In my last post I showed some pictures of our great room, which always sparks a lot of questions…
Where are all the toys?
Do you really live like that?
Why don’t you have anything on your counters?
Do you clean all day?
How do you keep your house clean with all those boys?
Frankly, I’m flattered…I wish I could said it always looked like this.
Here’s the deal-io…I strive to keep my house like this as much as possible. “Strive” mind you. Growing up, I was raised primarily by my dad who had a very 70’s bachelor-esque style. He was a single-parent, working a full time job, raising a child. Props dad. Love him dearly but let’s face it…most men have a different approach to keeping a house than women do. My dear dad had bigger fish to fry than paint schemes, furniture placement and organizational methods. What I learned from living with a bachelor is that I’m allergic to clutter.
I think most would agree that a cluttered messy space has a psychological effect on a person. It’s draining mentally, spiritually and even physically to have piles of mess all throughout the house. Those piles of clutter represent yet another to-do list. Have you ever had so much to do that you end up doing nothing because it’s simply too overwhelming? It’s actually been studied and discovered that when your space is out of order you are less productive in all other aspects of your life. I have enough productivity issues raising a slew of boys and keeping life moving…I don’t need my house adding to that challenge.
I’ve actually developed a simple and quick daily check-list for myself to keep my house as clutter free as possible while raising 4 men. Before I share that, keep in mind that I am in no way perfect at this. I’m raising a family, not a house. Mess and chaos are just as important to a happy home as a orderly home. It’s important to have toys out and accessible. It encourages spontaneous, imaginative play. Kids need to learn how to pick up after themselves. Plus if your house is completely void of toys, kids will jump right on to the computer or ipad which on one hand is the best clutter free toy and also the best way to destroy your child’s brain.
My number one goal is to have surfaces as clutter free as possible.
11 years in to this parenting gig now and I’ve discovered how much a minimalistic style works for our family. When my kiddos come home they unpack papers, books, trinkets, smashed lunches, sports gear, coats, jackets, hats, etc. I don’t need any extra visual clutter than necessary adding to the chaos. Plus the more that’s out on our counters the less likely we are able to find what we need. Plus, clutter attracts clutter and the piles just get bigger.
In the morning our home is brimming with hyper energy. Kids are packing their bags for the day and running around trying to get ready. Breakfast is the meal that I go all out for and we make a mess to prove it. When everyone is out the door, I’m left with evidence of a massive tornado. I’ve taught my kids to pick up after themselves (which is sometimes hit or miss) but there’s still lots of cleaning up to do. Once the door closes my littlest man jumps on the computer for 20 minutes of homework and I get to work. I’ve learned it’s a whole lot easier to spend a little time each day staying on top of tasks then to attack a huge mess at the end of the week. Here’s what my morning clean-up routine looks like…
Clean up dishes, put food away and wipe counters. (5 minutes).
Sweep floors (2 minutes).
Wipe hand prints off fridge and cabinets. (2 minutes).
Straighten living room, pick up crap, plump sofa pillows (2 minutes).
Make my bed (3 minutes).
Throw a load of laundry in (3 minutes).
Misc. pickup (3 minutes).
By the time this 20 min is over I’ve worked up a small sweat. That little routine is the morning kick in my pants that gets me moving. My goal is to have the kitchen and living room surfaces cleaned off by the time the homework buzzer goes off. Ain’t no lala-gagging time. I’ve found that if I am religious about this morning routine, my office (aka house) is ready to take on the day. Sure, messes form throughout the day but I’m better equipped to tackle smaller messes rather than larger ones. For sure I do lots of other things around the house during the day but I’ve found if I can get the main room of the house looking sharp right off the bat I’m ready to hit the ground runnin’. Having said all that…a few short years ago when my kids were younger I swear no matter how much I cleaned the house was always a mess. Different seasons.
The other things I “strive” to stay on top of…
Mail: Sort, file, shred the moment mail comes through the door. No piles allowed except for bills which get paid at the end of the week and magazines because they’re pretty.
Kids school paperwork: I only keep two file-folders worth of projects, pictures, report cards, etc. per school year, per child. The rest gets either photographed or in to the trash.
Laundry: Laundry is an every day to every-other-day chore that I HATE! At one time I was doing the laundry of 5 people. With everything on my plate including working a part-time home based job the laundry had turned in to a full time job. I don’t do my husband’s laundry anymore. I figured he was playing with the kids while I was folding laundry all night. Nope. So now he does his own. I also start training my boys at age 8 to start doing their own laundry. I try to only start laundry when I know I can fold it immediately after it comes out of the dryer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but that’s the goal.
Bathrooms: A clean bathroom makes my heart sing. I’ll be honest, I’d rather scrub toilets then make dinner. I love a good sparkly surface. I can scrub the toilet and sink as well as wipe counters and mirrors within 5 minutes during my little man’s bath time. Done and done.
The Mr. grew up with having Saturday as their family cleaning day. Not how I want to spend my Saturday but for him it works. He blasts the Reggae, uses an old toothbrush and goes to town making the grout shine.
Vacuuming: I rarely vacuum. It’s really the perfect job for little guys to do without messing it up (except when they vacuum up a yo-yo string…then we’ze gotz problem-oz).
Odds and ends…wiping stools, chairs, baseboards, cleaning blinds and cabinets. Another perfect job for naughty behavior. When the boys fight amongst themselves they get to pick which chore they want to do. Let’s just say I’ve got very clean baseboards.
When asked about the best way to update a space it was Nate Berkus who said something to the effect of, “People, start by first cleaning up your spaces.”