I am not going to sit here and pretend like my house is immaculate. It isn’t. But after years of struggling to keep my home neat I have FINALLY figured out a system that works for me. If you focus on five main areas in your home, everything else seems to fall into place. I can’t remember where I heard this great saying, maybe Martha herself? Neat Begets Neat. And you know what? It’s true.
Kitchen: Throughout the day put dirty dishes into the dishwasher and quickly wipe the counters before you leave the room. (Don’t spend more than 5 minutes.) In the evening, once everything has calmed down for the day, for me that means the kids are in bed, clean up the kitchen. Clean up all the dishes, wipe the counters, quickly wipe down fingerprints from the refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher. Finish by sweeping the floor. Turn on the dishwasher before you go to bed. (don’t spend more than about 20 minutes)
Beds: Quickly make the beds before you go downstairs for the day. I am not talking hospital corners. Just pull up the sheets and bedspread. (3 minutes.) If your kids are old enough have them make their own bed.
Mail: Take a minute and sort your mail everyday. As soon as you bring it in recycle the junk mail and place the rest in your in-box (2 minutes.) I generally go though my inbox once a week and deal with everything that has accumulated. This prevents a big back-up. I really don’t like filing so doing a small batch each week is manageable for me.
Clutter: Once a day, usually at the end when the kids are in bed I spend about 10 minutes putting toys, shoes, coats, you name it, back where they go. Since our playroom and mud-room are organized it really only takes this long. And I am talking a MESSY playroom! I have tried picking it up throughout the day but I have found that it is kind of pointless… the kids just take everything back out. So I do it once at the end of the day.
Laundry: Throw in ONE load before you start cleaning the kitchen (3 minutes.) When it is finished don’t forget to put it in the dryer (2 minutes) (don’t leave your wet laundry sitting in the washing machine over night it will get stinky!) If you are still awake fold your ONE load while watching your favorite shows. If not, I give you permission to leave it in the dryer over-night. Its ok.
So lets add it up, if you spend about 15 extra minutes through out the day and 35 minutes in the evening I promise you will see a HUGE difference.
*My other favorite tip is to take your kids OUTSIDE! This way they burn off energy, learn to explore their world, and the house stays neater. I do most of our snacks outside as well. Minimal clean-up since the birds or the dog will take care of that for me.
You will only find us inside if the weather is HORRIBLE. I’m talking hail or thunder and lightning. Drizzling? We are outside. What is more cute and fun than kids in raincoats splashing in puddles? Snow? Outside. The boys have so much fun playing in the snow.
As soon as we walk in the door, all of their wet or dirty clothes come off and go into the laundry. Again what is more fun and cute than a bunch of half naked boys running around? Did you notice I said half naked? Very important point to remember.
I have also found that when the boys are outside they get along much better than when they play together inside. Not sure why but it is true.
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* Family Room, Kitchen, and Bedroom photo from housebeautiful.com
** Playroom photo from Potterybarnkids.com