How Busy People Keep Clean {Enough} Homes

Between working full time for a season, homeschooling my kids, investing in our neighborhood friends, being actively involved in our local church, and carving out time to nurture my marriage, saying that my life is full right now is probably an understatement!

I’m sure your life is very full too, and finding time to clean isn’t always easy.

But since I’d much rather come home to a relaxing haven than a draining disaster, I’ve made it a priority to figure out how to keep a clean(ish) house even with a really busy schedule. My house is definitely not perfect but I do have a few tips to share with you.

clean kitchen

Here’s how to keep a clean {enough} house when you’re really busy:

1) Just do something.

We can unload and reload the dishwasher, run a load of laundry, or tidy the living room. Many days, we may be able to do more than one of those and cleaning a little bit at a time will help keep the house in decent condition.

#1 Tip(1)

2) Put it away, right away.

As soon as you’re done using an item, put it back where it belongs before moving on to the next thing. Simple to do. Easy to forget 🙂

3) Don’t clean alone!

It would often be easier to clean up myself than to have my kids help. And sometimes I do clean it myself, but as parents it’s our job to train our kids to take care of their own things. After-all, we don’t want our children to struggle with housekeeping when they have their own homes and families to take care of, right?

Plus once they’re trained well, it really does get easier.

{Related: 6 Tear-Free Ways to Get Kids to Clean and How to Get Your Kids to Willingly Pitch in With Chores.}

Kids Cleaning

4) Have a cleaning day(s).

I used to have one big cleaning day each week. Then my friend Crystal said her family does housework on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Light bulb moment – cleaning up 3 days worth of mess is way easier than cleaning a solid week’s worth!

Now we catch up on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This way if we miss one day, it’s no big deal because there’s another cleaning day coming up soon. And when we don’t miss a day, the house looks fantastic(ish)!

5) Buy convenience foods or cook in bulk.

Sometimes it’s worth picking up a rotisserie chicken or a package of hot dogs to pair with a veggie for a quick dinner. It’s also good to cook one or two large meals a week, then use paper plates when eating the leftovers.

This way we can use those precious minutes to focus on other household chores instead of laboring over a hot stove every single night.

Beach Living Room

6) Pay someone!

For two years, I paid a teenage girl to help in my home one afternoon a week. That was money very well spent! Now that Lily and Grace are older, sometimes I pay them or their neighborhood friends a little cash to help with simple chores on cleaning day.

If it’s in your budget, hiring a regular housekeeper would also be a good thing to consider.

7) Embrace Imperfection

Our houses may not be as clean and organized as we’d like, but we are so blessed to have homes to live in, stuff to enjoy, dishes to eat on, clothes to wear, and people to love. And while we should be good stewards of our possessions, we also need to be okay with just doing our best even when our best is less than perfect.

Do you have any extra tips for maintaining a clean {enough} home during busy seasons of life?


Your Clutter Could Be Costing You $25,000

Most of us have clutter, right? Whether it’s a storage closet, a basement, a room, or an entire house, many of us have spaces we can’t fully use because those areas are filled with stuff. But, have you ever thought about how much your clutter is costing you? Here are five ways that having too much stuff can get really pricy:

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1) Needing to buy new things.

When we need to run to the store and buy something because we can’t find scissors or clean socks again, we’re spending a lot of time, energy, and money on unnecessary items.

Likewise, when we step on our kid’s favorite toy that’s buried in a clutter pile, we usually dig into our pockets to fork out some cash so we can replace the beloved item.

2) Not wanting to be home.

When our houses are a mess, being home isn’t fun or relaxing. So whether it’s going to a movie, hitting the mall, or getting coffee on the town, it’s tempting to spend time and money doing anything except going home to a disaster.

3) Restaurant meals.

When our kitchen counters are piled high with dishes and our fridges are full of moldy items, the last thing we want to do at dinnertime is clean up our mess and search for edible food just so we can sit down to eat.

So we go to a restaurant. More time. More gas money. More cash for a dinner out.

