The topic of how to keep your house clean is one that I have had a lot of experience with. There seems to be a phenomenon that happens when you become a mom called “the Chronically Dirty House.” Things multiply. Stuff is everywhere. The stuff tries to take over your entire life.
The reality is that you do not have to clean all day to keep your house clean. You do not have to run around 24/7 to get food on the table, homework done, and accomplish everything else that happens in your home.
I know it seems impossible, but there are key elements that you can prioritize to keep from feeling like an on-call maid working overtime shift after overtime shift. The way each of us makes this happen in our home may look different, but the key elements remain the same. In today’s post, we are going to break those elements down.
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
You CAN Keep Your House Clean
Regardless of what season you’re in, having a messy, dirty house is the best way to make yourself feel discouraged and decrease productivity. I cannot emphasize enough how much more productive you will be if you get your house in working order.
However, I also do not want you to clean constantly just to end the day feeling like nothing was truly accomplished. Better ways exist to keep your house clean. More efficient, more effective ways are available to you that will help you keep your house clean.
Let’s go through some questions that will help you in your journey to creating an effective and efficient cleaning routine for your home.
Are you cleaning or tidying?
You need to have a very clear definition of what cleaning is and what tidying is. When I made the distinction, that’s when the big shift happened for me. I only spend two hours a week cleaning to keep my house my house clean. But I only include what I would pay a housekeeper to do within that definition of cleaning. Putting the dishes away does not count as cleaning.
Why the distinction? When you change your language to “tidying up” when you are putting things away as opposed to “cleaning up,” it creates a sense of quickness to the task. Tidying sounds fast and simple. It is and should be! Cleaning is the nitty gritty of getting all of the dust and dirt out of your house. Scrubbing. Washing.
Are you leaving spaces better than you found them?
When you do something in your craft room, office, or bedroom are you leaving it better than you found it? Are you picking up before you move on? The habit of tidying up before you leave a space will radically change the cleanliness of your house if you implement ONLY that. Make sure your dishes are done before you leave the kitchen. Your kitchen needs to be ready to cook in when you leave it.
First look at your habits and choices when you leave your spaces. If you aren’t already really good at making sure your spaces are tidy when you leave them, start there. Then look to your kids and husband. It may take several months of you picking up behind yourself before it is part of your natural rhythm.
Helping Your Kids Keep Your House Clean
Once you are in a place where you are consistently tidying up before you move on, then you can move on to helping your kids develop this habit. Here’s how to do this.
Pick Up Before Moving On
Watch your kids while they play. When you notice that your kids are almost done playing with something, that’s your moment. You come in with a lot of excitement and show them hand over hand what to do to tidy up.
Now the timing for this is the magic. You cannot do this if they’re already done with an activity or bored with it. Or if they’re still want to play with the toys. It has to be right when they start to get bored with the activity. When they might play with the toys for five to ten more minutes. If you wait until they’re bored, you’ve missed your window of opportunity and your kids won’t buy in.
Get the timing right and get your children hyped up to move onto the next activity. Then channel that excitement to remove the barrier to beginning the next activity: cleaning up the current activity.
Regardless of your children’s ages, applying this technique will absolutely work. Just adapt your language to be appropriate for their age. The key to keeping your house tidy is really tied to involving your kids.
If you can consistently anticipate your kids’ boredom and not let up on the practice of picking up a space before you leave it, eventually you will not have to spend all day straightening up behind your kids.
Help Them Clean Up Their Own Spaces
There is a natural progression from your kids tidying a space before they leave it and your kids cleaning their own spaces. Demonstrate the practice of keeping your own spaces clean and also encourage your kids to do it. Make the resources available to them that will enable them to easily keep up their own space.
For us, that means leaving a hand towel out that is specifically for wiping the sink out after my girls brush their teeth. I cannot begin to understand what happens with the toothpaste, the toothbrush, and the mirror. No one could pay me enough to brush my teeth so that that much toothpaste goes in so many places.
I am no longer constantly cleaning because I am teaching my children how to do it. While we are nowhere near perfect in this area, the work we have done in teaching our children has significantly cut down the time I spend cleaning and tidying.
“We have completely gotten rid of the word “chore” in our family. We have ingrained this process of tidying up as a part of what we do. “
How’s Your Clutter?
