Keeping a house of order can feel like a mission of futility if not down right improbable. But it is not impossible. I have 5 kids and keeping my house tidy is a chore. But, I know many other women who have just as many kids as me, even more and they keep a clean house. I, of course, am not too proud to ask for tips on house cleaning. Here are some methods that I learned from friends with clean homes.
Zones: Sister D had 5 kids, homeschooled and had a clean house. How? She gave every able bodied member of the family a zone. A zone is an area or a specific chore. That zone is their responsibility. So if you give a child the Den zone, at a specified time of day, they must either clean the zone OR tell the other members of the family to come get their stuff out of their zone. Items left in the zone are removed and put in a box for holding. In order to get the items out of the box, the offender must do something or pay something. When a zone is a child’s responsibility then the child is the one nagging another member of the fam, not you, the mother. Rotate zones weekly or biweekly. As part of a FHE activity, SHOW your kids what it means to “clean the bathroom.” Be specific. For instance, those with the “upstairs bathroom zone” are expected to “fold and put up towels, wiped down counter, sink and toilet, every day, and put dirty rags in hamper and pick up any clothes on floor and put into hamper. On Saturdays, scrub inside of toilet, and clean mirror, bring hamper contents to laundry room.” See? Be specific. Show them what “wiping down counter” means.
Clean up After Yourselves: Sister P had 5 or 6 kids, worked, had her kids in sports, and had a huge, incredibly clean house. I asked Sister P how her house stayed so clean and she said matter of factly, “we clean up after ourselves.” Make this a thing. Start young. Shoes, backpacks and jackets don’t come off in front of the door-they have a home, used drinking glasses get rinsed a placed a a holding spot or they get put in the dishwasher….etc. Kids hang up clothes and put away toys. Tell kids where things go. Have a plan.
Create logical spots for thing to go. Telling a kid to “clean your room” is not helpful. SHOW them once or twice what you think that means. Do they know where things belong? If they have a bunch of books but no shelves then tell them where you expect the books to live. Should they hang their clothes or folk and put away their clothes in drawers? Where do shoes go when they aren’t on the feet? Right? If your husband walks in the door and wants to deposit his keys, phone, change on the table, instead have a drawer or a decorative basket there ready for him. If shoes must come off at the door, then is there a basket or shelf for them to go?
Don’t acquire or keep stuff:
- Food: Other than food storage, don’t “stock up” on stuff. Millions of folks credit card’s are maxed out because of the lie of “stocking up.” You don’t ever save money by spending money. Food storage should be performed methodically and with a plan. Simply buying tons of food and sticking it places where you couldn’t find it if the zombies do come, is not smart. There are many smart procedures to acquire food storage. We often approach food storage impulsively and fearfully….like after a conference talk about preparedness…when you go out the next Monday and buy up a bunch of spaghetti-Os and salt and hard wheat….(not smart) Use a plan. I’ve listed some good websites below. And when it comes to meals, instead of stocking up, make menus and lists and then stick to them. You are more likely to save money and space buying as you go, using the sale ads from the grocery store to determine your menu AND pulling the occasional item from food storage as part of normal rotation. Folks who “stock up” on chicken breasts and store them in the freezer are more likely than not to have to throw out freezer burnt chicken and still nothing to eat in the house.
- Stuff: If you have unlimited space, time and organization skills then this doesn’t apply to you, go ahead and be a hoarder. But for most of us with limited space, limited time and limited organization skills, there are rules pertaining to stuff. Unless you are a professional eBayer, don’t keep crap around thinking you are going to eBay it because it rarely happens. Don’t buy stuff for the sake of buying and don’t keep stuff around. Learn to let go. Beware of keeping clothes as hand me downs. If your boys or girls are more than 4 or 5 years apart, don’t bother saving clothes. Clothes do not store well past a few years. Cotton clothes in hot attics will shrink, and polyester breaks down. Humidity destroys everything and cold makes fibers brittle. On top of that kids body types might not be the same. You would do better to give it all to charity and then buy it as needed from thrift stores or garage sales. Or, if you are in a friendly ward, try to foster a clothing trading network. Most wards I’ve been in have mothers who are eager to share clothing and eager to accept clothing. If you have heirloom or nostalgic items, put them immediately into shadow boxes or other storage containers. Better yet use them. Grandma’s egg beater is best used than kept in a box of memorabilia. And those t-shirts from your kids LaCrosse and Baseball teams can go quickly into t-shirt quilts or pillows. Books are another clutter maker. Books are cheap now. Let them go. No need to keep the board books. Buy them back by the lot on eBay or at the thrift store, when you become a grandma.
- Budget: Don’t troll Amazon.com. Period.
Finish Projects: If you are a Mormon and a little ADD like me, then you have tons of half finished craft and sewing projects sitting around. Just face up to this fact and try to organize different projects into rubbermaid bins and stick them out of the way. If you don’t complete them in 2 years, give them to other ladies. A good super-Saturday project might be to have all the ladies bring their unfinished projects and have other ladies help them finish. My crosstitch stocking for my husband got tossed out after 13 years of marriage. I bought him one at the store. It works great.
Be the maid: My husband got me a temporary maid after the birth of one of my children and once when our house was for sale. I learned more about cleaning a house from those women than any other source. They could completely clean my house in 3 hours. I watched and wrote down how they did it. Here is the procedure.How to Clean Your
FOOD STORAGE LINKS: