RaisingRices Podcast Episode #10: Keeping your house clean WHILE living in it!
10 Helpful Tips and Tricks
Or feel free to read long if you can listen below:
KEEPING THE HOUSE CLEAN WHILE LIVING IN IT!
Currently living in my blessed home is my husband and I, our 4 kiddos, and 2 dogs. I have always had a passion for clean homes but never a desire to clean them myself haha.
During this season of life called motherhood, I have realized and learned a lot of things about myself. I have come to discover, in regards to cleaning, what can make or break a day for me. To put it simply I have come to learn that when chaos ensues have a manageable home provides me with the resources to overcome.
Let me tell you a story: our church family does a church campout every summer that my in laws have been in charge of for years. Our family goes every year, well expect the year I was literally in labor during campout with my daughter. This past year we had just delivered our fourth sweetie, he was born 3 weeks prior to campout. And yes, as you may have guessed we still attended campout. With of course permission from my midwife and our pediatrician. We are blessed to be able to use my in laws tent trailer which is so nice. However, with 4 kiddos and a newborn at that, camping can become interesting. I do not have a high tolerance for chaos, which might sound funny since I have so many kids. But while we were there for 5 days camping, most of the time went very smoothly, my husband is amazing and loves being super active with the kids. Before we went we had decided my main attention would go to the baby and his to the olders. This was as I mentioned a church campout so lots of friends and family around as well. Ok have a painted the setting, now the conflict came when there was a adult volleyball game and Darren was asked to go play. I said of course, since he provided me with breaks for activities he needed some activities as well. During this time however the chaos began, you know the perfect storm, filled with poopy diapers, hungry baby, scraps and boo-boos, and dirt just dirt everywhere! I remember the moment Darren got back all I wanted him to do was to manage the chaos by picking up all the toys scattered around the campsite and putting order to our things. A funny response perhaps but after he created order I was calmed and settled.
The same results I find at home, if my home is in a manageable order I feel calmed, centered and successful. Did you hear I didn’t say spotless, deep cleaned, and without dog hair, (although that would be nice, it is not reasonable to expect that).
So here are my TOP TEN TIPS for how to keep the house clean WHILE living in it:
1: Do the Dishes before bed!
Sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to do the dishes before you go to bed, but I promise you that when you wake up in the morning you WONT be sad you did it! When I wake up to a cleaned kitchen I feel more refreshed, I have more motivation to make breakfast, and here is the kicker I have MORE motivation to make sure the kitchen STAYS clean after breakfast! Rhythms I have gotten into are putting all the dishes in the dishwasher before bed and unload them in the morning WHILE the breakfast is being made, and this is important because if you dishwasher is clear and ready to be filled AFTER breakfast then you have again more motivation to put the dirty dishes away.
2: Clear off the table before bed!
I don’t know about you guys but in my house the table is the place where everything gets collected. My daughters coloring sheets she wanted to daddy, my sons train set he sets up there so the baby doesn’t get it, all the papers that are important from the day, or anything we don’t want to run the risk of the dogs getting.
3: Have the kids clean up the toys multiple times a day.
I operate in this controlled chaos mentally, and one of the ways I like to control the chaos that is TOYS in my house is by have the kids have certain times everyday where ALL the toys are cleaned up and put away. For our household the times are before every meal, bed time and quiet time. This is how it plays out: while I am preparing the meal the kids get to have free reign of playing with the toys in our living room. When I estimate I am about ten minutes until finished, I will get them the we have 2 more minutes of play time then it will be clean up time. (And yes I sing the clean up song, yes to encourage me not to get frustrated but to be light at reminding it is clean up time and because my 3 year old son sings along and it just makes me so happy to hear him sing.) During the last 8 minutes of cook time, I let the kids know it is time to clean up. They normally start to clean up the toys, excited about eating and then when finished come and sit at the table OR the older kiddos come and help me bring items to the table such as the food, silverware, napkins, etc. They also check their cups are full of water because once momma sits down to eat they can not ask for more things until they see an adult getting up and then at that time they can ask. I have gotten smarter and now place a pitcher of water on the table too for refills.
