Maintaining a clean home, how?

raelynApril 11, 2006

OK, first off, I'm new to this forum and I am very happy I found it. I am a full time working mother of two kids, age 15 and 10, I have two dogs, a lab (yellow) that sheds ALL over, drives me crazy and a small yorky. My problem is maintaining a clean home. I tend to let it go and then when it does need cleaning, it takes me hours and I never finish so I never have an entire clean house. My sister just moved in across the street from me, who by the way is SUPER clean. And now that she is across the street, many relatives will stop by unexpected so I need tips on how some of you keep your homes clean on a regular/daily basis. I want my house to look presentable at all times, and I don't want to let it get out of hand as I currently do. Any tips/schedules will be helpful!

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Welcome raelyn,

The secret is out! Just a little bit of effort every day pays off in big results. You said you tend to let things go and then it's a huge job.

Set your timer for a few minutes and have the kids pick up their clutter. Then run the vacuum to stay on top of the dog hair.

Think of your house as public spaces (living room, family room, kitchen, dining and main bathroom). These need a quick pick-up everyday. Private spaces such as the bedrooms and other bathrooms can be done less often.

I've really learned a few minutes everyday keep us in good shape. Your kids are definately old enough to have responsibilities. The dogs sound like kid jobs to me.

Personally, I follow Flylady since her zones keep me focused on where to work. Otherwise, I'd bounce all over the place and get nothing done.

MESSIES ANONYMOUS is also a good group with daily suggestions.

Whatever you choose, try and work during your best time. If you are a morning person, then try and do five things before work. I'm an evening person, so most items are easier for me to get to later.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:10AM
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You don't mention whether Sis has kids or dogs; that tilts the "playing field" some. quiltglo offers good advice. Mine would be to not stress it so much. You have four people and two dogs living in a house. It will look "lived in" to some extent. And -- even though clutter really bothers me -- I can't recall ever seeing a headstone in a cemetery that stated "But she did keep a clean house." Keep perspective! :-)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 8:40AM
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I agree w/ the "a little bit every day" idea--and especially would like to add, " a little more once a week."

Our place is on the market, and we've been doing a lot of more cleaning and picking up--and home is SO much more enjoyable for me!

But it does mean that we have to spend time on Sat. mornings vaccuming, dusting, picking up, swabbing out bathrooms, etc.

Staying mostly picked up during the week makes cleaning much faster. And just *doing* it is what it takes.

I tend to dread stuff like this, but I've discovered that it's not as bad as I feared. We're all doing it at the same time, so it sort of feels like teamwork, even if we're in different rooms. And, the more weeks I do it, the less onerous it seems each week. It doesn't take as long, bcs I zip through it faster, and I'm more practiced.

15 and 10 are old enough to pick up after themselves, esp. in the public areas, EVERY night. And old enough to run the vacuum, swab out bathrooms, or dust w/ a miracle cloth on Saturday morning before they're allowed to go anywhere or do anything. I'd suggest a family time period for this, so they don't feel all alone in their labor. It sure helps ME!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 11:31AM
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One of the smartest thing you can do is recruit the kids for a short period of chores on Sat. a.m. These would be things besides picking up their rooms. It does not have to be long--a lot can be accomplished in just 20 minutes. Twenty minutes times 2 helpers, that's like a gift of 40 minutes to you!! Yippee! It helps you and helps perpare them for adult life.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 12:16PM
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Yes -- routine cleaning/tidyig/sorting on an every day basis can help so much! Set a timer -- and go for it!

Clearing out any "hot spots" of clutter of all sorts and kinds can really help "open" up cupboards, drawers and shelves for stashing and storing everyday things.

As for pets -- another great habit is brushing them! We have four cats -- so I'm vaccuming every two or three days. If I leave it for too long -- the hair and dust bunnies turn into monsters! LOL!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:52PM
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Hi Raelyn,

Welcome! I'll join in with the advice about doing a bit every day. One thing that really helps me is to ALWAYS do a quick 5-minute tidy at the beginning and end of each day. I like to go through and wipe down the bathrooms, put away the debris that is cluttering our living areas, make sure the kitchen sink is clear and free of dishes, etc. I have 2 teenagers and I do NOT maintain their rooms! But the bathrooms, living/dining room and kitchen all get a quick once over. Oh, and maybe this is just me but I have a tray on our foyer table for the mail and I make sure to go through it daily and toss the junk mail, put the magazines in a basket I have handy, put the bills in a designated spot on my desk and so on. Somehow that makes me feel more in control as well. I make our bed daily, though the kids do not :(.

