When I told my son I was writing a blog on organization – he laughed. It is kind of funny. I admit I have no authority – other than my own struggle. I hate to clean. I hate that I hate to clean. Over the years I have made lots of excuses to try and alleviate the guilt:
Excuse our mess – the children are making memories
Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens, and happy children
And my favorite:
Today’s House Keeping Tip: Always keep several get well cards on the mantel. That way if unexpected guests arrive they’ll think you’ve been sick and unable to clean.
Years ago I learned a valuable lesson. My husband and I had a life changing decision to make and needed advise – so we stopped by a friend’s home. Their house was a wreck. However, they did not apologize but pushed clothes off the couch, told us to take a seat, and stopped what they were doing to listen to us. I felt welcomed, despite the fact I had to step over toys to get to the couch. If they would have apologized for the mess, I would have felt guilty about stopping by. I vowed to never make people feel uncomfortable at my home – no matter how it looked.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I am getting off the merry -go-round. I am going to change my habits, and though I may never have a perfect house, I am going to clean it up and keep it up. Here’s my plan.
I will do the following before starting school in September:
Step One: Rethink the Space
Write down everything you use your home for. Rethink your home space and figure out what purpose each room and corner has. If you don’t throw formal dinner parties, repurpose your dining room. I have realized that in the 9 years we have lived in our home our needs have changed. When we moved into our home, we had one unmarried adult child who didn’t live at home, one teenager, and an older elementary child. I turned the dining room into a library. We have since adopted two children and three of our kids have gotten married and had babies. We now have a son who is going off to college this fall, a five year old, and seven grandbabies who come to the house regularly. Two or three of the grandkids find it fun to pull books off the shelf and fling them across the room, another loves to use the shelves as a jungle gym and climb to the ceiling. The toys were all in the front room where the adults sit and visit – which makes a decent sized room seem very small with multiple babies and toddlers at the feet of the adults on every chair. So, I repurposed the dining room turned library into a play room – which can still be seen by the adults in the front room.
Step Two: Purge
Purge. Purge. Purge. Less stuff means less to clean. Only keep things you are currently using out in the open. Store things you KNOW you will use in the future in storage boxes and label the boxes well. I purged 23 years of homeschool books, how to books, and novels I haven’t read for years.
Step Three: Find a Home
Reorganize and make sure everything has a home – from the throw pillows to a pair of scissors. If it doesn’t have a home – give it one or get rid of it. Always put it back when done with it. We’ve been fairly good about this, once things have a home – at least now things aren’t just thrown on the counter.
Step Four: Just do it.
Organizing it in my head and planning it out is fun. Making it happen is WORK. Just do it. I am trying to get a room done a week over the summer. Purge, store, give away or throwing it away. Reward yourself once a week. When I have done a good job – I go to a movie, or get a pedicure, or buy myself a book (which I get rid of as soon as I have read it!).
Step Five: Keep it up.
Once you have done it. Don’t let it get behind again. Pick up every day – whether you feel like it or not. The laundry is the hardest part of this for me. My wonderful husband helped me do over 20 loads of laundry to get it all done at once. I now am working on doing two loads a day – from start to finish. Actually matching socks and putting them in the drawer instead of throwing them in a box and matching them when they are needed – which frustrates the daylights out of my husband who can never find a match in his drawer.
Here’s my Plan for the new school year:
Daily with the help of my five year old:
- We will clean one room a day, directly after breakfast (get the stuff I don’t want to do done first, so we can play outside, and paint, and cook, and have fun the rest of the day) One room a day is not overwhelming to accomplish, and if I miss a day it is not a big deal, we do the room the next day.
- We will wash, dry, fold and put away two loads of laundry.
- We will pick up and put everything back in its home when we are finished using it.
- We will do dishes and wipe down the kitchen after every meal.
Things I’ve started doing which have helped me change my attitude about cleaning:
- Use cleaners I feel good about – I like using essential oils and natural cleaners which smell amazing and have a calming effect.
- Talk to my daughter about how we use the room as we clean it, and pray over it.
- As we fold clothes, pray for the person whose clothes we are folding.
- Verbally tell stories while cleaning. We’ve started doing this – this month I am telling “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears” – sometimes I even get so wrapped up in the story that the cleaning goes by faster!
- Ask for help when it is needed. My 17 year olds friends practically live with us on the weekend – I have no problems asking them to take out the trash or clean up the coke cans they leave in front of the Nintendo.
- I have an accountability partner – not a neat freak, but someone who struggles like me. We text each other when we clean. We pray for one another. I hope we can help each other out before each of us has company over. And I hope to go out with my accountability partner once a month to celebrate our victories.
And the last piece of advice I’ll bestow upon you is:
Give yourself grace.
You would give it to anyone else – so don’t be a bully to yourself. Forgive yourself when you get behind. Start over; you’ll always have more dishes tomorrow.