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The more people that live in your house, the more stuff you accumulate. The more stuff you have, the more you have to clean. So you have two options. One: put up a bio-hazard sign. Two: embrace this fact and tackle it head on. If option two works for you, here are 10 ways to simplify your home.
Now, the important thing to remember is to do what works for your family. Your house does not have to be spotless everyday. Trust me, I have four children. I don’t even remember what an empty laundry hamper looks like. The goal is to get to a point where you don’t feel overwhelmed. A huge way to help yourself get there is to set up your home so that there is less to do to begin with.
Ready to get started? Here are some tips.
15 Minutes A Day
As the Fly Lady says, you can do anything for 15 minutes. If your house is cluttered, it will take time to restore order. Give yourself grace in this and do a little each day. Before going to bed, set a timer for 15 minutes. For those 15 minutes you will work quickly and efficiently to declutter your house. You may not make it past the huge pile of shoes the first day, that’s okay! It’s important to just start.
Once the house is somewhat organized, you can use this 15 minutes to quickly pick up at the end of the day. This will help you to start out each morning with a neat and tidy home.
Everything Needs A Home
When you do your budget, every dollar needs a name. When you clean your house, every item needs a home. This makes cleaning up quick and easy because you don’t have to think about where something should go. A huge added bonus is that you can quickly find things you can need them.
To start organizing take it one room at a time. Avoid the temptation to go to the store and buy a bunch of baskets… They aren’t cheap and you’ll probably end up with the wrong shapes & sizes. The first thing to do: go buy trash bags (with a coupon of course). Throw away anything that is trash and not worth keeping. You can also have a basket to donate items.
Once you have cleaned everything out, it is time to organize. Pinterest has a ton of helpful tips, but remember we are aiming for practically here. I see way too many shelves on Pinterest that look pretty but have no other purpose. Think through how your family uses your home and then get creative to make the most of that space.
Tip: If something keeps ending up in the wrong spot, you can fight it or you can give it a new home. For us, it is the remotes that always end up on the coffee table tray. My solution: grab a basket and send out change of address cards. You have to pick your battles wisely.
Keep A Trash Can By Your Door
The best way to stop a mess is to catch it before it ever becomes one. Between fast food wrappers and junk mail, you can end up bringing a lot of trash into your home. Keep a trash can by the door or in the garage and throw things away as soon as they cross that threshold.
This will also help to keep your car cleaner. Everyone can grab their trash before exiting and it goes in that trash can as soon as they are inside.
Rotate Toys & Books
The less toys kids have, the less toys that can be left on the floor, in the toilet, and under a bed. Grab a plastic bin or two with a lid. Put a variety of toys inside of it and put it in the attic. After a few weeks or once a month, rotate those toys out. Added bonus: they will feel like new toys to your kids so they will be more likely to play with them.
Another tip for toys is to make it as easy as possible for the kids to put things away. This means that shelves and cubbies need to be on their level. This also means you can’t make it too complicated. Teach them to put up whatever they are playing with before they are allowed to take anything else out.
Less Clutter = Less Mess
I have amazing and freeing news: book shelves really can be for books. I promise. You do not need picture frames, knick knacks, and color coding. You can have book shelves that are simply filled with books your family loves.
The more you hang a million things on the wall and put your latest thrift store finds in every free spot, the more you have to dust. There is something beautiful about clean surfaces for art projects, books with worn covers, and kids who aren’t afraid to break something.
A Laundry Basket Is Your Friend
Put a basket at the bottom of your stairs or another transition area. If you don’t have time to put something away right then, throw it in the basket. At the end of the day or when you have a few free moments, you can put everything away in it’s proper place.
Some also find it more helpful to have a basket for each family member. Everyone is then in charge of putting away the contents of their basket each day.
Evaluate Your Needs
I have never met a 7 year old who is an expert at keeping their closest and dresser organized. To help your life and theirs be a little easier, step back and evaluate how many items of clothing they really need. In most cases, an additional dresser isn’t really the solution, a trip to the thrift store is. If you want to try to make a little money back from those clothes, sell them.
Keep A Schedule
We will cover this more tomorrow, but if you want to keep your home clean, it is going to be a lot easier with a schedule. The goal is to pick a few tasks to do each day of the week. If you stick with the schedule, your house will stay much cleaner.
You can also assign out chores as part of your schedule. Everyone knows exactly what they are expected to do and you can be sure everything is getting done.
A Load A Day
Laundry seems to multiply around here. The best way I have found to stay on top of it is to do a load each day from start to finish. You can start it in the morning, put it in the dryer at lunch, and fold it while dinner cooks. Everyone (who is able) is responsible for putting away their own laundry.
Make Your Bed
No room will ever look clean with pillows and blankets on the floor. First thing in the morning, make your bed and teach your kids early on how to make their beds. No matter how many half eaten cookies are hiding under the bed, the room will still look a million times better with beds that are made.
How do you simplify your home?
See more frugal living tips.