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Five Days of Homemaking: Five Tips for Cleaning and Organizing

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This post is part of a five part homemaking series. You can find links to the other posts here. 

I really do love cleaning. I'm not just joking. It's one of my favorite homemaking tasks and one I feel that I'm pretty good at- since cooking and decorating don't rank high on my list. I know that cleaning and organizing your home can feel overwhelming at times. But here are some tips to make it more manageable. And one of my favorite quotes about homemaking (I'm not sure where this came from.) is "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."


Bite 1: Keep It Simple. The less stuff you have, the less you have to clean and take care of. I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets a while back. We have six people in our family. We almost never entertain in a "fancy" style where I need real dinner service. I use paper goods. I had many extra plates, coffee mugs, even pots and pans. I cleaned them out and donated them. (I'm not a fan of yard sales, but I know they can be great.) The more "stuff" I have in my kitchen, the more I have to clean around and keep organized.
Kids' rooms are another place this needs to be practiced frequently. We have several times through the year that we clean out and give away toys. We throw away broken things or trash that's worked its way into the room. We give to Goodwill any decent used toys. And we pick special things to give to children we know that are younger than our kids. Keeping it cleaned out helps the kids keep it clean and helps the room look clean. (Although I'll admit that their rooms are rarely "clean.")

Bite 2: Clean up as you mess up. This seems so simple, but so many people don't do it. Going through the mail and sorting and filing and throwing away might only take 5-10 minutes each day. But if you let your mail build up into a stack on your counter, going through it is going to take you much much longer at the end of the week- not to mention that it causes you stress and you might lose something.
If you can clean the kitchen right after supper, you don't have piles of dishes waiting the next day. If you sweep up the dirt the dog just dragged in, the floors aren't so dirty later. Even though I can be a little obsessive, my husband and even my kids on occasion, tell me how glad they are that "mess" doesn't build up in our house. It just sets a more peaceful tone for your house.

Bite 3: Assign chores and share the load. This is probably the thing I most need to do better. I have a hard time delegating and then stepping back. It's just easier to do it myself sometimes. But that's a wrong attitude. When I assign chores, I teach the kids how to care for a house, I help them feel a sense of belonging as an important member of the family, and I lessen the load for myself.
I choose chores that, done daily, can make bigger cleaning easier. For example I try to have kids wipe the bathroom sinks, sweep the living room mat, and empty the bathroom trash frequently because these are things that can keep dirt and clutter from building up and being more difficult to clean.

Bite 4: Clean for 10 minutes. This works great for kids but can work great for moms also. If you have an area that's a mess and seems overwhelming, set a timer for 10 minutes and clean until the timer beeps. I do this for the kids' rooms often. The room can be very messy, and if I just say "Clean it up." the kids are overwhelmed and think they'll never get it done. But they work steady for 10 minutes until the timer goes off. Sometimes, to their surprise, the room will be clean when the time is done!

Bite 5: Use a cleaning schedule. This is what I think is the most important tip I could give. From the time I was a very young wife, I've used this method. I have a certain day that I focus on each cleaning "chore." For many years now I do the heavy laundry on Monday(Although I wash every day, I don't on Sunday. So Monday is a bigger wash day.); I do bathrooms on Tuesday (Clean the master and hall bath a "deep clean" because I wipe them down every day); I do kitchens on Wednesday (sweep and mop, clean appliances, wipe cabinets); I do dusting and vacuuming on Thursday (all the carpeted rooms); I do any "catch up" work on Friday. I also use Fridays to work on my monthly focus places.
For each month, I have a focus on a specific room. Some rooms get two months out of the year- one in the first half, one in the second. During that month I do extra cleaning in that area. I do any needed updates or repairs (small and affordable). On Fridays and on weekend days I can use time to focus on my special area.
Using a cleaning schedule has saved my sanity with homeschooling and trying to keep the house relatively clean. Because I don't try to clean everything at once, I can accomplish small things on each day in the midst of homeschooling.


What is your favorite cleaning tip?

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