Growing up my mom had a framed print that said, ‘Please excuse the mess – we live here’. She was raising three kids so plenty of living and mess making happened in her home.
Almost all of us, especially those of us with young children, struggle to keep our home clean. It takes time, effort and energy and those are all precious and scarce resources.
It does take work to keep a home bustling with activity in an orderly state but it doesn’t have to take a lot.
With a few simple strategies and healthy ways of thinking about our homes, we can keep them in an orderly state and keep our focus on our families, instead of scrub brushes and vacuums.
Set reasonable standards
Don’t you just hate those people who can keep their house perfectly clean and organized, looking like it belongs in a magazine all while their multiple young children paint at the table without making the smallest mess?
I don’t know anyone like that either.
A home is full of life, which means it will get messy. The best thing we can do is set reasonable standards for how clean your home should be.
That standard will be different for different people (it’s definitely different for my husband and I!) but the important thing is to decide what level of cleanliness works best for your family. It should be a level you can maintain without it adding extra stress, or worse, guilt.
Cut the clutter
The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to manage and clean. This doesn’t mean your home has to be spartan and bare; it means carefully deciding what you allow into your home. I love this quote by William Morris:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
I just got up to refill my tea and noticed that our phone bill came with about four extra pieces of paper. They immediately went into the recycling. By keeping clutter to a minimum we are free to focus on what really matters, rather than sifting through a bunch of junk to get to the good stuff.
Further consideration: The Powerful Difference Between Organizing and Decluttering and The Link Between Clutter and Depression
Put it away. Now.
The last thing any of us wants to do after a long, busy day chasing kids, managing a home, and juggling a million other responsibilities is put away all the things.
So, if you have to step over a pair of shoes, take them with you and put them in the closet. If the dishwasher is empty, put your dishes in it and not on the counter. Pick up the dirty clothes on the floor and put them in the hamper.
These things take seconds, literally seconds, to do and having them done adds up in exponential ways.
Putting things away as you go makes the task of cleaning less like a mountain and more like a mole hill. It suddenly becomes doable.
Set aside quick cleaning times throughout the day
Similar to putting things away as you go, setting aside times for a quick clean can make a big difference.
How many quick cleans you do and how long they are depends on your schedule and how much time you spend at home. But even ten minutes during the day will make the cleaning load at the end of the day lighter.
I’m at home with my two kids so I do one quick clean after each meal, usually 5-20 minutes each time. This keeps our home relatively tidy and our evenings are free to spend time together, which is what I really want to do.
Start and finish laundry in one day
Laundry is the bane of many moms’ existence. It’s never-ending and requires a lot of discipline to stay on top of it.
There’s lots of laundry systems out there so find one that works for you. But here’s the key to staying on top of laundry no matter your routine: don’t leave laundry unfinished. Whether you wash one load a day or save it all up and do multiple loads in a day, the key is to wash, dry and put away in the same day.
Unfolded laundry is very good at mocking us from its basket and the best way to quiet the beast is to not let it sit around.
Beth has some fabulous and unconventional tips for how to stop being overwhelmed by laundry. This post shows you how to detox your laundry routine from the toxic chemicals found in conventional products.
Come back Monday to read Part 2 and get more home cleaning tips and encouragement!
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