The second law of thermodynamics requires that all systems and individual parts of systems have a tendency to go from order to disorder. My home is a great example of that. I’ve created a pretty good system for our house to stay in order, but no matter how many times I pick up my daughter’s toys and wash the dishes and do the laundry, there always seems to be more to clean, organize and put away. But that’s no anomaly—it’s just the way life happens.
That said, there are ways to maintain a relatively clean, orderly home without feeling overwhelmed (even with kids around, a busy schedule, or lots of square footage to cover). Here are a few ideas:
- If you have kids or grandkids, create designated play areas and don’t stress about picking up toys all day, especially if the room is out of site from any guests you might have. If you have a play room, get a big basket or box (or a few smaller ones for dividing) and teach the kids to put their toys in there when play time is over. Or at least before bedtime each night you could help them get it cleaned up so they learn to be responsible for their own messes.
- If you do the cleaning mostly by yourself, plan which days you’ll clean each area. For example, sweep and mop the kitchen on Mondays, vacuum and straighten the living room on Thursdays, clean the bathrooms on Saturdays, etc. That way you don’t have an overwhelming load to tackle all at once. And it helps to be even more specific; plan what time you’ll do the job (cleaning in the morning seems to make my mood lighter for the rest of the day from having a clean house and feeling productive—and you won’t have the task looming over your head all day).
- Assign tasks to each person in the family—no matter their age. The youngest ones can help pick up their own toys and even “help” you do things like unload the dishwasher. They’ll get better at cleaning as they get older, and even more importantly, they will have learned to help around the house from an early age. The older kids can have assigned daily or weekly chores that need to be done before playing games, watching TV or going out with friends.
- The Fly Lady (www.flylady.net) recommends her “Swish and Swipe” method of doing a one-minute clean of the bathroom daily. She suggests doing a quick wipe-down of the counter and sink, and a “swish” of the toilet to keep your bathroom ready for company any time. I’d add that you can apply the same principle to almost any area of your home. There is a time and season for deep cleaning each room, but most days you can keep it looking nice by doing a quick clean. For example, quickly wipe off the main areas of your kitchen counter, stack soaking dishes in the sink instead of on the counter (if you have a dishwasher then just load each dish as you finish using it), scoot toys into a corner, stack papers or books neatly, and fluff pillows on the couch. These things should take less than a minute each, and you’ll be surprised at the difference they can make!
These are just a few suggestions, and every person’s situation calls for different efforts. So try different approaches until you find the solution that helps you stay sane while keeping your house in order!