Do you struggle to keep your house tidy? I know I do.
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As I write this I feel like a complete fraud because right now there are dishes in the sink, there is a pile of recycling waiting by the door to be taken out, a rather looming pile of laundry to fold, and I haven’t vacuumed in a week. Sound familiar?
Or are you a little obsessive about cleaning? Do you find that your cleaning makes you irritable or impatient with your kids or spouse? Is it time to let go of that anger and just find peace in your home, even if it’s a little messy?
It can be incredibly difficult to homeschool, get meals on the table, make an income for your family, AND keep a clean home. I know because it’s really difficult for me. I may be a homemaker, but I’m not what you’d call “neat.”
There is hope for you and me however.
I may rebel against doing housework (and NO, I do not believe it should all be up to Mom!), but I’ve done some research on the subject and have been able to find a balance in my home without going crazy (and while experiencing a modicum of peace).
Here are my top 10 tips for keeping a reasonably clean and organized home:
- Purge anything you don’t need. I don’t feel qualified to address hoarding. That is a mental health issue that is best treated with therapeutic means such as medicine and a specialist. I will say that if this is a problem in your home, you are not alone and you certainly should not be made to feel shame. Having said that, I will speak to those of us who are hanging on to junk that is cluttering up our homes and our lives and making it difficult to stay organized or tidy. The excellent book, Organizing From the Inside Out is an holistic approach to deciding what should stay and what should go. Julie Morgenstern, the author, was herself a completely disorganized human before she stumbled upon her unique approach to organizing which allows you to identify the objects in your home that have significant meaning and bring you joy, while encouraging you to purge only what you identify as unimportant, a waste of time or space, or a money hog.
- Along that vein, Organizing your Home makes for a peaceful environment and far less time spent doing chores. It is completely worth it to spend the time organizing now so that you don’t have to fight clutter later. It takes some time and elbow grease, but I feel like it’s the only way to have that spa-like feel in the home that will bring you and your family joy. Again, the book Organizing From the Inside Out is the best book I’ve ever read on the subject.
- Make your bed every morning. Seriously, this takes about a minute. You can do it! Once it’s done, it will mean that your room is about 80% clean because that’s how much space a king-sized bed takes up in the average bedroom.
- Keep your master bedroom spa-like. Who wants to sleep in a disaster area? Try to take 15 minutes each day to straighten and organize your oasis so you can enjoy one area of your home that is always clean, no matter what.
- Have a Chore Chart for your kids. I love this adorable Monsters Reward and Responsibility Chore Chart. It’s for up to three children and it’s the cutest one I’ve seen. Don’t make the mistake I did and grumble to yourself every day about how no one picks up but you, all the while failing to teach your kids how to do chores. I felt it was just too hard to teach rather than do it myself, so I wound up teaching them later in life. If you’ve already made my mistake, it’s not too late! It’s just a little harder. But a chore chart and system of rewards and positive reinforcement will get you on the right track. Remember that, just as when you are house training a puppy, kids need to be “caught” being good. Every darn time your kid takes out the trash or puts away the dishes, praise them to the skies and don’t forget to thank them. This works for husbands as well. If your family feels like their efforts are appreciated, they will be far more cooperative.
- Take 20-30 minutes to run your dishes and wipe down your counters after dinner. This is a tough one for me because I’ve just made and served dinner! Make it easier on yourself by having everyone clear and rinse their plate, silverware, and cup right after you eat. Make it even easier by using and recycling paper plates. Make it easier still by rewarding an older child to do the dishes for you. I think it’s completely appropriate to give a kid a chore-based allowance every week and learning how to do the dishes is just a necessary life skill they’ll have to learn eventually. Might as well be now.
- Do a 15-minute pickup of the living room every evening. You can do this with or without help from your family. If the kids and spouse have already cleaned up their messes from the day (as they should have after dinner), it should not be a big deal at all. Put away books and magazines, put things where they belong, fluff the sofa cushions, and make sure there’s nothing on the floor. Go to bed knowing you’ll have a fresh start in the morning.
- Do one complete load of laundry per day. Wash, fold, and put away a load once a day. I am not an advocate for ironing. You won’t catch me ironing, well, anything! If I have wrinkled clothing, I take it to a drycleaner about once a month. But I try to steer clear of all wrinkly apparel.
- If you need help, get it. I have a housekeeper come in once or twice a month to do some deep cleaning. My toilets stay presentable, I get a break from vacuuming, and she even organizes my kitchen! It is well-worth the extra cash I find. If it’s just not in the budget and you are overwhelmed, I have one more suggestion—
- FlyLady.Net! FlyLady is probably the leading authority on keeping a house clean. I know of no one else who will walk you through the process using baby steps, daily emails, encouragement, testimonials, and loads of practical tips. She has you start by “shining your sink” and encourages you to find victory in every accomplishment. She is an expert in conquering CHAOS, or Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. She is amazing and her advice is FREE. You CAN find peace in your home and FlyLady can help you get there.
I hope you’ve found this list practical and helpful.
I did not write this article to imply that I am the perfect housewife. The thought makes me LOL! I am so far from perfect it is laughable. But I feel like we can get our homes under control. We can lead lives that are peaceful and productive. We can have a house clean enough to spontaneously invite the nice neighbor lady over for tea. It can be done if you really want it.
What about you? Do you struggle to keep a home clean? Do you feel resentful because no one helps you? Or are you too much of a neat freak? Does your cleaning interfere with your family life? We want to hear what you are struggling with. We’d also love to hear any tips you might have for those of us who are still floundering a bit. Let’s build each other up and not be critical or judgmental. Leave us a comment down below!