I recently read this on Apartment Therapy:
Commit to cleaning before you leave
Don’t always put your home in the position of disappointing you when you walk through the door and face a mess. It’s a tall order, especially when asked to commit to a few minutes each day to just sit and enjoy your home in the same post, but trust us when we say this is a great place to push yourself a little to improve.
I like to come home to a tidy house. It’s hard, though, with cats. They tend to scatter the litter and even get it out on the bedroom carpet. One of the “kittens” loves to play with my slippers that I usually leave near the closet so I may find one slipper elsewhere in the house. The kittens like to wrestle with a small pillow that is on the guest bed so it is often found on the floor or even under the bed. Then there is their food. They will get pieces out to eat and leave a mess behind.
Knowing this may be what I will find upon returning, I make sure that everything else is neat and tidy before leaving. No dishes in the sink or on the counter. Personal items, except those slippers, put away. I even try to get the dishwasher run and unloaded if I know I’m going to be gone for some time. If we are going to be gone overnight or longer, all the waste baskets are emptied and new garbage bags inserted. For the longer times I make sure to put breads and fruits that are usually on the counter in the refrigerator.
Much of this cleaning and straightening before leaving goes back to my mother. She would do this before traveling saying that should something happen to her while away she wanted the house to look good for whomever had to come in to take care of things.