For those in the real world who have busy schedules, children and pets, keeping the home neat and tidy can be an exercise in frustration. When you get home at six, have to help with homework, take kids to football practice and give baths late at night, the state of the house can deteriorate quickly. If you are used to cleaning only on Saturdays, by Tuesday evening, your house may be a shambles. It is possible to have a liveable home throughout the week, even when you have a busy schedule. When you make clean-up a part of the daily routine and get everyone to pitch in, Saturday’s weekly cleaning will not be such a monumental task.
1. Learn to address messes right away.
One key to keeping a home clean throughout the week is to teach the whole family to combat clutter and mess right away. Procrastination always leads to disaster. Small things like people leaving mail on the table, kids’ shoes scattered in the living room or games left out can all add up to a big mess. Try to do the dishes, hang up towels, sort the mail and put things away immediately. Take five minutes before you walk out the door to have everyone do a quick clean-up. Figure out fun rewards, like choosing the family movie, making a special dessert or going out to dinner for good attitudes and cooperation.
2. Have multiples of cleaning products and supplies.
Another useful idea is to store supplies wherever they are used. Buy enough cleaning products for each bathroom in the house, and store them in the bathroom. Then, you can wipe down the sink and toilet with a disposable wipe while you are brushing your teeth or giving the kids a bath. Buy vacuum cleaners for each level of the house, so you can quickly clean the floors when you have five or ten spare minutes. If you don’t have to fetch cleaning items from all over the house, you will be amazed at how much cleaning you can do in small spurts of time.
3. Work as a team, and make it fun.
Before everyone scatters after dinner to do a fun activity, put on some snappy music, and have everyone work for ten or 15 minutes. Make it a race if your kids like competition. When four or five people work together, kitchen clean-up goes very quickly.
4. Do laundry every day.
For most families, dirty laundry multiplies like rabbits. Get in the habit of starting a load of laundry each morning and switching it to the dryer after you get home from work. Then, while you are watching television at night, you can fold the laundry. Have a single basket for each member of the family to make putting away clothes more simple. The next morning, you can put the laundry away while the kids are getting dressed. Older kids can put away their own clothes.
Keeping the house clean is not an impossible task if you make it the responsibility of the whole family. Kids need to feel that they matter to the family, and they need to learn the valuable life skills involved in housekeeping. Approach the issue in a matter-of-fact way, and stand firm when the kids complain or argue. Eventually, if you are consistent, kids will accept helping out at home as a normal part of the day.