Some people are good at cleaning. You are not one of those people.
No matter how hard you try, your house is always a mess. The kids have left toys over every square inch of floor, the laundry is never done, dishes are piled up, and don’t even look in the bathroom.
You aren’t lazy. You try your best to keep up with the mess, but no matter what you do you always end up feeling overwhelmed.
The good thing is that this is not your fault. It’s extremely common for parents and homemakers to feel like they aren’t doing enough. The more things pile up, the more overwhelming the tasks become, and the less likely you will feel up to tackling them.
However, it is possible to be comfortable in your own home. Often, this means working smarter and not harder. Getting organized and finding a system that convinces your psyche that the job isn’t too hard can help you stay on top of things, and still leave you time to relax. Some of these habits may take time to develop, but once they become second nature, you will be on your way to a less stressful home.
Clean up after yourself as you go
One of the best ways to keep your home from getting out of control is to clean up after yourself as you go. This sounds simple enough, but for those who have not developed the habit, it can feel almost impossible. Add on an entire family of adults and children who are not used to cleaning up as they go, and you might just be ready to throw in the towel before you even start. Don’t despair, and start with yourself.
The first step is to never set anything down where it doesn’t go. Using seasoning in your cooking? Don’t set it down on the counter, put it back in the cabinet where it belongs. Try on a shirt and then decide not to wear it? Don’t throw it on the floor, hang it back up. After a couple of weeks of correcting your own mistakes, cleaning up after yourself should become a habit.
Next, start teaching your kids to do the same. When they finish with their lunch, show them how you want them to take care of their area. When they start to walk away from an activity, remind them to pick everything up and put it away. It will take a lot of watching and intervening on your part, but in the long run it should help you on your way to a clean(er) house.
Let’s face it, technology is downright useful. Why not utilize it as often as you can? There are many robotic vacuums on the market at various price points. Some of the more expensive options can empty out their canisters themselves, mop as well as sweep, and be controlled from a phone. Less expensive options will sweep moderate amounts of debris from hardwood floors but may not be as effective on carpet.
Whichever option works for you, any automatic vacuum can really help keep the floors clean of everyday dirt and pet hair when you aren’t able to get around to it. Most options don’t replace vacuuming the old fashion way entirely, but if those small daily messes are leaving you feeling that you can’t keep up, it may be worth the investment.
Short room resets
Sometimes the idea of spending an entire day cleaning can be just overwhelming enough to keep it from ever happening. Instead of trying to tackle everything all at once, it may be better to shorten your cleaning duties into bite-size, 15-minute room resets.
This may happen once or twice a day, depending on your house and needs, and is usually focused around the main living area of the home. For some, this may involve putting clean dishes away, tidying up stray toys, wiping down the counters, and organizing throw pillows and blankets before bed. Others prefer to reset everything in the morning before the kids wake up. Larger families may need a couple more resets throughout the day.
However, it’s important to be strict with yourself in keeping with that 15- or 20-minute time limit. If you are someone who starts out doing a quick cleaning job and finds themselves deep-cleaning the grout 2 hours later, you aren’t going to want to let yourself start cleaning to begin with. Set a timer, clean, and when that timer goes off, move on to the next part of your day.
Designate activities to certain areas
Another way to keep up with the mess is to keep certain activities designated to certain areas of the house. This can mean making sure that everyone is only eating at the table, keeping toys in the playroom, doing crafts in the office, or using nerf guns in the basement!
Keeping certain kinds of messes contained to certain areas can help you feel more in control and organized. Then, even if the house is a disaster, you aren’t nearly as overwhelmed at the idea of cleaning up. Also, this method allows you to easily delegate tasks to your kids (one cleans up nerf bullets, another tidies up the Lego table, etc.)
This option won’t be for everyone, or for all age groups of children. Toddlers will spread their mess near and far, no matter how much you tell them not to. However, using this tip for certain types of messes and with older children and adults can help you feel just a little bit saner.
Keep cleaning products handy
Imagine you notice that the toilet seat is disgusting. You go to grab the disinfectant spray and it isn’t in the bathroom storage. So, you head out to the kitchen to grab it from under the kitchen sink, but on the way there your child asks you for a snack. By the time you have provided them with what they need, you have completely forgotten what you were doing. Later, when you return to the bathroom, the seat is even worse, you become upset, and now you are completely overwhelmed.
Keeping tasks easy is the best way to ensure that they will get done. When you don’t have the items that you need to complete the task, you must work harder and are therefore all the more likely to procrastinate on that task next time.
Keep cleaning as easy as you can and anticipate what you need and when you will need it. Purchase additional bottles of all-purpose spray and keep them in both the kitchen and the bathroom. Keep paper towels or cleaning cloths in a few locations around the house. That way, when you need a quick clean-up, you won’t run into any obstacles.
Analyze your expectations
This may seem like an odd one, but it could work wonders for you. Take some time to figure out your own expectations for your home — what needs to be clean, what areas need to be organized.
Once you have identified the areas that you cannot compromise on, consider going easy on yourself in the other areas.
Do your son’s jeans need to be folded, or can you get away with putting all his jeans unfolded in his drawer to save time?
Everyone is different and has different standards for themselves. If all your time and energy is put into keeping your counters clear because that’s what is important to you, then cut yourself some slack in other areas.
There is no single right way to keep your home.
Prioritizing and getting organized is a great way to get ahead of all the tasks that are causing you stress. While at home, you want to feel relaxed, happy, and at peace with your family. While a dirty home can get in the way of that, nothing gets in the way more than your own expectations for yourself. Getting organized and learning to keep your house clean, even if you aren’t naturally good at cleaning, will feel great. However, remember to cut yourself some slack, and embrace the mess when you have to. Your family and your mental health will thank you for it.