If you’re a mom with kids under 4 you will understand the chaos that little people leave behind them as they play, eat, explore and learn throughout the day. I have two under 4 and it’s a challenge, I am also slightly O.C.D., so it’s a REAL challenge not to loose my cool every day with the chaos that erupts around me in my home. So I’ve implemented some methods to help me cope with the chaos and to appease my need for clear surfaces, and I’m going to share them with you.
1: Clear your kitchen straight after dinner. Time needed: about 30 minutes.
Don’t leave your dishes piled up and all your dirty pots standing in the kitchen waiting to loom at you in the morning when you wake up. If you have a dishwasher (and I highly reccommend this for sanity and water saving too), pack it full, everything that can go into the dishwasher, stash it in there, if it’s full run it in the evening and you’ll have clean dishes in the morning. Because I wash bottles twice a day I use this opportunity to wash whatever other dishes can’t go in the dishwasher, saving water, and using my time efficiently. Whatever doesn’t fit into the drying rack gets left for the next day. Wipe down counters and fill the kettle for the next morning. Sigh, such bliss and mental space before bedtime.
2: Have baskets/buckets/bins in each kids room and lounge or play area. Time needed: about 30 minutes.
I was chatting with some friends yesterday telling them my “toy clean-up policy”. You cannot possibly expect to keep up with the constant mess kids make with their toys, so I do a blitz twice a day. At night just before I go to bed I clear the lounge floor and the passageways from tripping hazards and toys with pokey bits and turn off toys that make a noise in case we knock one in the middle of the night, and in the morning after the bigger one has left for school I do a more thorough tidy up. Whatever he hasn’t already “helped” to pack away, I lob into one of the bins in the various rooms. This way the floor is clear to vacuum with minimal effort, and the kids can find the toys again without much fuss when they come home.
I must just add that once a month I do a “clean out/sort out” where I go through each bin/box/bucket/basket and put toys that have more than one piece back together, sort out broken toys into the trash and ones that are no-longer age-appropriate into a “give-away” bag. So things are kept relatively in order and the clutter is kept to a minimum most months.
3: Laundry. Time needed: about an hour all together.
Oh the amounts of laundry that little people make! Bathtime, potty training, playing in the mud, wiping their yoghurt on their shirts…I could just go on and on.
We have special spots in the house where we “throw piles” of dirty laundry, one in the kids bathroom, one in our bathroom, and one in each kids room. You can use baskets for the dirty laundry if you want, but I’m a stay at home mom so it’s collected and deposited into the washing machine first thing in the morning when I go to make coffee. As I walk up the passage I stop in each room and grab the little pile and take it with me to the washing machine, switch the kettle on, and then go and turn on the washing machine.
We do quite extensive water saving in our home so my first wash cycle is subsidised with water from the previous loads rinse cycle that is kept in 5L bottles next to the washing machine. So this process of adding water manually is done while the kettle boils and the coffee brews.
We air dry our laundry mostly in South Africa because we have the most wonderful sunny climate, so it hangs outside till mid afternoon and then I bring it all in. Start folding and sorting the clean laundry on my dining table. I do small batches every day as I find this easier to manage than have a “one big laundry day” also we don’t iron too much, only my hubby’s work shirts and a few other items that need it, but if you hang it up on the line straight you can cut down on your ironing by 60%!
The small pile of ironing is usually done when the little one naps or in the afternoon before making dinner, it’s usually only 4 or 5 items, so I’m never slogging behind the ironing board for hours.
4: Get a long lead for your vacuum cleaner. Time needed: about 30 minutes.
I have a 10m lead for my vacuum cleaner, this means I can vacuum my entire house in one go without having to stop and unplug and plug in the vacuum in each room. I start in the lounge and work my way through the living areas and kitchen then down the passage into the three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Giving the house a quick clean from the dust and crumbs that accumulate from kids and pets. It’s faster than sweeping and it’s easier on my back too.
5: Make the beds. Time needed: 20 minutes.
This is probably the best advice I ever received, make the beds. The bed usually covers if not half, then up to 80% of the space in a bedroom. If the bed isn’t made, the whole room feels dis-organised. So beds get made any time between coffee in the mornings and my eldest going to school. Neat beds and fluffed pillows help to add to the tidy, clear space and even if you don’t get to tidying the rest of the room at least the bed is crisp and ready for bedtime later that evening.
I know it sounds like I’m constantly doing something by this list, but it’s efficient and keeps the ball rolling for when the cleaner comes twice a week to clean. My sanity is kept in check with some quick clearing of surfaces that don’t take much time at all and the house is kept running smoothly. I have a relatively small home with three beds and two bathrooms, all this depends on the size of your home, whether you have double story or not, and if you clean on your own or if you have a cleaner or service that helps. Obviously you will have to see what works for your home and your lifestyle, but this is what I’ve made work for me and my personality that needs order before I can switch off at night and go to bed.
If you have any great tips for time saving tidying or cleaning, let me know in the comments.