Cleaning house? That is not a prepper skill! But wait, maybe it is. Can you imagine trying to find all your important papers at a moment’s notice in a disorganized file cabinet – or worse yet boxes of “important papers” scattered throughout the house, garage, and attic? You think that pile of dishes in the sink is overwhelming now, how bad do you think it would be if you suddenly had to hike to your nearest water source, draw water, and boil it before you could even start? And if you think putting off the vacuuming one more day is not a big deal, you have clearly not ever tried to sweep a carpet.
Survival is not always cool, glamorous, awe-inspiring, or fun. Sometimes it is just a lot of hard work. If TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) happened tomorrow, would you be prepared to dive in, or would you already be behind because of your regular household work that is sitting undone as you read this article?
So for those of us (myself included!) that know our homes are not up to survival snuff and that we need more organization and a plan to stay on top of the daily chores, where do we start?
1) Assess the damage
How bad is it really? Is your home just a little cluttered, or would it be classified as a national disaster area if the national media ever got wind of it? No matter what, believe that it can be fixed. Make a list of what needs to happen to make things better. If this is too overwhelming, just make a list for one room, or even one drawer or space.
2) Make a plan
For some of you, the planning step will come easily. For others it may seem impossible. In this case, you might need to look for someone else’s system that will work for you, such as the infamous Fly Lady’s steps to an organized home.
3) Lighten the load
Whether as big as needing to think about a smaller house, or as little as getting rid of those clothes that have been sitting in the attic for two decades, we all have things that we don’t need. As preppers, we should be especially aware of how our space is being used. A large house takes so much more heat and energy. The trinkets in the basement that we never use could be replaced by additional food and water stores. This is an excellent time to take stock of what is helping you meet your prepping goals and what is just getting in the way.
4) Enlist volunteers (or if needed – mercenaries)
Depending on the age and temperament of your family members, there are many ways to get the whole family involved in the project towards a cleaner house. Start a “cleanest bedroom” contest, have a big family cleaning day finishing with a pizza night or dinner at a favorite family restaurant, or offer extra allowance. Think about a friend of yours who needs help too, and offer to trade work days spending one day at your house cleaning, and then have them spend one day at yours. It is always more fun to work with others than alone.
Consider hiring a cleaning person for help getting to a good starting point, or even for ongoing maintenance. Think about the expense in the context of what you give up to clean. Are you able to make more per hour working than it would take to hire a cleaning person? Would it be worth $20 once a week to spend more time with your family? Only you can determine your priorities and budget and see what works for you.
5) Stick with it!
Once you get it clean – keep it that way! Set up a cleaning schedule of what gets done when, assign regular chores to various members of the family, or set yourself an appointment to clean for some time each day or week. If you work quickly you may even burn some calories in the process! Sometimes simple things, such as committing to cleaning as fast as possible during commercial breaks when you watch your favorite TV show, can make all the difference.
Always remember that prepping is just as much about mastering the mundane as accomplishing the amazing. And this is one prepper skill that will serve you well regardless of what the future holds.