When there is clutter is on every counter, dishes fill the sink, laundry on the couch and junk mail on the coffee table, the home is an overwhelming place to be.
Often times when looking at this, we can see that there is a definite need to rid the home of clutter.
And it’s true, you do need to rid the home of clutter, but to get rid of the overwhelm, one has to address daily habits as well.
Making a change to a clutter-free home is a 2 part task:
- Decluttering the unnecessary items.
- Building a daily rhythm of habits that keep the overwhelm at bay.
In order to achieve a clean & organized home, you have to implement both of these actions.
One may get their possessions down to 100 items, but that won’t automatically make their home clean and tidy- everything would still be out on the counters and on the floor, if the simple daily habits aren’t changed as well.
One has to create a daily rhythm of tidying up to have a clean, clear home.
Let me show you this by using 2 different examples:
The Jane and Mary in our story have the same size house, same amount of kids and same job – but how they function through the day is very different.
Jane woke up in the morning, got out of bed and wandered into the kitchen for breakfast. There were dishes in the sink, but still plenty in the cupboard, so she retrieved bowls, spoons & cups and gave breakfast to the kids, putting the newly dirtied dishes into the sink. There was still plenty of clean dishes, so no need to do anything with them right now.
Mary woke up and immediately made her bed. She took a quick shower, leaving her pajamas hanging on a hook in the bathroom, got dressed for the day and went to the kitchen for breakfast. She completely unloaded the dishwasher that was run last night and then got out clean bowls, spoons & cups for breakfast. After breakfast the newly dirtied dishes are rinsed and put right into the dishwasher.
Jane went back into the bedroom, tossed her pajamas on the chair near her bed, picked up some clothes that were on the floor, took a shower and got ready for the day. She then had the kids put their lunches together while helping one child finish their math homework, and ran out the door in a rush because another child was missing a shoe- found it! Not a minute to spare.
Mary supervised the kids making lunches while she threw a load of clothes in the wash and set meat out to thaw for dinner. After the kids got lunches made, the counter was wiped off, backpacks were packed and everyone loaded into the car.
In the evening…
Jane got home with the kids, who left their backpacks sitting by the door and ran off to play with neighbors. Jane tossed the mail on the coffee table, sat her purse on the counter and stood in the kitchen wondering what on earth to cook for dinner. Something from a box was easy, so she’ll make that, but forgot to buy any veggies, so will eat another meal without them- at least the kids are getting food, right?
Mary got home with the kids, sorted the junk mail into the trash by the backdoor, set the one bill in the mail holder on the desk. Put the laundry in the dryer and had the kids hang up their backpacks, empty their lunchboxes and put any lunch containers in the dishwasher. She had the kids do any homework before running of to play. The meat was thawed so she got out a salad and heated up the grill.
Jane got dinner ready, set out dishes and the family ate together. Everyone had different plans for the evening, so they ran out as soon as they were done eating. The dishes needed to be done, but Jane had had a long day at work and it just seemed too exhausting, it could wait for tomorrow. There was enough dishes for breakfast anyway.
Mary got dinner ready, everyone ate together and then when they got up from the table each person put their own dishes in the dishwasher before going their own direction. She threw in the other dirty dishes from dinner and then started the dishwasher. She folded and put away the one load of laundry and then sat down for the evening.
As a disclaimer: I’m naturally a “Jane”. This is not intended to dish out any sort of mommy guilt that is so prominent these days.
If you were to look into their homes, Jane’s is filled with clutter and Mary’s is not. Mary has cleaning and decluttering habits built into her day. Putting dishes immediately in the dishwasher is just as important as how she sorted the mail before it even came into the house.
It’s not that we have to become someone we are not, but if we value a clean & organized home, we have to implement some sort of maintenance habits into days.
Take measures to be successful:
- Start simple. Keep your routine as simple as possible. You can always add more to your routine when it is well established. But if you are just starting: just focus on doing the dishes in the morning and evening. If you add too many chores in the beginning, the whole idea of getting it done is overwhelming: keep the goal achievable. Only focus on the dishes for the first 30 days.
- Use a chart. Remember getting stars on your school papers as a kid? Seeing evidence of your accomplishments gives more motivation to keep going. Put a star on the calendar when you do it, or print out a chart set and check off each time you get it done to see your progress.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself a few minutes of “me time” after you complete your routine. It doesn’t have to be anything huge: it might be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee or playing on your phone. As long as it’s something you enjoy and allow yourself to enjoy it because you completed something. (Rather than being on the phone avoiding those dishes- use it to reward your efforts.)
If you are worried that 15 minutes a day isn’t enough to do the dishes… that’s about how much time I spend doing the dishes each day. We do them after each meal, normally running the dishwasher after lunch and dinner. And we have 7 people in the home. If you’re anxious about it, time yourself next time you do the dishes. So often we think it’s a bigger job than it actually is.
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