I always felt that my productivity level in college would not have been nearly as high had I not had so many obligations. Every minute of my day was accounted for Monday-Friday from 8am until 8pm. Weekends were fairly regime as well, with newspaper and track obligations. Because my plate was so full, I had to utilize my time for homework very wisely.
I have to admit that I believe I have become a more organized housekeeper since having children. I can guarantee you there is far and beyond more mess made in a day’s time, but I go to bed with the house in much better shape than I typically did before kids. Much like knowing I had limited windows of time to do homework in college, I know cleaning and organizing can only happen at particular times, otherwise it will only build rapidly; therefore, I am learning how to take care of it all more efficiently.
Here are some details I focus on to keep my home organized amidst the toddler madness.
My kitchen is clean before I go to bed.
Waking up to a clean kitchen is my version of waking up on the right side of the bed. When I worked from home, prior to having kids, I used to hate to sit at my computer all day and stare at a mess in the kitchen, knowing it just had to wait. I should have remedied my ways then and started cleaning at night. But why didn’t I then, but I do now? Because, as I sat at my computer all day, the mess did not build upon itself. Everyday is a hurricane with kids in the house. The mess is only going to build and build. I love being able to enjoy a cup of coffee with no mess to start my day. Even if I’m dead tired after getting the kids to bed, I stay on my feet and take care of the mess before I sit down for the night.
I rinse dishes immediately.
I have never liked doing dishes. That was part of my problem in not always having a clean kitchen. But I couldn’t help but notice how my in-laws always had dishes cleaned up after meals in what seemed like a flash. It was always so nice to have the kitchen feel clean again so soon. It’s been a slow evolution for me, but the big revelation was when I started, at a minimum, to simply rinse dishes after use. Sometimes kids mean you don’t have time to do a full-on cleaning, but by rinsing, I get a huge head start. First of all, sometimes (when there is time) rinsing leads to full on cleaning, because you realize how quick and easy you can get it done. Other times, it simply saves food from hardening to the state of cement-like matter that takes 10x as long to clean off later. No wonder I hated doing dishes when I was letting that happen regularly!
I keep clutter off the counters and tables.
I’m not talking just about the staples you keep on your counter permanently like the coffee pot. It is good practice, in general, to keep your counters and tables more open, keeping out only items you use daily. But I’m really focusing on the counter clutter: all of the stuff you wouldn’t have there if suddenly you were hosting a special event. My counters and tables definitely get covered in STUFF throughout the day. Dorothy’s crafts and toys. Bibs and snack bags. Bills and the mail. Items I need to return to people or places outside the house or in a distant area of the house. Pens, papers or books that were used at some point during the day… I used to be bad about putting it all away to the proper place in a timely fashion. Now I make a goal of having a clutter-free counter every night. I have one basket on the counter for anything that I want to keep out for some reason (a bill that needs paid, a magazine hubs is reading…). Much like the clean dishes, the clean counters help my state of mind.
Toys get put away and organized every night.
My brother likes to say, “Don’t rake leaves in a hurricane.” Amen, to that! I like organization, so it’s taken me nearly 2 1/2 years to become numb to seeing a complete mess being made of a perfectly organized drawer or room. Now I’m usuaslly just loving the fact they are entertained. That is life with toddlers and I accept that; however, at the end of the day, when I sit down to work, I can relax and think clearer if I’m not surrounded by disarray. Much like cleaning the kitchen, after the kids are in bed for the night, all of the toys and disaster are put away. I also like to keep the toys somewhat organized. This helps the kids play better with what they have and it all stores so much nicer. I also do a mild cleaning at nap time. It helps me brave the storm of preparing supper to have a semi-tidy house again.
I sweep & wipe down periodically throughout the day.
This you may consider raking in a hurricane, but I broom sweep numerous times a day and wipe down tables and counters. Our floors are stained concrete, so crumbs and grit travel easily from place to place. I tend to sweep around the table after most meals to avoid having the crumbs tracked all over the house. I also wipe down the counters and tables in attempt to avoid food hardening, stickiness get passed on, or for crumbs being knocked on the floor later. Yes, the floor and tables are both things I know will be getting messy again the very same day, but I do it anyway.
I keep open tubs for outgrown clothes.
Kids go through clothes SO fast the first few years. It would be easy for me to have a ridiculous amount of clothes out for both kids, considering how much they have owned in their short lifetimes. To avoid having way too much clothing in the closet/drawers (and a bunch that does not fit), I always have a plastic tub in the kids’ closets to collect things as they grow out of them. When a tub fills, I label it and pack it away. It not only avoids a build up in the wardrobe and saves you the time of having to recheck labels for sizes, but it will also avoid other people trying to dress your little ones in clothes that just don’t fit right anymore.
I utilize all sorts of baskets, bins, drawers, boxes and bags.
As mentioned, I like organization, so I love having designated places for everything. Obviously having designated boxes or tubs for certain toys is a huge stride in keeping kid stuff organized, but I’ve also found that having baskets or bins in different rooms of the house for specific items has helped me a lot. You can find super cute baskets and fabric storage containers that will look nice in any room of your house at low costs, and then you can use them for the most random items. I keep a basket on the ledge at my stairs. This is where I put dirty kid laundry that has not made it upstairs. I already mentioned the basket on the counter. I keep a basket of burp cloths under an end table in the living room for emergency clean up. Until Jacob started crawling, I had a fabric container in the same room for random baby toys, so I had a place for his things, since he spent most of his time in that room, but I limited the room to those toys only. Having these baskets strategically placed not only keeps particular items organized, but it’s helped me keep other items out of areas where they didn’t belong. The floors should be clear at the end of the day and if there isn’t a bin to put something in, it’s probably in the wrong room.
I must end with a reminder, though, about the state of your own home: It’s YOUR home. Never feel it needs to be organized a certain way for anyone other than you (and your husband). You see, I have a confession about all of this: I usually do not dry and put away the clean dishes at night. They sit in the sink air drying until morning, when I typically put them away after breakfast. This is the part of having a clean or organized home that is often overlooked. The ultimate goal of how your home is put together should be for your happiness.
There are so many quotes reminding parents that the dishes, messes and laundry can wait. It will always be there, but we must cherish this short time of little ones. This is true, but you can only truly cherish the time if you are not stressing. Clutter and disarray? That stresses me out… But my clean dishes that have not been put away? That does not bother me at night or first thing in the morning. It does not affect my happiness. Yes, you need to keep your house clean and tidy enough for it to be safe, but otherwise, it just needs to be a place where you feel relaxed and happy. It’s your home after all and you should be the one most comfortable in it.
Holly Jo isn’t talking about keeping your house snazzy this week, but keeping yourself snazzy–in the most affordable way ever! She took on a $30 Walmart Challenge and shows you how you can look cute and stylish this spring for a mere $30: clothes, jewelry and shoes! Check it out!