How to Prepare Your Home for a Stress-free Return From Holiday
Follow these simple steps to ensure your home gives you a warm welcome after you've been on your travels
With all the preparation involved in packing for your holiday, cleaning the house is probably the last thing you want to do. But with a little forward planning it should be easy. The key is not to leave it all until the last minute – give the house a good clean a few days beforehand. Then, just before you leave you’ll only need to do a few quick top-ups.
Essential last-minute tasks include cleaning the bathroom and kitchen sinks, wiping down kitchen work surfaces and sweeping the floors. This shouldn’t take too long, and you’ll really appreciate it when you return to a shiny, clean home.
A week ahead of your holiday, attempt to clear the seemingly bottomless pit that is the laundry basket. We usually bring back a heap of dirty washing from our trips, so the last thing you need is to add to a pile that’s already waiting in the wings. If you give yourself a few days, you should be able to leave for your travels with an empty wash bin. Then, upon your return you won’t spend days trying to get through it all.
Clever ways to keep your laundry room ship-shape
Holidays are all about relaxing, but you won’t feel your most rested if you travel with unfinished jobs to do. Plan to get all your niggling tasks done before you leave, and you won’t return to a list of overdue assignments.
Two or three weeks before your planned trip, make a thorough list of everything that needs to be done. This could include paying bills, responding to emails, getting work up to date, preparing for the kids’ school return and booking appointments. Allocate a spot in the house for all your admin tasks, and a simple filing system to keep everything in one place. Think you haven’t got room for this? A covered box and some cardboard folders is enough to keep your paperwork together.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving food in the fridge that will go out of date while you’re away. Opening the fridge door to be greeted by the smell of stale chicken could dampen your mood considerably. Plan ahead and buy enough food to last until your leaving day, and make sure it’s all eaten up in time. You could even clear out the fridge and freezer completely, to enable you to turn it off while you’re away and save on electricity.
If you do want to keep it on, however, it might be worth stocking up for your return. There are some food items that have a long life expectancy, such as eggs and ham. You’ll appreciate not having to rush to the shops after a long journey home.
Keep your home safe from burglars while you’re away by making it look as if someone is at home. Invest in some timer plugs and place them strategically around the property.
Think about which lights you use at different stages of the day, and set your timers to turn them on at those times. For example, a kitchen light could come on in the evening, followed by a living room lamp to look like you’re watching TV. It’s also a good idea to attach one to your radio during the day. Programme it to a station that features a lot of talking, as it will sound like people are having a conversation.
Give yourself some peace of mind while you’re away by unplugging all unnecessary electrical equipment. Of course, there are some things that need to be left on, such as timer switches on lights, and it’s not feasible to turn off the fridge-freezer unless it has been completely emptied. However, try to turn off as much as possible to avoid the risk of an electrical fire. You’ll also reduce your bills slightly, as even things left on standby will eat up energy.
Make sure all your laptops and gadgets are out of sight, too. Avoid having anything on display that could potentially tempt a burglar.
For added security, get your neighbours on board. They can help to create the illusion that someone is at home by carrying out a few simple tricks. If you have a driveway and are taking your car, ask you neighbour if they could park in front of your house. Also ask them to pop in now and again to pick up that giveaway pile of post, and perhaps open and close the curtains.
It will also give you a good excuse to go and say thank you when you arrive home. A chat and a cuppa could be just the remedy you need to combat the post-holiday blues.
Nothing will lift your mood more than a garden in bloom, so devise a way to keep it as well watered as possible. The most obvious way to do this is to ask a neighbour to water it for you. However, you can’t always find someone to diligently stand with a hosepipe every evening, so you might need some alternatives.
Nip to your local nursery or hardware store to find an automatic watering system. These usually come with a timer that you can fit to the hose and tap.
Consider ways of reducing the need for regular watering. Apply a good mulch to the soil around your plants to help keep the water in, and add water-retaining crystals to your containers.
Banish the post-trip blues by ensuring your home smells delicious as soon as you step through the door. After a week or so of closed windows, your property could be slightly musty, but there are a number of ways to rectify this.
Position a few reed diffusers around your home, as they will slowly release a subtle scent. You could also put out some jars of dried lavender or rose petals, and pop a box of baking soda in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh. Make sure wooden floors and carpets are clean, as these can retain bad smells, and if you want to neutralise any other odours place a bowl of vinegar in the corner of a room.
More ways to make your home smell amazing
Simple, but ever so effective, changing your bed sheets before you go on holiday is a real must-do. There’s something rather comforting about the first night back in your own bed, but adding the smell and feel of fresh linen will make it even better.
Try to factor in time to do this on the day that you go away, but if you’re leaving really early in the morning you might not be able to. You could change the sheets the night before, and at least you’ll only have used them once. Alternatively, leave a pile of fresh bedding ready to put on quickly when you return.
Do you have any tips to ensure a stress-free return from your holidays? Share your ideas in the Comments below.