I recently talked to a friend who told me she felt buried in her own home. No, she's not a hoarder, but like so many of us, her time is extremely limited and her life is hectic. She cannot afford to hire someone to clean and she doesn't have hours on end to devote to housework. She feels overwhelmed and, well, buried.
Can you relate? I know I can. I would absolutely die of embarrassment if suddenly we had to show my house.
No matter how busy I am, it seems like every day I clean my house -- a little. I tidy up or clean the bathrooms. Every day I clean the kitchen, and generally try to make everything look nice.
I do not deal well with chaos, and yet it seems it’s all my brain sees. When my house is a mess, I’m generally unsettled. Yet, there is a tremendous pleasure I get in being able to relax in a clean house.
Of course, with two kids and a husband, it never lasts long. Of course, why would I want it to? We live here. I want our home to be fun and relaxing for them, too. However, there are things I can do to keep it generally clean and tidy.
Here are the habits I try to maintain to keep a clean-ish house:
1. Never leave dishes in the sink. Or counter. Clean up any messes in the kitchen after we're done. Wipe the counters, keep the sink clean. Although, there are weeknights that are busier than normal, and weekends that are funner (no, it’s not a word, but I’m going to use it anyway) than normal – where dishes settle on the counter overnight, for the most part, we try to keep up with this area.
2. Tidy the bathroom as I go. I have made it a goal of mine to adopt this philosophy. I’m not much of one to clean as I go. Cleaning is a hobby, not a chore…I try to not make it another chore because it's therapeutic for me. One thing I do do is clean my shower each week while I’m already in there… I keep a kitchen dish wand of Basic h2 in the shower and clean my shower as I go. It only takes a couple of minutes, and the joy of a clean bathroom is unmatched.
3. Pick up as I go. There are always little things the kids leave around the house. Last year I went on strike. I am happy to do the cleaning, but I'm NOT picking up every body's mess before I clean. I stopped picking up after my kids. Guess what? I found out my kids are old enough to do it themselves.
My kids are 12 and 8, and I have created a chore list for them to complete every week day. One of the tasks on their list is “pick up all my items on the first floor.” Their bedrooms are another story, and the basement family room is a once-a-week family-tackle. But for the every day, it’s the first or main floor we focus our attention on.
4. Never leave clothes out. I have a tendency not to hang my once-used but still clean clothes in my bedroom, leaving them out to clutter the place up. No more. They either go in the dirty clothes, or they get hung in the closet. I posted a few weeks back about how I organize my closet. You can read that post here, if you're interested. This makes putting away my clean and barely worn items a much simpler task.
5. Take the trash out every day. It’s cleaner, and even if the trash isn’t quite full, this is a good habit. Our trash dumpster (I call it) is outside our garage entry. It's a quick 1-2 to pick up the trash and haul it to the back door, open it up and toss it in. Easy, peasy.
6. Tidy up before I leave the house. It’s wonderful to come home to a clean house. Just pick up a little before I leave. Since we enter and leave through the garage door, I try to keep this to the areas I see upon entering the house. For me it’s the kitchen, breakfast area and great room. I wouldn't allow a visitor to see a mess as they walked in, why should I allow myself to see one?
7. Make my bed in the morning. I love a made bed. I posted about how long it takes me to make my bed every day. The time it takes will surprise you! I posted about it here.
8. Tidy up before I go to bed. Waking up to a dirty house is stressful. Waking up to a clean house is an incredible way to start the day. I try to either keep up as the day progresses, or I will take 10 minutes before bed and pick up the last remaining items. If I can't get to the whole house, I focus on the kitchen. You can read about it here.
9. Don’t let clutter pile up. There’s a place right inside the kitchen entry where we pile backpacks, items to return and laptop bags. As long as I keep up with everything else (counters, tabletops, etc.) I can manage the one drop-zone we have. Besides, I’m convinced that every family needs a drop-zone, you just have to control it before it controls you.
10. Get rid of the papers on the fridge. I can pretty much put all of that info on our calendar. We keep an info board on our back door. I'll post about that soon. It’s an external metal door, so we adhered a dry-erase calendar, two dry-erase boards for our kiddos’ lists, a pocket for incoming mail, and a magnetic pencil cup for dry erase markers. We also have a half-dozen smiley face magnetic clips to clip any school papers, permission slips, receipts, etc to the door. Everything we need to know for the day is right there on our door for a quick – at-a-glance look before we leave.
These are my 10 go-to tips. Do I always keep things perfect? Nope. In fact, if you saw my house right now you’d think we’d been ransacked… But that’s okay. Tomorrow is another day!
Only By His Grace,