Making a habit out of completing a few basic daily tasks can save hours of housework in the future by avoiding the discouraging game of catch up.
I always love to find other mothers who are endorsing an idea I have been advocating in my life and on my website. Somehow it reaffirms my dedication to a task I know to be of value. In my blog post “How to Clean Your House Like a Professional” I discuss the process of getting your home in the condition it deserves to be in, but for many people the issue is not so much a problem of getting there but STAYING there. By completeling a check list of six simple tasks we can keep clutter under control.
Sometimes we need a little reminder of things we can do each day to renew our dedication to staying ahead of teh chaos.
Our home is our sanctuary; but it is also our place of employment, our mess hall, our playground, our school, our sleeping quarters, and our place of religious worship. Would any of us eat in a restaurant where the tables were covered with old mail, toys, or day old food? Would we sleep at a hotel with an unmade bed (even if the sheets were clean) or an un-vacuumed floor? How well would our children learn if their school rooms were a disaster (this I have actually experienced, one of my high school math rooms was so full of clutter I could barely force myself to attend. The whole environment completely grossed me out!)? But most importantly, how will our children learn to feel safe and protected in a world full of disorder and unpredictable chaos?
Managing clutter every day will change the way you feel about how you live. Here are the 6 things I do each day to help manage the clutter in my house.
1- Make the beds & Open the Blinds (Yes, this means making your kids beds for them if they forget to do it before leaving for school. Many may argue that doing it for them doesn’t teach them to do it themselves, I disagree. A child who grows up getting into a neatly made bed will learn to despise sleeping in a messy bed. This realization may not hit them until they are adults but why should you have to look at their messy bed for the next 18 years? Besides, it gives you great leverage for their after school chores, “Jack, I’m so glad you let me make your bed for you this morning because I could really use your help empting the dish washer.” Sun shining through open blinds makes any room feel clean and fresh!
2- Clear off Floors & Cupboards (This may sound like more work than a ‘quick tidiness trick’ should entail but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you don’t have time to take care of the stuff on the floor, pick it up. The more visible clear space the better. I was always taught to avoid making piles of junk around the house but sometimes piles are the best way to make your house look clean without spending a lot of time on it. I have designated a few ‘pile’ locations throughout my house. These are places I can quickly and easily put things to take care of later or to have the kids take care of later. My kids are infinitely better at cleaning up a pile than they are at cleaning up an entire room (even though it is technically the same amount of stuff). Beware, when coming to my house the bottom of the stairs near the kitchen and the upstairs hallway will often have piles of stuff to be taken care of. We are working towards having a good solid 5 minute pile clean up every night before bedtime…
3- Sort the Mail (Logan has taken over the responsibility of mail collection. This makes sorting the mail a difficult project for me sometimes but nothing feels better than having it done. The junk goes in the trash immediately! The important stuff goes in a mail sorter hanging on the wall in the office (I only open my mail once a month when I pay bills). The catalogs that I want to look at go to the ottoman by my bed so I can read through them and THEN put them in the trash. We cancelled our subscription to the daily news paper because I couldn’t stand the clutter. I have seen too many houses become over run by newspapers, magazines, and junk mail; most of which never get read.)
4- Clean while you cook (I enjoy cooking but I hate cleaning the kitchen afterwards. Even worse, I hate when I can’t enjoy a meal because I know that the kitchen mess is patiently waiting for me. The mounds of dishes and trash will become less of a problem if you can take care of them while you are cooking. I do my best to have the dishwasher emptied and ready for dirty dishes BEFORE I start cooking. This way I can load the dirty stuff while I am preparing dinner. I also have a small trash can (actually it’s a compost pot that I use for trash) that sits ON TOP of my counter so I can quickly throw away trash as it comes at me. I have a separate bowl or large dish to hold food scraps for the chickens. Dishes, trash, and food scraps get sorted and filed away constantly during the cooking process. After dinner is over everyone takes care of their own dishes and all I am left with are a few serving pieces to clean up, the counters to wipe off, and the trash and chicken food to be taken away.)
5- Never Leave a Room Empty Handed (Every time you leave a room, even if it is only for a moment, take something with you that doesn’t belong. This works even better if you already have a pile made. This habit can also help you transfer mess from one pile to another. For example, my husband leaves his shoes by the couch. During my floor and cupboard clean up (#2) I put the shoes in a pile by the stairs. Then, while making lunch, I get a phone call but I realize I left my phone upstairs in the laundry room. On my way up I grab the shoes, even though I’m not going to my room, and I add them to the upstairs pile in the hallway. The downstairs pile is a bit smaller now and the shoes are that much closer to their home. It works!
6 - Sweep the Kitchen Floor (I’ll be honest; this is the clutter buster I struggle with the most! I have been tempted to buy one of those robotic vacuums that will wander around by itself…. I’ll keep working on it!)
Completing these 6 steps everyday throughout the week, along with the weekly house cleaning taught in “How to Clean Your House Like a Professional” will leave you feeling free to enjoy your home and your family! You will have more time for projects and personal aspirations because the mess will be gone. Life is too short to spend each day surviving unnecessary chaos. Make the clutter disappear EVERY DAY because you have more important things to worry about.