It’s no secret that organizing can help streamline your home and make your life more efficient…but where does cleaning come in?
It’s no secret that there are a lot of benefits to organizing…but what’s the difference between cleaning and organizing?
Sometimes organizing projects can be hard to get a handle on and find that right place to start. And yet, sometimes those big organizing projects can seem easier to tackle than the simple task of keeping up with cleaning your home, can’t it?
And while organizing is important, the cleaning piece of this equation is so important, too! Think about it: Would you want to live in a dirty house? Would you want to rest your hand on your kitchen counter only to realize that you squished jelly from the day before through your fingers? I don’t think so!
There is a huge challenge inherent in cleaning, though. You see, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but as you use the things in your house – particularly in your kitchen – they have a tendency to get dirty. This is particularly true with children around!
So how do you do it? How do you start to tackle this never-ending monster of cleaning without spending every waking moment cleaning? How do you even begin to keep your house a place of relative cleanliness without losing your mind in the process?
It All Starts with Your Mindset
Your approach to cleaning all starts with your attitude and mindset about cleaning. It sounds a little crazy, I know. How do you clean with a mindset? Last I checked, no one has the power to clean things or move things just by using the power of their mind like Matilda does. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my review of the book ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl.)
You see, it’s not about cleaning things with your mind powers (although, that would be cool!). It’s not even about the ability to snap your fingers and have everything clean itself up like Mary Poppins. It’s all about your approach. If you’re determined to keep a picture-perfect house, then you’re going to be stressed out about making sure each and every thing is always in its place and every surface is vacuumed and dusted. And that’s not only going to eat up your time, but it’s going to create a fair amount of stress for you!
This brings us to the first big mindset principle:
Progress is better than perfection.
Your house does not have to be perfectly clean at all times. Do you want to know a secret? People live in your house. By definition, it will not be perfectly clean all the time – and that’s okay! While you should aim to keep your house picked up and clean, let go of that standard of perfection. Instead, work towards harmony.
But what does working towards harmony mean? It means knowing what’s most important and using the majority of your time and energy there. It means letting go of the idea of a perfectly clean picture-perfect house if you have toddlers or teenagers or children of any age. It means identifying the things that are more important to keep up with cleaning and making sure those things get done.
So, what are those things that make you feel like your house is clean? It it picking up the clutter of toys off the floor? Is it making sure the kitchen counter is wiped off before you go to bed every night? Is it making sure there are no shoes and dirty socks left strewn all over the floor? What are those few things that when you look around you, you can take a deep breath and relax, knowing that your house may not be spotless, but it does feel clean?
But how do you get it done? How do you even attempt to keep your house clean when there are other people around that just seem to be un-doing everything you’re doing? How can you even attempt to keep up with cleaning your house?
This is where the second mindset principle comes in:
Tackling things in small, consistent ways makes a big long-term impact.
While it’s fabulous to take a day and clean your house from top to bottom, let’s be realistic. How many days do you have that you can devote exclusively to cleaning? Cleaning is not your only responsibility! Let’s face it, cleaning may not be in your top 5 favorite things to do, either! (If it is, more power to you!)
So how do you do it? How do you even begin to attempt keeping your house clean? Here are some simple suggestions on things you can do in little pockets of time, whether you’re waiting for your coffee to brew or your tea kettle to boil or you just need to do something to clear your head for 2 minutes.
Quick, Simple Tasks that Help Keep Your Kitchen Clean
- Wipe down all your kitchen counters.
- Wipe off the handles of your refrigerator, oven, and microwave.
- Clear off your kitchen table: Bring all the dirty dishes to the sink and wipe down the table.
- Load the dirty dishes from the sink or the counter into the dishwasher.
- Wipe down your kitchen sink.
- Empty your dishwasher.
- Take your dishtowels to the laundry room to be washed and pull out a new set.
- Clean your microwave.
- Sweep your kitchen floor
Easy Tasks You can do in 3 minutes or Less to Keep the Paper Piles at Bay
- Open your mail and throw away all the trash (envelopes, ads, unneeded papers, etc.)
- Collect all the pens and pencils you see laying around and place them in a jar or a cup or a container.
- Gather all the papers lying around on your kitchen counters. As you collect them, throw away the unneeded papers, make a stack of your kids’ papers, and make a pile of important papers that need your attention.
Small Tasks that Make a Big Impact in Your Room
- Make your bed.
- Put away the clothes that are laying around the room.
- Put your jewelry back in your jewelry box (or the place where it belongs).
- Grab a dust cloth, give yourself a 2 minute timer and see how much you can get dusted in that time.
Necessary and Often Overlooked Tasks Around the House
- Empty all the trash cans in your house.
- Start a load of laundry. Try starting that load of towels you’ve been meaning to do. (This keeps it quick and easy – no sorting all the laundry required.)