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4) Late fees.

When we can’t find the water bill, the overdue library book, or the movie we rented, we’re going to owe some fines. And those fines can add up to hefty, but completely avoidable, amounts. Like the time my husband asked our kids if the library was a free place to visit and they adamantly insisted that library book “rental” is a paid service. Ahem 🙂

5) Storage space.

Maybe you’re storing your items in a storage facility. If so, you probably know the dollar amount. But even if you’re not using a storage facility, you could be spending big bucks to store your stuff.

For example, the median home cost is about $200,000. Divide that by an average of 8 rooms per house which would include a kitchen, living room, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, a basement or garage, and a home office.

If just ONE of those 8 rooms in a $200,000 house is filled with clutter, that’s $25,000 for a storage room. That’s not even including the interest you’re paying if you have a loan on your house. If you have two rooms filled with clutter, then you could be spending $50,o00 to store your clutter!

Renters, you’re not off the hook either! If you rent, multiply your monthly rent by 12, then divide that by the number of rooms you have. For example, $900 rent over the course of a year is $10,800. If you live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with a kitchen and living room (6 rooms total), that means you’re paying $1,800 a year for storage. More if you have closets filled with junk.

Do the math to find out how much your own clutter is costing you – you might be shocked at the price. If you’re ready to un-bury yourself from clutter so you can save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars a year, then get my new book, Chaos to Clutter-Free. It’s only $4.99. You’ll save more than that in your first week of going clutter free.

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Have you ever considered how much your stuff is costing you? If you got rid of your clutter, what would you do with the cash you’d save?


Top 10 Ways to Make Cleaning More Fun!

We all want to have clean houses, right?! Sometimes it’s just the actual cleaning part we don’t particularly enjoy. So to help us feel more motivated this week, I decided to make a fun list for you!

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Top 10 Ways to Make Cleaning More Fun!

1) Listen to Music.

Music is probably the fastest and easiest way to add a little energy into your home! Use Pandora and listen to something upbeat while you clean. Make sure to sing along as loudly as you want!

2) Enjoy Podcasts & Audio Books.

Turning on Podcasts while you clean is a great way to catch up on inspiring shows! Here are a few of my own favorites:

You could also listen to great audio books! I usually download them for FREE from Loyal Books or pick some up when I visit the library. The girls and I are currently enjoying Mr. Popper’s Penguins while I clean – it makes decluttering feel much cozier!

Mr. Popper's Penguins

3) Complete One Tiny Task.

Sometimes the hardest part of cleaning is just starting. So only commit to something small like taking dirty clothes to the washing machine or unloading the dishwasher.

If you only do that one task, you’ve made progress. But you may find that it’s not so bad and you can do one more small task, then another…

4) Find Support.

Don’t get pulled into the Internet! But, do spend a few minutes checking out FlyLady.net or reading an article on my blog if you need extra cleaning inspiration.

You can also join an online support group, work through a great housekeeping book, or photograph your progress on Instagram using #GetOrganizedChallenge.

5) Watch a Show.

A few girls in the Get Organized Facebook group recommended watching Hoarders to get inspired! Lily, Grace, and I love to watch Little House on the Prairie while we fold big piles of laundry.

6) Drink Something Lovely.

Make yourself hot tea or grab a soda and sip it while you clean. This combined with a podcast or music is a great way to make cleaning more enjoyable!

7) Throw Stuff Out!

Throw something out – anything really. Getting rid of junk mail, games with missing pieces, or toys the kids never play with feels so great and can help build awesome momentum. And just think – you’ll never have to organize those items again!

19 Bags from One Closet - How I Decluttered My Entire Home in Six Days

8 ) Clean With a Friend!

Decluttering usually needs our full focus. But scrubbing dishes, wiping down sinks, and mopping floors? Not so much. So when you’re doing jobs that don’t take a ton of brain power, call a friend or family member and chat while you clean “together!”

And if your friend is local and willing to trade days so you can take turns working at each other’s houses in person? Even better!

