Spring time is right around the corner and with it we often find a fresh urge to do some house cleaning, but what about the other times of the year? What are ways we can work to maintain some sense of order in our homes amidst the everyday happenings? This is the question that we have asked ourselves and have had fun collaborating on. Every home will look different but we find it helpful to read new ideas/suggestions that encourage our thinking as we work to create homes that bring glory to God. So, here are some of our joint ideas for ways to keep our homes cleaner on a daily basis… not just at spring time!
Start with the simple things. Cleaning up a cluttered counter, living room, or bedroom, can feel overwhelming, but having a strategy for how you go about it can be helpful. One way to do this is to deal first with those things that you know exactly where they go. For example: if it is a dirty dish, put it in the sink to wash. If it is a spice or seasoning left from out after preparing last night’s meal, put it on the spice rack. If it is a random pen or pad of paper, put it in the junk drawer. Tackling the straightforward tasks in a job first helps the job feel much less overwhelming!
Have a set time of day to do a quick pick up.. Things often get scattered around the house during the day, so having an established time to pick up can be really helpful. For example, I have found nap-time to be a good time for this: not only does nap-time remind me that it is now time to pick up, but it is also helpful to not have a toddler undoing my work! Or, if your child is old enough to help pick up, a quick pick-up could be right before nap-time starts.
Set the timer when doing laundry. This helps remind you when to change out the washer and dryer.
Have someone over for a meal. Knowing that company is coming is a great motivation to at least do a quick pick up in the living room and dining room, if not also a quick touch-up in the bathroom!
Wash the dishes after each meal. I used to dread doing the dishes. However, what I’ve realized is that I don’t actually hate doing dishes. What I hate is washing dishes that have been sitting for two days with hardened food or cold liquid in them, etc. If I can get to our dishes immediately following each meal I save myself a lot of work in the long run by not having to scrub and chisel away at dishes that otherwise would have cleaned off easily.
Set a house cleaning schedule. Good habits are often formed through routine. With little ones underfoot I find that keeping a simple house cleaning schedule for each day helps me in maintaining our house throughout the week. The schedule can be broken up by rooms (Monday-kitchen, Tuesday-bathrooms, Wednesday-bedrooms, etc.) or by chores (Monday-laundry, Tuesday-vacuum/toilets/mirrors, Wednesday-bills, etc.). If I miss a day, I know that I need to save a day later in the week to make sure it gets done. This really helps to avoid those panic moments of finding out someone has run out of clean underwear or wondering when was the last time I paid the bills?
Minimize belongings. Often when it feels like I can’t stay on top of the cleaning it’s actually a sign that I need to declutter our house. Throw things out that aren’t getting much use, rotate kids toys between the closet and attic, donate clothes I rarely wear, etc. If you really want to dive hard core into decluttering you could do a decluttering challenge that a friend of mine tried. The challenge was to throw out the same amount of items for each corresponding day of the month. So declutter 1 item on the 1st, 2 items on the 2nd, etc., etc., etc. By the end of one month you will have thrown out around 500 items.
Work to clean up a mess before starting another one. This is especially helpful with the kids. I get out of the habit of reinforcing this with them and by nap time our house looks like a tornado has just passed through. It doesn’t take long to stop and clean up the blocks, before we can move on to pulling out the crayons/coloring books, etc., but it sure can save Mommy a lot of stress.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and focus on one room. See how much you can get done in that amount of time.
Multitask during bath time. Our kids take baths several times a week. While they play, I clean our bathroom! I really appreciate a clean bathroom. Doing it this way, our bathroom stays pretty clean all the time and it’s a multitasking win!
Have the kids help. Tell them “We are going to do____________ (dishes, laundry, dust) first, then we can ____________(pull out the legos, read books, etc). Give them a chore that is all their own and make it fun. Give them things to put away and see how fast they can run back to you for another task. Don’t worry that it’s not perfect. Our preschooler loves rolling up the vacuum cord. Yeah, it’s not perfect but it gets the job done. She has fun and she is learning at the same time. When they help, praise them. One of our daughters chores is to fold the small towels. She does a great job and beams when I tell her “That is a great fold!”
Make a game out of cleaning up.
For toddlers – “I spy an elephant, a truck and a ball. Who can find them and put them in the bin first?”
For older kids- Work in teams to complete separate lists of chores. First team done gets a prize.