Family Matters: Clean, clutter-free housekeeping
A lot more goes into making a happy home than good housekeeping, but housekeeping does play an important role. A well-kept home can improve the mood of everyone in it. When our homes are tidy and organized, family members can relax and breathe easy.
They can find what they need when they need it. They can open closet doors without fearing an avalanche. When unexpected guests drop by, the family who lives in a clean and clutter-free home can invite them in without shame or embarrassment.
That’s not to imply that our homes need to be sterile showrooms. With seven children still at home and others visiting frequently, my house definitely looks “lived in.” But by sticking to the following habits consistently, we are able to keep our home tidy and reasonably clean:
Send clutter packing.
Purge your closets of ill-fitting clothes. Clean mismatched storage lids and obsolete kitchen gadgets from your cabinets. Deposit junk mail, used tea bags, and other trash directly in the garbage bin. If something is broken, either repair it or replace it. Or, if it isn’t essential, throw it away and do without.
Make it easy to put things away.
To get your family onboard with keeping things neat, make sure the things they use are easy to access and easy to put back. Consider investing in some double-duty decor. Trunks, baskets, and ottomans make great point-of-use storage places for favorite toys, books, or blankets.
If your toddler’s blocks will only fit in their box if he carefully stacks them inside following a certain arrangement, find a better box. He should be able to remove the lid and toss them all in quickly. Make it easy-peasy for him to pick up after himself. Otherwise, you’ll be the one putting his toys away every time he plays with them.
Do a little every day.
Establish morning and evening routines that will keep you accountable for maintaining order. Make the beds first thing each morning and start a load of laundry before breakfast. Empty the sink of dirty dishes and clear paper and book piles off desks and countertops before bed every night. Putting things back where they belong after every use and requiring your children to do the same makes it much easier to keep your home clean and clutter-free.
Deep clean weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
When everybody is in the habit of doing a little each day, deep cleaning is not needed as desperately. Still, bathrooms will need to be cleaned and floors mopped and furniture dusted and stovetops scoured on a regular rotation. So schedule time on your own calendar to tend to such tasks or delegate them to another family member.
Involve the kids.
Even very young children pitch in with chores. Of course, it takes time to train little ones, but when you capitalize on their eagerness to “help” while they’re young, you build good work habits and life skills they will carry with them for years to come.
Teach kids to clean up after themselves. If they make a mess, they should shoulder at least part of the responsibility of cleaning it up. Train them to put away one toy before getting out another.
Set a timer.
Do a 5-minute “room rescue” before Dad comes home from work or Grandma arrives for dinner. Put on some lively music and work as a team. Straightening up is a simple matter of everyone pitching in and putting things back where they belong. Work together, and you’ll be done in a snap.
Invest in the right tools for the job.
Having the proper supplies on-hand makes it easy to keep things clean and tidy. That’s one reason I keep a set of cleaning supplies in every bathroom. Doing so allows me to spot clean as needed without having to track down the proper cleaner for the job. If your children are helping with chores, you may want to invest in kid-sized brooms and dustpan and non-toxic cleaning supplies.
Jennifer Flanders loves the warmer weather we’re having. It’s perfect for spring cleaning! For free printable lists of age appropriate chores for children and tasks to tackle for spring cleaning, please visit http://www.flandersfamily.info
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