In this day and age when it is common for both parents to work full-time and our kids are involved in many extra curricular activities, life moves at a pretty fast pace. It can be difficult to find the time or energy to keep the house clean amid all of our other daily responsibilities. The problem, however, is that if you let the house go too long it will become an overwhelming place, rather than a safe haven for you to retreat to after a long, busy day.
It doesn't take much to keep your home running like a well-oiled machine. If you can find five to ten minute pockets of time you can accomplish small tasks that will make a huge impact on the orderliness of your home. Here is a list of ten key tasks that take little time but make a big difference. Start adding them to your daily routine today and see the difference in how your house looks and how you feel.
- Do one load of laundry every day. I have a washing machine with a timer so I gather up a load of laundry each morning, place it in the machine, add the soap to the dispenser and set the timer so that the wash starts just before my husband gets home from work. When the machine stops, my husband transfers the load from the washer to the dryer. After dinner we fold the clothes together and get them put away. Broken down into segments, doing a load of laundry this way takes no time at all, but the difference it makes in keeping the laundry under control is unbelievable. If you do not have a washer with a timer, gather the load in the morning and throw it into the machine. As soon as you walk through the door in the evening get the load started so it will be ready to transfer to the dryer just before you sit down for dinner. The dryer will be done by the time you are finished cleaning up the dishes and you will be ready to fold the clothes and put them away. Doing a load of laundry every day adds only minutes to your daily routine, but when you do not have to spend your entire weekend trying to dig yourself out from underneath a mountain of dirty laundry, you will be glad you took those extra few minutes throughout the week.
- Plan dinner in the morning. If you know exactly what you are going to make for dinner each night you will save yourself so much time that would have been wasted standing in front of the open refrigerator wondering what you can make. Pull anything out of the freezer that needs to defrost during the day, chop up some veggies or marinate something. If there is anything you can do in the morning to make the dinner time rush go smoother, do it.
- Make a list of errands you can do while you are out. Blending errands into your daily routine will save you the hassle of having to run all over town on the weekends. Can you make a stop during your lunch hour? Can you drop something off on your way in to work or can you swing by and pick something up on your way home? Doing your errands throughout the week will save you a lot of time in the long run.
- Clean up the kitchen after dinner. Although you are exhausted at the end of the day and it is tempting to put the dishes in the sink with the thought that you will do them in the morning, how many times has the next morning come and you get busy with other things? When this happens you wind up leaving the house with the dishes still undone and you have to come home to an untidy kitchen. Make a point to spend the extra ten minutes cleaning up the kitchen after dinner so that you can start each new day with a fresh clean slate instead of getting behind and letting things pile up.
- Clean up the living room before going to bed each a night. Make this a family chore. Take five or ten minutes to do a sweep through the living room and put everything back where it belongs. Leaving things laying around is exactly how mountains get created out of molehills.
- Schedule homework time. Life may not always allow for strict schedules, but try to keep things as consistent as possible so that your kids know what to expect and what is expected of them. Choose a time that you will be able to stick to most nights of the week and dedicate it to homework. Turn off the television and eliminate any other distractions so that your kids can sit down and really focus on their studies. Right after dinner is a good time for this if possible. The kids can sit at the table while you are cleaning up after dinner. You can spend time together while still accomplishing the task at hand and you are readily available for any questions they may have.
- Pick out your clothes the night before. We all know how much easier it can make the morning rush to have your children choose their clothes the night before. Practice what you preach and choose your own outfit the night before. Remove all necessary items from the closet or dresser drawers and lay them out so they are close at hand. The precious minutes you save when you don't have to try and decide what you will wear could make the difference between running late and being right on time.
- Make a bedtime routine. Explain to all of your family members what is expected of them when you say it is time for bed. This would include things like bathing and brushing their teeth, putting their clothes in the laundry hamper, changing into their pajamas, choosing their clothes for the next day and getting into bed. Practice this so that when you say "it's time for bed," they know exactly what to do. If you do not have to follow them around telling them what to do next, while they are executing their routine, you will have time to take care of any last minute details you need to accomplish before calling it a day. If your kids need some motivation, create a reward system for each night that they can successfully accomplish their bedtime routine all by themselves.
- Keep a note pad next to your bed. It is always just as we are getting ready to retire for the day that we remember something we have to do tomorrow. Be prepared for these end of the day ideas with a note pad at hand to write down anything you must remember. The next morning, simply pull off the top sheet of paper and put it in your pocket or purse to refer to later in the day.
Make your bed every day. Making your bed takes all of five minutes, but at the end of a busy day, when you can retreat to an inviting bed you will be able to feel the stresses of the day slip away as you slip under the covers. Make it a daily chore for your children to make their beds too. It will help your home look neater and teach them responsibility.
Start small. Add one or two things to your routine each day. Before you know it, your house will be neater and feel more inviting and you will be happier and less overwhelmed. Maybe you can even find some free time to spend relaxing.
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