How to Keep Your Home Clean and Tidy (Even When You're Crazy Busy)

A recent discussion with friends revealed that we all have a particular thing which, above all else, makes us feel organised in our space and enables us to sleep soundly at night (small people permitting of course!)

My 'thing' is having all the toys tidied away and back in their rightful places at the end of the day.

If I can also see the kitchen worktops without a sea of crockery, jobs to do, lists and other abandoned bits and bobs, adorned only with beautiful, shiny appliances, I can go to bed very happy indeed!

Whereas, with three older children, my friend Lisa's control point is laundry.

She insists that clothes get put in the laundry basket as soon as they're taken off, and makes sure she does at least one load of washing a day, washed, dried, ironed, put away, like clockwork.

I must say we have recently adopted the one load a day approach, well for weekdays anyway, and it works.

Another friend, a mum to two boys, says her thing is making sure the dishwasher is stacked, the odds and ends of washing up done and her 'sink is shined'.

I really resisted that one, preferring to crash in front of the TV or Twitter in the evening, but it does definitely feel better to wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen.

Being followers of Jean Liedloff's The Continuum Concept, we subscribe to the idea of getting children involved in household chores from an early age, enabling them to learn vital skills and encouraging them to take some responsibility.

Whilst friends and family aren't entirely happy seeing a two year old standing up at the kitchen worktop using sharp(ish) knives to chop vegetables, they are impressed when she helps unload the washing machine, puts the dry clothes away, helps tidy up or sweeps the floor.

To her this is fun, and she is genuinely proud of herself for making her own little contribution to the running of the household.

The other fun element we have introduced, which admittedly is a bit of a borrow from the Fly Lady philosophy, is timers.

I never would have thought it but setting the timer makes everything fun - even for the adults!  

Knowing you have only 2/5/10 minutes to tidy this space or do this job not only motivates you to get a shift on, it actually [whisper it] makes the activity fun.

Who knew a lowly oven timer could be your best friend?

With all the plates I juggle - mummy, cat mama, writer, blogger, social media maven, cook, gardener, accountant, company secretary, general bottle washer - organisation is the key to everything.

We have a weekly schedule which details everything, but also a list of the household jobs to be done each day, even the ones which are done day in, day out like dishwashing and laundry.

I know a rota sounds very studenty, but in reality having everything spread over the week makes it less daunting somehow, and also means all the adults in the house can see what needs to be done at a glance (very useful for keeping the husband on task!)

And hey, if ticking things off motivates you, laminate the thing and do that!

Last of all, we have a multitude of containers throughtout the house where things get tossed when they're in the wrong location, need mending, need up- or re-cycling, or otherwise need dealing with.  

Then set your timer and off you go with your container of oddities to re-assign/deal with.

It works for us!

So, here are my 10 top tips for keeping your home under control:

1. Get a cleaner or a self-cleaning house, failing that follow tips 2 to 10:

2. Work out what your control thing is.  Ensure that gets done every day, even if nothing else does.

3. Stack your dishwasher, wash up and shine your sink every evening.

4. Do one load of laundry a day, and get one load ironed, folded and put away.

5. Involve your children in chores.  A clean, tidy house is everyone's responsibility.

6. Set an oven timer and give yourself a time limit to get the job done.

7. Have a schedule which breaks the chores down over the week.

8. If crossing things off a list motivates you, laminate your list.

9. Have open containers, e.g. garden trugs, dotted around to toss odds and ends into.

10. Never leave a room empty handed. There's bound to be something that needs returning to its rightful place, so take it there now.#

And finally, make sure a treat is in sight at the end of your chore time.  5 minutes with a cup of tea works wonders!

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