I am most definitely a clean freak. I used to look forward to de-cluttering my room as a child! As an adult, whenever my husband and I brought home a baby from the hospital, my husband felt like he was being scrutinized for not doing my chores “just right”—God bless him for doing them anyway! Good news: I’ve learned to let go (a little). I hope to always improve in this area because, trust me, I still have my moments. With three little ones in our home, there’s always going to be a mess and that needs to be embraced. However, there is nothing wrong with striving for an orderly home; your house is your sanctuary, your domestic church, and a clean and tidy atmosphere is a lot more pleasant.
Here are my tips on how to keep a (relatively) clean house with kids:
Do one major chore a day
This is actual my biggest “secret” to keeping the house clean. When I was a working mommy of two, I hated having everything pile up on a Saturday, preventing me from spending time with my family. I developed a schedule, and I would do one chore when I got home from work. Now, I do the chore during the kids’ naptime and the oldest works with me. I adjust the schedule during the school year and summer. Currently, this is the summer schedule:
Monday→clean bathrooms & wash towels
Wednesday→wash bed sheets & iron clothes
Every day, I will make the beds, vacuum the kitchen and den, wipe down the kitchen table and counters, etc. But I don’t mess with the chore of the day. If it doesn’t get done, I’ll do it next week or I’ll ask for help so things don’t pile up on the weekend.
Do a deep clean twice a year
This involves all the crazy details: sorting through clothes and donating, washing curtains, cleaning out the fridge and pantry, updating framed pictures, etc. There are two ways this can be done: get it all done in one weekend with lots of coffee or dedicate each week within a month to a certain part of the house. I definitely suggest the second option with little ones! And don’t fall into the mindset that they will “get in the way.” Honestly, we do movie marathons during our deep cleaning, and they’re always movies we are super familiar with so they’re not a major distraction. Play music while you work or go get pizza and ice cream after you’re all done to celebrate.
Make messes a teaching moment
It’s very tempting to go straight to chastising when a mess happens—please don’t! As parents, we know when it’s on purpose or an accident and freaking out can scare a child causing him or her to be immobile during such incidents. It would be immensely better to calmly approach the mess and demonstrate how to handle the situation. Show the child how to treat the mess (have the child help) and then give advice on how to avoid it in the future. Over time, this will create fewer messes and more helping hands!
Just like I mentioned in my previous post about Chores with Little Ones, everyone should be encouraged to contribute. I keep our weekly schedule on the fridge and I highlight chores with certain colors for different people. The more that people help the fewer falls on you.
Have a place for everything
Clutter happens—the toys accumulate, mail comes in, and your spouse brings home papers from work. If each object “belongs somewhere,” then you can minimize the clutter. First of all, know your problem areas. Do papers constantly pile up on the kitchen table? Do toys always end up piled chaotically in a closet? Buy some bins from the Dollar Store and designate a spot for everything. Honestly, I’ve repurposed odd objects over time: an ornate (but slightly cracked) baking dish is now my husband’s container by the door to hold his wallet and sunglasses. A box that a dear friend painted for me has all of my craft and gift wrapping supplies. I even use a pretty candleholder for all my pens and scissors.
What tips do you have for maintaining a clean and organized home?