9) Focus on How You’ll Feel later.

If you clean your kitchen or declutter your bedroom now, you’re going to feel fabulous afterwards. But if you procrastinate, you’re probably not going to feel so great when you have to look at a mess later.

So, handle your stuff now and stay focused on how great you’ll feel when you’re finished!

10) Give yourself something to look forward to!

Do you love taking relaxing baths, reading good books, or curling up with a cozy blanket? Think of something simple you enjoy and plan to indulge for a few minutes after a job well done!

Fabric Dying is one fun thing to do after a big week of working hard!

How do you make cleaning more enjoyable in your home? Share your favorite audio book, podcast, or tip in the comment section to give other readers (and me!) even more cleaning inspiration!

My Live Declutter Updates

Are you following me on Instagram yet? I’m posting updates there throughout the day. Plus you can use #GetOrganizedChallenge to share your own progress!

Days 16 & 17: We almost finished decluttering the schoolroom! This is big stuff, people! Baby books are gone, we found a temporary (and free!) solution for our broken bookshelf situation, we rearranged many items to make them more functional for this season, and we tidied up as we cleaned. This is not an easy task but it’s worth the work!

Ridiculously embarrassing photos of our first schoolroom session are here.

Bookshelf Solution

School/Play Room Summary:

  • Spent 7 hours working in the schoolroom.
  • Filled 2 trash bags for donation.
  • Filled 1 trash bag with trash.

OVERALL TOTALS:

  • Time spent cleaning, decluttering & organizing: 43.5 hours
  • Bags for donation: 17
  • Bags of trash: 11
  • Plus we purged 1 huge Christmas tree, a bag of egg cartons, and a broken bookshelf.

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PS Don’t forget to submit your before & after photos by Saturday, January 31, 2015 for your chance to win a $100 Gift Card!

Top 10 Ways to Make Cleaning More Fun


My 3 Favorite Housekeeping Books

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It’s no major secret that I used to be pretty messy. It’s also not a secret that sometimes I’m still messy, because I’m a work in progress.

I have, however, come a long way in the housekeeping department. As-in, we can have company over without me driving my family crazy while I frantically clean. And when I fall behind, I can catch back up in a relatively short amount of time.

There are a few books that were invaluable to me as I learned how to keep my home clean. Here are my three favorites:

The Messies Manual: A Complete Guide to Bringing Order & Beauty to Your Home by Sandra Felton

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The Messies Manual was the first book that helped me unbury my own home from clutter. This interesting and funny read really digs into the heart of why we keep things, it talks about different types of messy people (I’m a perfectionist messy!) and, without being overwhelming, The Messies Manual thoroughly discusses how to declutter and organize the home.

31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way by Sarah Mae

31DaystoClean

I never thought the state of my home had anything to do with Christianity – until I read 31 Days to Clean.

While reading this book, I realized that drowning in clutter was having a negative effect on my spiritual life. In this very raw, convicting, and inspiring book, Sarah Mae didn’t stop at creating a vision for a clean home – each day’s reading is also packed with encouragement that includes a simple Mary (heart-related) challenge and a Martha (specific cleaning) task.

Chaos to Clutter Free: 16 Realistic Steps to an Organized Home by Davonne Parks

chaostoclutterfree

Why am I listing my own book as one of my favorite housekeeping reads? Because this book was my heart’s cry. I used to feel as if I were drowning in clutter and couldn’t find my way out.

Our many possessions no longer felt like a blessing to my family, but a burden. I’d desperately think, There has to be a better way, but I felt unable to find that better way. So after I learned how to create – and maintain – an organized home, I wanted to help others find that freedom as well.

From inspirational quotes, to tips and encouragement, to simple maintenance plans and embarrassing stories, Chaos to Clutter-Free is a simple and realistic guide for restoring (or finding) order in your home.

What fabulous housekeeping books have I missed? Let us know in the comments! (Bloggers, feel free to leave a link to your own related book reviews.)