HTCI Interview Part 5

Here's more from my recent interview with blogger Kristina Seleshanko, who has been implementing the HTCI system in her home and blogging about it online at Proverbs 31 Woman.


I see on your blog that you and your publisher are considering follow up books for The House That Cleans Itself. One of the ideas is a book focusing on implementing your method in a household with kids. Could you share one or two ideas for moms with small children? For example, do you have advice on getting small kids to pick up after themselves without causing World War Three?

Mindy: When it comes to picking up mess with kids, here are some ideas I have found success with in the past:

- Make cleaning a game. For example, let the kids pick a peppy song that becomes the “cleaning song”. When it’s time to pick up toys, put on that song and they have to pick up as fast as they can, seeing if they can finish before the song is over. Keep it fun, every time, and they’ll actually begin to think of it as an adventure rather than a chore.

- If you have several children, assign each one a different color and tell them they have exactly three minutes of picking up but that they are only allowed to pick up an item if it has their color somewhere on it. They get so engrossed in the “game” that they forget that game is also getting the room clean.

- Do whatever you can to make cleaning easy and convenient. Make sure that all bins and containers are easy to reach, clearly labeled, and present no challenges to tiny fingers. If they can’t read yet, use pictures as labels. Most of all, don’t create a situation that requires excessive sorting. (For example, you don’t need to separate Legos by size and color, just get them in the dang bin!)

- Ask for your child’s input on how he thinks his stuff should be organized and listen to his suggestions. By bringing him in on the decision-making process, you are giving him “ownership” over the success of his ideas.

For slightly older kids, here’s one of my favorites: Go to a hardware store and buy a carpenter’s apron, then stock it with child-safe cleaning supplies. My daughter hated cleaning until I did this for her. But the moment she strapped on that tool belt loaded with Magic Erasers, wet wipes, a mini feather duster, and more, she transformed into a lean, mean cleaning machine. It was wonderful!

I’ll have many more suggestions in the book about cleaning with kids, but these are off the top of my head for now.

Clean Travel Tip #4

Here's this week's travel photo, taken by my daughter Lauren on a trip to "Reddish Knob" in Virginia. Gorgeous, huh?

Now let's talk some more about the "zone" principle of clean travel, which I introduced previously.

First, I don't want anyone to misunderstand: I'm not saying that you should unpack all of your stuff from your suitcases whenever you go to a hotel. Personally, I won't fully unpack unless I'm going to be somewhere for at least 3 days, usually more. (That's why in my list of zones, you don't see anything about clothing other than the DIRTY CLOTHES ZONE.) I'm just saying that there are certain travel-related items that are easier to keep straight and use if you give them a zone in your room rather than leave them in a bag. If these items are easier to retrieve and use, your entire room will stay neater with less trouble.

So what do you do with your clothes if you're not staying long? Here's what I do for brief stays. In the closet, I'll hang up any outfits I'll be wearing, then I set up the luggage rack in a handy spot against a wall nearby. I'll put a suitcase on that and use that one suitcase for any non-hanging items I'll need such as sweat pants, underwear, socks, nightgowns, bathing suits, etc. Sometimes this is as far as I'll go for longer stays as well, depending on the cleanliness of the drawers and/or the number of available hangers in the closet. Shoes go near the door, or on the floor of the closet.

If you try out the zone principle on your next trip, remember to always make a concerted effort to return each item to its assigned zone whenever it is not in use. If your zones are consistent and logical, this really won't be a hard habit to establish at all. Then you will find that you have a Hotel Room That Cleans Itself.

Now if we could just figure out a way to get daily maid service at home...

HTCI Interview Part 4

Here's more from my recent interview with blogger Kristina Seleshanko, who has been implementing the HTCI system in her home and blogging about it online at Proverbs 31 Woman.


One of the things I LOVE about your book is all the little stories you tell about your most embarrassing housekeeping moments. They not only make me laugh heartily, but they make me feel better about my own housekeeping skills. What would you say is your all time most embarrassing housekeeping moment?

Mindy: Actually, the Most Embarrassing Messy House Moments in the book aren’t from my own experience, they are stories I have collected from others. My favorite is the grass growing out of the bathmat. Yikes! I take comfort from those stories, glad at least to know I’m not the only one these sorts of things happen to.

