I have a pretty small house by today’s standard. We live in less than 1000 square feet. That seems pretty large to me and more than enough room for my family of four! We have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a small utility room that we use for storage, and a kitchen/dining/living room combination. I really can’t imagine my house being bigger. It’s a perfect size for us. I have lived in bigger houses and always felt that I could never keep all the areas of the house picked up at one time. I was always trying to catch up. My small house makes it possible to keep everything put away and clean.
So how do I keep my house picked up daily? Here’s a few things that really help me keep our home looking nice.
- We don’t have a lot of stuff. I have two criteria for the things that I have in my home. Things that I need and use on a regular basis and things that make me happy. I really like it when most things fit both descriptions! I’ve done a lot of work in the past to get rid of stuff in my home and I want to keep it from coming back. (See How I Got Rid of More than Half of Our Stuff) When I find something that doesn’t fit my criteria, I put it in a basket in my storage room. When the basket is full, I go through the items again (in case I need to change my mind) and sell or donate them.
- I get dressed as soon as my feet hit the floor out of bed. I’m not a morning person and sometimes getting up and getting started can be difficult for me. I have to help myself with this, so I have a plan. I usually even lay out my clothes the night before, so that they are within reach. I even put my shoes on. Wow, right!? That’s not normal for a stay at home mom! At least it wasn’t normal for me a couple years ago. If I’m honest, I would sometimes go all morning and still be in my pj’s, but I also didn’t get as much done. So, now I get dressed. It really helps me keep up my home, when I get myself ready for the day.
- I make the bed and straighten the bedroom. I try to do this before the kids hear me moving around, so that it’s done before breakfast. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t! If I can’t get the bedroom done before breakfast, I do it right after.
- One of the first things I do when going into the kitchen in the morning, is to put the clean dishes away so that my dish drainer is empty. It takes me less than five minutes, but it goes a long way in helping me keep the kitchen cleaned up. For those with a dishwasher, I would definitely recommend putting your dishes away as one of the first things you do in the morning. It gives a huge payoff because you now have a place to put your dirty dishes without letting them pile up.
- I clean up after every meal. I don’t always have time to heat water to wash dishes, but I always rinse and stack them to get ready to wash. I put all the food away and wipe the counters and table. I generally wash dishes after lunch and/or dinner.
- If we use something, we put it away. Because we only have the things we need and love, everything has its home. We pick up throughout the day. Everyone knows where everything goes. Even my toddler is learning. He doesn’t always help pick up, but he’s learning. When I do see him putting things away, I’m astounded that he knows where things go! He sees us do it so much.
- I follow a schedule for the day. We have our meals around the same time everyday. My kids know when toys can come out, when it’s time for homeschool, and when it’s time for outside play. This helps me get my chores done, while also being my son’s schoolteacher everyday.
- I only have one basket of toys in the living room for the boys to play with. I periodically rotate the toys out with “new” ones so that they get to play with all their toys, but limiting the amount makes picking up easy. My oldest son can usually do it in a few minutes. I find that it also helps them focus on their play. I think too many toys limits their imagination. They just end up dumping a bunch of bins and never really playing with the contents because they can’t see what to do through all the stuff. Sounds like us, doesn’t it? (It’s hard to even start cleaning up a room when there is so much stuff. We can’t even see where to start!) I find that a few toys, with all the parts together, helps keep them occupied much longer. My oldest usually makes up games with these toys. I love seeing him use his imagination!
I’m so thankful for my small house and all the time I’ve invested in simplifying our stuff. I feel like it has made our off-grid life possible. I have so many other things that need my attention. Having strategies for keeping my home picked up keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and behind. It’s peaceful for me! It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but taking care of my family and home goes so much smoother when I have a plan.