Keeping your surroundings clean is a never ending battle. Even without kids, I remember struggling to keep our home neat and tidy. I would usually have to save most of the chores for one big cleaning day on a Saturday, at the end of a long work week. But who wants to give up a day of freedom to clean?? There are maybe a select few who actually enjoy these mundane tasks, but for the vast majority of us, it’s a struggle. Here are some habits I’ve been working on over the last couple of years to make a clean living space a more natural occurrence.
Set the Timer
This is one of the simplest, easiest ways to keep yourself on task. You would be amazed at how quickly you can accomplish something when you set a timer. It works for kids, it can work for you too! I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who gets easily distracted. I take something to put it away in another room and find the laundry needs moved from the washer to the dryer, or I see the bathroom trash needs taking out and I stop to do that. Or, I’m clearing off the counter and find a bill that needs paid, or something I wanted to google pops into my brain and I pick up my phone, check a few notifications, then 30 minutes goes by and my task is still left undone. This is how countless hours of productivity get wasted. But if I set a timer for 15-20 minutes, I know I need to stay focused until the job is complete. You will be amazed at how quickly you can accomplish tasks that you thought would take hours, when you simply set a timer.
Put It Away
My mom has been preaching this one to me since childhood and it’s still something I struggle with. If you get it out, put it away immediately. Don’t leave it there to accumulate with the rest of the mess. I’ve even heard it said, “if it’s something that takes 30 seconds of less to do – DO IT NOW. Don’t wait.” So take your shoes to the closet, hang up your jacket and keys, tie up the bread and put it back in the pantry, rinse your dish and stick it in the dishwasher. This simple habit alone will take care of 90% of your mess.
Make a Schedule
Ok, I have rebelled against schedules for so long. I don’t know why. They’re great for time management and they’re super effective! We did not live on a strict schedule growing up, so maybe it’s just not something that’s comfortable to me. It’s outside my comfort zone. BUT, I have found that when I schedule specific days for specific tasks, I have much more peace about the cleanliness of my home. I know I don’t have to worry about the dirty toilet on Monday because it’s getting cleaned on Tuesday, so I can focus on Monday’s task of laundry. I don’t get overwhelmed trying to do every single task, every single day. There are a few things, like tidying up the floors and surfaces, or doing the dishes, that do have to be done every day.
The Clean Mama blog has been so helpful to me in coming up with a functional cleaning schedule. Even if you don’t do it just like her, use it as a reference to come up with a schedule that works for your household.
I tend to go a little nutso on the decluttering sometimes. It can be good, but I sometimes regret throwing SO much away. You don’t have to become a full fledged minimalist, but take a look at your surroundings and find ways you can decrease the “stuff”. Do you have a lot of multiples? Are there 3 can openers in your utensil drawer? Why? Donate the extras you don’t need. Throw out anything that’s broken. Why are we keeping broken things? I do it too. If it’s semi functional, I keep it around. Lessen the appliances and objects on your tables and counter spaces. Put things in cabinets or toys in boxes on shelves. The less “stuff” you have out, the more peaceful and tidy your home appears.
Your kids’ toys can be a HUGE source of clutter. Go through them once a month or so and throw out things that don’t work or that your kids don’t play with. You don’t even have to throw their toys out if you don’t want to. Just pack them up in a big box, high up in the closet. You can rotate their toys out when they start to get bored and it’s like having a bunch of new toys!
One of my favorite tips from my bestie Jess at The Junq Drawer is to keep a large laundry basket handy for quick clean ups. If you get word your hosting small group last minute, take your basket through the house and throw all the stray items in it. Then you can stash it in a back room out of sight. The trick for me would be to then go through that basket at a later time to put everything in it’s proper place. But we’re talking, in a pinch, it’s a good go-to tactic to keep your home tidy.
I still have a long way to go for sure and I know my home isn’t as clean as some. You’ll still find unfolded laundry on my couch and toast crusts under my table on occasion. But progress is progress! How about you? I’d love to hear some of your tips for keeping your home looking neat and tidy at a moment’s notice.