Kids, pets, toys, dirty floors, stacks of dishes, mountains of laundry—family life can seem like one big mess! Sometimes I get so exhausted, so distracted and so overwhelmed, all I can do is pray (and cry). The truth is that having a family is a mixed blessing; there are good days, bad days, and really bad days. By controlling the chaos and sticking to a reasonable plan, we can make a tough job a bit less challenging.
Here are 15 tips for a cleaner and calmer home:
1. Adequate Trash Cans – Meaning one in every single room of the house.
2. Adequate Hampers – Have one for dirty laundry in every bedroom and bathroom. If multiple children share a room, provide their own hampers.
3. Designated Space – “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the best advice. No more wasted time searching.
4. Declutter – Be merciless in this area and avoid hanging on to duplicates, sentimental items and “just in case” stuff. Some folks even cling to broken toys and ripped clothes out of fear! If you haven’t used it in a year, the odds are good you will never miss it. (Obviously, there are a few exceptions like seasonal items needed for holidays.)
5. Don’t Buy More – How many of us have multiple shoes, purses and identical black sweaters, yet we crave another one? Try to use what you already have.
6. Quick Clean in Blocks – Sometimes the thought of cleaning an entire house, from top to bottom, is so overwhelming, we feel paralyzed. Set a timer for 15 minutes and tackle one project like cleaning out a draw, a shelf, etc. If you wait for the “perfect” time, chances are that the time will never come! Once the kids are down for the night, spend a half hour tidying up without interruptions.
7. Don’t hide it – Pushing stuff under the bed, cramming it into a closet, or packing more junk into a garage isn’t cleaning, it’s delaying.
8. Separate Toys – I have a strict policy about toys: outside toys must stay outside and inside toys must stay inside. No bikes in the living room, no stuffed animals in the yard. Try to remove toys from the common areas (living room, kitchen, dining room) overnight.
9. Storage Bins – These are a lifesaver, especially for moms with multiple children. Kids can be very territorial. By giving everyone their own storage bin, it keeps fighting to a minimum. Label by name for older kids and by color before they can read. I have found that having many small bins, rather than 1 big one, actually works better.
10. Everyone Pitches In – Since the whole family lives in the home, it is everyone’s responsibility to help keep it clean. Teach children from an early age to clean up their own mess. Husbands may also need constant reminders. Be patient and praise often, rather than just criticize.
11. Assign Chores – This should be done fairly, with age and ability kept in mind. Chores aren’t meant to be a punishment, it’s about teaching responsibility. Teaching takes time and effort, but it’s an investment that will pay off when your teen does the laundry and cooks dinner.
12. Public Rooms vs. Private Rooms – I can tolerate more mess in bedrooms than I can in the living room, especially if we’re having company over. Very few people will look at the laundry room, but everyone will need the bathroom. Prioritize!
13. Extreme Husbands – The majority of men tend to be complete slobs or excessively neat. (Mine is definitely the former.) It’s impossible to change someone. Constant encouragement, however, can work—somewhat. Not a day goes by when I’m not saying “Pick up your socks” or “Take the trash out.” That’s just life and I’ve accepted him.
14. Daily vs. Sporadically – Most of us have limited time, limited energy, and limited interest in cleaning. Focus your effort on needs rather than wants. We all need fresh laundry and washed dishes. Polishing silver and waxing floors? Not so much.
15. Be Realistic – Each of us is in a different season of life. Each of us is facing a different challenge. Moms with newborns and toddlers will have a much harder time than Empty Nesters. Don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard. Ask for help and if you can afford it, hire someone. There is no shame in that!
How do you keep your home—and family—clean and organized?