Like many moms, I love having a clean house. Even if the kids are running around and tossing their toys all over the place, I feel so happy when I look at a gleaming kitchen with clean countertops and nice sparkling bathrooms. I’m not alone. In a recent survey from Working Mother, 68 percent of moms said they try to keep their house clean to feel more at peace.
As much as I love a clean house, however, I’m usually not very motivated to put in all the hard work and elbow grease required to make it spic and span. Instead of feeling guilty, every day I do a “general tidy.” In twenty minutes or less, I zoom around the house taking care of key tasks, so my house feels picked up and organized. After I do the general tidy, I feel the house is “good enough,” and I can move on to more fun things like taking the kids to the park or catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee.
Here’s how to tidy your own house every day in twenty minutes or less:
Be an Early Bird
Even if you have to wake up twenty minutes earlier, it’s worth it to do this routine in the morning, because you will be starting off in the right frame of mind, and you can enjoy a tidy house for the rest of the day.
Let Stuff Go
Remember the point is to have a house that is tidy enough to keep you feeling sane and somewhat organized. You are not trying to do a thorough cleaning every morning, so when you are in your kids’ rooms and you see the toys strewn everywhere and their desks piled with junk, resist the urge to start a major cleaning project and simply move on to the next steps of this routine.
Work From the Top Down
Start in your own room and make your bed, put dirty clothes in the hamper, quickly wipe down your bathroom counters, and then move on to the other bedrooms in your house and repeat the routine.
Focus on the Family Room
Once you’ve finished tidying the bedrooms, move into the family room. If there are toys all over the floor, pick them up and put them into bins. Target has all kinds of inexpensive, sturdy bins to help organize kids’ toys. It’s important to have smaller bins, so you can separate and organize toys into logical categories. This makes it easy for kids to find what they are looking for and easy for them to pick stuff up, too. Do not get a toy box! With a toy box, kids throw everything into it and then end up tossing everything out when they go hunting for a particular toy. If you have lots of magazines, put them in a bin, too. The important part of this step is to have plenty of organizing containers on hand to make picking up a breeze.
Tackle the Belly of the Beast
Now, it’s time to clear the breakfast dishes, load the dishwasher, and wipe down your counters and kitchen table. In the Working Mother survey, 32 percent of moms said the kitchen is the messiest room in their house. Since the kitchen is usually the heart of the home, tidying up this room really makes a mama feel good!
Don’t Forget the Laundry and Trash
Each morning check on the status of both the laundry hampers and trash bins. When they are full, throw in a load of laundry and take out the trash.
Work up a Sweat
Race around your house and try to do the routine as fast as possible. It’s a win-win situation when you can get your heart rate up a little and quickly move on with your day.
Make it a Family Affair
In the Working Mother survey, 73 percent of moms said they are the ones in their family to pick up around the house at the end of the day. Just because your name is mom, why should you do all the tidying up? Enlist your spouse and kids to help out with different parts of the routine. For example, your husband might be in charge of laundry and trash duty, while your kids can make their beds and pick up their toys.
Seize the Day!
Now that your house is tidy, you can go and conquer the more interesting and important items on your daily agenda. When you come home later in the day, you will walk into a house that is picked up and fairly organized. It may not be sparkling, but at least it’s not a mess, and you might just find that’s enough to give you that peaceful feeling.
With two young children and a giant Bernese Mountain Dog who sheds like crazy, Laura Lane developed the general tidy routine to maintain her sanity.
Published: December 2013