Keeping a Tidy Home

By Margo Graf

Most of us have been stuck at home more than we would have liked this year. When the house doubles as a workspace (or triples as a daycare center), we find that clutter tends to build by the minute. What we once knew as order has become chaos. Tidbits floating in midair, mountains of papers spreading over counters, crumbs stacking their way to the ceiling… we have all experienced some degree of unusual messiness. And as stores reopen, we may be rushing to purchase all the trivial items we have missed. Before you do, it may be a good time to reorganize, create tidy habits, and clear some clutter.

Where to begin?

The first thing you should do after waking (and taking a nice big stretch) is make your bed. Depending on your agility and number of throw pillows, it could take a matter of seconds. And just like that you have created order right off the bat. When it comes time to return to bed, it is neatly ready for you–no untangling sheets, rearranging pillows, just straight off to sleep you go.

Maintaining a clean home while staying sane is a balancing act. Now is not the time to be a perfectionist. The goal is to keep the house free from floating tidbits getting caught in your hair, but that doesn’t mean that every little thing has to be perfect. Try to follow the 80/20 rule–aim for 80% of the cleaning to be completed while you coexist in your work/daycare space. Getting caught up in all of the nitpicky details that make up the last 20% (such as making sure every little speck of dust is accounted for) will drain your time and energy.

Need an easy way to stay accountable? Write a list. It is simple, yet effective. Write down what needs to be done and then cross that sucker off upon completion. Oh, the satisfaction is tangible! And so are those germ-and crumb-free counters. A list helps you stay focused and prioritizes what needs to be done. If you are a procrastinating cleaner, this could be entirely beneficial.

Stick. To. The. List.

Keeping a tidy home is less about the time involved, and more about creating good habits that you eventually start to follow instinctively. Especially if you have kids stuck at home, it may be the perfect opportunity to teach them how to manage their areas. Simply picking up after themselves will save you from a lot of bending over. Not leaving the dishes in the sink? What a joy to behold. Of course, you can increase their exposure by having them put away the dishes, swiffer the floor, walk the dog, dust the banisters, wash the windows, change your oil, paint the shutters, answer emails, pay bills–the opportunities are endless! A little delegation can go a long way. And what a tidy and relaxed summer that will be… for you.

A more realistic take might be to start a nightly 15-minute clean up with all hands on deck. For some reason, there tends to be less whining when everyone is in it together. Put on the timer and just stick with the top cleaning priorities. Kids can clean their rooms or do other small household chores while you finish up the kitchen or fold the laundry. Start with the things that are making the biggest mess, creating a lot of clutter, or any “must dos” that need to be done before bed. This creates a more peaceful and productive tomorrow.

As German novelist Thomas Mann once said, “Order and simplification are the first steps towards mastery of a subject.” Ja, das ist gut!

Yeah, That’s Good!

Once order is established and roles are assigned, you can move to the next level. This one may need to be implemented over a longer period of time, but putting in the effort to de-clutter and organize your home will drastically cut down on the amount of cleaning time. Having a spot for everything that is both accessible and easy to put away makes it much quicker to tidy up–for both you and the rest of your family. Fewer items out on the counters cuts down on dusting and makes cleaning a lot smoother.

Wipe, wipe, move.

We have all probably realized what stuff we have found to be necessary to our daily lives and what stuff is truly junk that should be donated or removed. Creating this space will open up a fresh take on your home. So when you do visit every shop on Main Street that you have missed over the last few months, you can have a clear mind about what exactly you need, where it will go, and how it will benefit your life.

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