A few weeks ago my husband and I were picking up the house after the kids had gone to bed. As he was finishing up he noted, “we’ve really been keeping the house a lot cleaner these days – feels good.”
He’s right. We have been doing a much better job of keeping our house clean since we moved into a new space almost eighteen months ago. And it does feel good.
Why were we so messy in the first place?
I don’t exactly know why we had a tendency toward messiness.
We were both raised in incredibly clean homes. Some may say perfectly clean homes. Always.
Growing up, I truly have no memory of a mess in my home that wasn’t of my own making. My mother lovingly showed me how to tidy up, organize, and deep clean every square inch of my childhood home on a regular basis. We never had piles anywhere, and I was expected to keep my room clean and my bed made.
My husband grew up the same way. He had weekly cleaning chores and his mother taught him to shine a shower and scrub a toilet so well he could probably clean bathrooms professionally.
But we are different people than our parents and we learned to live with a little more disorder in our lives. We’ve never been filthy by any stretch of the imagination, but our house has always had the propensity to get overwhelmingly messy fairly quickly.
Truth is, I’ve been a mess maker since birth. Maybe it’s my personal form of rebellion?
What has changed? Cleaning tips
We didn’t hire a cleaning service. There’s certainly no shame in doing so, but it’s not a great fit for our family budget right now.
Truthfully, it was our mindset that had to change. We realized it’s exhausting to always have to clean up giant messes. Spending Saturday mornings doing every piece of laundry, and/or completely reorganizing every toy in the playroom stinks. And doing those big things makes it hard to keep up on routine maintenance cleaning like vacuuming and dusting.
Yes, we moved and our space is bigger. And yes, that makes a difference.
Also, our kids are older – for the most part. We only have one toddler following behind us as we clean. undoing all of our hard work. This makes a significant difference.
The biggest and most important difference we made, however, is realizing that we just like living in a clean house and that we’d rather do a little each day instead of giant cleaning sessions periodically.
What am I doing differently?
I’m making my bed every day. Yep, my mom was right. A made bed is the tone-setter of a clean house.
I’ve come to terms with my laundry situation. I wash, dry, and fold a load every other day. The kids put away their own laundry.
I’ve stopped thinking that my kids need a playroom. We still have a billion toys. I have three baskets in the living room for the toddler. The rest of the toys are lovingly cared for in a child’s bedroom or packed in the storeroom for periodic rotation.
I bribe my kids. When my kids ask for a playdate or to play a game or watch a movie I say, “how does your room look?” and they roll their eyes and give their space a quick clean so they can get what they want.
I don’t do dishes. My husband and oldest daughter do the majority of the dishes daily. And I don’t feel guilty about that change.
I box up my clutter. Instead of piles everywhere, I have a series of unfancy cardboard boxes with stickies for labels in my closet. I throw mail, bills, and school papers into them as they arrive.
I have my own little mess maker to manage. My youngest daughter gives me a run for my money when it comes to messes. It’s hard to set a good example for cleanliness if I’m not practicing what I preach.