Let me guess. Your family’s schedule is kind of crazy. It’s possible that the most time you spend at home is when you lay down at night to go to sleep. You are a modern, on the go family and because of that you often find that it’s impossible to keep the house clean! When you ARE at home you feel overwhelmed by the messes, the laundry and the dishes! It’s almost easier to eat out every night than to have to make meals that make the kitchen messy! It’s easier to have closets packed with clothes than to have to do laundry every week.
My friend, I get it! I feel your pain. I know how overwhelming it can all be in the midst of all of your life’s demands. So today I want to give you 10 tips for how I keep my house tidy with 3 kids and a hectic schedule!
1.Let go of perfection-
First and foremost I had to learn to learn to let go of perfection and doing things “my way”. Why? Because if you every hope to have a somewhat clean house you are going to have to accept help. That means your kids are going to have to clean their own spaces and clothing and the truth is that they won’t do it the way you would do it. Your husband may empty the dishwasher and put every single dish in the wrong “spot” but that’s okay- the dishwasher is now ready for a new load.
So set the expectation of what “clean” is based on who’s helping you. If it’s not perfect, it’s okay. At least you’ve got them taking action. That’s not to say you can’t tidy up after your 5 year old stuffs all his clothes in a drawer and in his closet. The key is to not get upset when it’s not done your way and rejoice that they did something themselves to help you out!
2. Don’t Worry About Losing Your Mom Card-
I know many women today that refuse to hire or accept outside help to keep their house in order because they believe that they should be able to be super woman and get it all done. In my case I’ve learned to accept the help of my mom, my husband, my kids and sometimes, outside professional help like house, carpet or clothing cleaners.
If someone offers to help you, don’t see it as a slap in the face. See it as a person in your life who wants to do something to bless you. Give them tasks you are comfortable with them doing. If hiring a cleaning person or a laundry service seems ridiculous, I challenge you to find out how much it would cost and actually look at your budget to see if you have room. Many women say, “I can’t afford that”. When in reality they are assuming they can’t without ever looking at the money or talking about it with their spouse.
3. Use Disposable Wipes
Typically, I lean towards green cleaning. I like to use vinegar and essential oils. I like to clean with reusable towels that I can wash. But I know that some just see that as more laundry. So I highly recommend that you keep a mega container of pre-moistened cleaning wipes under the sink in every bathroom and one in the kitchen. That way when you have a few seconds you can snag a wipe and clean your sinks and surfaces in second and throw the rag away. Super simple, super fast and super clean!
If you’re worried about environmental impact of using wipes everyday, I recently discovered that Green Works makes Compostable Cleaning Wipes! Which means they are eco-friendly!
4.Use the dryer to iron your family’s clothes-
One concern lots of moms have is how long it takes to iron things. Plus it’s one of the worst jobs ever invented. Now I know that there are some moms out there with OCD who literally iron underwear and that’s fantastic but that ain’t me. I use the dryer as my iron. I simply put items in the dryer that need to be wrinkle free and as soon as the buzzer beeps, I snatch them out and hang them up. The heat releases the wrinkles and you can skip the iron almost always.
If I have to iron something, I do it while I watch my favorite shows on Netflix so it isn’t so mind numbingly boring.
5. Hang Up Chore Charts for your kids-
One of the perks of having kids is that one day they get old enough to have the hand- eye coordination to dust, clean, mop and vacuum. So put these kids to work as early as you can showing them the importance of cleaning up after yourself and the idea behind working hard for the things you want!
Your chore chart reward may be something like- 30 extra minutes of screen time, money or even tangible rewards. It’s up to you and what REALLY motivates your kids.
Right now we know that our son is HIGHLY motivated to do things to earn time on his Fire Kids Edition Tablet. So we do cleaning activities and sight word practice and reward him with time on the Kindle (which is a tablet that has really nice parental settings for screen time limiting and age appropriate content). It’s most important to know what your kids are motivated by and use that to help you keep your house in order!
6. Husband and Wife Chore Charts
On the other hand there are things around our house that my husband and I hate doing too. So we put them on a chore chart in our bathroom with the chores we hate most and every time we complete them, we earn money toward our allowance! It’s fun and motivating. If this sounds like something you might want to try, check out my post “Chore Charts for Husbands & Wives”.
7. Create Intentional “Stuff” Boundaries
In our house, the living room is totally off limits to toys. My son knows that his room is the place where his toys live and they don’t leave that space. Part of that rule came about because he has twin baby sisters who play on the floor in the living room now and I don’t want to be worried about the girls finding Lego people heads to swallow. Therefore he keeps all his toys in his room and plays in that space.
If you have a house full of kids, designate a space- maybe a hall closet for all book bags, sports bags and jackets (ask them to clean them out each day).
Give them each a magnet chip clip on the fridge to attach important papers, assignments, order forms or even things they are proud of to keep the counter tops from getting piled up with paper!
8. Make Stuff Easy To Access
I’m the most lazy when tidying isn’t easy. For example, I receive a lot of mail that needs to be sorted, dealt with or filed away. For a long time my mail just piled up because my file box was in the basement and I never felt like going down there to get it. Now I keep the file box nestled in an empty corner in my kitchen so that when the mail comes in I trash it, deal with it or file it. It’s also a great idea to keep a pen, envelope, stamps and check book in this zone so that when you get a bill or invoice you can fill it out, pay it and mail it where it needs to go ASAP.
9. Create a Collection Basket For Each Family Member
If you want to speed tidy, keep a few buckets around labeled with your kid’s names on them. When you find something that belongs to them- toss it in the bucket and have them retrieve it later. On Saturdays you can drop the buckets off at their rooms, have them put it all away and leave the empty bucket in the hall way to be collected and used again!
10. Own Less Stuff
This may sound strange but let me put it like this: If you only own 7 shirts and 7 pants, you’re going to do laundry because you have to- or your forced to wear dirty clothes. Now I’m not asking you to reduce your closet to 14 items, what I’m asking you to do is consider how much you own.
Here’s what happens when we own way too much stuff:
- Each morning we are in a hurry to get everyone out the door. We have access to tons of clothing in our giant walk-in closets so we will pile up dirty laundry until we run out of options. Then we have to do a weekend marathon of washing, drying, ironing, folding and hanging.
- At night we find we have kitchen cabinets full of plates, glasses, mugs and stuff we’ve collected overtime. Because we have so much at our disposal, in the hurry of everyday we will keep letting dishes pile up until we run out of stuff to eat on. Let me just say- I’ve eaten off a lid with a baby spoon before so I’m totally guilty of this myself.
- If we would minimize the items we own, we’d be less likely to let things pile up because we would actually need to use them on a day to day basis. I down sized our dishes to 6 bowls, 6 plates, 6 coffee mugs, 8 drinking glasses and 3 to-go coffee cups. Now dishes don’t get as piled up because in order to eat, cook or drink, we have to clean them!
- I know it’s not a perfect answer because your teenagers will just drink out of the milk carton but it’s a good way to help yourself tame your laundry and dish situation!
I hope some of these ideas are new to you and actually help you find success in your goals to keep your home clean! It’s not easy, but with some planning and shortcuts, you might just find yourself holding it all down in the midst of your hectic lifestyle.
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Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!