We have a busy house. That’s just a fact and it’s not going to change anytime soon. With 5 kids, 3 dogs, and a jam packed schedule, I don’t have a whole lot of spare time. And the spare time I do have I don’t want to use cleaning and organizing my house. I’d rather be sitting in the hot tub with a cold margarita. Right?! So over the last 6 months or so I’ve made a concentrated effort to develop habits and routines that help keep my house tidy and organized.
1. The 1-Touch Rule– I use this rule for almost everything in the house. When I clean up the shoes cluttering the back door, I immediately take them to the front closet and put them away. When I pick up dirty pajamas off the floor I immediately put them in the laundry hamper. When I clear the table of dirty dishes I immediately wash them. When I get the mail I open it right away. The junk mail gets trashed and the important stuff gets put in the appropriate area (bills in the bill drawer, statements or papers to keep get filed). The only exception to this rule is the kids’ toys and belongings. Each kid has a designated stair and when I see their stuff lying around I place it on their stair. It’s their responsibility to take the stuff up to their rooms and put it away. If it’s still downstairs at the end of the night it goes to the ransom box and they have to do a chore to earn it back.
2. 15 Minute Clean Up– I do this twice a day. I set a timer and have the kids walk around the house and pick up anything out of place for that 15 minutes. I focus on the kitchen counters, the dining room table, and the desk. Those are my clutter catchers so by purposefully taking the time to clean them off twice a day it helps reduce the clutter.
3. Use a Laundry Schedule– I used to let the laundry pile up and then I’d be forced to spend an entire weekend stuck in the laundry room. Now I have a system and it works. We have a whole lot of laundry in this house with 6 people and 3 dogs. So I have to break it down daily. I do the same loads every week on the same day- that way nobody runs out of clothes, or towels, and I know the sheets are always clean. And I do the laundry from start to finish- wash, dry, fold, and put away. No more clean clothes sitting in a basket for days on end until I need the basket and dump everything in the floor.
4. The Clean Kitchen Rule– This is a big thing for me. I cannot stand coming down the stairs in the morning and seeing a messy kitchen waiting for me. It sets the tone for the whole day for me. Right after we tuck the little kids into bed at night I come downstairs and clean the kitchen. I clear the counters, do the remaining dishes, wash the sink, and vacuum the floor. It just makes me feel better to wake up to a fresh day with a clean kitchen. This might not be your problem area- maybe you can’t stand a messy foyer- but find whatever it is that makes you smile when you come down the stairs in the morning and see it clean and sparkling. It makes a big difference in my attitude for the day.
5. Make the Bed– I’ve just started doing this in the last few months and I’m amazed at how much better it makes me feel when I walk into the master bedroom and the bed is made. It just makes the whole upstairs feel put together. Maia makes her bed every single day and I’m trying to teach the little kids to make their beds also. The teenager is a lost cause considering half the time he forgets to put the sheets back on his bed. Sigh.
6. Accept the Reality– A house is meant to be lived in. I accepted a long time ago that I was never going to live in a show house….because we have kids and dogs. Our house is lived in and loved. My house is rarely spotless, but it’s always company ready. My foyer is always clean of shoes and bags blocking the door. My front blinds are always open enough to be welcoming to visitors. My front rooms are always picked up enough so as not to scare people away at first sight. And the guest bathroom is always clean. But there will be stray toys, or books, or dog bones, or a pool bag sitting around. I embrace the signs of life in our home.
These little habits and changes I made in our home have made all the difference in my life. I’m less stressed and I don’t cringe every time the doorbell rings with unexpected guests. It’s so nice to throw open the door and say “come on in” with a genuine smile.
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