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My Grandma’s 30-Year-Old “House Rules” Taught Me How to Keep a Clean Home

published Apr 18, 2024
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"House Rules" sign, Grandma, Annita and Grandma
Credit: Photos: Courtesy of Annita Katee

I was taught self-explanatory “house rules” at a very young age by my grandmother. Grandma Gigi is 91 years old now, and while still quite the shopaholic, she still keeps a tidy home, with everything in its place.  In her bedroom, you’ll find a vintage khaki-colored stainless-steel wardrobe closet with a magnetic “house rules” poster taking center stage. As a little girl, I remember being made to recite the commandments like scripture when I’d visit, and to this day, I do believe they’ve been a big part in helping me stay neat and tidy. 

  1. If you open it — close it 
  2. If you turn it on — turn it off 
  3. If you unlock it — lock it 
  4. If you break it — mend it 
  5. If you borrow it — return it 
  6. If you use it — take care of it 
  7. If you make a mess — clean it up 
  8. If you move it — put it back 
  9. If it doesn’t concern you — leave the bloody thing alone!

As I was writing this, I FaceTimed Grandma Gigi to ask her about the very old magnet — a real estate advertisement — she still has on her cupboard today. While she couldn’t recall when she got it, we know it’s over 27 years old by the phone number on it, as Sydney, Australia, updated their dial code style back in 1994.

What she could tell me was her favorite commandment, commandment number 9: “If it doesn’t concern you — leave the bloody thing alone,” she recited while chuckling. “It really is the truth!” 

If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Grandma Gigi, you’ll quickly learn our family’s quick-witted matriarch loves having the last word. “I don’t know why they only had nine commandments, they should’ve gone to 10,” she quipped. “If I had to add another it’d be, ‘Now pass it on!’” 

So on behalf of Grandma Gigi and myself, we encourage you to close your drawers, return that thing you borrowed, and if it doesn’t concern you, leave the bloody thing alone. Oh, and closed-toe footwear in the kitchen, always. 

This article originally published on Apartment Therapy. See it there: My Grandma’s 30-Year-Old “House Rules” Taught Me How to Keep a Clean Home