Have you been in houses that amaze you with how clean and uncluttered they are? You think, “They must have cleaning help” or “They must use all their time cleaning and straightening!” This might be true! However, many people have found that with a few tricks and getting the whole family involved, you can keep your house company ready with just a small amount of time per day. Even the youngest child can pick up toys and clothes; teach them early!
The kitchen tends to get out of control quickly. Try to clean up while you’re cooking. I keep a sink full of soapy water for cleaning utensils and counters. This is especially important during holiday dinners. Put spices, herbs, and other ingredients away as soon as you are done. As soon as dinner is done, everyone can pitch in. One washes dishes or loads the dishwasher; someone else puts away leftovers and sweeps. This clean up can take less than 15 minutes! Wipe out the refrigerator weekly; throwing away anything that’s expired. This is also a great time to do an inventory for shopping.
Everyone should make their bed every day! Even if it’s just straightening out the pillows and covering the bed with a duvet, it makes the whole room look presentable. Your bedroom (along with every other room in the house) should be de-cluttered at least twice a year. If you haven’t used an item since the last de-clutter, out it goes. Throw it out, recycle it, or donate it. This teaches kids not to cling to their possessions and shows them the fun of donating to someone less fortunate.
Have an organized entryway or mudroom where everyone has their own space. Hang coats up, keep shoes in cubbies, and place backpacks on a bench. This keeps the house and their rooms straight; and saves searching for these items every morning. Purchase good indoor/outdoor mats; this will keep the majority of the dirt outside.
Do at least one load of laundry every day. My husband used to think laundry was done once it hit the dryer. It’s not done until it’s folded and put away! Dust and vacuum once a week. Invest in a higher end cordless vacuum; it will pay for itself in time saved. It also works well on both carpet and hard surface floors.
Paper can add up quickly and make the house look untidy. Go through the mail everyday next to a shredder and recycle bin. That will take care of much of it. Keep a folder with pockets for each day of the month for bill organization. Important school papers should have their own bin for parents to go through.
This looks like a lot, but most of these chores can be done in 15 minutes or less. When everyone chips in, they can be done quickly! Teach children from when they are very young that if you make a mess, you are responsible for cleaning up!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO