What and How to Tidy.

When I quit drinking, the time available to me suddenly grew by upwards of ten hours a day. Even more than a year into my sobriety, this time is difficult to fill with positive, goal-oriented activities. Truly, we shouldn’t be active every hour of the day… even the most productive of us need an hour or two of thought-free energy recovery activities like reading fiction, watching television, or just lazing about and daydreaming. One activity I’ve found which brings me a great amount of stress relief and satisfaction is tidying.

There’s no shortage of websites and blogs fully dedicated to the “art of tidying”. Marie Kondo built a media empire on it. Norwegian Hygge traveled across the Atlantic to interest us in minimalism. However, the vast majority of information on tidying is geared toward housewives and mothers because even with all of the strides made in gender equality in recent years, much of society still sees women as “the cleaners”. I reject this notion! I am a cleaner, damn it!

I’ve read Kondo, I have several books on Hygge, and I am regularly sent cleaning planners and organization tips through Pinterest. Each of my books and lists I receive need to be edited and trimmed so that they can be applied to a bachelor’s life. There’s no toy room I need to clean, I don’t need to take my husband’s suits to the cleaners, and so forth. Once the fat is trimmed, though, there’s a lot a guy can do to keep his house clean and, well, impressive.

  1. The Kitchen – Some of you know that I live with a narcissistic mother and a full-blown alcoholic brother who made my worst drinking days look like a happy hour; as such my kitchen is always bordering upon a violation of the Geneva Conventions’ articles on chemical warfare. On the first of the month, I tear down everything in my kitchen and scrub it until it looks as close to new as I can get it. This includes the fridge, microwave, oven, toaster oven, and cabinets. The floors are mopped with an absolute fury so that they sparkle. Then, every Monday this is maintained by a quick but thorough wipe-down and pitching of expired items. We always have a ton of expired food to throw away because my mother and brother are incapable of meal planning and don’t eat leftovers. What can you do?
  2. Bathrooms – I’ll be honest: I only clean the bathroom that I use because the downstairs bathroom which my brother primarily uses looks like it’s out of a trap house. Holes punched in the walls (from drunken anger at his inability to pee into the toilet, I hypothesize), all of the fixtures broken, a decade of grime that can’t be cleaned… it’s just not worth it. On the second day of every month, I liberally throw soap around like confetti at a New Year’s party. Excess toiletries are discarded (much like the kitchen we always have a confounding amount of excess), my friends the Scrubbing Bubbles are introduced to every surface both horizontal and vertical, and of course, the floors and fixtures are cleaned. Daily, I wipe down the sink and shower walls because it just feels good to look at.
  3. The Bedroom – I’m not so passive-aggressive that I clean other people’s bedrooms, just my own. It’s a safe haven in a house of chaos and entropy. My closet is impeccably organized… in the closet, professional attire is hung and organized according to the color wheel, and my undergarments are in fabric containers on shelves (I don’t have a dresser because I feel it takes up too much space and looks ugly). My shoes are all arranged on a shelf, separating the work pairs from the play. I vacuum and change my sheets every Sunday and do Laundry every Wednesday, to break up the cleaning and not put too much on my plate.

These are just three examples; I plan to publish an example calendar in the future. There are tons of calendars out there but like I said earlier, they’re all tailored for women. I understand why… men are, somewhat justifiably based on the men I’ve known, associated with careless filth and disorganization! Not all men live this way, though. Successful men, I feel, are far more organized than we realize. Having a clean and clear workspace, for example, promotes workflow by eliminating distractions and anxiety.

My next plan is to get some greenery for my bedroom. I’ve just acquired a list of plants that don’t need much sunlight (or any at all in some cases) and intend on turning my room into a veritable forest. Greenery makes me feel good.

Any other neat freaks out there, men or women? What do you do to keep your house clean? What’s your favorite room to keep organized?