Weekly Challenge # 2: The Living Room/Family Room/Den/Whateveryoucallit

The living room. The family room. The den. Whatever you call it. It’s  probably the room where your family spends the most time…often because the biggest television is there. And living in a room – really living there – leads to messes. I’m sure that’s a scientific fact. Who knows what’s lurking under the piles of junk on the living room floor? Maybe those keys you haven’t been able to find.

It’s easy to figure out how the mess gets there. Things don’t get put away. Shoes and socks wind up under the chair. Remotes get sucked into the underworld of the sofa cushions. Are you aware that we can barely function without the remote? As if there aren’t buttons on the television with which to change the channel, volume, or just turn the thing off? We will instead spend time – lots of time – walking around looking for it…digging under cushions, moving piles of junk around. The we miss our favorite show because we can’t manage to walk two more inches to the television and change the channel with our very own little fingers. At least that’s what I hear. From other people.

Do you have rules about eating or not eating in the living room? Do those rules get followed? Do you break the rule yourself? (I have and I do.)  DVDs, CDs, games, remotes, controllers, plates, cups, glasses, school bags, books…you name it. It’s in there. Probably stuff you forgot you had. And possibly a good amount of change down in the sofa and chairs. (Just so you know, I firmly believe that if you find money while cleaning, you are new owner of the money.) There is enough dust on the ceiling fan that it looks like fur. And the bookshelves, mantle, side tables…well, who knows when they were last dusted? And you wonder why you sneeze when you’re in there.

So where do you start in the living room challenge? You can really start anywhere as long as you end with vacuuming and dusting. And mopping if that applies. Here are my suggestions.

Day # 1: Get everyone in your household in the living room.

Have them bring their laundry basket with them (or something to tote things in), then – dare I say – have each person take his/her OWN STUFF out of the living room and put all of it in it’s proper place. Dirty laundry to the hamper. Books to the shelves. Toys to the room. (Yes, this includes you. Sorry.) Anything that doesn’t belong IN the living room but in someone else’s room gets taken out and put away. (Put away in the right place, NOT in the wrong place!) I’m pretty sure it will be looking better already. Next, load up a basket with any dirty dishes and take them to the kitchen. Either load them into the dishwasher or wash them, dry them, and put them away. Yes, from start to finish. If you can finagle someone else to do this part, all the better. That’s it for day 1.

Day #2: Gather all the games, DVDs, CDs, etc. together.

Find  yourself a flat surface. Your kitchen table , the coffee table. You will need three piles in which to sort them: “keep”, “donate/sell”, and “move to little Susie/Sammy’s room.” (More kids = more piles. But you get the picture.) Sort through them and place them in the proper piles. When you’re done, leave the “keep” ones and take any that belong somewhere else in the house wherever that somewhere happens to be. And be sure it’s the proper place. Please. For the ones that will remain in your living room, figure out how you need to sort them – and where you’re going to store them now – so that they can be easily found. (We have the guys’ DVDs on one shelf and the girls’ on another. Video games are in a basket on the shelf under the video game console. Controllers are in a basket beside the games basket.) This is pure speculation on my part, but DVDs sitting (standing?) on a shelf  or stacked in a basket being alphabetized might make it easier to find what you’re looking for. (And your spices being alphabetized makes them easier to find…ahem.) I am a big fan of baskets. They serve a purpose and they look pretty. You can get plastic storage containers at dollar stores. Whatever system you come up with just needs to work for you. You are, after all, going to be the one who gets asked, “Where is my princess DVD?” and “Where did you put my favorite video game?” It won’t matter if they are looking right at them. If they aren’t where they were, someone will surely ask. (Including your husband who doesn’t see the TV remote in the basket in the middle of the coffee table. Just so you know.)  Day # 2 is complete!

NOTE: If things need to go on shelves that are currently dusty, dust the shelves before you put the things on there. Then you won’t have to move them again this week to dust.

Day #3: Bookshelves.

