I recently had a friend over to our house for a few hours – her husband built us an Entertainment Center and she was helping him install it in our living room. She brought her kids, they played with my little kids and for 3-4 hours they had some great fun.
She made a comment … “your house is so clean” – perhaps to her it was, not so much to me. But then again everyone’s idea of clean seems to be a little different. She recently told me a few days later that after having seen my house inside, it motivated her to clean, because after all, I had 4 kids, am expecting another and work full time at home.
Lets just say that keeping a clean / tidy house is NOT an easy thing to do – and ours is not always tidy… it’s constant work and on-going effort. I lost count the number of times that people tell me I’m lucky I don’t have to work and raise kids – little do people realize that working at home and raising kids isn’t always super easy either – if it was, then everyone would be doing it ;)
There is ONE thing I can say though — over the last 6 years of working at home with kids, I have discovered something HUGE.
If you spend all day writing REALLY long posts about saving money, various store deals and keeping a clean house, you don’t have much time to… clean your house ;) ANY amount of time on the computer can lead to long periods on the computer and a really unkept house.
That’s the truth – right?
Picking up and keeping things tidy is not always easy; I don’t always feel like doing it. And recently I saw a meme on Facebook that said … cleaning one room each day of the week (or doing ONE task each day) will make it a breeze”.
Sorry to tell you this but that won’t work here .. I have 4 kids – cleaning is an ongoing procedure. If I did a task each day for a week my house would be a huge nightmare – so I do what works, and it seems to keep the house tidy most of the time. We have our days, but if I get off track then I pay hell for it later so it’s easier to do it even when I least feel like it.
10 BEST tips for Keeping a Tidy House
#1 -Always Move
This is just a habit and it’s the truth. I am always moving! If I walk into a room, I’m always taking something OUT that might not belong. those little items make a huge difference. If I see kitchen terry towels that my daughter folded without putting away, and I’m going in the kitchen, they go with.
In fact, I usually have a basket that I carry from room to room that picks up random items and drops them off in their desired area.
#2 – Dishes Can’t Sit
I can’t, just can’t let them pile up. Every night the dishwasher is loaded immediately after dinner; those dishes that didn’t fit are washed as the food cooks. My kids are in charge of putting away cups and tupperware, Mom puts away plates and silverware.
Dishes and a dirty sink drive me crazy, so through the day I quickly rinse and throw in the dishwasher for later – once it fills it gets turned on.
#3 – Be Willing to Purge
Don’t be afraid to let things go! I’m pretty brutal about getting RID of things. It’s the ONLY way we can keep the house organized. That goes for kids clothes (we send them to Schoola & we earn 40% of the proceeds to their Elementary School).. Mail that piles up, Kids toys, etc.
When the kids go to sleep, I run through the toy boys and toss broken or old piecey toys that don’t work. Clothes are tattered or are too small immediately go into another Schoola bag, and once it’s filled they get sent. If they aren’t quality items and have stains/holes, they go in the rag bin, or the trash. Mail is a constant battle.. I take care of mail that’s important by putting in a central spot in our home office, and sensitive mail into a bin to shred when I get a few minutes.
#4 – Do Laundry Regularly
I’m not one of those people who has a specified laundry day – that would be a HUGE F.A.I.L. in our house. When you let it pile up, and then you take pictures and post on Facebook about how overwhelmed you are, then that’s a sign that it needs to be broken down into smaller loads.
Do laundry routinely – you’ll find that smaller loads are easier to tackle – because you can fold them in 5 minutes and put away with an additional 5. See our last post to check out what works for us in our house.
#5 – Avoid Shopping
So hard for most people to do but SO EASY for me. I admit… I rarely SHOP. Rarely! I haven’t been to Target in MONTHS. I’m serious – I can’t think of anything I need. That’s a huge problem for many people – when you walk into a store it’s so easy to come out with more than what you intend to buy.
This goes for Grocery, Retail, and even Thrift. Make it easy on yourself and challenge yourself to be content with what you have. We’re on a cash strapped budget without much leeway most weeks aside from picking up our milk at the farm, and our produce at the farm every Thursday, we just don’t go to the store. Can I tell you how stress-LESS that is? It is, really.
Believe it or not, our kids eat well. Our kids are happy, and believe it or not, they have clothes on – that’s all that matters. :) If I find myself in a pickle and need something, I’ll scour the house for an alternative, or at last result, pick up that item on Amazon to avoid a store trip.
#6 – Never Put off for Later What you can Do Now
It’s so easy to tell yourself you will do it later – my husband is so good at that, but then wonders why I nag him 8 months later to put lights up in the kitchen. Don’t put off what you can do now. Guess who’s going to be doing those lights? I will.
If you notice that the baseboards are dirty, grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and on the next break when your kids are busy, tackle that room. By putting it off I can guarantee you will have to many things that weekend or at a later time and the chances of it getting done are SO much less.
#7 – Shopping with Purpose
This can help you not only for keeping your home tidy but also with your budget… one reason I love avoiding the store is because I find myself being more intentional with what I have.
When you go to the store .. whether for food or for random things, have a purpose behind your motivation to go – getting food? Then get those things you need for dinner & leave.. avoid making other purchases. The craft store can be the same problem for most – go in with a list and be disciplined to stick to that list no matter what adorable items you might fall in love with while you are there.
Taking a small amount of cash helps too because it forces you to be strict with your purchase (that’s what helps me).
#8 – Identify those Problem Areas
Know which areas of the house are trigger points for messes. In our house… our kids are infatuated with taking cushions off the sofa and they know that it drives me up the wall. Those trigger points can be your regular go-to’s in a hurry if someone should call & say “I’m on my way over..”.
Those trigger points for you might be the entry to the house (whether that’s the laundry room or the front door), the kitchen counter (mail), the side table in the living room, etc.
#9 – Baskets Baskets Baskets
Baskets are amazing inventions. They can help me carry random items from one room to the next without overflowing arms, and they can be last minute containment devices for a laundry load you might not have had a chance to fold yet.
Baskets can hold toys on a shelf to keep the living room picked up and baskets can get pushed into the corner of the bedroom if you can fold later. Even better? A few baskets can be an easy way for each of your kids to have something to do when they get home: put away those items (toys, clothes, whatever is in there) before they do ANY fun activities.
I love baskets and I swear that without them my life would be pure hell.
#9 – Don’t Get Behind
It’s so easy to get behind, just try not to. If you know you are tired (and this gets hard for me too because I get TIRED at night!) then do a little more in the day to prepare for the “Darn it! I fell asleep early!”
There are many days where I KNOW that once I sit down at 8:30 or 9 pm to watch a Netflix Documentary that if I don’t have things done & lined up for the next day, that I will wake up the next morning and suffer my own version of insanity when dishes are not done, the dishwasher wasn’t loaded, the tablet wasn’t thrown in and the preset wasn’t pushed on the laundry.
And that makes for a very unproductive day.
#10 – Have a Spray Bottle in every Bathroom
This is something that is just second nature.. Don’t wait until that “one” day to clean bathrooms – do it through the week. If I’m in the bathroom, I’ll quickly spray the sink and wipe it down with rags or old tees I keep under the sink.
It’s easier to do it as you go, then let that bathroom get destructive over the week and then have to enter with a mask and gloves.
These are the TEN things that help us the most – of course, we are still challenged on a daily basis, but for the most part, anyone could show up and our house would at least be tidy. Teaching our kids to pick up as they go is also just as helpful – I’d like to think that later on they will inherit that habit and continue through their teenage years by being proactive – if anything.