Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2 Simple Rules to Keep Your House Clean

As I return from my insane-o busy December, I am back to my regular housekeeping routine. My routine is very simple, and I follow 2 rules:
1. A place for everything, and everything in it's place.
2. Clean as you go, or do it in small chunks.

That's it. That is how we keep our house manageable. Feel free to read on and see my simple chore chart, or stop now and keep it simple.

I feel strongly about #1, because if you do not have a home for every single item in your house, how can you expect your children (or spouse) to help keep the house in order? Every toy, every piece of paper, every do-dad in my house has a designated home. It works.

#2 is pretty important as well. I recently had Ariana ask a friend if she could come play on Saturday. The friends mom replied, "No, Saturday is our family cleaning day. We spend all day cleaning up our house because it becomes so trashed during the week. I would not even let guests come to my house during the week."

Ok, 2 issues there... how sad is it that you are embarrassed to have friends in your house 6 out of 7 days... and also, who the hell wants to spend a whole 'family' cleaning? Surely, there has to be much better things to do with your children on a Saturday.

This is where cleaning as you go, or cleaning in small chunks works very well. Here is my personal chore chart for the week: First off, I made the chart cute so that I can display it in a prominent spot in my kitchen. This way I publicly hold myself accountable to finish my chores... for fear of my 10 year old harassing me and saying, "Mom, you didn't mop this floor today like your chart says!"

Next, I framed it behind a glass frame so that I can check things off each week with a dry erase marker and reuse the chart over and over.

You will notice I also noted what activities we have each day of the week. This way I am not overloading myself with chores when I might have to go to dance class for 2 hours that day.

See how simple the chores are for each day? If I simply pick 2-3 in a day, I know I can complete them without stressing and the house will stay generally clean. I like to do them first thing at 8am and mark them off my chart. Then I do not have it in the back of my mind for the rest of the day.

Of course, the chart does not include the daily must-do's: dishes, fixing dinner, laundry, sweep Cheerio's off kitchen floor at least 3 times a day, vacuum Goldfish from living room carpet at least twice a day... you know, the usuals.

But these are also done on an as-you-go, small chunk method. This is done by my whole family. I never tell my girls, "Go clean your room." That is way too overwhelming at any age. I do say, "Go pick up 5 toys and put them in their home." Or we try very hard to have them put away one mess before moving on to the next. "You want to play Little People? Put your Legos away first." This is also where everything having a place works very well. They know exactly where the toys they need to put away go. (I will post some photos of my "places" soon.)

Colby and I work on the same principles. If we are going upstairs to change into pj's and there is a pile of clothes to take upstairs, we do it. If we are waiting for a bagel to toast, we throw in a load of laundry.

It is so, SO, much easier to take things on in smaller chunks than to look at a destroyed house one day and wonder where to start. This does take participation from the whole family though. If I was trying to constantly clean up after 5 people, with no help, I could never accomplish it in small chunks. But with everybody chipping in (heck, our 2 year old is the best one for picking up her own toys and putting them away or lining up her boots at the door!) it can be done, and we can live comfortably and we can be ready for guests to pop in at anytime.

So... that's it. 2 simple rules to keep my house manageable.

*The graphic I used for the chart is actually from a recipe card template I purchased for my Christmas recipes. Check out Two Peas in a Bucket, she has some fantastic graphics!


  1. I completely agree with both of your rules, and you make some really great points here. Teaching your kids to take responsibility for their own messes is also SO important and is a LIFE SKILL on so many levels!

  2. Storage is a huge issue in my house. We have no place to put anything. At the end of this month my in-laws move out of our basement and I ahve never been more excited. My house will be able to stay clean because I will have room to organize things downstairs! You are right though. It is so much more work to do it all at once than it is to do it in small chunks.


    We do pretty much the same thing as you do. We make a point to do something every day. And, of course there are things we do on a daily basis. Each night the dishes are done, laundry is washed/folded/put away, toys are picked up, and the floors are swept if they need it. Then, I take 2 hours, first thing Saturday morning and scrub down the kitchen & bathroom and it's done.

    No longer am I embarrassed if people stop by unexpected. And, we have a list of larger projects that the Hubs & I hope of complete over the course of the year. :)

  4. Dude. Your house is way cleaner than mine!
    While I adhere strictly to rule #1, I only follow #2 in theory. I HATE cleaning days. We had Saturday chores and it SUCKED. But my husband would rather do the whole house in one long sweep and it drives. me. crazy.
    I think I'll try to implement rule #2 a little better (I like your list) and see if I can keep things a little nicer!

  5. What a great idea!

    My issue with the 2-3 things everyday is that it wouldn't get started until about 7pm...then nothing else would get done. So, most of the time, it's the weekend.

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this I am stealing it!! I am trying hard to get myself organized so I am not so overwhelmed - i think this might help (hopefully!!)