I don’t know about you, but I spend way too much time picking up stuff around the house. I feel like I have to keep up with this constant battle of pick-up to keep my house looking “presentable.” This is what I call the clutter battle. Although I am not specifically going to talk about clutter in this article, I am going to talk about having to have all the stuff put away in order to actually clean the house.
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To actually clean our homes—meaning the dusting, vacuuming, etc., we need to have all of the stuff first put away. We can’t really clean if we are just moving things out of the way and trying to clean around them. So we begin to clean by first putting all the stuff away. What usually happens is by the time we get all of the stuff put away, we are out of time to clean or just too tired. Thus we have dusty shelves and dirty walls. Are you relating to this?
All we need then to help us use our cleaning time more efficiently is to have everyone’s stuff put away. I know this isn’t the kind of tip you were seeking—this one takes a continuous effort. It’s not just a cool, quick idea. But if you can stay ahead of this battle, it will help with not only housework, but with other organizational matters, staying on top of things, or at the least—looking like you’ve got your act together.
This is easier said than done, of course. But I’m not going to leave you with this obvious suggestion and perhaps a renewed interest in nagging. I’ve got a few tips to help you out.
There are 2 reasons that stuff gets left lying around. One is because it doesn’t have a place where it belongs. The second is because we don’t feel like putting it where it belongs. (I could add a third reason—toddlers!)
There are courses and books that can help you find a place for everything in your home—but it really just comes to you taking the time to find those places. If your kids are leaving their shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor—just ask yourself: Where should the kids put their shoes? Is it reasonable to ask them to put them there?
Most of us, after perhaps a little more tweaking and organizing, have places for our stuff. It’s usually because of the second reason that our stuff is out. We just don’t put it away. We’re tired, lazy, too busy, distracted, etc. We have bad habits. I know that my daughter should put away the puzzle she just completed before getting out another, but I don’t bother making her do this because I’m “too busy” writing this article on kids leaving stuff out. Isn’t that ironic?
Moms need the virtue of fortitude-- persistently keeping after the kids to put their stuff away. And persistently putting our own stuff away. Do you leave stuff out, too? If I looked in your bathroom would I see your make-up on the counter?
This fortitude on Mom’s part needs to spread to the kids so that even if they are not feeling like putting their shoes in the basket on the porch, they do it anyway.
Does this mean that Mom needs to continually nag the kids to get them to do it? Yes and no. Nagging in a condescending way or in a way that makes you sound disgusted with your child has no place in a Christ-centered home. It just builds resentment instead of cooperation. When possible, always make light of the situation. Joke about it. But yes, you will have to keep after them.
Here is what my husband and I do that helps everyone keep their stuff picked up and put away:
1) Notice I said, “husband and I.” The team approach works best. Get the hubby on board. Ask him kindly that you’d love to have his help in getting the kids and yourselves to be better about putting things away. Tell him that this simple daily approach can cut housework by 50% or more! Who doesn’t want to live in a cleaner house?
2) Do not lose your temper. Do not yell. Do not nag. Kindly but firmly and consistently ask your children to put their item(s) away. Keep on keeping on. Fortitude!
3) Use a bribe. Or rather, incentive. “Unless you have all of those puzzles put away, I’m not going to read you a story before you go to bed.”
4) Some moms collect the toys/items that are out and don’t return them without pay. That’s too complicated for this mom, but if there were a persistent problem with an item, I might resort to this.
5) Have a place where you can put the children’s items for them to put away later. This is not ideal, but there will be times when your children are not around and you need their stuff out of the way. By having a spot where their stuff is, it will be “picked up” but still be available for your child to put in the right place. In our home, each child has a stair. This works well since I certainly don’t want to make the trip up the stairs to the child’s room to put something away! (Warning! Keep the mess to the side so no one trips on it going down the stairs. This is also incentive for not keeping it on the stairs long.)
6) My favorite: Use signs. We all need reminders to be consistent in our habits. Oftentimes, we can’t be there to give those gentle reminders, but a sign can. A sign can get your message across without you having to nag. After the habit is established, the sign can come down. But as we get lazy again, be ready to put another sign up as another reminder. Something about things being in writing that catches our attention. These signs will also serve as reminders to us.
What signs have I used? Over the years, I’ve used signs for shoes, dishes on counters, dishes in sink (to be put in the dishwasher), dirty clothes to be put in the basket, one bin out at a time, and most recently, a “no parking your backpacks here" sign.
Do you have items out or piled up in your home somewhere that a sign might your be a simple solution? Look around and consider it.
I have free downloads of over a dozen signs that you can sign up to receive. Just click on over. (http://www.smartmartha.com/free-signs-here.html) also will be featuring other “Tips for Easing House Cleaning” on my blog for weeks to come.
And may your housework go ever more smoothly this week! But don’t be a Martha about it! Love Jesus and follow him first.
Copyright 2016 Tami Kiser
About the Author
Tami Kiser is a wife, mother, teacher, author, and speaker. She runs a video production studio featuring Catholic speakers. These can be purchased or viewed on Formed. She also is the co-owner and host of a new Catholic Retreat and Cultural Center in the Carolina Mountains called Heart Ridge. She has taught everything from NFP, Zumba, cleaning toilets, Catholic crafting, the hula, bullet journaling, tap dancing, and liturgical living to Saxon Math 54 for the 10th time.