Let’s talk clutter. If you have clutter everywhere, that is your problem. You must start there. Your clutter is your bottleneck. You have to get rid of things. To learn more about how you can simplify this area of your life search “clutter” or “declutter” in my podcast vault by using the Command or Control + F function.
Systems to Keep Your House Clean
The next key thing is checking your systems or lack thereof. You need to have times planned when you deep clean, do laundry, and tidy up. You need to have systems in place to make those things happen. Having strategic timeframes that actually work where you will show up and get the work done is crucial. Otherwise, you will keep getting backed up on laundry.
Once again, if laundry is a problem, maybe evaluate the number of clothes and laundry baskets you have. Too many of either items will cause the laundry to backup. I won’t do a laundry blog right now, but just know that if that is your problem area, there are easy solutions for this.
I have so many blogs and podcast episodes on what systems to put where. And better yet, you can easily search my podcast vault I mentioned earlier to find these systems. Type in “laundry” or “dishes” and you will find resources for systemizing those areas.
Get Creative in Assigning Tasks
Pay attention to your family members. Notice their strengths and weakness and use that to guide you in outsourcing tasks to them. Give tasks to your family members that feel light to them, as opposed to assigning random chores. We have completely gotten rid of the word “chore” in our family have ingrained this process of tidying up as a part of what we do.
When things in our house are hard to do or the girls really don’t want to do them, we pop on some music or make a game out of it. This is what life looks like together. I want my children to have incredible memories of what it looked like to do the laundry and clean up. Get creative. Most of us do things the way our parents did them just because, but you don’t need to follow in their footsteps.
I think those really mundane things that we put some creative thinking into that make the most incredible memories for your family. It’s those things that your children are going to remember most. Think back to when you were growing up. Likely, the things that you remember most are those that were repetitive and mundane. You remember what that looked like and sounded like and felt like for you as a child.
If what you remember is good, maybe those methods are worth repeating. But if your memories were bad, turn a new page. You can develop new methods to keep your house clean. If cleaning and tidying is fun for your family, they are much more likely to pitch in and help.
Boundaries are something that get overlooked by a lot of families. What I mean by boundaries is physical boundaries in physical spaces. I am talking about your kids respecting spaces in the home that are not meant for them.
Now, we do this loosely. My children are welcome to come into my bathroom and bedroom. But, they are not welcome to take my hairbrush out of my drawer, brush their hair with it, and then leave it somewhere. They are not welcome to do that. I don’t do that to their things and they are not going to do that to my things in my space. And they are not going to do that in communal spaces like the kitchen or living room.
We teach really hard boundaries in this area. Meaning it is something we consistently implement. I want them to know that those are my things and while I am happy to share my brush, I will need it at 7 am tomorrow, I have 10 minutes to use it, and I do not want to go looking for it. Please make sure you put it back and treat my things with respect and care.
All of these lump into how we are respecting our home and creating a team mindset in responsibility for the state of the house. Maybe you don’t feel like you have the skillset to pull this off, but you’ve never thought of it this way before. Assert yourself a little bit and set some boundaries.
Pick Up the Reins
To recap what we’ve discussed today, there’s some decluttering that has to happen to keep your house clean. You will also have to manage your own habits and focus on whether or not you’re leading by example. You’ll need to get in there with your kids and do some dirty work with them.
But at the end of the day, the six months, a year, or two years from now, you’re going to have an insanely well oiled machine. You will want to shout from the rooftops and tell everyone about it. YOU are capable and have proven your ability to keep your house clean. The other day I heard someone say that the time that it’s going to take you to get there will pass anyway. Why not focus on making it better right now?
Little by little, start focusing on whatever speaks to you the most out of the entire episode. Go back and take notes. Write it all down. Highlight the things that you feel like really stand out for you and your family. Then come tell me what’s working for you in the Systemize Your Life Facebook group! I can’t wait to see you there! Go get it done, friend!
Frequently Asked Questions
I NEED to systemize. Where do I even start?
Been there, friend, and I gotcha! I’ve created a FREE workbook to help you identify your fundamental needs! Using the workbook, you can then create systems that will enable you to consistently show up in the areas that you need to. Stay strong, mama!