Seven Tips Guaranteed to Make Your House Clean

If you are anything like me, then you find it hard to function when your home feels dirty. I have a hard time doing anything fun or even sleeping when there is clutter. This unfortunate quirk has forced me into several habits that help me keep my house clean all of the time (or at least the majority of the time) so that I can focus on something less boring.

Decide Which Areas in Your House Bother You the Most

The number one area in my house that bugs me, is the kitchen. If my table is covered in stuff (which happens incredibly quickly) or my floor has gone a day too long without sweeping, I have a hard time thinking. The kitchen is followed closely by my bedroom, the front room, and the family room. I have found that when these areas are clean, my whole house feels clean.  So, I pick a handful of rooms that I can control and put my primary focus and effort there.

On the flip side, I have given up trying to bring order to my husbands work areas and surfaces. I shut the door to the office, laundry room, and garage and pretend they aren’t there. He has a different way of working/organizing. To me, it looks like a mess, but it works for him. So yeah, I trick myself into believing I have a clean house.

This tip is hard because it asks you to accept the fact that you don’t have control over the whole house. The more people you live with, the less clean your house is going to be (simply because everyone’s definition of clean is different).  Accept that, and you are halfway to a clean house, more freedom, and less restricted happiness.

Don’t Collect Junk

This tip seems easy but it definitely takes conscious effort. When L was little, I found myself at the store a lot just to be somewhere that wasn’t home. While I was at the store, I would buy stuff. Stuff I did not need and sometimes even want.

It is one hundred percent easier to keep a  clean house when you are not filling it with purposeless stuff. So, buy deliberately, with a clear purpose in mind. Ask yourself why you are buying something, what and how often you are going to use it, and where that thing is going to live when it is not in use. If you can’t come up with convincing answers to these questions, don’t buy it.

On the same note, getting rid of the junk you already have makes your house cleaner and less cluttered.

Have A Place for Everything

If your item passes the, “is it junk?” test, from above, then make sure it has a home or definitive place within your house where it belongs. We live in a small house and I organize a lot. So, the “homes” of my objects change from time to time but everything always has a place where it goes. The idea that everything has its own spot, should make it easy to put away.

Put Things Away Instead of Just Down

Like I said earlier, my kitchen table collects everyone’s stuff like that’s its job. By the end of a busy day, it can have everything from half eaten food to shoes on it. Yeah … shoes. Unfortunately, the table is the junk drawer of the house. This, to me, is unacceptable because you know we eat there and… I need the kitchen clean to think properly.

This tip, when implemented by everyone in the house literally keeps the house clean. Put dishes in the dishwasher when you are done, put clothing in the laundry basket after you take it off, put the toys away when you move onto a new activity. . . If everyone puts their stuff away in its predesignated place when they finish using it or enter the house, then the table or floor or counter does not become a dumping spot and clutter disappears.

Admittedly, there are only three people in my house right now and of the two of us who understand this concept, only one of us implements it. However, I still think it is a habit to strive for. Even though I am the only one who does it, it still keeps my house drastically cleaner than it would be if I didn’t do it.

Have a Quick Morning Task List

Each morning, I spend 10-15 minutes on my quick cleans. These are things that keep my house tidy and running with minimal effort (because mornings are hard).  I should also note that if I manage to do these items before my baby wakes up they take hardly any time. If I wait until he is awake to “help me” they take a good hour.

The first thing I do is make my bed (2 minutes). This makes it far less likely that I will have a nap during the day and it immediately makes my bedroom feel clean. The second thing I do is collect the laundry from the day before and sort it in my laundry room. If I have a full load ready, I start it and set my phone timer to remind me it is going (2-5 minutes). The third thing I do is make sure the dishwasher is empty and the dishes from the night before are put away so that my counters are clear (2-5 minutes).

Doing those three tasks each morning makes it so that my house feels clean, I have a place to put dishes other than the counter for the rest of the day, and guarantees we will have clean clothes.

Do a Nightly Walk Through/Task List

On the flip side of the day, I spend another 15-30 minutes making sure my house is ready for the morning (nights are not as hard as mornings). After I put my baby to bed, I fold and put away any laundry I did during the day (5-10 minutes). Then I check the dishes situation: load or unload the dishwasher, wash big pans and bottles, and clean off kitchen surfaces (5-10 minutes). Finally, I walk through my key rooms and pick loose items up. We don’t have a whole lot of extra stuff so this is pretty easy and usually consists of putting away things my one-year-old moved or played with throughout the day.

Set Aside a Specific Time or Day Each Week to do General Cleaning

This is the only task on the list that takes a large chunk of time. All of the other tasks make my house feel clean throughout the week with minimal time and effort. This task helps me to keep a legitimately clean house.

I set aside each Monday (because weekends are messy) to put my house back together and do a slightly deeper cleaning. Monday is the day for bathroom cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. It is also the day I encourage my baby to help and show him how to clean. I know he is little but I want him to grow up knowing how to clean, that a clean house is attainable, and that it’s normal for boys to clean.

I have a cleaning rotation for Mondays that works well for us. If you would like more details, subscribe to my newsletter below.

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I want to know what suggestions you have for making your home feel clean. Please share your comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, read Two Step Time Managment for Getting Stuff Done.

