The honest truth is, I cannot keep my house tidy. I try. Boy do I try. I feel as if I’m stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day and I keep repeating the same day over when it comes to cleaning up and tidying my house. Cleaning up is a constant loop and the mess making seems to be worse every time I blink. I clean up the front entry room,putting away my boys bright colored tennis shoes, flip flips into shoe cubbies, and hang up sweatshirts, I collect neon colored socks thrown about the house. I move into the kitchen to put cups in the dishwasher, I put bags of chips, and cereal boxes away, I wash a few dishes, and move into the family room where the pillows have been left on the floor among several blankets from the night before while we snuggled watching a movie.
But this plays out every day. It’s as if little elves are hiding, waiting to create chaos and tornadoes of stuff to wreck havoc in my home every time I leave the room. It’s exhausting and its sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes I want to give up – I’m torn between throwing everything out, or to quit trying to tidy up all together. It’s as if the crap in our home wins every time. The score is 650 to 0. I can never win. My house isn’t a full out wreck. I do tidy up constantly, and of course I try to keep it minimally clean. But my house is never spotless and their is always something out of place. I push as much of it as I can into the junk drawer, or bigger things into the spare bedroom so I can close the door and pretend I have a tidy house. But I know the truth waiting for me behind the closet doors and in the spare bedroom. We have too much stuff, and the stuff needs to go.
Yes I mostly keep the downstairs clean, the counters wiped off, the floors vacuumed a few times a week, but cleaning the windows or wiping the blinds, all those extra things never seem to get done because I am constantly cleaning up the same things- the bathrooms, counters, floors, laundry and dishes. Yes My kids have to do chores and yes I tell them countless times a day to pick up and put away their soccer cleats, shin guards, stinky socks and backpacks. But often its just easier to put away the things that get left out than to battle every single time with each of my boys.
5 Ways To Keep Your House Tidy with Less Effort
1. Create a Put Away Bin on the Steps
Put a cloth bin or a basket on your steps or another area out of the way that as you find something out of place like your child’s toy or a t-shirt you put it in the bin to get put away when you have time or when you go upstairs (or into the bedrooms). This way everything that is out of place downstairs will get put away at one time later that day and only take a few minutes to drop off the items. Sometimes the bin will stay filled for a few days, but at least it’s not scattered around the house. It is waiting to be put away.
2. Create a Donation Bin in the Garage
We are regularly donating clothing, toys the kids no longer use, and household items we don’t need. Any easy way to continuously purge your house of excess is to have a bin and when you touch something that is no longer needed it goes right in the bin. This way you don’t have to wait until you are doing a big clean out, or looking for bags to put donations in. Or you could leave it in the back of your vehicle if you have space.
3. Assign Kids Daily and Weekly Chores
I grew up doing chores and my kids are expected to do chores. I believe chores are an important part of learning responsibility, participating to keeping common living spaces clean, learning to pitch in, and learning how to clean as they grow up. As my boys get older they are getting additional chores. I am still working on daily chores but they have chores weekly. Each of them cleans a bathroom (I can’t say they do a fantastic job on all of it but we are working on it), they clean their room, help with vacuuming, steaming the floors, and I have just added laundry to their chores. I still vacuum and do laundry, but they are responsible to do 1 load of laundry a week and help with floors once a week at least. They help take out the trash and recycle and other jobs. They head rake, and on occasion my oldest son blows off the back deck for me when my husband doesn’t have time. This helps our house run smoother and it allows for me to get to other cleaning or organizing or cooking needs. It also helping teach them how to clean their own house once they are adults. Give your kids chores- it helps them learn respect for things and for keeping the house somewhat tidy, because when you are the one cleaning up you see home much work it is. Bonus Tip: Put a list of extra chores up and assign each a extra privilege or reward. kids can do these to earn extra rewards.
4. Designated Clean Areas
Everyone is different but most of us want the main areas of our house to be tidy. I feel less stressed and more grounded when our downstairs, common areas, and my bedroom are tidy. If the kids rooms, or our main office or the spare bedroom are cluttered I can live with that for a bit, but the kitchen, family room, dining room, hall ways and play room are areas I need clean. I call this the designated Clean area. I take 10 minutes every morning to walk through those areas and tidy up- fix the pillows, fold the blankets, put away things the kids may have left out in the kitchen, put away any dishes. And in the evening after dinner, I do a quick 5-10 minute pick up and clean up of those same areas. It makes me so much happier to see those areas tidy.
5. Get Cleaning Tools That Make Cleaning Easy
I have several bottles of DIY natural cleaning spray and cleaning clothes that I can use or the boys to clean the bathrooms, I have the reusable cleaning clothes for tables, stainless steel, windows and shower doors. The stainless steel and wood cloths just require a quick rinse and wipe down of the main kitchen surfaces to remove marks. Of course, other times I sanitize the surfaces, but sometime the table just needs a quick clean up. Another cleaning tool I recently got is a blinds cleaning tool- it has two cleaning surfaces and it is so easy to use my 10 year old can easily help with dusting the blinds (a job that often goes undone until now).