I often receive comments on Instagram from people asking how I keep my home so tidy with four boys. I wish I could say I wave my magic wand or wiggle my nose and poof! everything is put away, the dishwasher has been emptied and my floors are sparkling, but no. It really just boils down to me not sitting on my butt and staying on top of the mess.
This is not groundbreaking information and I’m not reinventing the wheel, this I know, but maybe you’ll find some helpful tips, or maybe you’ll roll your eyes and wonder why I started this blog up again. Who knows!
First off: I don’t have a cleaning schedule. If I see mess, I clean it. If my floors suddenly look dirty, I clean them. If I just gave the dogs a bath, I’ll clean the tub and floor. See where this is going? It’s kind of a clean-as-you-go approach to housekeeping. BUT! I start every day off on the right foot by making my rounds through the bedrooms.
Call me crazy, but my day is basically ruined if the beds aren’t made. Now you’re really wondering why I started this blog up again, aren’t you? I’m sure you’re like, “relax, lady! They’re just messy beds!”, but simple things make me happy. Freshly made beds make me really happy.
While I’m at it, I’ll pick up the mess off the boys’ floors and tidy up their desks because somehow a tornado always seems to have ripped through their rooms in the middle of the night. I try to change the sheets once a week.
The kitchen is probably the cleanest room in the house because it sees the most action. Keeping on top of dirty dishes is key for me because if you think messy beds ruining my day is crazy, then I’m sure you can imagine what a sink full of dirty dishes will do. There’s nothing worse than going to put a dirty plate in the dishwasher and realizing it’s full of clean dishes or opening the drawer to pull out a fork and realizing they’re all sitting in the dishwasher. Dirty.
I’ve mentioned about a million times on Instagram that I like to wake up before everyone else in the house to make coffee, enjoy a few sips of that coffee, watch the news and make lunches, and I often find that this is a good time to (very quietly) empty yesterday’s clean dishes from the dishwasher so that I can immediately load it up again after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Simple things like taking advantage of a few kid-free minutes in the morning really make a difference in controlling the mess. While it might be tempting to sit and stare at the wall with coffee dribbling down your chin during those moments, just a little bit of work can make the rest of your day a whole lot easier when there’s homework to help with and dinner to be made. Also, I never go to bed with a dirty kitchen. I clean the stove and hood after every meal and try to run a wet rag over the floors at least every other night (sometimes daily).
I’ll probably get myself into some trouble here for admitting this, but Clorox wipes are my best friend. I use them multiple times a day in the bathrooms because boys can’t ever seem to hit their target.
I probably don’t “deep clean” the bathrooms as often as I should (I mean, sometimes my shower doors are horrendous), but that’s because I’m doing spot cleans on a daily basis. For full bathroom scrub downs on tubs, showers, sinks and toilets, I like to use All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate from The Laundress.
The dogs. While they’ve added a whole lot of love and joy to our lives, they’ve also added a whole lot of hair.
I have to vacuum at least every other day to control the dog hair on the rugs and floors. While my new (old) dark rug is awesome because it hides dirt, it also shows all the dog hair. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
I just vacuum the hardwoods when I’m vacuuming the rugs, but I have to admit I don’t mop them on a regular basis. When I do, however, I like to use the same All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate mentioned above.
Dust! Oh, the dust! Our house is almost 100 years old and has its original windows, and I’m pretty sure that every dust particle on the face of the planet manages to find its way through them and onto my coffee table.
Again, no simple fix for this other than taking a few minutes out of your day a couple times a week to quickly run a dry rag over the tops of furniture and over shelves.
Let’s see, I think that just leaves mess in general. I’ve tried to give everything in our house a home. Our third floor serves as our family room/playroom, and we’re lucky enough to have two big sets of closets up there for the boys’ toys, games, etc. Keeping the amount of “stuff” to a minimum to begin with really helps to control the mess because less stuff = less to pick up. This room is probably the messiest room of the house because, well, that’s kind of what it’s for – a place for the boys to play, pull out their toys and costumes and throw every lego they own on the floor without me freaking out on the inside a little. It does always eventually reach a code red on the messiness meter, and that’s when I have to step in to help clean it up. My boys also like to collect random things like a rubber band with paper clips on it, a receipt from Trader Joe’s and a completely unidentified object that looks like some sort of cone but I have no idea what purpose it serves, and they each have a bin in their closet for these types of lovely treasures. Also, I keep a pile of the stuff that finds its way downstairs on the steps so I remember take it up with me the next time I make a trip upstairs and put it away.
Like I said, our home has three floors, so there’s a lot of up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down, and I figure I might as well make the most out of those trips.
Luckily my kids are at an age where they can start doing little chores to help out around the house. Every Sunday they empty all the trash cans on the second and third floors, and they’ve started gathering the dirty laundry for me. I don’t expect them to share my (extreme?) views on cleanliness, but I think it’s important for them to start helping out in little ways because, sadly, I’m not always going to be there to make their beds or fold their laundry.
This might seem like a lot and you might wonder if all I do all day is clean, but I promise if you take just a little time each day to control the mess you can avoid multiple hours of cleaning on just one day. I know not everyone finds organization/cleanliness as important as I do, but it’s something I can do to keep from going crazy under a mountain of mess.