When you’ve got kids from babies right through to teens, it’s tough keeping the house tidy. A tidy house lasts all of ten minutes when it’s inhabited by kids. It’s a serious downer when you bust your gut for hours vacuuming, mopping and putting things back in their place, only to find those very things lying around the house. The zen of a tidy house is often short lived when you’re a mum.
It took me a long time to accept mess, to accept that things don’t have to be perfect or well organised, that having a mountain of clean washing in almost every room of my house was OK, that dirty dishes would eventually get done, that the pile of dirty laundry in the bathroom would eventually get washed and that it wasn’t the end of the world. But even though it’s easier for me to accept it, that doesn’t mean I like it. I feel bloody awesome when my house is spick and span, it does bring me a sense of zen and motivation and when it gets messed up in an instant, it’s a quick road to mummy grumpiness.
It’s still a challenge to get my five-year-old to put things away, but we’re getting there, slowly. With a new school routine now that my son is in prep, a new business and a side freelancing gig, I’m always trying to find new ways to make it easier and achieve that sense of zen I crave.
So here are some tidying up tips I’m going to try to reduce the overwhelm and bring back the ZEN!
Buckets and baskets
I’ve started creating buckets and baskets for the mess. I know it’s not ‘organised’ but being able to throw mess in a basket to sort out later declutters in an instant and makes me feel loads better.
Turn tidying into a game
I’m going to try turning tidying into a game with Master 5, perhaps having a competition with putting toys away or singing songs that he loves. I read a suggestion from a family daycare worker that says she warns the kids that in five minutes it’s tidy up time. When the five minutes is up, she plays the mission impossible theme song and the kids are off! It’s then a competition to see who can clean up the fastest. How fun is that!
Designate tasks for kids
I’ve also considered giving Master 5 designated tasks or chores to do every day and a chore chart where he gets a sticker for everything completed. For older kids, it’s perhaps a good idea to reward them with a few minutes of fun time once they’ve completed their tasks. A task list is also helpful for the older kids so you don’t have to keep reminding them.
Schedule and prioritise cleaning tasks
I’ve always been in the mindset that Friday is my cleaning day but by doing this I’ve actually been overwhelming myself, thinking that I have to do everything all at once. My plan is to start making a list of things that I need to do to tidy the house and prioritise them. Higher priority tasks need to be finished that day and other tasks can wait. I’m going to aim for one task a day.
I absolutely hate asking for help, it’s something that’s been engrained into me for some silly reason. I like to think I’m superwoman way too much which is absolutely ridiculous because none of us is, but, I guess part of it is the fact that I just want to care for my family. So, when it comes to tidying the house, guess who’s going to be delegating more to the husband? But in doing so, I need to lower my standards. If your household is like mine, quite often my idea of cleaning the kitchen is a whole lot different to my husbands. When it comes to delegation, I need to accept that standards are different and accept the help.
Pack toys away
I find sorting things like toys into labelled crates or bins so therapeutic. I recently did this with Master 5’s toys and although he seems to have this magic power of knowing that a toy is missing once I’ve packed it away, a toy that he hasn’t played with in weeks, it’s one of the best ways for me to tidy his room. Marie Kondo, Author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up suggests that instead of doing what I have done in the past, ask your kids, “Can you select the toys you like best?” in order to determine which toys are packed away.
I also have an IKEA shelving unit with baskets which I use to sort items into and a basket drawer from Kmart which looks nice in the lounge room with a display bowl on top, but inside the draws are Master 5’s matchbox cars.
Everything should have its place
Now this is something I haven’t yet perfected. Everything seems to have its original place, but the problem is that it never goes back into this original place. I now appreciate how taking the time to return an item to its original place can be a sanity saver.
Lead by example
With the busyness of being a working and self-employed mum, I can let tidiness fall by the wayside too. Yes, I have a floordrobe. Yes, I might leave my shoes at the door. But what I haven’t realised is that this is probably not setting the best example to my kids.
What tidying up tactics work best for you?