Our plates are full, right? Life in this modern day just feels busy even when we go to great lengths to un-busy ourselves. The last thing we need is to feel guilty that our homes aren’t clean enough. It isn’t even important in the overall scheme of things.
Or is it?
Think for just a second and try to recall if you’ve ever heard somebody sit in there own home and mutter, “Ack, this place is so organized I can’t think. All this neat and tidy-ness is just too much…I gotta get out of here.” Probably not. But you may have heard, “I cannot stand this clutter. I try to clean one room and the kids go behind me and destroy it again. I don’t know why I even bother!”
And let me tell you, the kind of stress brought forth by living in a messy house is the kind of stress that will affect you. Your kids. Your husband. Even if you make excuses like I’m too busy playing with the kids to be bothered or There are more important things in life than a clean house.
Because, you see, playing with the kids is right and good. Spending time with people is so much more important than spending time on things. So save yourself. It’s not as hard as you might think.
Reclaiming Your Home
During the pioneer era families could pile all their belongings on the back of a covered wagon while still leaving room for children to travel in it. They were minimalists by necessity. We can be minimalists by choice. It shouldn’t be necessary to rent the largest u-haul available and then still have stuff left over. Even with a large family.
Here are some simple ways to reduce your load. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. You can do this.
- Start by learning to fit in your house. Got a tiny home? Perfect. That puts you ahead of the game. Go into your kitchen and really consider what you need and what is just taking up space. How many baking dishes do you use at a time? If you’ve got 10 and you only ever employ 2 simultaneously, donate the other 8. Likewise, go through each item in your kitchen and weed out the excess. And then move onto the next room. Be brutal. It’s the kind of pain that feels good in the end.
- Tackle the toys. Kids these days tend to have an abundance of them but often they only actually play with a select few. Enlist the support of each child and have them choose their very favorites. Explain to them how important it is to learn to take care of their belongings and how much easier a task that is when there are fewer of them. Encourage them to consider sharing the non-favorites with children who have little. Maybe some things they could even sell to earn a bit of extra money. Either way, don’t be brutal here. Give them a chance to make the right decisions. I’ve had my children come to me a week or so later with a bag full of things they decided they didn’t need after all.
- Books. Oh boy. This is where things get touchy. People are very protective of their books. And if there is one item I’d be more reluctant to push somebody to part with, it would be this. Even so, most of us have books lining our shelves that we never touch and that have no meaning to us. We keep them because they’re so pretty. Or they smell so good. Seriously. We have some strange reasons for clinging to books we never look at. Coerce yourself to part ways with those. Reward yourself with chocolate.
- Decorative items, better known as knick-knacks. Ahhh, why do we do this to ourselves? We clutter our shelves and those beautiful bookcases with little trinkets, many of which are meaningless and of zero value. The take up space and most are just visual clutter. You would be amazed at how much more neat and organized a home looks without so many of these. Of course, I’m not telling you to get rid of your great-grandmother’s China doll. I’m just trying to help you take a look at your possessions through new eyes so you can begin to fit in your home.
- Clothing. Don’t even get me started here. I’ll bite my tongue and just say to pare down. Weed out. Get rid of. Donate. But don’t keep clothes that don’t (or shouldn’t) get worn. I have a limited wardrobe and a tight budget and even I have too much. PS. You don’t have to wash, dry or put away clothing you don’t have.
- What about those items that are stored away? Good question. What about them? Why are you keeping them? I know there are all sorts of reasons for hanging onto something you never use but most of them aren’t good ones. If you have a good reason, don’t let me stand in your way. But if your good reason-less, get it out of there.
Maintaining Your Home
By standard deduction less stuff equals less work. It also means less stress, clutter and mess. It means when the kids go behind you after you clean a room, there won’t be nearly so much damage they can do. Even so, their are maintenance dues that will need to be paid and it works best if you pay them often. Like daily.
- If you use it put it back. That’s pretty elementary but it’s also invaluable. Requiring it of yourself makes it so much easier to require it of your children.
- Assign jobs. Or chores. Or whatever you want to call them (we call them zones and I share about ours here) but lay out your expectations. Train your children (and yourself) how to do each task well and then hold them accountable for the responsibility they’ve been given. Again, a pretty basic and time-honored concept but many of us are missing this crucial step.
- Don’t bring more clutter into your home. Are you a yard saler or a thrift shopper? This can be very economical. But it also can contribute to the problem. Make a pact with yourself that you will not purchase (or grab just because it’s free) any item that will not carry its own weight. If you know you will serve the item more than it will serve you, back away slowly with your hands up.
- Do the dishes after the meal. Sounds like a given, huh? I’m throwing it out there in case you needed to be reminded that dirty dishes take less time when you do them before the food crusts on. We don’t have a dishwasher but we divide up kitchen duty amongst ourselves so nobody burns out.
- Clean your fridge. This just makes having to open that door so much less scary. Here is an excellent tutorial if you feel a bit paralyzed by the thought of doing this thoroughly.
- Make your beds. The simple action of doing so spawns various other little actions that result in the whole room being tidier.
- Assign certain bigger jobs for specific days. Like for instance, scrub the floors on Wednesday. Or wash the windows on Friday. Obviously, you’ll know which jobs don’t need done everyday but would benefit from having an assigned day to get completed. I’m a total rebel and if I say I’m going to wipe down the baseboards on Tuesday, I’ll end up doing it on Monday. So don’t fret…your house can be maintained even if following a schedule isn’t your gift.
- Do laundry every day. I’m a big believer in this. However, I also find myself to be a big believer in letting the clean clothes sit in baskets. Anyone know of an article to help someone with a problem like mine?
So let me say it again…a clean, tidy, organized home is not the most important thing in this life. Not even close. But it is important. You aren’t me (Hey, I saw you hit your knees in gratitude!) and won’t manage your home, kids and clutter in the same way I do and that’s perfectly fine. Just be sure you manage it so it doesn’t manage you.
Got tips or tricks? Please share!