Stuff and things… so much stuff, so many things. I look around my house at the end of a busy week and there are dishes, articles of clothing, shoes, baskets of laundry, toys, mail, trash and other miscellaneous out-of-place items covering every surface of the kitchen and living room. With 4 people – 2 working adults, a preschooler, and a toddler – plus two small dogs, the clutter and mess spirals out of control quickly.
I would love to go to bed every night with everything in it’s place, sparkly clean counters free of clutter and all the clean clothes put away in drawers and hung in the closet. But it is all hands on deck from the time we get home to the time the last kiddo falls asleep – and by then – we are desperate for a few minutes to ourselves before we go to bed and start it all over the next day.
There are a lot of things we could change to improve this but time and energy are in short supply in this season of our life so I wanted to make some very easy changes that would make a big impact on our mess. Here are 5 easy things you can implement that made a difference in our happy messy house:
1. Give Yourself a Time Limit
It’s easy to become overwhelmed late in the evening when you are tired and look around at hours worth of housework. When there is no way you are going to get it all done, give yourself a set period of time – commit to doing as much as you can in 10 or 15 minutes. It may not be perfect but it is progress. Plus once you start, you may find energy to keep going and if not that’s still ok. I give myself 15 minutes in the evening and 15 minutes in the morning to tidy up. I challenge myself to see how much I can accomplish in that time and don’t feel guilty when I sit down on the couch afterwards.
2. Tackle Categories of Items
I find that if I can challenge myself or turn a task into a game that I stay motivated and accomplish more. When tidying up the house, I like to tackle categories of items throughout the whole house instead of focusing on a particular area. Grouping like things results in less back and forth trips and gives you quick wins throughout the process.
I will collect all trash, all dishes and glasses, all matchbox cars, all things that go back to our closet, all paperwork, anything that goes back to the pantry, single out dishes that can be loaded into the dishwasher and so on.
3. The Go Back Basket
The hands-free time I have to tidy up is usually after the kids go to bed which means anything that needs to be put away in their rooms has to wait until the next day. Enter the Go Back Basket. I use one basket to collect clothing and toys that need to go back to the kids rooms then put those items away in the morning. Before the basket I would make piles on the dining table but this still felt messy even though it was an organized mess.
4. A Load A Day
My husband and I both work outside of the house all week and the last thing I want to spend my weekend doing is laundry. Before we had kids this was my preferred method. I loved having everything clean at one time and to start the week off with no dirty laundry. With small kids, there is always a load or loads of laundry that need to be done. Without a plan, washing laundry during the week would turn into having to rewash multiple loads because they would be forgotten about and sit in the washer.
I recently discovered the delay timer on my washing machine and that has made such a difference! I try to do a load of laundry everyday now. I will gather the load at night and then in the morning as I’m walking out the door, set the delay for 1 hour before we get home. Then I can move it to the dryer right when I get home and it is done before the kids go to bed.
5. Do One Thing You’ve Been Avoiding
This might be putting something away in the garage that has been sitting out for a few days, deciding on a new place to keep something or opening the mail that has been stacking up. These things sometimes require a little extra motivation but they will also provide the most satisfaction when they are accomplished. Just choose one, again progress is what is important not perfection.
Not every dish is always washed or every piece of mail opened but we are making progress! Are there other quick and easy tricks you employ to keep your house tidy? Let me know!