This is by far the most asked question I get on social media. And of course my house isn’t alway clean, but I do have a few strategies that help. Also, I wouldn’t say my house is “clean” as it is picked up, haha! Those are two different things. So while, yes, there might not be a lot of stuff lying around, that doesn’t mean that the kids haven’t tracked in dirt all over the floor. Ok, the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk strategy:
Less is less.
Buy less clothes, less toys, less stuff.
Go through and sort what you have now. What are duplicates? What is not in use? What clothes actually fit? What toys do the kids actually play with? I’ll tell you, I just keep reducing every year and it makes life so much easier!
Less stuff means less picking up, less laundry, less work. When you are surrounded by clutter, it affects you mentally. It’s amazing what a tidy home space can do for your brain space.
Everything needs a home.
In order to keep a clutter-free home, each item needs it’s own space to be put back. If it doesn’t have a home, it can’t be put back.
The first order of business is to establish where things go as soon as you walk into the house. Where will you set down the mail, your bag, your jacket? Where will the kids put down their bags and shoes? This will eliminate quite a bit of clutter.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy mudroom. In fact, I just bought this coat rack ($42) on Amazon for my kids and it has worked great! We’re in Florida, so we don’t have too many jackets, but they have hooks in their rooms for those.
Have a system for papers. Get a filing cabinet or hanging file holder and label the folders so mail and important papers won’t sit around in piles. I have an entire office organizing post with printable, if that helps
Clear off the dining room table at night. Our dining table sees a lot of action with meals, projects, celebrations, homework — but that can’t happen if there’s clutter all over it. Resist the temptation to use the table as short-term storage, which leads me to my next point …
Don’t put it down, put it away.
I saw this meme a few times: “Don’t put it down, put it away.” And it shows someone starting to set something down on the counter, but stopping and putting it where it goes. Starting to put something on the floor, but stopping and putting it away …
It really resonated with me. Just take the 5 extra seconds and put it where it belongs. This has probably been this biggest factor with keeping a house picked up.
P.S. This charging station is life-changing.
Keep a cleaning schedule if you can.
I have a printable on how to have a clean house in 1 week. I have a best-selling cleaning planner ($5) on Etsy. Why? Because I stink at keeping a schedule! I have to make printables to keep myself in line. Sometimes I do them, sometimes I don’t.
But one thing I stick to is taking just 5 minutes each day to walk through the house and put things back. I put back shoes on the living room floor, blankets go in baskets, pillows nicely on the couches, take items off the counter that don’t belong …
As you can see, the bookshelf is messy, but at least it’s put back. Done > perfection.
Invite someone over.
And when you really need to commit to cleaning and getting things in order … invite friends or family over! That’ll get you motivated real quick.
Get the family involved.
This can’t be a one-woman show. Mom can’t and shouldn’t do it all. We complain oftentimes about doing all the housework, but I have three suggestions:
1) Ask nicely what you need help with. Don’t use a martyr attitude or get angry. Simply ask your spouse or kids for something specific.
2) Talk calmly about expectations. So you do all the laundry and think it’s not fair? Did you talk to your partner about it? Do you expect them to read your mind and just see that you need help? What expectations do you have for the kids? Let them know. And again, if you can do this pleasantly and can avoid an argument or meltdown, you might be surprised with their response.
3) Don’t criticize then after they’ve helped. Don’t re-do it after your husband, haha! No two people do everything the exact same way and that’s ok. Just because it’s your way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Unless you don’t rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. That’s wrong ;)
I used this chore chart for younger kids for years. It worked great when they were little because they would just use it when they wanted to earn some spending money, but they didn’t actually help me if you know what I mean! But it taught them about helping around the house and working.
Now that they can actually help out, I’m looking at using more of a chore schedule. Before they used to do unpaid things to sort of qualify for money-making chores, but because they are close in age, the kids would argue about who was doing what. It was sort of all over the place.
So we’ve just started using this chore chart I created so I can space out things like cleaning the bathroom and emptying the dishwasher. It’s one thing Monday through Friday and this time I am giving them $10 allowance for the month to simplify.
I know from a TikTok video I did people are SUPER opinionated about allowance and chores (wow), but this is what is working for us right now.
The bottom line is that kids need to help around the house for your benefit (you can’t do it all) and for their own (teaches them work ethic and skills for the future).
I don’t have a problem with craft supplies being sprawled across the dining room table or the kids making forts with couch cushions and blankets, but when they’re done I do expect them to pick it up. And they know that so I usually don’t even have to ask.
And then I have my trouble spots, but I’m getting better about them as the kids get older and I have more time. My closet usually has a hamper of laundry that needs washed, scattered shoes, a box that needs returned to Amazon and it doubles as storage for stuff I don’t want the kids to see (presents, Nerf guns in timeout …)! But at least most guests don’t need to go in there.
I have room for improvement, but those are my strategies! Tell me what you do to reduce the clutter. I can always use more tips!