Easy Two-Step Time Management: Get Stuff Done!

Time management is tricky. As a new parent or just an average busy person, do you ever find that you get to the end the day and don’t know what you have accomplished? I have had many days like that, especially since my son was born. Life with a kid is exhausting and crazy and busy. I used to go to bed at night drained but not sure what I had to show for it. It’s an interesting sensation to be busy all day but not feel like you get anything done.

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After a few months of running myself ragged and still feeling like a failure when I reflected on my day, I decided I needed to change the ways I defined success and planned my time.

So, success. . .

This was so hard. For over half of my marriage, I had been the primary breadwinner. I had been working full-time as a teacher to put my husband through school. I didn’t realize until forced to think about it, that success in my mind was tied to making money and checking things off lists.

 

Step 1: Redefine Success

Now,  being a stay-at-home mom is no get rich quick scheme. In our case, it was a financial sacrifice. Confronting that was my first step. My deep conversation with myself went something like this.

“Okay self, you chose to do this. You agreed that this would be the best thing for your family. You want to be home for your son. Success does not equal money. Don’t fall for that lie.”

After having that chat every day for months, I started to believe it. My “success” no longer equaled money but I still wasn’t sure what it did equal.  As I started to try to define my “new success” and came up with this list.

  • Is my son alive?
  • Does he feel loved?
  • Is he happy?
  • Is he safe?
  • Has he eaten?
  • Has he been hugged?
  • Have I told him I love him?
  • Has he been read to?
  • Is the house still standing?
  • Is everyone dressed?
  • Is there food in the fridge?
  • Have I eaten?
  • Have we been outside?
  • Have we seen people?

 

These were things that were happening every day (except maybe getting dressed) but that I hadn’t been counting towards my personal success because they were obvious. Obvious does not mean irrelevant.

So, the first step, if you feel like you can’t get anything done, is to identify your priorities and define what success is for you.

Step 2: Have A Plan

After my “new success” was defined and I got over the useless feeling that not making any money left me with, I was able to focus on the second part of my feeling accomplished gap. Lists.

I don’t know what it is about crossing something off of a to-do list that is so satisfying but I missed it. Unfortunately, I could no longer keep track of things as well as I used to be able to. At the end of a teaching day, I could sit down and conquer that list. As a mom, I couldn’t even find it.

So, I came up with a simple system that I can keep track of and that helps me get stuff done.

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Part 1: Establish Big Goals

Big Goals are all about scheduling. In my last post, I talked about how when I first had my baby I wrote out hour-by-hour plans in great detail (like I did when I was a teacher). Those kinds of plans often don’t work for a teacher. For a new Mom, they were absolutely crazy.

So, I traded in my detailed, insane plan for one Big Goal a day (if you are better at life than I am, go for two or three Big Goals a day). Most of my own Big Goals each week revolve around leaving the house or seeing other people (my priorities) but they could be focused on whatever is most important to you.

Example Big Goals:
  • Monday: clean house
  • Tuesday: go to play group
  • Wednesday: visit library
  • Thursday: hike
  • Friday: buy groceries
  • Saturday: do something fun with Daddy
  • Sunday: make it to church

Repeat

Picking Big Goals based on my priorities gives each day a focus and makes my weeks a little bit more predictable.

Part 2: Create a Daily To-Do List

This first to do list is the one that helps me realize that I am getting stuff done even if it doesn’t feel like it. I have a checklist in google keep (on my phone, tablet, and computer) that I reset each day. It is very basic but I often spend the majority of my day working on it. Some of the things don’t need to be done every single day and I can check them off first thing in the morning. Bam. Stuff is done.

I reset the list each night and add specific things for the next day if I need to. Getting all of the to-dos out of my brain before bed really helps me sleep.

Example Daily To-Do List:

  • exercise
  • read scriptures
  • get ready for the day (shower and get dressed)
  • empty dishwasher/wash dishes
  • load of laundry
  • make bed
  • breakfast for everyone
  • baby hygiene (bath, nails, teeth)
  • read stories
  • lunch for everyone
  • make dinner
  • run errands

(Yeah I know a lot of my day revolves around food. . .)

Part 3: Create an “It Would be Great. . .” To-Do List

This is just what it sounds like. If I happen to have some down time between my Big Goals and daily tasks I look at my second list, which is organized based on importance. This is the list where I write down the things that I would like to do but that are not urgent. Weird errands, hobbies, my own projects. . . .heaven forbid. If they become pressing I move items from this list to my daily list. (Sometimes even hobbies are pressing.)

Example “It Would Be Great” List
  • complete a blog post
  • look up Canada vacation questions
  • return shirt to the store
  • buy present for birthday on Friday
  • finish art for the bathroom
  • research graphic design

This list takes a long time to accomplish but it gives me something to do besides twiddle my thumbs when everything necessary is completed.

I’m not joking about thumb twiddling. Every once in a while I still find myself watching my husband take care of our son because what am I supposed to do? He is doing what I do with my whole life. . . That is craziness. I deserve to have my own time and interests. At these moments I pull out my lists and use my time to get stuff done.

So, if you feel like you never get anything done . . . Redefine your own success, create a plan (schedule and lists), and remember to give yourself credit for all the stuff you do accomplish!

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How do you stay on top of your crazy busy life?