks so much for popping in. I appreciate all of your lovely comments...Tricia