You Do Not Have to Do It All by Yourself
My Friend, I want you to remember one very important thing: You do not have to constantly clean every inch of your house completely by yourself! You’re not the only one who lives in the house. You’re not the only one who has contributed to creating the mess. Therefore, you should not be the only one cleaning up the mess! The responsibility for cleaning up the mess should be shared by everyone who has (and is) contributing to the mess.
But that begs the question: How can you get the others in your house to help with the cleaning – particularly your children?
Here are a couple simple, practical suggestions you can start using right now:
Utilize the 10-Minute Tidy
Set your timer for 10 minutes (or 5 if you have younger children), pick a room or two of your house to work on and proceed to pick up everything that’s out of place and put it in its correct place. The object of the game is to clean up all the items that are cluttering that room before the timer beeps.
Now, depending on the size of the room or how messy the room is, you might need to adjust this a bit. If you are picking up a large room, but the mess is not bad, 10 minutes should be more than sufficient. However, if you’re picking up a room where it seems the mess has completely taken over, you may need more time.
Another option might be to use the 10-Minute Tidy and focus specifically on a few things. For example, if your living room has been overtaken by LEGOs, toys, pillows, and all kinds of other things, you could use the 10-Minute Tidy to pick up everything BUT the LEGOs, then focus on the LEGOs at another time.
Remember, the 10-Minute Tidy is a tool you can use. Customize it and make it work for you and your family.
Now, this sounds complicated, but it’s really not! The big idea is to take each task to its completion before moving on. This works best when everyone in the house begins utilizing this concept.
Now, before you get overwhelmed by this idea, let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about:
- When your child comes in from playing outside and takes off their shoes and socks, don’t let the socks and shoes stay in the middle of the living room floor. Have your child pick up their shoes and socks, drop the dirty socks in the laundry hamper and place their shoes where they belong.
- When someone washes their hands and dries them with a towel, don’t just leave the towel wherever it lands (because it inevitably lands on the floor!). Place the towel back where it belongs, whether that be a hook, hanging over the oven door, folded on the counter, or wherever the towel is kept.
- When your child makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, don’t let them leave all the ingredients out on the counter and walk away. Teach them to put the jars of peanut butter and jelly back where they belong and wipe off the counter so it’s not sticky for the next person who comes along.
- When someone gets out the vacuum cleaner and vacuums a room of the house, don’t simply vacuum and then leave the vacuum cleaner sitting in the middle of the room. Wind up the cord and put the vacuum cleaner away.
- When your child is through playing a certain thing, whether it be a game of Candy Land or building a train track or playing with dolls, have them pick up and put away what they were playing with before moving on to the next thing.
You see? These are such crazy simple things. Things that take an extra 15 seconds to 2 minutes (if you’re moving slow) when you do them right then and there to bring your task to its completion. Yet, when these things are not done in the moment, they can pile up and create clutter making you feel like your house is a mess and there’s no way to get on top of the task of cleaning.
Never underestimate the power of help or the power of teaching your children skills that will serve others well!
Don’t Get Lost! Keep It Simple!
It is so easy to read a blog post like this and think: “These are great ideas! But there’s no way that I could do all of this! Are you kidding? I can’t even remember the last time I thought about cleaning the inside of my microwave, let alone actually cleaned it!”
My Friend, don’t get overwhelmed! Don’t get lost in a list!
The tips, ideas, and suggestions found here are not meant to discourage you and give you an impossible standard that you feel like you can never live up to. They are here to give you ideas. To get you thinking about cleaning in a different way.
Yes, there’s a lot of suggestions here, but if there’s one thing that I want you to remember, it’s this: Tackling things in small, consistent ways makes a big long-term impact.
Did you catch that? Tackling things in small, consistent ways makes a big long-term impact.
You can do this! Try picking 1 or 2 ideas to focus on and implement in your day and start there. Remember, it’s not the big, sweeping, overhaul changes that make the biggest long-term impact in your life (or in how clean your house is!).
It’s all about small, consistent steps taken over time that bring you closer to your goal bit by bit.
It’s all about the small changes you make and can continue to keep up with.
It’s all about the progress in the process, not about perfection!
Are you looking for a way to not only clean, but organize some tricky spots in your house? I’m talking about your junk drawer, your bathroom cupboards, even your jewelry! I’ve got you covered, my Friend! I created a guide that will walk you step by step through how to organize 5 of those tricky spots so you can create organization in a place where it felt chaotic. Claim your guide right now by telling me what email to send it to in the form below. You’ve got nothing to lose…other than chaos and overwhelm!
- Roald Dahl: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
- 5 Easy Steps to Pick Up Your Room Quickly
- 5 Simple Steps to Take You from Scattered to Organized
- How to Organize the Mess: A Step by Step Guide
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.