Does anyone really like it?
Ok, some people do, but I’m not one of those people.
I told someone that recently and they were surprised. Probably because my house is almost always clean and tidy.
I can’t settle when my house is cluttered or dirty. It’s amazing how a cluttered kitchen bench makes me so irritable. I feel like I have no space to move and get things done.
But when my house is in order, I feel relaxed and can focus on what I need to do without being distracted.
It’s a means to a very happy end.
Let’s be clear – there are definitely parts of my house that aren’t in order all the time. Until recently, we had six people living in our house plus we often have visitors and overnight guests. With all that going on, I’ve accepted that having the majority of the house clean and tidy is good enough. So, we just close the door on certain rooms at times (I swear the washing is breeding in my laundry!).
I’m also ok with toys being moved around the house as long as not everything is out at once and it’s all packed up at the end of the day. I don’t class toys currently being used for play as mess.
If you dropped over to visit, you might think I spend a lot of time working to keep the house the way it is. Well I don’t! I never have ‘house cleaning’ days and I never spend more than 30 mins at a time on cleaning (and that would be a big job).
Here are my 6 sanity saving secrets to keeping my house clean and tidy:
1. Declutter rooms and surfaces
Cleaning is much quicker if you don’t have a lot of stuff everywhere.
I love pretty things, but I keep our décor simple and avoid buying more by reminding myself that it’ll be another thing to clean.
We keep most kitchen appliances in the cupboards with only the most frequently used items on the bench. This not only looks neater but makes the kitchen much faster to clean.
When we buy things for our house, I think about how easy they’ll be to clean. For example, I passed on buying a particular coffee table because it had too many hard to access areas which would collect dust.
Thinking ahead about how much time and effort will be required to maintain the things you put in your house will make things easier in the long run.
2. Have a place for everything
It’s easy to put things away and locate them again, if everything has a place. It also means other people can put them away in the right place!
I group like things together (love the label machine!) and keep as much as possible in cupboards or drawers. If something needs to be visible, I find the appropriate storage solution to make it look more organised.
This can be especially challenging with toys. My son hasn’t had his own room until recently so we’ve had all his things in our bedroom and the rumpus room. We’ve tried to limit the number of toys and create as much storage as possible. Now, the toys are starting to drive me a little nuts, so it’s good timing for him to have his own room. However, all his toys have always had a place and he’s been able to easily locate things and pack them up (the desire to pack up is another issue!).
3. Clean as you go
This makes an amazing difference to my day. As much as possible, we don’t leave things to clean up later.
We make the bed and tidy the bedroom when we get dressed for the day. We clean the kitchen immediately after meals, including getting crumbs off the floor and wiping down the counters and dining table. If the bathroom sink is a bit messy after teeth brushing, I wash it down right away. When my son finishes a messy activity, we pack it up completely before moving onto the next thing.
By doing this, you won’t ever need to spend hours cleaning. Things will also be much easier to clean – food hasn’t solidified onto the dishes or the floor, crumbs haven’t been walked throughout the house, stains haven’t settled, and messes haven’t spread to other rooms.
Again, toys might be an exception to this rule. As long as it’s not a disaster zone, I let my son move his toys around the house as part of his play. I don’t mind a bit of creative mess throughout the day (I’m talking about untidy not dirty. Dirty gets cleaned up straight away). It all just gets returned the right places when he’s finished that game or before bedtime.
Bonus tip: It might help to keep the right cleaning products (sprays, cloths) in a caddy in each room so that they’re on hand when you need them.
4. Create routines
Routines take the extra thinking and planning out of cleaning. You know what needs to be done and when. You can have as many cleaning routines as you like. I have a few, but like to keep the rest flexible.
My 3 favourite cleaning routines are:
- Make the bed and tidy the bedroom every morning
- Put away all the clean and dry dishes before breakfast
- Pre-bedtime tidy up.
These 3 routines help me feel organised and start the day in a better state of mind.
