With five kids, a dog business, and one always dirt-covered Cowboy Husband. . .it’s hard to keep a clean house. We have a saying in our house, “One MOMMY!” I taught it long ago back when we had just three kiddos. It means, there is just one mommy and I can’t do everything, be everything, or be everywhere at one time. Our children have learned to take turns, pitch in and most importantly. . .to have patience! They have also learned that team work is the best way to clear up our schedule so we can have more mommy time, more play time, and more down time.
With a large family comes a large mess! If we all pitch in. . .it gets done faster! I’ve learned many tips by trial and error, and other momma’s who have been there and done just that. . .raised a house full of kids. My disclaimer. . .we have had many periods in our busy life that have left us with a messy home for the record books. During those last months of pregnancy, illness, busy schedule or simply feeling down, I have let my house go. The only way to feel successful during those stages was to watch an episode of Hoarders. Remember, we all go through seasons. Do NOT let the stress of needing to maintain a perfect home wear you down. Everyone. . .I repeat. . .Everyone has had these moments and everyone has had that moment in life when you just pray someone doesn’t visit unexpectedly.
These are my top 3 tips on how to keep things picked up on a daily basis to ultimately avoid the pile up mess.
1. Grab a Condiment and Go!
This one is from my neighbor who raised 5 boys on her own. We homeschool, which means we have three mealtime opportunities to mess up our kitchen. The rule stands. . .everyone is responsible for cleaning up their area at the table! You made the mess. . .you clean it up. After each mealtime, before we excuse ourselves from the table, everyone is required to grab just one condiment or extra item from the table and put it away along with their own plate, cup and silverware. Each person takes their plate, scrapes it off and places it in the dishwasher. For our family, we use paper plates most of the time. So our kids just throw their plate in the trash. We also keep our Clorox wipes on the kitchen table lazy susan. Each child is required to grab a wipe and clean their area before leaving the table. When mealtime is over the table is spotless and everything is put away. After dinner, I put away the leftovers, place the cookware in the dishwasher and turn it on. Then I’m off to the living room to cuddle with the family on the sofa. I do not stay in the kitchen and work after mealtimes. I just don’t!
2. Every Man- For- Himself Laundry
Let me emphasize that we have 7, that’s S-E-V-E-N people in our family. And with daily farm chores, you can only imagine the laundry we pile up. I hate laundry! There, I said it! Now before everyone tells me how to better organize my laundry room, laundry sorting and folding techniques. . .let me remind you that we have S-E-V-E-N. . . that’s “7” people in the family and over the past 18 yrs of being a parent, I’ve tried everything. What works for one family may not work for the other. I have no problem sorting, loading the washer, transferring to the dryer and back into a basket. It’s the folding and putting away that prompts me to re-start the dryer 2 and 3 times before emptying into that basket. Yes? Sound familiar? See, I’m not alone am I?
So we have 7 days in the week and 7 people in the family. Hmmmm. . .how do we work this out. . .A few important SUB points . . .
–Each person has a color coded laundry basket in their room. A tall circular basket is for dirty laundry. A coordinating rectangular basket is for clean laundry. Mom-white, Dad-black, Andrew-red, Jacob-Blue, Matthew-Green, Melissa and Jessica-Purple. Bathroom laundry is in a wicker basket. You dirty your clothes and put them in the tall basket! check!
–Next, we assigned everyone a day for THEIR laundry. Monday is ME plus any towels, sheets, and misc. Tuesday is Matthew, Wednesday is Melissa and Jessica, Thursday is Andrew, Friday is Jacob and Saturday is Daddy! Sunday is usually my day off or reserved for emergency washing! Yep, we get emergency laundry.
–TEACH everyone how to do laundry!!! I grew up doing laundry every Saturday. From the time I could walk, I was gathering, sorting, or folding laundry. If they can walk. . .they can do laundry. (Just remember to keep laundry soaps, dryer sheets, etc up and out of reach of the little ones.) Each person learns what can be washed, dried and what needs to be separated. We do this by giving everyone a “special” small basket in the closet for “specially washed” items. If it can’t be washed together, dried, or must be dry cleaned. . .they learn and put it in this basket. Mom helps with this basket. Everything else gets washed together! YES, together!
–Wash, Rinse, Repeat! Well, almost. On your laundry day- you load the contents from the basket in the washer. . .add soap. . .press the buttons. Simple! Then you transfer to the dryer. . .even more simple. . .then. . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . .you remove the contents from the dryer and transfer those clothes to your basket!!! Yay!!!! Almost done. Next, the chore for that day (yes, the kiddos have chores too) is to fold the contents of the basket and put them away. Then the next week you do it all over again!
–Lower your standards! This is a huge one. . .my kids fold their own clothes. Which means, we have nice piles and sloppy piles. It gets better with time and instruction. But I will take a sloppily folded pile of clean clothes over a laundry room piled high with baskets of clean laundry that ultimately ends up back on the dirty floor ready to wash all over again.
3. Divide the house into ZONES and Conquer!
I actually started this one back when I had three boys and one little girl on the way. There were periods after her arrival when we had help. . .but ultimately, this zone-style cleaning has kept me sane!
–My house is divided into 4 zones. The layout of our home when you enter the front door is the main living room/dining room/ patio room all in one view. This is zone 1. Zone 2 is the wing with the children’s rooms and Bathroom. Zone 3 is our Kitchen, hallway that splits off into the laundry room and pantry. &
nbsp;Because the kitchen has most of the tile in the home, we choose this day to mop all the tile. Then the 4th zone is our Master bedroom, game room and guest bathroom.
– We tackle weekly chores by spending 4 days of 15 minute clean ups of these areas. With 7 people, we can get it done in 15 minutes. With a smaller family, you may need to divide into more zones. Just keep it to 15 minutes or you’ll lose the consistency and soon burn out.
-Each Zone has a basket of cleaning essentials specific for that zone. Let’s take Zone 1. The kids are assigned areas in that zone and know what cleaning tools we use for that zone. We have a cleaning basket with Pledge, duster for high items, dusting rag, glass cleaner, scentsy refills, trash bags and replacement light bulbs. We also bring an empty basket for misplaced items not belonging to that particular zone.
**Our order is the same no matter where the zone: pick up trash first, then any dishes or kitchen items, next gather any laundry/blankets/pillows, put toys and games where they belong. That is the “pick up” stage. Then we dust, shine, vacuum, replace any light bulbs, scentsy refills, or trash bags and we’re done! Yes, it takes just 15 minutes when each person is assigned a chore and they have learned to do it well. We set a timer and quit when it rings.
**We clean zone 1 on Monday’s. Zone 2 on Tuesdays. Wednesdays are off. Thursday’s we tackle zone 3 and Fridays we tackle zone 4. Saturday and Sunday’s we do NOT clean unless we are doing a project or have had to bump a day for a schedule conflict on the calendar.
Our Home is well lived in. . .and we like it that way! But we also need to make sure our guests can differentiate between the house and the barn. So, we’ve adopted a few of these daily techniques and have found them useful for our particular family! Find what works for you and stick to it! Make it yours and embrace the “mess” that comes with family.