I can’t even pinpoint my own most embarrassing moment, there have been so many over the years. I do remember one of my saddest housekeeping moments, though. That happened when I told my five-year-old daughter over breakfast that “Today, we’re going to get this house clean.” She broke into a big smile and replied, “Oh goodie! Who’s coming over?”

Isn’t that just awful? Even at five, my kid saw more than I did, that about the only time I ever got a handle on our mess was when we were expecting company. Even though I laughed about it at the time, that was a real wake-up call for me. In a way, it broke my heart.

Clean Travel Tip #3

First I'll start with this week's travel photo, taken during our recent vacation to Louisiana. Just for fun, I had picked up some little craft painting sets at Target in an after-Christmas sale. I pulled them out on New Year's Eve for my kids and their cousins to have a fun project to do. There were enough little figurines for the adults to participate as well, and when we were finished we even had a "contest" for Most Precise, Most Creative, Biggest Risk Taker, etc., as judged by the adults who hadn't joined in with the painting. Here's a photo of the winners:

Can you guess which one got Best Overall? Answer is at the bottom of this post.

Now on to the topic at hand, how to travel neatly...

This is the single most important clean travel tip I can ever give you:

Whenever you reach the hotel room/condo/etc. where you will be staying, immediately establish "ZONES". These are the various areas where you will be keeping your possessions for the duration of your stay.

For example, when I stay in a hotel room for work purposes, I set up the following zones:

- a KEY ZONE, where I will keep my room key plus any other non-valuable, similar items I'll be carrying around in my pockets, such as pocket change, itinerary, etc.

- a SECURE ZONE, where I'll keep my purse, jewelry, and medications

- an ELECTRONICS ZONE, where I put chargers and equipment for my phone, camera, laptop, Kindle, etc.

- a FOOD ZONE, where I'll keep any snacks and beverages I want to have on hand

- a BEDSIDE ZONE, where I'll put those few things I'll want at bedtime, such as Blistex, dental floss, whatever book I'm currently reading for fun, and a flashlight

- a MAKEUP ZONE, where I'll put my beauty/hair products

- a PAPERS ZONE, where I'll dump any important incoming papers

- a SPORTS ZONE, if I have brought along any sort of equipment such as goggles for the pool, a tennis racquet, etc.

- a DIRTY CLOTHES ZONE, where I'll throw clothing after I've worn it

Even in a small room, it usually isn't too hard to find a separate place for each of the above. Every time I travel, I try to use similar locations for these zones. Thus, even though the various hotel rooms my differ in size and shape, I'll learn the habit of looking to certain areas for the things I need, both when I'm retrieving them to use and when I'm putting them away again. For example, here's the above list of zones, with the rules of thumb I usually follow when choosing where each will go:

- the KEY ZONE is usually on top of or near the television

- the SECURE ZONE is usually inside the room safe, or, if there isn't one, somewhere discreet that your average thief likely wouldn't notice (and that's all I'm sayin' here, haha)

- the ELECTRONICS ZONE is usually on or near the desk. Depending on the number of electrical outlets there, I may have to split this zone into two, moving my camera and phone chargers to a different outlet elsewhere in the room. When that happens, for example if my phone charger is in a plug in the corner, I always follow a handy "reminder" tip so that I don't forget and leave it behind. More about that in a future post!

- the FOOD ZONE is usually on/near/in the fridge, if there is one, or the ice bucket/coffee maker area if there isn't

- the BEDSIDE ZONE is, of course, either on the bedside table, if my trip is a brief one, or in the bedside table drawer, if I'll be staying there for 3+ days

- the MAKEUP ZONE is usually on the bathroom counter or near the best, most well-lit mirror in the room

- the PAPERS ZONE is usually on or near the desk or in my briefcase

- the SPORTS ZONE is usually on the floor of the closet

- the DIRTY CLOTHES ZONE is also usually on the floor of the closet, at the other end, or in an empty suitcase if I happen to have one

Be sure to come back soon so you can learn even more about the zone principle of clean travel.

Answer: Winner for the Best Overall ornament in the photo, above, was the white snowman with the red hat in the center, 5th from the left, which was painted by my very talented niece Sarah! (If you're curious, mine is 2nd from the right.)