These three steps to a cleaner home are helping save my sanity. Ever since my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I feel like I’ve got a million things going on all at the same time, all of which leaves me very little time to deal with housework.
Every day I’m driving my son to and from school, getting my husband to radiation treatments and doctors’ appointments, trying to keep up with the laundry, and cooking the healthy meals my husband needs to keep his strength up. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no time to catch my breath.
Not surprisingly, housework isn’t at the top of my list of priorities. But, due to how radiation and chemotherapy have compromised my husband’s immune system, I can’t let the cleaning slide, either. So, I still do my daily cleaning routine and try to stay up with the weekly cleaning routines, at least in the bathrooms and kitchen.
As far as the clutter goes, these three steps are helping keep the clutter under control, so cleaning — when I do have time to do it — goes so much faster. And when I don’t have time? Well, these three habits make the place look a whole lot cleaner than it is.
3 Steps to a Cleaner Home
1. The sink has one and only one purpose.
It’s for washing dishes, not storing them! After a meal or quick snack, it’s so tempting to leave the dishes to deal with later, but that leads to them piling up until the sink is overflowing and smells.
When we got into the habit of immediately putting things into the dishwasher, instead of letting them accumulate in the sink, the kitchen began looking (and smelling) so much cleaner. Now, we get up from the dinner table and immediately start cleaning up.
The kitchen is “closed” once the sink is empty and I’ve given it a good squirt of homemade daily sink spray. Any dishes after that get hand washed and put away. This has the bonus of discouraging my late-night snacking!
2. Bedtime is a deadline for things, too.
Waking up to a cluttered house gets the day off to a bad start. By the time everyone’s home from work or school, everyone is often too tired to deal with it, so the clutter continues to accumulate. Break the cycle by making bedtime a deadline for putting things away, and let your kids know that applies to them, too.
My youngest is 12, which is more than old enough to remember where his toys, games, and clothes belong. In the past, I’ve spent my entire evening picking up his things and putting them away. That was annoying but acceptable when he was younger. Now? I just don’t have the time or energy.
So, part of our bedtime routine now involves putting things away. Anything left out goes to “Toy Jail” and must be earned back by doing some chores that kids can do. My husband and I treat our bedtimes as deadlines for picking up after ourselves, too, making this a House Rule. Seeing everyone held to the same standard has helped this rule stick.
3. No empty-hands.
Make decluttering and tidying less painful by doing it a little at a time. Going from the living room to the kitchen for a glass of water? Take some dirty dishes with you. Heading upstairs for a sweater? Grab your shoes and put them away while you’re up there. Even just picking balls of pet hair off the carpet or gathering up old magazines to chuck in the recycling bin as you walk through a room can help.
IT ALL ADDS UP
It’s amazing what a difference these three steps to a cleaner home have made. Oh, it drove my son crazy at first when I’d catch him running to the stairs and remind him that his hands shouldn’t be empty.
Now it’s become a game we all play, and anyone found walking around empty-handed has to do 5 one-minute chores. We all get a lot of fun out of catching each other empty-handed!