Howdy Peeps!

How’re you all doing out there? Are you going stir-crazy, or are you enjoying your time at home? I admit, I love having all of us under the same roof again.

It’s not all perfect, of course. We’ve had to make a few adjustments. I could hear my voice getting tighter and higher-pitched, so instead of driving us all crazy, I decided to write down some "House Rules" for Cohabitating during this COVID-19 crisis. As I was doing this, it occurred to me that you might be having a similar situation at your house, so in the interest of public health and safety (and not going
crazy), I thought I'd share.

These are extraordinary times, so I’m giving you all a rare peek at the actual state of play at The Ponderosa. No tidying, no styling. This is us trying to live by some new House Rules for keeping everyone safe (mostly from me because I will kill them if they don’t co-operate).

1. Seriously, take off your shoes! OK, the entry Hall looks pretty tidy (mostly because practically nobody uses it). Stay with me… You already know that most household germs come in via our shoes, but we rarely take them off. In Asia, no one would ever dream of walking their dirty shoes into your home. Unthinkable!

Did you see the movie “Parasite”? Remember the scene when the Tutor first arrives at the house and automatically hops into a pair of slippers left in a basket near the front door? I was like… of course! That's how you do it. I found these on Amazon. So far, only a few of our guests have used them, preferring to just wear their socks. And now we have no guests, but hopefully, this new rule will stick!

2. Wash your hands every time you come home. 
And I mean Every. Time. I'm pretty much doing this anyway, but I'm making everyone do it now, even guests. I replaced our favorite hand towels with disposable bamboo ones for now. They’re not really that chic, but desperate times, right?

3. Get up on time. There is plenty of science to suggest that keeping to a regular schedule is the key to better sleep habits and overall wellbeing. That's super important right now, so I'm corralling the devices and insisting on everyone going to bed at a decent hour. Otherwise, everyone is having breakfast for lunch, and that's when Pizza-and-egg sandwiches happen. We're not going there. Again.

4. Make your bed first thing. The jury’s still out regarding the real scientific benefits of making your bed each morning. But I don’t care. I am 100% TEAM MAKE THE BED. My day hasn’t officially begun until my bed is made. And frankly, there’s nothing more depressing than walking into a messy bedroom with an unmade bed. Ugh. Just make it already.

5. Get dressed. When we’re all working from home, it’s very tempting to stay in sweats or pajamas all day long. I've had my new home office for four months now and can honestly say that I'm much more productive when I get dressed. In real clothes. There are plenty of comfy options out there. Some of them on sale now! BTW: Yoga pants are not real clothes. They are pants for yoga.

6. Spray the seat (and close the lid)! This was basic potty training for my boys, but one year at college seems to have totally erased my training. Sigh. I’ve put a Bathroom cleaner on the seat and included it here to remind them. I find that subtlety doesn't work with teenage boys (or their Fathers, for that matter).

7. No self-isolating in your bedroom. Social Distancing is fine, but not necessary between healthy family members! And NO eating in there! I've made it a rule that the boys have to do their online courses in a shared room. Working at a table in the kitchen or dining room makes it more legit somehow. Bedrooms are for relaxing and sleeping. Not studying (or skateboards)!

8. Family Dinners are mandatory. We’re all eating as a family, period. This is an absolute must. I don’t mind grazing during the day, but I insist on everyone sitting down together for dinner, at least! And absolutely no phones at the table. I am talking to myself here, too. And wash your own dishes, please. You have everything you need right there at the sink!

9. Put your stuff away. You wouldn’t think boys had so many products in the bathroom, right? Wrong! There were over 24 things out (and they don't even have a vanity). There are multiple hair products, pimple creams, tweezers, razors, face wash, and for some reason, an electric hair trimmer (?!). Is someone manscaping during a pandemic? I don’t want to know, just use it and put it away.

10. Eating on the sofa? I can’t really forbid this one since I personally love eating on the sofa. But, we have a gorgeous new one that's hard to clean, so I’ve mandated a Turkish towel throw down rule. Just throw one down on the sofa and eat on that. Simple. They’re pretty and easy to wash. And if the worst happens…there’s always Garment Groom. I spritz it daily on the sofa just to get rid of the pepperoni-and-dog smell.

*Extra Credit: Establish a drop zone. I read this on Apartment Therapy years ago, and it's a good rule. You need a family "Landing Strip" where everyone can take off their shoes and store their things. In our new house, we made an East-Coast style "Mudroom" with cabinets for everyone to stash skateboards, umbrellas, backpacks, etc. They don't always use them, but I'm trying!

I also dragged an old dresser in there to hold sunglasses, cards, stationery, gift-wrapping paper, and all the random stuff you might need on your way out the door. I set up a little thrift-store table to hold the mail and parcels from Amazon (both coming and going). But my favorite thing is this Key Valet that I found on Etsy.

It's super handy if you have multiple cars and family members who share them. You just have to train everyone to use it.

We just returned from an epic Trader Joe's shopping trip, and I feel very optimistic about us being able to hunker down and weather this storm. As long as the wine holds out, we should be fine…

Stay Healthy out there, and please share your tips for staying safe and sane at home!


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