I find those little habits not only help avoid a huge build up (which is then really discouraging to contemplate cleaning) but really help my mood as well. There is something relaxing to me about coming home at the end of the day to a house that at least doesn't look like a bomb went off, and to going to bed with things looking tidy as well.

This week I'm gritting my teeth; it's spring break and both kids are home 24/7. Oy, the mess! I really am looking forward to them returning to school and all of us getting back to a routine next week. For the past few days I haven't really bothered to do much tidying because there isn't any point, it's getting cluttered constantly.

I don't think the kids realize either that their laissez-faire attitude this week has sealed the deal for summer: they are both doing summer school, jobs or camp counselor positions depending on what they or we round up. No way can I live with 2 teens on the lounge for 3 months :).


    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 2:15PM
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I have 5 children home all day every day. Three teens and two young ones. This can be a major challange to keeping things neat but we shoot for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 mins before dad gets home in which we all clean up.

I have taught the kids how to clean up and walk them through the process each time and still work with the little ones. It works this way.. each gets a trash bag and they zip through the room the are assigend.. then tie up the bag. Then they each grab a basket and gather anything that does not go in that room. Then straighten anything that is left. Then retrun the stuff in the baskets to the correct place.

By doing this we keep on top of stuff and I can then work on sweeping, and doing the bathrooms.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 8:46PM
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Oh, Ann, I had the same realization after spring break!! Glad to know I'm not alone!!! - Sheryl

"I don't think the kids realize either that their laissez-faire attitude this week has sealed the deal for summer: they are both doing summer school, jobs or camp counselor positions depending on what they or we round up. No way can I live with 2 teens on the lounge for 3 months :)."

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 1:48AM
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Kids ages 10 and 15!

They are quite capable of cleaning up their own messes, and handling a regular schedule of chores in the public areas.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 8:11AM
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I work full time, have two smalll children, and have two dogs as well. Thank goodness they don't shed. We have company stop by all the time and I feed family/friends at least twice a week. Since I teach, I use school breaks for major organizing. This is when I go thorugh cabinets, closets, drawers etc. and purge.
My regular schedule looks like this:
Before I leave home (my husband takes the kids to the sitter) I run around the house and make beds, make sure laundry is in the hampers, dishes are in the dishwasher, and the house is generally picked up. If I have time I will set out my clothes, and the kids clothes for the next day. If I have even more time I will set out everything that I will need to make dinner that night.
I do this so when my kids come home all I do is focus on them and family time. When things settle down for the night I make sure that things are picked up and ready to go for the next day. I would imagine that this entire process takes only half an hour daily and really frees me up for my kids.
About once a week I wipe down bathrooms and do other small cleaning things. My husband vaccuums, I do the laundry. I am fortunate that I have a large pool table that serves as a folding area. I don't worry too much about laundry on it with guests (unless it is a larger "party").
My motto is everything has a place and I try to make sure that we keep things picked up at all times so it doesn't get out of hand. I wash dishes as I am cooking and pick up as I go along.
My best friend tends to let things go for awhile and it takes her most of the weekend to get things cleaned up. I would hate this!
By the way my biggest piece of advice is to invest in a housekeeper to come in, even once a month which is what I do, to do the heavy stuff like scrubbing floors, toliets, etc.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 12:34PM
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I just can't seem to keep up in my house. I shine the sink, clean the kitchen, sweep and mop the floor. By the end of the day, the room's a freakin' mess again, and I have to start over. No matter how often I pick up the bathroom , the next time I go in there, there are wet towels on the floor, a hair straightener and makeup all over the vanity top. My kids are going back to school Tuesday, maybe then I'll be able to have more than one room clean at a time. And the weeds outside are calling me to pull them out.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 11:00AM
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The weeds have an excuse. Your children do not. I'm guessing that, if they can shower and operate curling irons by themselves, they're old enough to pick up after themselves. Require that the wet towels hit the hamper and the hair straightener goes back where it was found. If they don't do that, punish them (ground 'em, withhold allowance for each infraction, do something).

