House Cleaning vs. House Keeping.

With two kids in the house things can get messy, fast! There are always toys on the floor. Books get pulled off the shelf, looked at, then left in a pile. Dirt and grass come in stuck to shoes and clothes. Snacks get spilled then crushed. Dirty clothes begin to pile up before clean ones are even put away. Juice and milk drip from cups. As much lunch ends up on the floor as gets inside little bellies…. You know what I’m talking about. It can all get overwhelming in a hurry.

Here are a few ways I stay on top of the chaos, rather than waiting until I just need a shovel and a dumpster to get the house clean.

  • Wash dishes, either by hand or in the dish washer, EVERY DAY. Notice I didn’t say after every meal; just every day. If you have a large family, or you tend to use a lot of dishes when you cook, then you may need to do them more often. I find once a day to work fine for us. And, yes, I occasionally skip a day if we eat out or something that causes us to have just a few dishes. The key here is to stay on top of them. Waiting until there are no clean cereal bowls on a Tuesday morning, is NOT cool.
  • Wash at least one load of laundry 3 out of 5 week days. Or do one a day, if that is easier. I tend to wash 2 loads on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Though some weeks, I can get away with just 1 load on Monday or Friday. Monday and Friday I wash shirts, skirts, underwear, etc. and jeans. Wednesday is bed sheets, and a load of whites (towels, socks, dish rags) with bleach. The day you wash clothes — shock — fold them and put them away! Again, there is some wiggle room in this, but STAY ON TOP OF IT.
  • Keep toys organized. This one may require a toy purge. Find a few types of toys that your child(ren) enjoy and keep them in groups. For example, both of my children enjoy the play kitchen. It’s set up in the play room (basically an extra living space, that we have to walk through to get down either hall in our home.) Since we got the play kitchen I have taught Gracie to keep things put away. She has a basket for play bread, chips, donuts, etc; one for play meat and cheese; and a third basket for play veggies. She knows where each thing goes and Skeet is now learning how to put them away too. It may seem crazy to teach a 1 year old to organize play food, but the skill will serve him well later anyway. The kids also enjoy Little People. I would prefer to keep these toys set up some where but they tend to get scattered quickly, so they all get put away in a large tote box every evening. (The kids clean up most nights. However, in the interest of making sure we haven’t lost pieces I often will either pick things up, or sit with them and name/count items to make sure we have things together.)
  • Sweep or vacuum often. This is pretty self explanatory. Your house will instantly feel cleaner with clean floors. Grit and dirt can also scuff floors easily, and make them wear out faster.
  • Make the beds every day! I know you are just going to get back in the bed at night. But make the bed in the morning, and do not unmake it for any reason during the day. Just like a clean floor, a tidy bed makes the house feel neater.
  • Finally, and this is hard for all of us, keep clutter down. Junk mail, an empty shoe box that won’t stuff in the trash can, a slightly broken toy, glue that was used and never put back away, a screw driver on the counter top… it all adds up to feel overwhelming and cluttered. I’m about the world’s worst for letting clutter pile up, especially in my kitchen. We do so much living in the kitchen and a lot of it just tends to pile up in there.

A little bit of work each day to KEEP the house clean is so much better than a lot of work on one day to get the house clean again. Make up a chore chart for yourself if you have to. Type up which things need to get done daily, weekly, twice a week, and so forth. Then slide it in a page protector and hang it in the laundry room or some place. Keep a dry erase marker near by and check off what you have done each day. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel better about your home, by keeping it tidy.

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