I am not sure if it is that I am now in my mid-30s, the fact that I have been at home for most of the year now (a lot more than I normally would be), or the fact that my husband is still going to work every day (which I am very thankful for), but I feel like I am drowning in house chores. Whatever it is, I cannot stand my house anymore! I want to cry and scream, “It was never supposed to be this way! This was supposed to be a team effort… all of this child-rearing and house chores.”
But then I count to 10, take a deep breath, and remember… he is where he has to be right now and is helping to support our family.
As scary as it is, it is up to me to keep this house going, mostly alone.
I am here to admit that some of these tips were told to me over 10 years ago, some just this year, some I figured out on my own just recently. Some things did not make sense or seem relevant at the time. Hey, don’t judge me, I have already admitted that I am a late bloomer in the domestic arts.
Anyhow, here are some domestic tips that I have been given or have thought of myself that have helped me through running the ship mostly alone this year and hopefully will help you, too.
1. When you are up to making a meal (say chili for example), make twice as much as you need and freeze the extra. On a day that you do not feel like making dinner, it will be a relief to know that you have something that you can just heat up.
2. If you are too tired or busy to wash your dishes or load them in the dishwasher, at least rinse dishes with water. That quick few seconds can save cereal from turning into cement.
3. Don’t ever leave a room empty-handed. For example, I have a main floor and a basement. Often, there will be a random tool or craft item that is lying around that needs to go to the basement. So when I am heading down there to grab pancake mix, I can also put away a few tools and craft items. Maybe on my way back up the stairs, I can bring some laundry with the pancake mix. This saves me a lot of time in the long run.
4. Only give the kids spaghetti on a bath night. My 2-year-old often ends up rubbing spaghetti sauce in his hair. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
5. Speaking of baths… while you give your kids a bath and letting them play for a few minutes, tidy up and wipe down your sink, clean a few things while you are in the bathroom with them. This of course only works with kiddos that can safely sit up in the tub on their own. The nice thing is you are able to keep an eye on them, interact with them, and give them a bit of independent playtime while you scrub away that annoying toothpaste glob that someone left in the sink. If you are really feeling it, you could wash out the tub after they are out of the tub and in bed for the night.
6. Do you, your kids or your significant other keep putting something on your kitchen counter or near your entryway that does not belong and it drives you nuts because it is out of place? Consider putting a basket there. We used to have an office at our house and I would put any mail that my husband needed to look at on his desk. We got rid of our office so that all of our kids could have their own bedroom. Since then, we have struggled to find a good spot to put mail where my husband will notice it. It eventually started ending up on the kitchen counter. It worked well for him because he would notice it. It drove me crazy because we do not have tons of counter space and I thought that it made the counter look messy. I met him in the middle by adding a small basket on the kitchen counter in which the mail can sit in it upright. He is very happy with the basket because the mail still grabs his attention. I am pleased with the basket because it is not all over my counter and one more thing that makes my house look messy.
7. In regards to dishes, if it isn’t able to go in the dishwasher, consider donating/getting rid of it (this does not apply to pots and pans for me). I am not afraid to admit that I LOVE having a dishwasher. I did not have one most of my childhood, so I do have something to compare to. I love dishwashers for two reasons: 1) they sanitize my dishes and 2) I can get most dishes done by rinsing them off for a few seconds and then sticking them in the dishwasher. I have been trying hard to notice the pitfalls of my family’s house cleaning. About a year ago, I noticed that dishes would always get done, but often if I did not take time to hand wash dishes in the sink for a few days, a group of non-dishwasher friendly items would start congregating by the sink. I took a hard look at some of these items and asked myself: What do I love more, this item or the idea of having a dishwasher friendly equal? I have not gotten rid of everything that is not dishwasher friendly, but this is just another step that has helped me to only keep items that I love.
8. Consider getting a robot vacuum. No, I don’t want to spend money on a Roomba either. We have a cheaper, highly-rated robot vacuum that was recommended by two of my cousins and was on sale one summer. Don’t get me wrong, we still use our upright vacuum. The trouble was, with young kids and a small house, it was hard to find a good time in which none of the kids were sleeping, we weren’t busy doing something else, and we had time to sweep. Having the robot vacuum set to a weekly schedule motivates you to tidy up the floor before the vacuum runs. It is quiet enough that it does not wake up my kids. So for a little bit of money, I am able to regularly have a tidy floor while getting other things done.
9. Find a notepad app on your phone that you like. I have been using the one that comes installed on the iPhone, but I know that there are many great options there. I often do my best thinking when I am not near a pad of paper. I will sometimes think of groceries that I need, meals that I would like to make, and many of my blog posts often start as ideas on my notepad app. There is no paper for me to misplace or make space to carry. The nice thing about the particular app that I use is that anything that I type on the app is also on my computer and very easy for me to copy and paste.
10. Try to infuse something that you love or look forward to with a task. I often will call my aunt or listen to a blog post while doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I will watch my favorite Netflix show while folding laundry. Don’t let your “laundry list” of chores keep you from listening or watching things that make you happy.
What are your best tips to keep your home tidy?