OK, so you've been tackling your clutter and getting your home clean and more naturally healthy. But how do you keep it that way? Do you have to resign yourself to major cleanups overtaking your weekends, or maybe that you just have to learn to live with the chaos?
No, you don't!
We know that our environments reflect our inner state, and so chaos in the home is not an option (at least for me). But I've also found that by establishing some simple daily habits, I can keep on top of the chaos and clutter and dirt so that I don't need to spend hours at a time cleaning up again. Some of these I've learned from my Mom, and some just from experience in intentionally creating a naturally healthy, simple and decluttered home (actually many homes over the years).
These daily habits will take only a few minutes of your time but will save hours later on.
1. Keep shoes at the door.
Do not wear shoes past the entryway. Period. Just think about where the bottoms of your shoes have been and what you would be bringing into the house, where you walk around in socks or bare feet. Contain this dirt and germs at the doorway, and you also have less to clean throughout the rest of the house. And you only need to have one storage system for shoes.
Make sure to add enough shelving or cubbies or perhaps a big bin to store your shoes in at the entryway or in an entry closet. And keep a natural fiber rug at the doorway - one inside and one out. Outside the door have a rough sisal mat so that you can scuff off any major dirt from your shoes. Inside the door lay down another natural mat made of a natural material like seagrass or sisal. This kind of material is not only non-toxic, but it hides dirt really well and soaks up winter slush well. No need to continually mop the floor this way - simply shake it out once a week outside. It's worth investing in one that covers the majority of your entryway flooring surface.
2. Put things away as you use them.
It’s so much easier to pick things up as you go rather than wait and have to undertake a huge cleaning session all at once. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it's something to strive for nonetheless. The key to making this work, of course, is to ensure that everything has its own place. Do that first if you haven't already.
- Put toiletries & makeup away in its spot every morning after getting ready. Don't leave the hairdryer laying on the counter!
- Throw dirty clothes in the hamper, not on the floor or on a chair.
- Hang coats on hooks at the entryway or on hangers in the closet.
- Put kitchen appliances back in their spot after using.
- Put mail in a folder just for it.
- Take your laptop back to the desk when done using it elsewhere in the house.
- Put your phone & tablet back on its charging station when done.
- Fold blankets and throws back up and put them in their spot when done snuggling up on the couch.
- Put wet towels on a hook to dry and reuse - have a hook for everyone in the house.
- Put magazines and books back on shelves or in baskets when done.
- Put tools or junk back in the junk drawer or garage when done.
I know many of you may be thinking that you can do this but you'll never get your spouse or kids to do it as well. Perhaps sit them down to explain why it's important, and implement a mandatory family weekend cleaning time that they will have to take part in. The more they leave around through the week, the longer the cleaning time on the weekend will be! Hopefully, they'll soon learn to create these good habits too.
3. Make the bed every morning.
I've posted more fully here on why it's important to make your bed every day. It not only keeps your home tidier but also reduces your stress level and promotes happiness. Take two minutes every morning and get in the habit of making your bed (or have your partner do it if they're the last one out!)
4. Wash the dishes every night, and put them away every morning.
Whether you hand wash and leave dishes to drip dry like me or use the dishwasher, get in the habit of cleaning all dishes in the evening and putting them away in the morning. Waking up to clean dishes and coming home to a neat and clean kitchen after the workday will help you to relax and inspired to keep up more healthy habits.
Turn this chore into a meaningful habit by combining it with music, or by using the time to visualize a dream coming true or repeating a positive mantra. Or use the act of doing the dishes to practice mindfulness. A reader told me she does this by playing soft music and using dish soap that smells wonderful!
5. Wipe down your counters and table after each meal.
The simple act of wiping down your counters and table (with an all-natural disinfecting spray) will get you in the habit of keeping those surfaces clear of clutter and clean of dirt. Surfaces should be free and clear to prep and prepare and eat on - just doing this one thing will help you feel tidier and lighter all around.
6. Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
Set the alarm on your phone to go off 10 minutes before you begin your bedtime routine. Spend this time doing a scan of your home to pick up anything left out and put it in its place. Do a quick sweep of the floors that need it, and spot-mop any spills or dirty areas. Wipe down bathroom sinks and counters with an all-natural disinfectant spray (keep one right in the bathroom along with a couple of cleaning cloths).
Bonus: Declutter once/month
Some things will pile up naturally, like mail, magazines, books, empty food containers, and even socks that lost their match. Spend an hour once every month to go through these things and recycle, donate or toss what's not needed any longer. Keeping your home free from stuff you don't use and that doesn't give you joy will help you feel calm and in control.
These little habits sound so simple that you wouldn’t think they'd make much difference in the overall state of your home and your mental state, but I promise you they do! Developing these habits that take only a few minutes will make life sweeter and your house more comfortable and supportive for you and your family.