It sounds like an impossible task to live in a neat house when you are a family of six and all of us are home. As you know, my four kids are homeschooled. My husband also has a home office. When everyone is home it does mean more dishes, more clutter and more messes. When we aren't home, just as much mess is created in prepping things to bring with us when we leave, such as food for all of us and bags of things to keep the kids occupied or toys to share with friends. It also means a lot of laundry! It sounds undo-able.
It's not! Although it has changed a bit since I took the photo, that is a photo of our art and music room. As you can gather, I also don't live in a small house so keeping all rooms from becoming dumping grounds can definitely be a challenge.
I need things to be neat, clean and at least mostly organized to function. For me, a clean house allows me to think more clearly. Visual clutter is also mental clutter. Try this... Notice the thoughts that run through your mind when you walk into a room. Notice what catches your eye. I'll bet you'll notice that you do have mental clutter because of any physical clutter - it comes in the form of a fleeting mental note of "I really should wipe that paint off the wall." and "What kind of grit did I just step on?" Because of this, if things get out of hand, I feel myself shut down and want to escape to a clean room. If my energy is low, once in a while I do just that. But knowing it's still there waiting for me doesn't let me relax long and makes me more anxious.
So how does it all get done? My kids do not have chores. My husband does not have a "honey do" list to look forward to every Saturday. We have company on a regular basis and there is no way I would let someone in my house if it weren't clean because I like to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable. Neither of us have an OCD issue with cleanliness and we know better than to have inappropriately high expectations of just how clean everything is. So how do we do it? It sounds a little crazy but we take it one day at a time. Between my husband and I, the kitchen is always cleaned up by the end of the day. We only let the clutter get to a certain point before we pick it up, but we do try to keep up with it every day.
My kids are also most comfortable and creative when things are clean. Even though they don't have chores, they do help out. How many fourteen year old boys do you know notice that mom is out in the garden moving a dirt pile and decides to grab a shovel to help out? Mine does! His siblings notice and join in too! Sure, one or two of them at any one time will go through a phase where they just don't feel like helping, but it passes and they help again. If I see that one of the kids isn't busy, I ask for help if I need it and most of the time they do what I ask without giving me attitude. I know that forcing it on them will just backfire. If they aren't driven to do it themselves by an internal feeling of satisfaction, then they won't follow through.
They key for us is that we have a lot of little habits that only take minutes and are a normal part of our day. All of the little habits add up to help keep our house clean. Here are some simple steps that have worked for us:
Don't go upstairs empty handed. Same goes for going downstairs or just going from one room to another.
Never go to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes.
Shoes come off at the door.
While waiting for something to cook, wipe down an appliance or clean off a shelf in the fridge.
Make a goal of one load of laundry per day.
Do a nightly floor check where dirty clothes are picked up and thrown in the hampers.
Mail is sorted literally the moment it comes in the door and is done next to the trashcan. Don't even open the junk mail!
... I could list a lot more but you get the idea.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and would love some action steps to take to get yourself and your family on the way to being more organized, I have a great site to help get you started. Visit FlyLady.net! I would suggest that you take it slow and pick out a few things that resonate with you and go from there. Even if you don't like all of the suggestions, you are sure to find ones that will work for you.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.