No joke! There was a time where we decided to move and we were temporarily living in a 20-ft camper in the Keys for 2-1/2 months with a 1 year old. More recently, we drove to Florida in a van with a pop-up camper with a 4 & 1 year old. When you live in a camper & van for 3 weeks with 2 small children and all the toys, food, and gear that comes with it, you learn REAL quick!
What? You have no plans to camp or travel for weeks or months at a time? Well, that makes it a little harder doesn’t it? While our trip to Florida in January helped kick start the habit, here is how we get back in the swing of things when life happens.
1. Start one room at a time.
Is your house a pig sty? Start with one room. I usually start with the kitchen because it makes the biggest visual impact. Clean it up and don’t leave it dirty again. Period. Then move on to the next room.
2. Pick up every day.
If you have children, pick up every day. If they are in school, they need to help keep up the rooms you have under control every night before bed. If you homeschool or are in the 1-2 year old mess-maker phase, do it multiple times a day. I try to do it before meals, but I must confess that sometimes I wait too long and they are in NO condition to help.
3. Have a place for everything and everything in it’s place.
This is always the hardest part for me. My biggest clutter catchers always fill up when things don’t have homes OR those homes are hard to get to.
Get creative about using what you have. In order to avoid having to purchase something, I will go through and purge to find a space to put it. When you just can’t get around it (like my need for bookcases in the tv room), make a list of what you want to store and where/how you want it to be.
4. Come up with minimums.
Create a list of things that annoy you and your hubby the most, as well as items essential to safety & well-being of the family (like regular vacuuming so the baby doesn’t choke on small items).
After you have that list, figure out how often those things need to be done to be clean. For instance, I could go 2 weeks without a mold ring on my toilets, but not 3. Sweeping is almost a daily job in spring & summer, but maybe weekly in the winter. Or if you’d like a daily list of housekeeping chores, try the Confident Mom Weekly Planner.
5. Find a time that works.
Once you have your list, experiment to find a time that works for you. I try to do homeschool work with my oldest while the younger one is taking her afternoon nap. Because I know I have that to do, I try to do my housework in the mornings.
Test out housework during different times of day & note when you feel the most productive. Maybe your best time is after lunch when the kids are playing happily. Or maybe daddy does bedtime duty & that’s a great time. Test the waters & see what works best for you.
6. Schedule it & stick to it.
Take you list of items & times and start laying them out. My schedule is to pickup from weekend on Monday. Tuesday & Wednesday are laundry days because I’m too scattered to do a load a day :). Thursday is floors (vacuum, sweep & mop). Friday is bathrooms. Other clean up is done daily.
7. Do it.
Just do it. If everything in your being wants to stamp your feet (I’m not the only one, am I?), just buckle down & offer it up as a sacrifice to God. Having a schedule that gets mostly followed means your house will still be okay if you have an off week due to illness or other obligations.
Do you have a schedule for cleaning?