As a reminder my kids are YOUNG, in fact the oldest is 4! SO when I provide 8 minutes of clean time you may have guessed that is not always a successful clean up time, due to their age. I wanted to briefly touch on some strategies of things we have implemented to help support their clean up time. When we are first training the youngest of the littles we do it when both mom and dad are present, usually at dinner time where mom is finishing the meal and dad is coaching, guiding and encouraging what it looks like to help clean up. This begins very young, and the older siblings love to “help” teach their sibling as well. Which is great when there is only one adult around. We also have 2 LARGE bins in our living room that have lids, and basically ALL the toys in the living room live IN the bins. This is great for a number of reasons, the 2 most important is, it is easy to throw the toys in and HAS A LID, yes we close that lid at the end and I can no longer see any of the toys! That is my favorite part. The last strategy I would like to mention that can help my kids clean up is when on occasion I play a clean up game with them. (Please note I don’t and truly can not play a clean up game every time, which in hindsight has made the game time more motivating and exciting. I incorporate I SPY into the game, by saying I spy something blue and everyone picks up something blue, or at the end of clean up time if they have missed some toys under the chairs or hidden from the obvious toddler eyesight, I will use I spy to help them find it. I spy has been our most successful clean up game, but we have do red light/green light, simon says, and counting game: giving a number and having them pick up that mean in their hand then putting it away and giving a new number.
Will this work for everyone, probably not, and how do I know? Because it doesn’t work for us 100% of the time either, BUT I have to tell you there is something about sitting down to a meal and looking out from the dinning room into the living room and seeing: CLEAN. Just saying that out loud makes me breath in and out and feel … peace.
4: Don’t get out all the toys at once.
Number 4 and number 3 really work well together! Not getting out ALL the toys in our entire house at once provides so much more ease cleaning up when it is time, AND it actually allows the kids to actually feel like they are not playing with the same toys all day, which in turn brings more creativity and excitement to the “new” toys. Our house has three stories, now don’t get too excited for me thinking I have a large home, it is a beautiful God gifted home to us, but it is Tri-Leveled home, a small family room and laundry room on the bottom, the middle level has the front door, living room, kitchen and dinning room, and up stairs the 3 bedrooms, and bathroom. I really do love my house BUT on every level of the home we have TOYS, TOYS, TOYS! So I created a rule that we don’t get all the toys out at once, in fact we only play on one level at a time. And yes that will probably change when they get bigger but for now it helps me manage ALL the TOYS!
5: Include the kids with daily responsibilities.
In the Rice family we have created daily responsibilities for each of the kids. Currently they have as many responsibilities as their age. What are responsibilities? They are like chores, I just liked the word responsibilities better. I like the idea of the kids growing up in a teamwork environment where we are all responsible for where we live. Now it is super exciting to think about the different things older kids can to as part of the team but can be a little harder for younger age kids so let me throw out a few responsibilities my kiddos do with their current ages:
My 4 year old: Helps unload the dishes, feed the dogs, help fold laundry, put her own clothes away.
My 3 year old: Puts away the cleaned silverware, match socks, help with the recycling.
My almost 2 year old: is the partner to the 3 or 4 year old on their responsibilities to help and learn. He also does a few things on his own like, checking under the couch or ottoman for toys, bring pile boxes to their correct locations. If I may quickly tell you about this pile boxes they have become a great helping tool to decluttering, what we do is when we are doing a quick declutter of a room, like the living room we put piles in containers (could be anything from boxes, bags, laundry baskets etc.) and it removes things that just collect in our main living spaces and return them to the rooms they belong in. When we do the piles or boxes it removes so much, returns it to its home, and creates a ease to future clean ups.
We have different responsibilities on different days, it keeps it interesting and allows them to learn different skills.
6: Set up a weekly schedule to help with weekly, monthly, and daily cleaning
This can seem like a daunting task to start especially laying out all the cleaning projects that need to be done on the daily, weekly, and monthly. But the question remains true: “How do you eat an elephant?” yes, “one bite at a time.” It may feel like an elephant size task to accomplish all the cleaning projects that a home requires but when it is in bite size manageable pieces it becomes do-able. Words of wisdom I tell myself when it comes to the schedule: MAKE IT MANAGBALE!!! And Split it up! For my daily task I consider things like: dishes, make bed, wipe down counters and table, and a 15 minute clean up, then once a week I try to do things like: Vacuum, mop, bathrooms (not including the shower), wipe down hand rails. Then looking at monthly cleaning projects like: going through toys and books, cobwebs, wipe down cabinets etc.
Again don’t be intimidated or exasperate at the to do list and remember one bite at a time. While I am reminding myself this as well!
7: Have a 15 minute clean up PARTY!
I try to do a 15 minute family clean up PARTY each day! Hear the word PARTY! And dwell on that theme. We want to make this 15 minutes worthwhile in that things get done but also something not to be dreaded, because it is amazing what 15 minutes can do with everyone working hard and invested. This can even work with young kids and I am going to explain how: we try in our Rice household to hold a 15 minute clean up party daily, (it doesn’t always happen but you got to have goals right.) During this party we literally turn on super up beat music, give every kid a wipe or a goal, just a few days ago I have all the kids a wet rag and we turned the music up and dance/cleaned the dinning room wooden chairs. While I will admit that young kids have toddler eyes and don’t see all the mess on the chair but when we are establishing a culture of the family unit having responsibility for the home, then the family unit in a team spirit should do it together. It reminds me of a story I heard of a mom letting her daughter make her bed from an early age. The mom would let the daughter make the bed to her ability level, giving an occasional guidance or suggestions but ultimately it was up to the daughter. She showed a picture of the bed at age 4 and then again at age 5, it was night a day. The first bed, blankets were thrown on, you could see the attempt made, fast forward a year, the bed blankets where tucked in, the dolls arranged, and a complete 180 of the year before. There is something to be said for know the starting line is not the finish line, and we all have to start somewhere.