Putting away all the dry dishes every morning is a critical preventative measure for me. If I don’t do this, dishes end up piled beside the sink, ready for ‘someone’ to load into the dishwasher and wet dishes get piled on top of dry ones on the drying rack, making them wet again. So, I don’t compromise on this one. Hello uncluttered bench!
The pre-bedtime tidy up is my favourite routine. I feel happy just thinking about coming out of my bedroom in the morning and seeing a house that’s in order. So, every night, before I go to bed, I spend 10 mins returning stray items to where they belong. You can use a basket or box to carry items and avoid multiple trips around the house, if there is lots to put away!
You can have routines for:
- Doing certain tasks at set times or on set days. For example, cleaning the shower every Wednesday while you’re in it, or cleaning the fridge before you put away the week’s groceries.
- Rotating the cleaning of those little areas that can get neglected – kitchen bench corners, cupboard doors, skirting boards, doorhandles, light switches, kitchen appliances and walls (why do people need to touch the walls as they walk through the house?!).
5. Do a little at a time
Cleaning for hours at a time is uninspiring and not even possible with children around! To keep things manageable, I try to tackle one cleaning task per day – dusting, changing the linen on one bed, cleaning one bathroom, etc. This doesn’t feel cumbersome and doesn’t take me away from other priorities or activities for too long.
It’s easy to create a long list of things to do and then feel defeated when you can’t get through it. Decide on one (or two) priorities for the day, and even if you get interrupted 10 times, just keep coming back to that task until it’s done. If you get nothing else done it’s ok!
Bonus tip: Every time you leave a room, take something with you that should go to the same place you are going, or somewhere on your way. For example, if you’re going from the bedroom to the kitchen, passing the laundry, take the dirty clothes with you and drop them off.
Outsourcing can be wonderful if you can make it happen.
You could outsource to:
- Family members – even the kids can get involved in chores
- A professional cleaner
- A young person looking for extra cash
- A nanny or au pair if you also require assistance with caring for your children.
I have outsourced:
- Washing my car – I did this many years ago and still love the decision!
- Some house cleaning – I resisted this for a long time because I didn’t want to spend the money on it. But in the last year, I realised it would make a big difference in this phase of life. We now have a cleaner for two hours every fortnight and she takes care of the jobs that I like the least, and which really save me time.
- Vacuuming – to a robot! Yes, we have a robot vacuum cleaner which cleans our floor every second day on a schedule so I don’t even need to remember to turn it on!
- Cooking and washing up – Cooking isn’t cleaning but it goes hand in hand with washing up in our house. My husband and step children each have a night when they cook a meal for everyone and clean up afterwards. I like to say that the kitchen should look like you were never there!
- Kids’ bedrooms, bathrooms and washing – since my step children are adults, they manage these things themselves
- Floor mopping – my husband takes care of this.
On top of these, we jointly ensure that our shared living spaces are clean and tidy by always cleaning up after ourselves and putting all personal belongings back in our rooms.
What’s the cleaning task you dread the most? Or that you struggle to get through?
Can you outsource it?
Even if you outsource it for half the time (e.g. fortnightly instead of weekly) it still cuts down on the time and effort you have to invest.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
I hope you’ve found some inspiration here to make keeping your house in order a little bit easier.
Your house won’t be perfect every day. And it doesn’t need to be.
Are you holding yourself to an unreasonable standard? Do you need to adjust your expectations?
Also remember to be flexible because unexpected things happen. And every mum has had a day (or weeks or months) where their house looked like a disaster zone.
If it’s all feeling too hard, be kind to yourself, look at the beautiful family you are investing in and remember that the cleaning will always be there tomorrow!
Here’s your action plan for today.
What is 1 thing you can start doing today to make keeping your house clean and tidy a little easier for you?
Do you have any tips that make keeping your house in order more manageable? Comment on this post to tell me what they are, or share them in my Facebook group. Less time spent cleaning, means more time for the people and activities we love!