As a mom of two, living in a huge four-bedroom house with a family of eight, I’m constantly striving to find out ways in which I have to put the least of efforts and time to keep my house organized, clean and sane!
I won’t say I have cracked it completely but I have surely tried my best to do the same! Also, my house is not perfectly organized, mess-free or clean at all times of the day, but yes, it looks sane enough for fellow moms visiting us to get surprised and ask me, “How do you manage to keep your house so clean and organized?”
Here are a few of my observations, conclusions, tips, ways, tricks or whatever-you-would-like-to-call-them to keep your house clean if you have kids around…
- 1. Nip it in the bud: I try my best to promptly put back in place whatever I pick or use. This way, I’m effectively able to nip the mess in the bud. I try not to schedule room-tidying activity for later hours of the day or for when I’m done with all house chores. I used to, earlier and it didn’t work out well! I learnt that if you procrastinate, all the mess will pile up in such a terrible way that it will scare you to death to even just ‘think’ about it.
So, I try my best to not let the lazy soul inside me take over. If it does, I remind myself of the extra time that I’ll have to put in later to clear the mess; the time that I can save and spend with my kids or spouse. This surely works!
- 2. Let kids help: I try to involve my kids in cleaning chores as often as I can. Ask me why! Because…
-They get an opportunity to learn household chores.
-They learn to shoulder responsibilities.
-My load gets shared – at least to a certain extent!
-They develop a habit of cleaning messes every time they make them.
-I and my child get to spend time doing a productive activity together.
- 3. A place for everything and everything in its place: I constantly strive to designate and have successfully designated a place for each and every small thing in my house. It’s best to not let the kitchen towels be on the kitchen counter one day and in the cupboard or on the rail the other day. Designated places also make it quicker and easier to clean messes. The moment I look at something I know that it is not in its actual place and I also know where exactly it is supposed to be.
- 4. Toys Trouble: Toys are the scariest kind of clutter in a house where kids reside. The best way to nail this one is to pick baskets or bins for your kids’ room and organize toys with their help. For my kids, we have a separate basket for cars, one for figurines, another one for blocks and a different one for animals and so on. So when my kids want to play, only a particular basket of their choice comes off the shelf and when they are done playing with it or want a change, I ask them to put back the first one and only then is the other toy basket handed over to them. This saves a lot of time that I would have to otherwise spend winding up their ocean of toys.
- 5. Make rules: Let not your kids blame you for being asked to tidy up all the time. Make rules and justify your behaviour very conveniently! Let the kids blame the rules or the rule chart! Here are a few real examples of the rules I’ve made for my kids:
-Only one toy basket comes off the shelf at a time.
-You clear the mess you’ve made and I’ll clear the ones I made.
-Toys don’t walk out of our room. They stay inside our room and if found out of territory – they’ll be sent back to the toy shop!
-Put your water bottle, school bag etc. in place after coming back from school. If you don’t put it back, no one else will either.
Making such rules enables children to get disciplined even at a tender age.
- 6. Set challenges: I throw moderately difficult challenges at my kids (and even myself) like “I challenge you to not leave or keep anything on the side table for another 24 hours. If you fail at this, you will have to forgo your screen time for 24 hours!” Trust me, it has worked every single time till now and it actually seems to be a game to the kids! Of course, there are times when I refresh the same challenge every day, but it still keeps the effectiveness, enthusiasm and excitement intact.
- 7. Books! Books! Books!: It’s rare to find a household devoid of kids’ books if there are little ones in the house. Since the time my kids were just babies, I bought books for them or received books as gifts frequently! It is an arduous task to organize and maintain books. At first sight, it all looks very simple as it is just sorting them in increasing order of size and stacking them up in the allocated shelf. But it’s Not. Just. That. If you really want your kids to develop good reading habits, you must organize their bookshelf in such a way that any and every book is accessible for them to pick and read daily whenever needed. To crack this one, I have segregated and arranged my kids’ books into 3 categories and shelves respectively:
- Activity books
- Books which need parental assistance for them to read
At meal times every day, I pick and read out a book of my child’s choice. After we’re done, he knows that he’s supposed to put it back on shelf no.1, 2 or 3 accordingly. This exposes my kids to a variety of books and not the same ones over and over again. This way kids learn to appropriately care for books by segregating and putting them back in place.
- 8. Assign roles: I have assigned roles to people in my household for many tasks. For example, my son knows that clearing up toys’ mess is his job, folding the blankets after getting up in the morning is my husband’s and so on. Assigning roles to people around me makes me manage chores better and also narrows the scope of messes piling up.
- 9. Declutter: I’m sure you waited for the most patent and crystal-clear trick of ‘decluttering’ until now. Well, there’s no way I could miss it! Declutter your house and your kids’ stuff as much as possible. This will plainly and effectively result in fewer messes. The thumb rule is traditional and straightforward: ‘The lesser, the better!”
- 10. Perfect before bed: No matter what time you hit the bed, there’s one golden rule you got to follow!
“Tidy your place and make it spick and span before calling it a day.”
For me, my mom is the most organized person I know of and every night before going to bed, I pretend as if she’s coming over the next morning and the house needs to be perfect according to her standards! There’s one motivating factor that we all got to look for! That does the trick in pushing you to tidy your room even if you are feeling dead tired. Also, ‘just-before-going-to-bed’ is the best time to leisurely tidy up as the ‘mess-creators’ aka kids are asleep!
I might have or might not have cracked all the cleaning tricks that you should know if you have kids at home, but there’s definitely one that I have cracked and that is:
To have an iron will and determination to keep your house clean and organised.
If you have this, rest everything will follow on its own!