If you have a chronically neat, clean house, how do you do it?

(36 posts)(22 voices)
  1. Right now the family room has a ton of baby toys that got dumped out on the floor and were not picked up. Cars and trucks trail from there all the way through to the dining room.
    The kitchen island, counters, and dining table have dirty dishes on them. I already cleaned them once today.
    The entry way and front porch are buried with packages of things I ordered and haven't had time to open.
    DS's bathroom has dirty clothes on the floor and a swiffer in the corner as I keep meaning to clean the floor.
    DS's room has a clean mattress pad tossed between the floor and his reading chair as I haven't gotten around to putting it back on the bed.
    The guest bedroom has clean sheets wadded up on the bed.
    My bedroom is now the holding zone for a rocking horse that DS dragged in here, more packages of things I ordered and haven't yet opened, and a collection of half-filled glasses of water on the nightstands, not to mention DH's piles of sort-of clean, sort-of dirty laundry.
    The laundry room has two loads of clean clothes, unfolded, and a load of sheets waiting to go in the dryer for the second day.

    Please, short of spending every single waking moment cleaning up after my DH and eldest DS, I have no idea how to control the clutter, mess, and dirt. Whenever I complain DH makes a sarcastic comment about maybe we should just stop living, eating, whatever. But he's part of the problem.

    Seriously--tips? Advice?

  2. Put your house up for sale!!! Seriously though, we just listed our house for sale....and did a MAJOR decluttering, and have found it surprisingly easy to keep clean b/c we don't have nearly as much stuff as we had.
    As for counter clutter, I have a bin that I am keeping in one of my cabinets, and I go through it every couple of days.
    I'm sure you'll get lots of great ideas from everyone here!

  3. Mish,

    I am no help! I am probably the opposite where I stress out *trying* to maintain a clean house.

    I think the biggest thing for me is cleaning as I go and staying on top of things. I rarely leave the house without cleaning up (toys put away, counters/sink clean, possibly a load of laundry and dishes started). I'm a bit nutty about always having my dishwasher clean before morning so I am usually emptying a load right after the kids go to bed (7pm). I also try and clean up the main living space after dinner and before baths (even though this is when my kids are the nuttiest). This is often the time I will vacuum that area as the baby enjoys "riding" the canister vac! I try and have a few things done at night to make mornings easier; coffee made, bowls set out, cereal set out etc, water bottles filled for the morning outings.

    When the kids are upstairs after baths, I almost always have something to tidy up. I usually make a sweep of the upstairs (garbage cans, laundry etc) and will just toss it over the landing! I keep small garbage bags undeneath all the sinks so I can easily go around and collect all the garbage. Sometimes I will take that time to change crib sheets or dust their room (it only takes a few minutes). I bath the three kids now in my bathroom, and now that the baby can sit up well, I will sometimes wipe down the counter in there. I won't put laundry away or clean toilets as then I couldn't keep my eye directly on him in the water.

    I think the biggest thing for me is trying to stay somewhat of a minimalist. I try not to have too many toys, only enough where it's manageable to put away. I always have bins/baskets for everything. I routinely go through closets, drawers, the garage and bag up stuff to donate. I try and go through the mail daily...at least all the cr*p mail that doesn't need to be opened and shredded.

    I think I also have the kids out of the house a lot. We almost always go somewhere in the morning (9am-11am), and then often even in the afternoon. That alone helps reduce the mess!!

    I try and stay on top of the deep cleaning as much as I can, usually it involves however, the kids watching a movie after lunch so that I can knock out several things at once. It's hard though and I definitly let things (mopping, some toilets, the tile, showers) go longer than I would normally. But I cannot spend 27 hours a day cleaning


  4. I'm pretty OCD about the house (the car is a bit of a different matter, unfortunately). I AM picking up all the time, but other than that, I have lots of small shelves (by Step 2 and Little Colorado) with Sterilite containers. Each Sterilite container has a different category of stuff, and I am pretty good about making the kids pick up one before they take out another one.

    We do have some big bins for stuff they play with all the time (Thomas drawers under the Thomas table) and bins under the Duplo table. That way, I can just toss stuff in.

    Having all the shelves/containers has really helped me. Also, some rooms in our house just don't get dirty b/c the kids are not allowed in (e.g. laundry room, storage room). I also love, love, love to toss stuff (too much probably), so there isn't as much stuff to clutter. The kids are in a lot of activities, so we are going a fair amount, but it isn't messing up our house. We also do a clean-up of the downstairs at the end of the day before we go upstairs to the bedrooms for the night (my son gets pep talks about how important a clean house is as we clean).

