First, let’s make something very clear: I purposely said tidy and not clean as in spotless. Because let’s face it: when you have a family, there is no way in hell that your house will be spotless at all times. Unless all you do is clean. Or pay someone to come daily to clean your home.
So, in case the case of all of us mortals on a tight budget, and with multiple kids and busy lives, keeping a spotless home is probably an impossible task. Frankly, the mere thought that it is possible, is a bit laughable.
I also want to get a few personal details out there, just for the sake of honesty and transparency:
Confession #1: I hate cleaning. I have said it before, and will say it until the end of time. It’s messy, and tiresome and I can think of many other ways to pass my time.
Confession #2: I do love a tidy home, so I have a few things I (we) regularly do to keep our home as close to that as possible. Because if I learned anything about growing up with my amazing but non-domestic Mom, it’s that messes stress me the crap out to the point of insanity. And I’d be damned if I let that happen again.
Confession #3: I refuse to do all the housework on my own. I know I’m a SAHM. I know that’s my job. But it actually isn’t. As I tell my family: if I wanted to do all the housework on my own, I’d live alone. Since I don’t, everyone has to pitch in. It is all of our jobs. End of story.
Things you should do regularly to keep a tidy home
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There are some things that you should do to keep your home from turning into a pigsty. it is by doing all these things that you’ll be able to enjoy your home and time together
Split the chores evenly and fairly
Unless you have young kids (think babies), or someone with a disability that prevents them from helping out, then EVERYONE has got to do their part. You may find some resistance from some family members (think everyone), but even so, be ruthless. Set up a chore chart for everyone to see what they have to do. Also make it clear that not doing their part has consequences.
Splitting the chores evenly and fairly means that everyone in the home gets to do their part, and that not one single person carries the bulk of the house responsibility. It isn’t fair for anyone.
As moms, we are the most sought-after helper and problem solver for everyone in the home, which means that they will need to ask you for something at some point. That could be a ride to a friend’s house, special treat or snack,. Or maybe they want you to buy them a really cool toy or shirt. Since those are privileges, you are in no way obligated to do any of them. This, of course, means that you can (and should) make them earn them. If your kids (or even your significant other) give you grief about their chores (and they will), stick to your guns. Do not, under any circumstances, cave in.
Keep a schedule
Throughout the years I have found that if I set a specific schedule for any activity (including chores), things get done when they need to get done, and there are less unhappy faces.
By picking a specific time(s) or day(s) to get your family’s chores done you could significantly reduce the arguments, surprised and whinny complains, and of course, it’s a heads up, which removes the guesswork. Include the allotted times to your family calendar.
Also, make sure all members with a cellphone set up alarms/reminders to themselves to do their job as well. It shouldn’t be your job to chase them around, or remind them to do their deeds. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach & promote independence and responsibility.
Make your bed every morning
This may seem like a complete waste of time, but hear me out. Making your bed every morning when you get up will give you an immediate albeit tiny sense of accomplishment. It will also make your room look a lot more put together. Plus, it will increase your chances of getting other important stuff done, and remove the temptation of just laying back down to binge-watch a show on Netflix.
And honestly, making the bed will only take you all of 5 minutes (if that), and will make the bed feel fresher and more inviting when you pull back the covers at night.
Pick up after yourselves immediately
Nothing makes a bigger impact than everyone picking up after themselves. I know that in the constant rush most of us live it might seem easier to just toss stuff wherever, and worry about it later. The problem is, when you this all the time it builds up. And suddenly you look around and find that your house is a mess, which then requires even more time to clean it all up.
Avoid this by simply doing things right away. If you pulled out a shirt and decide not to wear it, then hang it or fold it immediately.
Now, here’s the thing: when I say pick up after yourselves, I mean everyone picking up after themselves, not you picking up after everyone. This is an important distinction, and if you feel your resolve weakening, read section above as a reminder 😉
Keep the food where it belongs
Make it a habit of never eating anywhere but the dinning room or kitchen. Very few (if any) kids are tidy enough to bring the plates or cups back to the kitchen, let alone make sure no crumbs are left behind. This will make any area look messy, not to mention attract bugs and pests.
Besides, if it’s not in the kitchen, it won’t get washed. And dirty dishes make a kitchen look messy, no matter how clean everything else is. Whether you and your family sit down to have meals together or not, keeping food where it belongs will do wonders.
Sort thru paperwork right away
Paper clutter is probably the second cause of messy-looking homes, only ‘bested’ by toys. To avoid piles of papers everywhere, make sure every paper that comes into your home has a ‘home’. That home could be a file cabinet, a cork board in your family command center, or even the trash or recycle bins.
Whatever you do, just don’t set it down on any old surface. If you do it once, you will do it over and over again, and then you will have a mountain of paperwork that will only make your home look messy.
Less is not more, but it’s better
I am sure you have often heard that ‘less is more’ but that’s simply not true of all things. However, in terms of physical possessions, less is definitely better.
See, the more you own, the more there is to pick up and clean up. If you find your home crowded with things, then you should do something about it. Take the time every once in a while, say, every month or every three months and clear the extras.
Let go of all that you are not using, and haven’t used in a year or so. Because chances are, you will not be using it any time soon, if ever. And you will do yourself (and your family) a favor by getting it all out. Your home will feel much better, and there will be less stuff to take care of.
A place for everything, and everything in its place
I am sure you have heard that phrase before. But nothing rings truer than that. Having a place for everything you own means having just what you need, nothing more. But it also means that, the things you own have got to go to that place, right away.
This is essential, not only because it will help your home stay tidy, but also because it will eliminate the headache of trying to find something when you need it.
There are a few things you can do regularly to keep a tidy home. These things are:
- Split the chores evenly & fairly
- Keep a schedule
- Make your bed every morning
- Pick up after yourselves immediately
- Keep the food where it belongs
- Sort thru paperwork right away
- Less is not more, but it’s better
- A place for everything, and everything in its place
As you can see, the business of keeping a tidy home is not about complicated, or lengthy systems. It’s about the little things, the little details that we often overlook. All the things included here are little steps I take in my own home so that I am not tripping over shoes, or worse, stressing out if someone stops by unannounced.
My home might not be the world’s cleanest one, but it’s always tidy enough. And I trust you can do the same in your own home. It’s only a matter of breaking some bad habits, and to have everyone that lives in your home do their part.
Are you struggling to keep your home tidy? What are you doing to make it happen? Please, let me know in the comment section below.