Simple. Efficient. Calming.
In another life, my sister and I cleaned houses. We loved it and hated it all at once. We would always fix the bed super neat, and pile the stuffed animals on children's bed in fun little ways.
One day, when we arrived at work, one of our clients said her child couldn't wait to get home from school to see how the "cleaning fairy" arranged her stuffed animals. Kids are the best.
Sadly, there aren't cleaning fairies that can clean our homes overnight.
So instead, I asked some friends and family what works best for them because we all can learn from each other. Listening to how different people keep their homes clean and organized can improve our own cleaning routine in a positive way.
One thing that was encouraging was that we're all similar. So the next time you feel alone or overwhelmed taking care of your home, remember there are mothers all over the world doing this God-given work with you.
Abbie Halberstadt, author of M is for Mama, often says, "Hard is not the same thing as bad." I think this is true when we get so overwhelmed with all of the the tasks we need to do. Remember that some days will be more difficult than others, but that does not mean it's a bad day. Find joy, even in your cleaning routine.
If you're in a beautifully busy time in life with children pulling on you every few minutes and playdates at the splash pad are a weekly occurrence, cleaning may feel a bit overwhelming.
We get it which is why I've compiled a little list of some simple tasks that can give you the boost you need to keep your home tidy and welcoming.
They are by no means magic, no tool is, but hopefully they can be a simple way to boost your desire to keep your home clean and happy.
5 Ways to Simplify your Cleaning Routine
1. Fix Your Bed.
Do you want an instant brain lift? Something to make you feel "on top of things"? Fix your bed. It's a game-changer.
The friends I spoke with range from having one child to 5 children to being empty-nesters. One thing rang true throughout their advice. They fix their bed every morning.
I could give you all the scientific reasons to fix your bed, but that could get annoying so just trust me. There is something about it that "clears the spiderwebs in my head", as my mom would say, about fixing my bed each day.
The alarm rings. Reuben rolls out of bed to turn it off. I turn on the light and get up a bit more slowly. Then I fix the bed while he brushes his teeth. And one thing is already checked off of the to-do list!
2. Pick up Every Evening.
Picking up every evening before bed is a fool-proof way to wake up feeling relaxed and calm. The next day can be started fresh. You will feel less stressed and actually enjoy your home before things get wonderfully crazy all over again the next day.
If your children are old enough to help create a routine get them involved. A good general rule could look like everyone picking up a certain room before bed. Those who pulled out toys, clean up toys. Those who ate dinner, help clean dishes. Those who slept in their beds ,clean up their bedrooms.
Basically, everyone helps make the mess that living brings, everyone should be responsible to pick it up and take care of our things. Not just mom and dad.
My sister said her husband doesn't care if the house is clean, but he loves when it's neat and tidy. Spend some extra time tonight picking up the little piles and feel your mind relax. Instead of hastily picking up in the morning before the children wake you, you can sit on the couch for 5 minutes of quiet with your coffee!
3. Keep Floors Clean.
I have often heard that people don't really notice dirt as long as the floors are clean and the house is not a disaster. Keeping the floor swept can make a room "clean" in a matter of a few minutes.
Sweep the kitchen floor after each meal. Vacuum the common areas after cleaning up in the evening, and keep an eye on bedrooms and bathrooms. This reduces the amount of dirt that gets drug through the house, which is a goal we all have, I think.
My mom keeps a spinner mop in the hall closet that is easily accessible if there are spills or something that needs a quick mop. We used to sweep the house every morning before school. Sometimes I think mom made those chores for us just to keep us busy!
4. Clean or Touch up One Room a Day.
My mom taught me to "freshen" sinks and toilets after getting ready each morning. This cuts down on overall work on cleaning day. And if cleaning day gets missed then you know those two things are covered.
Some advice given to young mothers that I have heard is to clean one room a day. The whole house may not always be clean but at least one room is pristine for that day.
Cleaning one room a day also takes away the pressure we put on ourselves to have it completely done in one day. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere all around.
5. Do one thing each day that can't be undone in 24 hours.
This is advice I've heard from a mom on Instagram. Just accomplishing one thing makes you feel so productive.
Meals will be eaten. Floors will be dirty again by end of day. Toilets will need to be "freshened" again in the morning, but you know that the one thing is done, and can't be undone in the next 24 hours.
Some simple things that can't be undone:
- Clean the coffee maker.
- Cut the grass.
- Wash some windows
- Clean the vehicle
- Shampoo the carpet
- Clean the fridge
Bonus: Remember what is important
At the end of the day, what is most important? We spend so much time running around completing our to-do lists. We get a badge of honor if we are "extra busy". But is this what is most important?
I was hit with a visual this morning when I was on Instagram for a bit. I saw a father and daughter putting a puzzle together. It looked like such a special moment. Assuming the father invited his daughter to put the puzzle together with him.
Then something crossed my mind. What if while she was young he constantly pushed her away, only playing with her on very special occasions? What if when her little grubby hands closed around his leg when he got home from work, he shushed, wrangled free, and just went to his study? What if he never had time to take her to work with him? Would she have time for him now?
Then I thought of the times, I've turned away from my nieces and nephews to go "talk with the adults" or played a game with my friends instead of the game I promised them. I know that this is an exaggerated thought, but it took me off guard none the less.
When I am old and gray, I want to have cultivated the relationships that are important. I want to look back and see that time was well spent with family and friends. What would be sad to see is all of the perfectly clean rooms and immaculate windows, but no happy memories.
Make time for keeping a good home because we are called to steward our blessings well. BUT, make so much more time to love on the people in your life because we're called to do this so much more!
God bless each of you this week as you create the home you desire and love on your family.