When our family is on a schedule, and taking baby steps towards organization every day, things just go more smoothly. When our house is in order and clean, I am calmer and able to focus. When you have kids, this goal seems like climbing a mountain backwards dragging a sled of rocks back up the mountain with you. Here are 8 habits that allow me to keep everything "good enough" around our home and, in return, I get to keep a portion of my sanity.
1) Create a Command Center
Our Command Center is in the Kitchen and is really made up of the small stretch of counter space by the refrigerator. It is there that all the "out the door" items are stored. My purse, keys, wallets, phones, shopping lists, bills that need paid, etc. Also in the kitchen area is a space for the boys' backpacks to hang with their own "out the door" stuff. Our "junk drawer" is also there with pens, pencils, super glue, scissors, etc. If I find something important that someone may be looking for (my husband's cell phone for example), it goes to the Command Center.
2) Develop a Cleaning Schedule
I work full time and have odd hours, and we have an 8 year old and 6 year old...both boys. Needless to say, my cleaning schedule is a major necessity to keep the house from getting out of control. We love having people over and I hate the idea of spending hours at a time cleaning. I'd rather take 20 minutes each night to do a little something. When you adhere to a schedule, there is less to clean! Here is what works for me:
Monday - Vacuum/Clean Floors
Tuesday - Dust
Wednesday - Bathrooms
Thursday - Kitchen (wipe cabinets, clean out pantry and fridge and update shopping list)
Friday - Vacuum/Clean Floors
Saturday - Bathrooms
Sunday - Tidy up Basement (ours is unfinished) or Garage every other week
3) Wash One Load of Laundry Daily
As long as I have enough white or darks, I try to throw a load of laundry in the wash in the morning. They go into the dryer when I get home, and get folded while we watch a show in the evening. Also, we put a laundry chute in and it is easy for any of us to drop dirty clothes down to the washing matching so I am not wasting time running around and gathering items from different laundry baskets...a terrific addition to the house.
4) Clean the Dishes After Each Meal
Depending on if the dishwasher is full or not, I may have to hand-wash a few pieces. As soon as the dishwasher is full, I run it. Before bed I make sure that clean dishes in the dishwasher and hand-washed dishes are put away. If the dishwasher has dirty dishes and is mostly full, I will go ahead and run it and put the clean dishes away in the morning for a fresh start. At this time, I also set the coffee maker up for the next morning. Letting clean dishes sit in the dishwasher and dishes pile up in your sink and on your counter will make you feel overwhelmed about the task, so "eating this elephant" one bite at a time is best.
5) Process the Mail Immediately
Before I walk in the the door I grab the mail. As I am prepping dinner, I take a few moments to go through the day's mail (and what the boys bring home from school) to decide what is kept, shredded, and recycled...and I take care of it at that moment. The keep items that are easy to take care of are put right in the Command Center, others are put on the desk in the office to be filed away/paid/filled out on the weekend.
6) Contain the Trash and Clutter
This does not come naturally to anyone else in my family. As soon as I spy trash, I pick it up and toss it in the nearest trash can. I regularly empty the small trash cans from the bathrooms, laundry and office into the large trash can to go out to the big trash can outside. We also have a recycling box under the sink that goes out to the can almost every day. I guess I watched too many episodes of "Hoarders."
Containing the clutter is hard to do with two little boys running around. It is more manageable if you put things away when you see them out of place and keep the kid mess to one area (the play room, their bedroom, the basement), and have them help!
7) Straighten Up the House Before Bed
Toys are put away, dirty dishes washed, laundry down the laundry chute, and clothes set out (for me at least) for the next day. Also, the Command Center is organized with a fresh list of what needs to be accomplished the next day so that I can clear my mind for bed.
8) Simplify the Stuff
I like a casual, lived-in, functional home, but not nick knacks and I don't have any collections. I also think that it helps that we live in a smaller house by most standards since a bigger house equals more to clean, and more place to expand unnecessary stuff. Even with all of that, I read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo this winter and found TONS of unnecessary items around our home. More importantly, it gave me in-depth knowledge of what we do have and a framework for anything we decide to bring into our home from now on.
My house is not immaculate. Everything is not put in it's proper place all the time. However, these habits make keeping it "good enough" an attainable goal! Did you find this helpful? I would love to hear any other tips that you have learned over time!