There is absolutely nothing worse to me than a messy house. When my house is a disaster it makes my brain a disaster, when my brain is a disaster I am quicker to yell, I have a harder time getting out of bed and accomplishing anything worthwhile. I’m basically a grumpy, useless piece of furniture…covered in last week’s laundry. It’s not a pretty site and I think most of us can relate. Clutter and cleaning was one of the main reasons behind my desire to downsize. You can check out my other reasons in my post all about it: How Downsizing Changed Our Family. Lately, I’m proud to say, I have managed to keep it together when it comes to the clean house department. So I stopped for a moment to take it all in and try to figure out just how I’m making it all happen. I mean seriously, I’m amazed at myself. Really, it can be quite simple. There are 5 small habits to help keep a clean house every day. Slowly, I have started implementing these 5 simple habits and it has totally transformed our home. I clean less, stress less and have a clean house every day. Well, almost every day. Don’t want you to go thinking I’ve got it all together or anything.
That thing that your mom always told you to do. You should have listened. That woman knew what she was talking about. Personally, I think my mom was more concerned about the pawn shops worth of junk piling up on my floor. Chances are, she couldn’t even see my bed. Apparently, living in my own filth as a teenager caught up with me because I absolutely can’t stand seeing my bed unmade. This dawned on me within the last year. As a mother, my bedroom is my “safe space” in our house — I am of course referring to a safe space from my children. When I can’t take one more meltdown and I am officially done being used as a human jungle gym, my room is my oasis. I love curling up on a bed that I designed to look like a Hilton hotel bed. It’s got a
white fluffy comforter semi-white comforter with new holes emerging each day and matching pillows pillows that are even more filthy than the comforter. I love it. Being in my bed is like getting a giant hug from a fluffy cloud made of sparkles and puppies.
However, being in my bed when it is tangled, twisted and piled with clothes doesn’t give off the same feel-good vibes. I slowly started picking up on this and started making my bed before I would sit down to read a book. Then I began making it every morning after getting ready. Baby steps. After that I started keeping clothes off of the bed. It was a fantastic cycle of cleanliness with a side of inner peace.
It’s so easy to drop trow and just leave your undergarments where they lay. Maybe you’re not as disgusting as me, but sometimes trying to get through our bathroom is like walking through a field of land mines. By land mines I mean dirty underwear. I do this a lot with pajamas. When I wake up in the morning, think to myself, “I’ll wear these sweats again tonight.” Naturally the best storage solution seems to be my bathroom floor.
Well, a funny thing happens when I start making my bed, I find my way to the floor and those old sweats either get re-folded and put in my drawer or tossed into the hamper. The thing is this process takes all of 15 seconds to do and in the end, I have a floor I can walk on. It’s a much better solution than the alternative: letting old clothes pile up until you’re left with a mountain of clothes to conquer and no motivation to do it.
After making the bed and cleaning up the mess from the floor, I seem to notice that coffee mug sitting on my nightstand. That leads me to my next simple step.
DISCLAIMER: this simple habit strictly applies to those with a dishwasher. Although, those of you living in the stone age have options as well.
Right along with my bed, I hate, hate, hate having a cluttered kitchen. This intense hatred grew when we gave our teenager the chore of doing dishes. She prefers to wait until the end of the day before she touches a single dish. Since I make most meals from scratch and stay at home with the kids that means there are 3 meals worth of plates, pots, pans, measuring cups and more piled up in the sink. These dishes all sit until after dinner. They get washed or dried using the dishwasher and/or drying rack. Then that drying rack hangs out on my counter the entire next day. Just talking about it makes my skin crawl. You just lost respect for me, didn’t you?
Lately, I decided the stubbornness of insisting our daughter do this one chore was doing me more harm than good. Don’t worry, she still does the dishes, I’m a firm believer in guiding your children at a young age so that they are successful adults. (Not the hot mess that I am who just realized leaving dirty underwear all over the place is a filthy habit.)
It’s pretty simple really, instead of tossing dirty dishes into the sink, give them a quick rinse and place them purposefully into the dishwasher. If you have kids at home, teach them to follow your example. While this small step takes about 7 seconds longer than just tossing a dish into the sink, it does sometimes require that you empty the dishwasher. I know, it’s a lot to ask, especially if you’re busy, but trust me, you’ll thank me when you’ve got a clutter free kitchen sink. Again, if you have little ones at home, start your own little sweat shop and encourage them to help put dishes away. Personally, my kids have always enjoyed feeling like they are needed and it helps encourage them to help more often.
Again, as you clear the sink, chances are you’ll notice the counters. My simple solution to this problem is to make sure the counters are cleared off at the end of every night. I holler like a crazy person for the kids to come get anything they have left out. That’s step one. They know that I’m a clutter-hater and will start tossing anything that isn’t claimed in a respectable amount of time.
Find a spot for mail, bills and school papers. My family has a spot for all our important papers tucked away in our pantry. Anything that’s not important gets tossed into the recycling bin. It’s as simple as that. You could go one step further and cancel junk mail you continue to receive. This can be a great way to cut back on your clutter, plus it helps save paper. I’m all about small steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you have a compost, the end of the night is the perfect chance to empty all your kitchen scraps into it. We usually add to our kitchen compost throughout the day and then bring it out to our yard compost in the evening. If you are looking to start a compost, you can check out how I started mine here: How to Start a Compost.
I know, this sounds like what we’ve been doing the entire time. But I’m talking a full on clean-house…this junk ain’t coming back kind of approach. Taking the time to downsize the amount of stuff you hang on to will greatly reduce how much clutter you end up with at the end of the day.
In your bedroom, go through your closet and your drawers, be honest with yourself and start clearing out any items you haven’t worn in the last year. If you haven’t heard of the 333 Challenge, I highly suggest giving it a try. It’s a great, stress free approach to closet clutter.
Head to the kitchen and start getting rid of any duplicate items. I cook daily and I only own 2 frying pans. Multiple pots, pans or utensils are really not necessary. How many spatulas do you really need? One measuring cup should cut it. All those serving platters? Do you really use them? Same goes for expired foods. Some of us let those packaged foods pile up and we don’t even notice that they are no longer useable. I recently had to sort through our vitamins. There were just those unfortunate few that found themselves stuck at the back of the cupboard and never got used in time.
Pick one or two of these habits to stick with, and slowly you will start to notice big change. I suggest starting with your bed. It’s an easy, mindless task to do first thing in the morning and it tends to have that ripple effect. It’s amazing what a simple made bed can do to your happiness and energy levels first thing in the morning. Starting a day out with a state of peace and accomplishment (no matter how small) can only lead to better things throughout your day.
Continue to add to the rolling stone and keep gathering that moss. Before you know it, you have a house that is easier to manage and requires much less time to clean up when you have last minute company knocking at the door.