As a busy mom of 5 kids, keeping my house neat is my top priority. Visually, clutter upsets me. Clutter overwhelms me. Factor in 5 kids with their toys and gear, and the feeling of being overwhelmed multiplies.
It doesn’t have to. It’s my home. My home can be a warm, comforting, inviting, and neat environment.
The key: Controlling the Clutter
My #1 Tip for Keeping My House Neat: Control the Clutter
Yesterday, I did a quick video tour of my home as it is right now. I didn’t put anything away. Sure, I’m in the middle of spring cleaning which means the kitchen floor looks extra shiny.
My home looks the way it always looks. Mostly neat, and definitely lived in.
How I Control the Clutter
- Don’t let clutter in. If clutter doesn’t come in my door, there is less for me to clean, manage, or get rid of.
- Move items along when we’re finished with them. No more babies in the house, and none expected? Boom – pass the crib along to someone else. Outgrown shoes – Goodwill pile and donated asap.
- Keep less. While we love to read books, we rely on the library and my Kindle app for our reading material. I always try to make sure we only keep what we really need. Sure, that’s different for different families.
- Have routines for the kids. Thanks to our after school routine, my kids empty their backpacks and move onto homework without leaving a huge mess in their wake. Yes, I do have 2 kids who need reminding along the way. These same kids are great about keeping their rooms clean. It all balances out.
- Have a place for everything. In the video, I showed you our computer issue. Since our house is neat, the computers are less of an issue. Shoes are not an issue since the kids know they go by the back door.
- Return items to where they belong. When items go back to where they belong, no one (ahem, me) goes crazy looking for them. I stay sane. The house stays neat. Everyone is happy.
- Periodically assess how your routines and systems are working. Expect some routines to change for the school year and summertime. Other routines may change as your kids get older. New routines will get started when you need to juggle 4 teenagers taking a shower daily. It’s normal. When you assess how your home is working, you’re anticipating and planning ahead to meet needs.
- Everyone helps. I am always telling a child to put something away. Always. If said child tells me it’s not theirs, sometimes we will find the owner. If the child tells me they didn’t get the item out, I stop them right there. It is not my job, nor is it yours, to keep track of who’s doing what with what in my home. That’s a recipe for craziness, and I won’t go there.
If you remember nothing else of my advice – make it clear to your kids they are responsible for cleaning stuff up. It doesn’t matter, most of the time, who made the mess.
Everyone helps clean up.