Have fun with this PARTY time, whether that includes some dancing, or aprons, give the kids supplies they don’t normally get to use, like new dusting mitts, or little brooms. My kids LOVE using the mop, because I tend the be the one who mops, because I am faster and lets be honest we all including myself just want the mop job to go fast and be done. But during the party time they get to take turns at mopping, boy oh boy they get excited. Here is a silly one we did: I got socks lightly wet and put some lemon essential oils on them and let them dance/skate around the room, my house never smelled better J
8: Figure out what clean looks like to you and your partner. Figure out the feelings that clean and unclean bring out in you. This will help establish the importance, not just for you but for your husband too.
They usually say opposites attract and it is quite entertaining to see what clean means to your partner and what clean means to you. See my husband and I both like the house to be clean. But clean looks different to him then it does to me. And yet there are things we agree on too. But, if you can spend a few minutes to be open and honest without personalizing their opinion of clean, you can learn a lot about each other. Maybe go out to dinner, have a date night and chat about what helps create a home of peace. It could be clean, it could have something to do with clutter, or decorating, or maybe they might describe an atmosphere they envision. This is always a conversation that can be had through out the years as well. For example: my decorating style has changed a lot in our 8 years of marriage and while Darren has been supportive and happy with my choices, I have been de-cluttering our walls and counters lately and he has never have heard complements from him in that regard.
9: Spend a little money.
Spend a little money IF you need to get new toy box, or new cleaning supplies consider spending a little bit of money, to make cleaning as less stress a possibility. When we were first beginning our family we even went to the local dollar tree to buy bins that would help us organize all the toys and things that collect when having a family. Slowly we have been replacing those bins due to cracks and better sizing, so here is an example of spending a little bit of money to help put some organization systems in place. My sweet friend is a Direct consultant for this cleaning product called Norwex. There products have been something that has made cleaning, 15 minute cleaning PARTY, other projects like cleaning windows, moping and dusting much easier in our household.
Last thing in the spend a little money category, there has been times where my husband and I have decided to hirer someone to come in and support us by doing the deep cleaning responsibilities. Especially when I was HUGE-O pregnant or having a newborn, cleaning the bathtub feels almost impossible. But, you don’t need just to be pregnant or have a newborn to find someone to help, perhaps it would create some self-care opportunities, increase family time when the time in the day is limited, or give you that little bit of boost you need through a season in your life.
10: Don’t let the mess get in the way of having fun.
Under number ten to me comes in two different ways: first I think about not letting the mess get in the way of having fun as in letting kids be kids. A few weeks ago my kids wanted to pretend make soup and asked if they could have pots and spoons. I thought oh man I will have to wash them pots and spoons afterwards which is more work, but then I immediately threw that thought from my head and grab the pots and spoons it was a great time of creative play that could have not happened if I let the mess get in the way of having fun.
The second part reminds me: there has been so many times I have unfortunately put cleaning before my kids, or have let a mess make a messout of me. I know having a system and a cleaned chaos makes me more at peace, but regardless I can not make an idol of having a clean house. I am saying idol because I view it as something I can put more priority on then my God given responsibility of raising my kiddos. And on the flip side I can not forget my need for peace and training within my family. So my advice to myself and to you is: Don’t let the mess get in the way of having fun.
11: BONUS: Live in the moment and have GRACE on yourself !
Even though this is the BONUS tip, it is the most important and shouldn’t be a tip but a way of life. We should ALL strive to live in the moment with our families and have tons and tons and tons of GRACE on ourselves. No matter who I talk to that have grown up kids, they all WITHOUT FAIL say: “IT GOES SO FAST!” And I can see that, even though my oldest is only 4, I think WHAT WAIT she is 4?!?! NO WAY I JUST HAD HER, I was just rocking her to sleep, giving baby kisses and singing her lullabies!!! Equally, they tell me they miss seeing the hand-prints on the windows, matching the little socks, and finding Legos in the couch. So may this provide us all with a little encouragement to not miss the moments, all the little moments!
I hope you have been encouraged, and inspired, if you have share this with others. Thank you for listening in today on RaisingRices, make sure to check back next Monday with Marissa