If you don't act on this, your kids will become lousy roommates and husbands/wives because they've come to expect that someone else will pick up their messes. Not everyone will be so accommodating. You are doing them and the rest of society a favor by literally getting them to clean up their act. Please do it! The last thing this world needs is any more selfishness.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 11:30AM
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Do the kids get allowance?
My neighbor has three girls. The oldest was notorious for towel-on-the-floor. They got it under control by keeping an allowance log on the fridge. Every day the towel was found on the floor, she actually got money deducted from her weekly allowance.

A couple of weeks of zero allowance, and she got the message :-)

Each girl had a different 'trouble spot', and they would focus on that area by doing allowance deductions for days it was not taken care of.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 9:11AM
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Hi raelyn!
Chiming in a little late here, but your question really hit home for me! I didn't have dd till I was 41 and till then dh and and I just used the house pretty much as a closet - working all hours, little entertaining. Then when dd was about three I realized what a pig sty the house was. I read all the books in the library on cleaning, but the one that worked for me was the flylady system - the book is called "Side Tracked Home Executives" and recommends using a card system to keep track of your cleaning chores.

Since I started using the system, I:
Put away all my clothes immediately (shoes too) and have got dh and dd to do this (dd with help.)
Make the beds first thing every morning.
Keep the public rooms (entry, dining, living rooms) clutter free.
Have all the dishes done and counters cleared and wiped before going to bed.
Keep the bathroom clean and tidy.
Vacuum the house at least twice a week.

Doesn't sound like much, but just doing these things has made a HUGE difference. There are things I still get stuck on - I hate cleaning the refrigerator, and keeping the toys in order is a never ending battle, though dd is becoming more and more helpful with that. I'm shooting for "presentable" rather than "spotless" and it's working, without giving me a nervous breakdown. Having a system really helps to clarify what needs to be done. I don't worry about the dog hair on the sofa if it is not vacuuming day; I let the laundry pile up until wash day (and encourage everyone to wear things at least twice. It's not like we're coal miners here.)

I have also made changes in the furniture to help keep the house clean. For example, I put a big dresser in the entry for gloves, hats, sunblock, gardening things, etc. I put an armoire in the dining room to keep dd's art supplies handy but easy to put out of sight. I put a lot of knick-knacks into storage (a couple of boxes in the laundry room) so I can keep the bookshelves, piano etc. dusted without it being a major job. I have carted MANY boxes of clothes down to the Salvation Army - it's a lot easier to put things away when you don't have to cram them into overflowing dressers and closets. Labeling bins for toys, getting boxes for photos - basically, finding or creating a place for everything and trying to keep it there!

So I guess there are really two parts - organizing your home so it is lower maintenance, and then setting up a schedule for maintaining it. To me these two evolved together.

I also have a sister who could give Martha Stewart a run for her money in housekeeping - thank goodness she doesn't live across the street! I bet your sister has some good advice on housecleaning though, if it is not too hard to ask her. People who are naturally tidy often love to come to other people's houses and help out - it might turn out to be a real boon! My sister would like nothing more than to organize all my photos and put them in albums for me :-)

I have a small dog but still the shedding is a nuisance - see the link below for Shed-stop. I am not recommending the store, just the product. It really helps reduce shedding - my brother has started using it on his two German Shephards and says he can't believe the difference.

BTW, I have also created a card system for dd (6) and she makes her bed and puts her clothes in the hamper, helps clear the table. If your kids aren't doing their share, this might least for the 10 year old. I don't recall being super cooperative when I was 15 :-) but it is worth a try.
Good luck!

ps - one more thing - dh and I now take turns (weekly) doing the dishes. This has worked out really well (though he does say we always use more dishes during HIS week.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Shed-stop

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 12:36PM
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Jannie - so what would happen if you never picked up those towels? Eventually all of the towels would be on the floor, stinky and damp. When they come to you complaining, you can show them where the washer and dryer are, and show them how to hang the towels after they use them.

I like Karen's advice, too!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 1:41AM
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Postum, I like all your suggestions. My two daughters no longer get allowances, but they each have after-school jobs. Maybe I should threaten to hire a cleaning lady and have them pay the bill.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 8:44AM
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