This is the hardest one for me. I LOVE books! LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. (I think I might live in the library if they’d let me.) It’s very easy for me to gather books and overload my bookshelf. And I have a 9-foot long bookshelf in my living room.  So we’ll go through the same process with books as with the stuff in step #2. Sort into piles. Remove to proper location if not the living room. Return to shelf in some orderly manner. Remember to dust first. This is Day #3 of this challenge.

Day # 4: Cleaning what’s left.

Now that the stuff that doesn’t belong in the room has been removed, it’s time to clean up what does belong. Clean the ceiling fan if you have one. I have a vacuum cleaner attachment for this. You can use a damp cloth. Just get those multiplying dust bunnies off of there. Take the cushions off the couches and chairs. Dig for money! You’ll probably come across some other stuff. Pens. Paper clips. Candy wrappers. A LOT of stuff can live under your sofa cushions. Then vacuum under there. Go deep and get the cookie crumbs and potato chips out of there.  Spray under there with something like Febreeze or an all-natural furniture spray if it’s a little funky in there. It probably is. Return the cushions and give them a good vacuum, too, as well as the backs of the sofa and chairs. Plump up the cushions; replace the pillows.

If you have blankets or throws, throw them in the wash. (Even if it’s not laundry day.) When they’re dry, fold them over the back of the sofa or chair, or keep them in a basket for chilly nights. It’s a good time to clean the curtains or window treatments as well. If they are washable, wash them. If they aren’t, you can usually toss them in the dryer on the “no heat” setting to get the dust out of them. (Disclaimer: Read the cleaning label before you do anything to them.) If nothing else, you can vacuum them. This concludes day #4 of this challenge.

5. Clear off the coffee table and end tables. Dust them, the lamps, the mantle, the TV stand. Dust and vacuum all surfaces that need dusting and vacuuming. This includes UNDER the furniture if possible. Mop if you don’t have carpets.

The top of your coffee table should not be cluttered. It should be pretty. Again, a basket or tray for magazines (3-4 magazines, not 10-12 of them). I sit our TV remote on top of the magazines in my basket. A set of coasters is always a good idea. A little vase of flowers. A candle. A picture. Just a few little things that make you happy. This is Day #5 of this challenge is done – and you’re done with your living room! 🙂 How proud are you?

NOTE: Also, do not overcrowd the top of the bookshelves, the mantle, the TV stand…anything that looks crowded looks messy even if it’s dust-free. In other words, I don’t need 20 pictures on top of my bookshelf. Be selective. Use things that you like, but maybe not EVERYTHING that you like. (If I could do that, I’d just move the books overcrowding the bookshelf into neat stacks on the coffee table.) In my living room, I have baskets of varying sizes for the following things: gardening books; magazines; game “stuff”; kids’ books, and blankets. (Did I mention that I love baskets?) They sit beside my chair, beside the sofa, in the reading nook, and on shelves where needed. They keep things rounded up and tidy.

It’s time…Pull out your “before” picture and take a look at it. Look at your living room now. Are you amazed? Are you happy? Take an “after” picture. Send it to me or post it on Facebook. Make me proud. Invite someone over to look at your pretty and clean room.

You might consider some new rules about your room. If you do, be sure to enforce them, otherwise you’ll end up at the “before” stage again. Then EVERY day after it’s clean, spend a few minutes just picking up. Get everyone’s own stuff to their own rooms. Every night before bed, I walk through the downstairs and put the remote in place (because no one else can possibly put it in the basket on the coffee table), put the coasters where they belong, and straighten the pillows and the throw over the back of the couch. When I get up in the morning, it’s all straight and I can sit in my chair and have my cup of coffee and do my devotional. Without sitting on a pencil, or tripping over someone’s shoes, or having to search for a coaster to sit my coffee mug on. It’s very nice. It’s not stressful.

Now light that candle on the coffee table, grab a cup of coffee, and sit in your newly-cleaned living room and just enjoy for a few minutes. Ahhh….now isn’t that nice.

I’m know that I’m going to have to work on my bookshelf this week. Again. It’s a constant issue. If you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth, it’s probably me. I  could be me parting with some of my books. Just saying.

Have a blessed Monday!



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