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In the last year, I have made so much progress towards keeping my home under control. I am really proud of myself. Even with the addition of a new baby 6 months ago, my home has been clean more consistently than it was before children. There have been so many moments when I have been getting ready for guests when I have just stopped to appreciate how I am not panic cleaning at the last minute. It is a wonderful feeling. I’m happier, my husband is happier, and our home is functioning so much better. So, what am I doing differently to keep my house in order? Keep reading to find out.
This journey began after my first son was born. Keeping a clean house was always a bit of a struggle, but after having my son it seemed like an impossible task. My mom happened to stumble upon Dana K. White from A Slob Comes Clean and told me about her. I listened to a couple of her podcasts and then bought her book* (check your local library). It was this book that started this journey for me.
The first take away and the biggest impact came from her book/method.
Run the dishwasher every night.
Yes, every night. Dana says. Even if it is not full. Even if you are tired. Even if you don’t feel like it. Treat it like brushing your teeth.
Start here and just do this until you create a habit. There is no shortcut or secret. You just have to do it. And do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And forever. Acceptance (Resignation?) is the first step.
There is no rule as to when you have to unload or load your dishwasher. Find a time that seems to work best with your routine and try to do it around the same time every day. However, if you don’t get it done when “you’re supposed to” doesn’t mean you skip for the day. (More about routine later)
Before long, you realize it only takes 15-20 minutes to clean your kitchen (not just load the dishwasher) before bed and the difference it makes is worth it. It becomes a habit that you don’t even think about anymore. There is no decision. You just do it.
Add cleaning the kitchen floor.
Once you are doing your dishes without thinking about it, add cleaning the floor. Dana would say sweep, but if you have toddlers you know that sweeping just doesn’t cut it under a high chair or booster seat. I would say clean under the children after every meal or at least a couple of times a day as needed/possible.
I know what you are thinking. Twice a day? Is she crazy? I would have said the same thing 6 months ago. Hear me out.
My mom gave me a vacuum mop for my 30th birthday. It was exactly what I wanted. Nothing says 30 like cleaning products, amiright?
What is a vacuum mop, you say? Just that. A vacuum and mop combo. There is a disposable mop pad like a Swiffer that has a compartment that catches everything the vacuum picks up. It also sprays a cleaning solution. While I wish it were reusable, it is pretty nice that all the mess is contained and can be easily dropped in the trash. It has a little release thing and you don’t have to touch it at all. The mopping solution and the disposable pads are affordable and worth it overall for the benefit of consistently clean floors.
This wonderful invention allows you to mop up all the crumbs and stickiness in one very quick step. It is AMAZING!
It does not replace the need for the occasional (rare) real mopping, but it has allowed me to keep my floors clean with minimal effort and make mopping so much easier.
Pro Tip: The pads are disposable, but not one-time use. I use one for a couple of days before I change it out.
The one I have is made by Shark* and I am not sure if anyone else makes them. While this is an affiliate link for Amazon, this is not a sponsored post. I just really love this product and it has done absolute wonders for our home.
Next up is a new thing for me. I have been doing it for the past few months and I am really happy with this system. This is an organizational system, not a cleaning hack.
Keep a planner in a prominent place in your kitchen where you will look at it every day.
Yes, a paper planner. This tip was gleaned from Rosemarie Groner in a talk she did for Get Organized HQ. Here is a blog post she wrote on the same topic.
I use this planner to write down any appointments, get-togethers, birthdays, etc. and, as she suggests, go back and include any action items (such as buying a birthday gift) in my planner in advance of the day. It is not used to make a detailed to-do list for the day.
This has helped me stay on top of things and mitigate the mom brain. I also use pages in it to make a running grocery list, so any time I notice I need something I can quickly add it to a list that doesn’t get lost. I *usually* remember to take a picture on Wednesday mornings before leaving for my bible study/errand day.
Next up, laundry.
Laundry was hard for me to get under control. Dana suggests having a laundry day where you do all your laundry from the week together. I like this idea in theory and I can wash all of the laundry in a day… folding is another story. She recommends folding right out of the dryer, but that is just not possible for me. With two children two and under, folding five or more loads of laundry at a time is close to impossible. I have been experimenting and think I may have finally found a solution that works for me.
I try to do a load of laundry every day. Wash. Dry. Put away. This keeps the loads smaller and easier to actually get put away. However, there are days that this doesn’t happen and it doesn’t help get sheets and towels washed. So, I also do a laundry day to catch up and wash gentles, sheets, towels, and anything else lingering.
When it comes to folding laundry, I have discovered a few things too.
Hanging the majority of my clothes has made getting clothes put away easier. When I go to fold, I go to my closet and pull out empty hangers, hang my clothes on the hangers as they come out of the basket, and then hang them in the closet when I am finished.
Another game-changer is folding clothes standing between my bed and my dresser. Instead of making piles of socks, underwear, and pajamas, I immediately put them away. I also keep cloth napkins in a basket on the table. I will bring that basket to where I am folding and put the napkins right in the basket as I fold them. Apply this to your situation by folding the laundry wherever the majority of that load will need to be put away. Putting things away as you fold means that even if (more like when) you get interrupted you have made real progress.
Folding baby and toddler clothes and putting them away has been a constant source of stress. Especially since they usually end up getting unfolded within seconds anyway. Recently, I learned something from Dawn at The Minimal Mom. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLD YOUR CHILDREN’S CLOTHES! Did you know that was allowed? I didn’t. I stopped folding my boys’ clothes and nothing bad has happened yet. In fact, now my two-year-old puts his clothes away with direction (but needs less and less every time). To make this easier, I have a hamper for each child and wash their clothes separately to keep loads small and so I don’t have to sort them before my two year old puts his away.
Pro Tip: Allow yourself guilt-free Netflix time while you do laundry.
Well, now you know what has been working for me. I hope you can apply some of these methods to your cleaning routine to make your home a more peaceful place.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
Concentrate on one thing at a time. Make it a habit before you move on to the next thing.
If you are anything like me, you have probably written out an elaborate cleaning schedule for yourself multiple times and vowed to keep it up, but since you are reading this I am going to venture a guess that you didn’t stick to it and continue to panic clean as needed. Just me?
Small incremental change is key. Small changes over time lead to big results. I think I heard this in the book Atomic Habits* that I have been listening to while I work around the house this last week. I never would have thought that loading the dishwasher every night before bed would be as much of a habit for me as brushing my teeth, but it is now. I have built on this one small habit and it has led to my home being under control (not perfect, but not a source of stress).
Routines aren’t just good for toddlers…
Don’t get me wrong, I do not live by a strict schedule, but I have noticed that my days go better when there is a general flow to them. When my children know what to expect things tend to go more smoothly.
I’m talking very fluid here. The key features are:
1.) I make it a goal to unload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry before lunch.
2.) Clean up as much as I can after each meal.
3.) Put dishes in the dishwasher as I cook dinner.
4.) Before I go to sleep I start the dishwasher and dry any laundry that didn’t get switched during the day.
What you listen to/watch/read is what you think about and therefore what you do…
I’ve found that listening to podcasts about cleaning, decluttering, and organizing help me find the motivation to keep working on my home. Likewise, listening to finance podcasts helps me be more conscious of my spending and financial goals. This works on anything you want to improve. I have learned to listen to podcasts about whatever I want to work on in my life. It helps me stay focused and motivated.
My house is far from perfect, but it is under control. I am adding in some new layers to my cleaning “routine” and once I “level up” I will write a Part 2.
What are your biggest tips for keeping your home under control with littles?