I have to admit that I have a really tidy house and it's actually CLEAN most of the time. Here are some things that help me keep things neater. I realize these aren't plausible for some people depending on your personal situation:
- We don't have a lot of "things" or clutter to collect dust. We are minimalists and I simply have very few knick-knacks.
- We also have easy to clean leather and hardwood floors.
- I'm sure it also helps that the house is neither too large or too small for us - not too large to clean, not too small to be crowded.
- When dd was really young I would have her in a sling while I did the housework in small bits and pieces. Sometimes I'd put her down with a toy and spend a couple minutes polishing all the wood in a room. So, I'd focus not on one AREA of the room, but doing one task. And make the tasks SMALL.
- I think about the fact that if I buy this item, can I use it for my lifetime or will it quickly find its way to a landfill... most of the time these things do not make it into the house.
- I have a designated system for dd's toys (which are few). She is more into writing, drawing and coloring, and board games so I don't buy many toys for her... she'd rather have a new pen.
- My family will pick up after themselves with gentle reminders, including dd. I often use "Please pick up X and put it away, then we can get Y out to play with it". I know this is a lot easier said than done.
I wouldn't say that I prefer to clean (definitely not over reading) or even really "like" it, but I've found that my life is a lot more stress-free when my house is in order. I can read a book or come here without feeling that there is something hanging over my head that needs to be done. I'm certainly not wary of people who would prefer to clean over reading. Different people have different priorities and some people do not like to read. My sister is like this. She doesn't really enjoy reading, but she likes to have her house in order, she likes to cook, and she loves taking care of her kids. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.
I don't make cleaning a priority, but I think it is part of my #1 priority, which is to take care of my family.
Anyway, thought I'd list some things that help me. My mother is in declining health and lives with us - I think a lot about the future when caring for her will take up a lot more of my time. My methods will probably fly out the window if/when that ever happens. I'm hoping to have my family on board with helping me out by then.
I've really enjoyed reading this thread. It's just another example of how different we all are and how things that work for one, can't work for another.