Keeping It Clean: Some Tips to Help You (me)

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What an awesome day Labor Day was! We worked our tails off to get the house and yard cleaned up an organized so we could have a gathering at our place. We love to entertain, and try to get a bunch of our friends together a few times a year.

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It felt really good. The house was clean. The kids were clean. This time, when we were cleaning up for the party, we didn’t do our usual “let’s throw all this stuff that’s piling up on the dining room table into the bedroom and close the door” thing. Instead, we actually sorted, organized and put things away where they were supposed to go! (I know that sounds like what normal people do, but we are far from normal, and we have issues.)

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We still barely have any pictures on the walls. And that’s okay with me since I have painting I want to do this fall. Instead of beige in the living room, we want to cool it down with some grays. And in the dining room, we’re thinking of a nice pale blue. Our bedroom, gray instead of the muted purples. The boys room is going to get navy stripes on one of the walls. How do you pick which wall should be your accent wall?

But our Labor Day party? It was a lot of fun. I tried to keep preparation simple for us. Because I know how stressed I can get if I plan something more time-consuming in the kitchen. So instead of anything fancy, we did brats and hot dogs, watermelon, chips & salsa, and a cake for Johnny’s first birthday. (Yes, we already did a family celebration at home, but this time we got to enjoy with friends and family there too.)

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My goddaughter.

So after the party was done, and we put the food away, the house still looked amazing. And on Tuesday I got to really enjoy getting other work done. Work other than the typical cleaning/trying to counteract the chaos type.

Time to think about doing some of the crafty things I’ve been contemplating, or getting some of my office organized, or just really giving the kids my full attention. Awesome.

But, it does take work to keep up with it. I want to keep it this way, and I’ve had to be vigilant! If we keep having friends over, though, I think we should be able to keep it lookin’ good.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned to help us keeping it tidy:

1. Do it now. Don’t look at something, sigh, and think, “well, I guess I need to do that…” and then get on Facebook for an hour.

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2. Work Smarter not Harder: Combine similar kinds of jobs & do them all at once (sewing buttons on clothes, fixing board books, or whatever). If you’re going upstairs, carry stuff that’s going upstairs. Instead of making multiple trips, I load up Large Utility Totes or laundry baskets with things to take up or down. I like the Large Utility Totes because the straps can go on your shoulders and you can just walk around the whole main floor picking up all the toys to take back to the playroom. A lot of times, I do a sweep of the house for one kind of thing, then another. First I’ll gather all the articles of clothing lying around. Then I gather up all the toys, then all the books. Then all the trash. Usually that’s about it.

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3. Keep your horizontal (flat) surfaces clear of clutter. I have a bad habit of letting things pile up on the dining room table. And then we have nowhere to eat! So we throw it all onto the hutch or the buffet (which is not where any of it BELONGS!). So if you put things away where they go (using the “Do It Now” rule) your spaces will look very neat and tidy.

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4. Set a timer. I picked this rule up from the Fly Lady. She has all kinds of fun games to play while you’re cleaning. But setting a timer is so simple. Just dedicate even 5 minutes to one little space. I like to do 15 or 20 minutes to a room and then set it again for the next room. After a few sets, I’ll set a timer and take a break, drink some coffee, read a book, or something nice for me!

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5. Get help. Ask your kids to help (I know. I know. You get groans? Something I learned to do is make it a game, or really play off of their competitive natures. My husband is so competitive, that he will get involved too, just to win!). You can do a quick 5 minute clean up at bed time. It works pretty well.

Of course, these are just some things I have learned, but I am still learning to put them into practice on a regular basis. What tricks/tips have you picked up for keeping your house tidy?

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