Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 Ways to Take Control of Your Household Mess

In the hurry to manage your kids, your job, and your personal life, it only takes a few days to fall seriously behind with the housework. Piles of laundry seem to spontaneously regenerate the moment your back is turned. Dishes crust over with food, and toys wage an all-out assault on every inch of floor space. If the struggle is starting to get the better of you, it is time to regroup.

Pick your battles and remember that your home doesn’t have to be spotlessly clean. Just keeping germs, clutter, and safety hazards at bay is a big step in the right direction. Once you get your household chores under control you will have more time and less stress. Here are 5 tips that can help you whip your living space into shape:


Separate chores into 3 groups – daily, weekly, and monthly. Do a quick estimate of how long each one takes. Divide them up so you won’t feel overwhelmed by trying to tackle everything at once. Try to leave one day a week mostly free of chores. This day can be used to catch up on what you missed during the rest of the week. If you miraculously got everything done, you can spend that time relaxing instead!


Try to keep stuff cleaned up as you go along. Put away ingredients and wipe down cabinets/stove tops as you cook. If something spatters all over the inside of the microwave, put a soaking wet dishcloth inside and run it for 30 seconds. Let the dishcloth cool and then use it to wipe down the interior. Use a daily cleaning spray in the shower. If you pick a non-toxic version, you can even scrub down the walls and tub while you are taking a shower.


Consider packing away Grandma’s fine china and all your knick knacks for a few years. This will keep fragile items from getting broken when your kids are horsing around. It will also save you untold hours of dusting. While you are at it, round up everything you haven’t used in the last 12 months and stick it in storage. Extra Tip: If an item doesn’t have a specific place to be kept, get rid of it.


You can decrease the need for ironing by taking each load of clothing out of the dryer while it is still warm. Run loads like sheets and towels overnight since it doesn’t matter if they get wrinkled. Sort reds and whites out, but don’t worry too much about the rest. It isn’t the end of the world if you wash jeans and towels together; just turn the pants inside out so they don’t get (visible) lint on them in the dryer.


Tubs from the dollar store are a single parent’s best friend. Use the kind with lids so you can stack them. Install a rack/shelf system in each closet to triple your storage space. Having a place to keep things out of reach is a big help when your children are still learning how to clean up after themselves (the first 18 years!). If they have a habit of dragging out too much stuff at once, you can simply reduce their access by keeping things out of reach. Organize your bedroom first then move on to the kid’s rooms. That way you will at least have one clutter free space of your own.

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