Y'all, the flu hit me this past week. It was no fun at all. I'm finally feeling human enough today to finish this blog post I started before the funk hit and it's even more timely after being sick. You see, even when I was in the depths of being sick my house did not get crazy messy and dirty. Granted my husband helped where he could, he was home the first two days I was sick then left for out of town for work leaving me to hold down the fort with three kids when I could barely get out of bed!
The reason the house stayed tidy and clean, albeit not as meticulous as I prefer, is because over the years I've put systems in place and developed habits that help it stay that way without a ton of effort. If you can integrate these habits into your everyday life it's almost as if you clean the house without actually, you know, cleaning the house! Here are ten habits you can make part of your life for an effortlessly clean home!
Never leave a room empty-handed
As you're walking from room to room if you see something out of place, take it with you! For instance, if I'm walking from my kitchen upstairs and I pass a book my child left on the dining table (or one of the gazillion rogue lego pieces in my house) I go ahead and grab it and take it upstairs with me to leave by their door. It's a matter of efficiency. As you move about your house during the day be mindful of anything you can do as you go, moving recycling to the garage, filling a watering can as you go to the kitchen, etc. It will vary for everyone but just being mindful of this principle will save you time and energy.
Straighten as you walk around the house
This principle is just like the last, as you walk around the house if you see something that needs a quick tidy just do it. Walking from the bedroom to the kitchen and see a throw pillow from the couch on the floor, pick it up, give it a fluff and move on. Three seconds later and your room looks tidier and you're none the worse for the wear.
Make beds as soon as you wake
I'm huge on this (despite my twelve-year-old self reminding me in my head that I'm just going to mess my bed up again the same night). There's no other way around it, an unmade bed makes your room look unclean and that transfers to how you treat the rest of your home. It take two minutes to make your bed and sets the tone for your day. Do it as soon as you wake up and you'll be happy you did.
Tidy as you cook
I cook a lot both in everyday life and for this blog and nothing is worse than finishing up your culinary masterpiece and looking around at a completely destroyed kitchen. Instead, take tiny pockets of time while you cook to clean up as you go. Cake in the mixer for 3-5 minutes? That's plenty of time to throw those eggshells in the trash and put away the flour and sugar. After you pop your food in the oven go ahead and clean up the prep dishes and utensils so you don't end up with those to clean on top of the dinner dishes.
Load dishwasher right away, run at night, empty in morning
You all probably get tired of hearing me harp on this tip but it makes a big difference! Fill and run your dishwasher overnight and unload first thing in the morning (I do it as my coffee brews.) Then all dishes during the day go straight to the dishwasher instead of piling up on counters or in sinks. I get emails every day from readers telling me what a big difference this made in keeping their kitchens clean. It works. I promise!
Put mail/papers in recylcling right away, don't let it pile
Piles of mail are the worst. Add to that the piles of paper my kids bring home from school each day and I'd be wading in papers if I let it pile up. Instead, I recycle unneeded papers before even setting them down. As I bring my mail it all junk mail goes straight into the recycle bin. Envelopes and unneeded papers from the rest of the mail follow immediately after. Then it either goes in a mail organizer I have "to be filed" or a "needs to be addressed" spots such as bills that need paying. Same with the kid's papers. I literally stand over the recycle bin with them and toss the mundane stuff (stacks of graded homework) and set aside the important things to deal with that day. I like to pull important grades or accomplishments to share over dinner with the entire family, then they are either taken to the scrapbook box to be saved or recycled thereafter.
Wipe bathroom counters while you brush teeth
I'm very much into double-tasking if you hadn't noticed and hate wasted time. Rather than standing idlely while I brush my teeth it's the perfect time to grab a clorox wipe and give the counters and fixtures a quick wiping down. It only takes a moment and keeps the bathroom looking super clean without a lot of effort!
Family tidy time
By far the biggest complaint I get from readers is getting their family to help them keep the house clean and tidy. I totally understand, it's no fun being the only one in the household to do the cleaning. I'm very lucky that my husband is one of the most organized and tidy people in the world but as a military wife there are a lot of times that he's away for extended times so getitng my kids to help out is a must.
One way we can easily get everyone in on the cleaning and make it fun is to set a family tidy time, I do this a lot when my husband is away or deployed, and it works even with small children. Simply set a ten-minute timer and have everyone help tidy up during that time. Putting away toys, preparing bookbags for the next day, whatever needs to be done. Playing upbeat music can make it even more fun. It helps to make cleaning a positive part of the day rather than a chore to be dreaded. And it's just a simple ten minutes!
Keep a cleaning caddy with all items you need for bathrooms
I started keeping a cleaning caddy in the bathroom years ago in college. I think I was at Target and they were selling a caddy prefilled with cleaning supplies and I thought what a great idea it was. Now I keep one in my kid's upstairs bathrooms for them as well to make it easy for them to clean their own bathrooms-all the things they need are in one place: paper towels, sponges, window cleaner, toilet cleaner and counter wipes. There's no scrambling around and searching for what they need and the things in the caddy themselves serve as a reminder of each task to be done. (When they were younger I laminated a checklist and attached it to the caddy to help them remember.)
Set a cleaning schedule
If you've been around the blog for a while you've heard me talk, oh say a billion times, about having a cleaning schedule. It's SO important if you want to make cleaning your house easy and less of a chore. If you have a little time each day to clean you can do one or two tasks each day or if your schedule is too hectic during the week you can schedule it in over the weekend. The purpose of the cleaning schedule is to give you the tasks you need to do for your home on a routine basis so that they can get done regularly and consistently. No more dust bunnies building up because you can't remember the last time you got out the duster! See my video below about the importance of a cleaning schedule or click here for an example of a weekly cleaning schedule I've shared in the past.