So I am a “tidy” person who generally has a very “tidy” home. I think it’s mostly because ever since I left for college, I’ve lived in really small spaces – dorm rooms, sorority house, NYC apartments, and even now in my first house as an adult, still relatively small in the scheme of things. There simply isn’t space for clutter. And each time I move (7 times in the last 10 years), I’m basically forced into a spring cleaning, which certainly helps. After I had Teddy, I was no longer going off to an office every day, and having my home be a clutter and mess-free zone became even more important. My home has to feel really put together and calm for ME to feel put together and calm. I’ll leave it to Marie Kondo to give the REAL organization tips, but here are the things I do on a daily basis that keep my home (and my mind) in order.
I Have A Morning And Evening Tidy Routine
I do a few simple things every morning and every evening to keep the house in order – every morning I make the bed, take any water cups on our bedside tables downstairs, and unload the dishwasher. You know the benefits of making your bed, so I don’t need to get into that. Having an available dishwasher all day means there is never an excuse for dirty dishes to pile up in the sink, which is a big no-no for me. I have a toddler who loves to climb in the dishwasher of course, so I do my big unloading as he’s eating his breakfast (aka strapped away and out of reach).
Each evening right after before I put Teddy to bed, we clean up all the toys in his room together (one of the two places in our house where his toys “live”). And by “we clean up the toys together” I mean I basically do it while he toddles behind me and occasionally places a block in a basket or a book on a shelf. The point is that I’m getting it done so his room is spotless before bed, and he is learning the importance of picking up after himself. Then, right after he goes down, I clean up all the toys in the family room, the other place where his toys “live”. This means there is no tripping over tiny cars and potentially breaking my neck on the way to bed, and more importantly, it erases evidence that we live in some sort of baby playground. It’s really important to me that my husband and I can have a glass of wine and watch some Netflix murder documentaries without feeling like we’re sitting in a Chuck E Cheese. All the toys are put away and our family room turns back into a calm and relaxing place where adults can hang out too.
I Am At A Low Grade Of Tidying All Day
This is probably the biggest and most important one. I am basically tidying up all throughout the day, almost on a subconscious level. Thus, there is never (lets say RARELY) a time where lots of things are out of place. If I make myself lunch, I put the food back in the cabinet and do the dishes right after. If I finish reading a book, I put it back in the bookshelf right away. If I open a package from Amazon, I break down the empty box and bring it out the the recycling right away. You get the idea. This means that I NEVER have to stare down a big impossible clean up situation. It’s happening without much effort all the time.
Everything In Our House Has A Home (Including Toys)
The easiest trap I used to fall into was having piles and drawers of “stuff”. Now, I make sure that everything has a home, so nothing is ever sitting out on the counter for 3 weeks because there isn’t really a place for it. For example, if I have a pair of jeans I ordered online that, on second thought, are extremely hideous and I need to return, I actually have a drawer in my desk for returns. So the jeans and the receipt go into that drawer until later in the week when I can get to the post office. There is a spot in a specific drawer that holds our car keys, our sunglasses, our wallets, etc. There is a little tray by the front door that holds our shoes. There is a basket in the family room closet that holds our electronics. There is even a home for batteries. This way, there are never PILES of things laying out, because there is a place my husband I know to keep our stuff (and trust me, this makes life a LOT easier when the TV remote stops working and you desperately need to find a AA battery).
I Avoid Putting Anything In A Secondary Location
This is another huge one because it cuts back on sooo much extra work. I really try to avoid putting anything down in the house that is not it’s final location. For instance – if I go get the mail, I open it and file the bills/toss the junk right then. If I take off my coat, I hang it up in the closet right them. When I walk back into the house, I put my keys and wallet back in their drawer. If you create secondary locations for stuff, you’re just giving yourself more work to do later, and if you’re doing that all throughout the day, it turns into a really one really annoying clean up project.
I Have Two Daily “Tidy Sweeps”
Ok so realistically, of COURSE there are times when I have to put stuff in a secondary location or something can’t be dealt with right away. I’m a busy lady with a wild toddler. So, I have two specific times set aside each day where I do a “sweep” to tipy up anything that hasn’t been taken care of – once right after I put Teddy down for his nap in the afternoon, and once when my husband is giving Teddy his nighttime bath – that’s when I do one last counter wipe and clean in the kitchen, and run the dishwasher for the night.
I’m not saying this is some magic wand, but these things have helped me tremendously with keeping a house that is very “lived in” feel calm and uncluttered. Which in turn makes my mind feel calm and uncluttered (mostly…).