I’ll be honest. I’m not a neat and tidy person by nature. Somehow I did not get that clean gene passed down from my mother. I’ve just always been more of….well…a slob. It’s ok, I can say that about myself.
One time when I was a teenager, my brother came home from school and thought he heard someone in our house. He immediately ran out of the house and called my parents at work, who immediately called 911.
My dad met the police there and they inspected the house looking for signs of intrusion. The house looked clear until they got to my room. The police officer, being as serious as he could be, took one look at my room and said, “Oh they’ve definitely been in here. They ransacked this place looking for something!” My dad, knowing the usual state of my room, knew that no one had been in my room, but went right along with the officer. “Yup, it’s trashed.”
Bwahaha! Yes, that pretty much sums up my natural state of tidiness. It never bothered me to have a messy room or a messy house, that is until I had kids.
When I had kids of my own, it was like a switch went off in my brain that made me crave all things tidy, clean, and neat. Don’t ask me why, but wow, what timing! Most of you with children of your own, know that children can be little tornadoes that come right behind you and destroy everything that you just accomplished. I’ve heard it said before that cleaning with toddlers at home is like brushing your teeth with Oreos, and oh how true that is!
For six years now I have been struggling to keep my house comfortable and “lived in” without it looking like wild animals live here, and I have failed. As a work at home, homeschooling mama I was at a point where I had to do something because the chaos and clutter was killing me. I felt like I couldn’t be productive while the house was a mess. I considered putting some of our belongings in some Sydney storage units but I couldn’t decide which items to keep at home and which to put in the unit! I’m not very decisive, as you can tell!
This school year though, something changed. We are using the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling, and one of the things that it focuses on is GOOD HABITS! I have learned that neatness can be a LEARNED trait and when practiced and exercised can become like second nature. A slob like me can indeed be taught how to keep a fairly tidy home.
By keeping up with a few good habits every single day, and getting my kids involved, we have transformed our home from chaos to mostly organized. Sure, we still have some toys on the floor during the day and general “cleaning” that needs to be done once a week or whenever I get to it :), but for the most part, my home is now fairly neat. Let’s just say that if someone gave me 15 minutes notice that they were coming over, my house would look clean. That would not have been the case several months ago.
Here is what changed.
My Daily Habits to Keep the Home Tidy
1. Make bed
This takes no time to do and really keeps the bedroom looking neat. It sets the tone for the rest of my day, even if I’m running out the door in the morning. My three year old and six year old are also responsible for making their own beds too. I have simplified their bedding, so all that is required for making the bed is pulling up the sheets and blanket and putting their pillow at the top. My six year old is expected to have her quilt straight, while my three year old is just expected to have his blanket pulled up and his pillow in the right spot. Even if it doesn’t look up to my standards, I DO NOT fix it or redo what they do.
Time commitment: 2 minutes
2. One load of laundry
Again, it takes very little time to put a new load of laundry in every day. If I have somewhere to be in the morning, I either put the load in before I leave or in the evening when I return home. When the load is finished washing and drying, we all sort the laundry together and each of us is responsible for putting away our own clothes. My six year old is more than capable of doing this, while my three year old needs help. This habit has saved my laundry chaos! Before I would have a mountain of laundry that would taunt me every day with the nasty little message that I would never get caught up. And I didn’t ever get caught up when I let my laundry mountain climb higher and wait for the weekend to do it all. It just never got done. I have found one load a day can be fit into my schedule no matter what the day looks like and if I am going to be home or gone all day.
Time commitment: 5 minutes for washing and drying, 10 minutes for sorting and putting away
3. Dishes and wipe countertops
Oh my. Now dishes are my nemesis. I had to recruit my husband to help me with this one, but we talked it through and we immediately wash dishes or put them in the dishwasher after each meal now. I am responsible for breakfast and lunch, and my husband and I split the responsibility of dinner. If I drop this routine, my kitchen will end up a disaster in no time flat, but if I immediately take care of it, my kitchen stays neat. If I stay on top of it, this task can be done in fifteen minutes. If I let it go, I can be in the kitchen for literally hours doing damage control.
Make it a habit if you have a dishwasher to run the dishes after dinner, and bonus points if you can unload it as well to have an empty dishwasher waiting for your breakfast dishes in the morning.
Time commitment: 30 minutes for all three meals
4. Quick sweep
My kids do this one for me. They love the swiffer. I use washable microfiber cloths and they think it’s fun to quickly run through the house and pick up the dirt and dog hair. I love that it’s one less thing I have to do, but it makes a big impact in our home with a dog in the house that likes to leave dog hair tumbleweeds floating down the hallway. Dog hair is certainly an issue for many people, particular ones with allergies. I know that some people like to get air purifiers to help with their dog hair allergies, however, I like to go that one step further and get my kids to do a quick sweep.
Time commitment: 5 minutes
5. 15 minute pick up
Before bed or at some point throughout the day, everyone is responsible for pitching in and doing a quick 15 minute pick up. We don’t include our playroom at the moment since they usually have building creations that they work on from day to day. I don’t mind the playroom being a little messy because there is a door that I can close and keep it contained to that one room. Sometimes it doesn’t even take fifteen minutes to pick up if we have done a good job of cleaning up messes as we make them throughout the day. I just like going to bed knowing that we will have a fairly fresh start in the morning.
Time commitment: 15 minutes
This may look like a lot of time invested, but it’s really not. If everyone works together, you can have it knocked out in no time. The kids can do the quick sweep and start on the 15 minute tidy while the adults get the dishes clean, and you could really have a tidy home every day. I’m not guaranteeing perfection. Truthfully that is never my goal. We live in homes, not museums. They are meant to be lived in and comfortable, but it’s worth it to me to stick to some good routines and habits to at least give myself some sanity.