    We're not perfect by any means and, frankly, I think the balance is different for everyone and depends a lot on the stage of life the kids are at (we have a set of UGLY blue mats in our kitchen b/c our 2 year old likes to jump off his seat to the floor--I'll take them out when the kids get older, but they are a pain to clean). I also think that cleaning isn't a particularly intellectual activity and don't like wasting a lot of time doing it, but that is balanced against my rebellion against my background (my parents could have been on Hoarders--they have stuff everywhere and the house was the neighborhood joke). B/c of my house growing up (I literally could never have friends over b/c the mess was so horrific), I value having things clean more than I would otherwise.

  5. My parents were both very **** about the house. My mom spent more time cooking/cleaning than she did with me. I loved my mom, but I think sometimes people get overfocused on chores and making the house look great that they put people on the back burner. My dad gripes about being "busy" all the time, and tired, and not able to spend time with people--he's doing projects to the house that don't need to be done because he can't stand imperfection. So, sometimes you just have to let it go and focus on what is most important to you. My house is a mess and I think one reason is because I'm rebelling against my parents being so over the top with cleanliness. Sometimes I feel like I could spend all day following my kids and picking up after them or ordering them to pick up stuff and the house still wouldn't be clean. It's frustrating but I've just learned to let it go, at least at this time, the ages that they are.

  6. Your house sounds like mine! I remember with newborns, sitting with them after a feeding and looking at the island and the dishes, being tooo tired to do it and it would drive me crazy.....but thats when I had to try and let it go (just dont do it) and deciding that I wanted to cuddle with my baby more. If I clean all day like I'd need to I wouldnt be able to spend time with my toddlers....I dont know the answer. The only answer I can come up with is if the money was available, I'd like to hire someone to pick up after me (and do the dishes)! I can clean, I'm just too tired to pick up! LOL

  7. jharb & Mish,

    Honestly, if you can even afford a cleaner once a month, it's worth it! We had to drop ours soon after Brennan was born and I really hate that I have to take time away from the kids to clean. Not obsessively so, but still...if I don't do it, it will pile up...at least if I stay on top of it, it never gets gross.

    When we did have a cleaner, I remember the days she would come I would just sit on the floor and enjoy the kids. I have a cleaner coming at the end of this month to do some deep cleaning, I would never have the time to do that stuff so it's worth it to me to set aside a little extra for this one time splurge!

  8. I've thought about that recently, trying to get someone to do deep cleaning once a month. I was wondering how bad it is to have all the dust on the blinds and fans on the ceiling!(oooh) I dream about everybody being gone from the house for one week, so I can rest and then clean! And I dont even enjoy cleaning! I need to start looking around for that and see if we can budget it in.

    Sorry aniela, your thread asked for an answer and I ended up commiserating with you!

  9. Some great ideas. We live in a very very small place, so with the baby gates and baby proofed everything + all the toys, our little home seems pretty cramped most of the time. When I'm with the kids at home all day long, I try to clean when they go down for their nap if I'm able to. I always clean up after their meals and usually end up mopping (they love to throw food) each time. I'm not efficient at all about cleaning up the house. I clean up the kitchen in depth each Sunday, then I clean up the toilets, the floors, the bathroom sinks and windows that day. It takes me about 3 hours total (2 of those are when the kids are down)...the rest of the time, I'll plunk the kids in front of Sesame St. until I'm done. DH has been helpful and usually scrubs the showers and vacuums for me (only takes me asking him for about 3 days straight ) But, the clutter is always there. When the kids go down at night, DH usually hastily throws toys in bins, and I clean up dishes and the kitchen, so we're a team of sorts, luckily. I still do the lion's share, but it's nice when he does anything to ease my load.

    But, I'm terrible at being an efficient house cleaner (esp. since the kids are barely two) . I'm glad you started this thread!

  10. Mish, were you looking inside my house when you posted this because that's exactly what mine looks like. Sorry not much help. We do have bins for the kids toys, but I have to store it outside the playroom as they dump the bins and turnover the rack they're supposed to be in (2yo). Other than that we use the empty diaper boxes to corral the toys in the playroom. I generally do a sweep of the playroom after they've gone down for the night. The nanny usually vaccuums while the kids are napping (just the kitchen and the play area). The rest I catch when I can. Unfortunately, it's very hard to actually clean if there is so much clutter you can't actually see the surface the clutter is on (my response to DH who wants to hire someone to clean).

  11. I used to be a total neat freak - my friends called me Monica from Friends.

    FF to twin two year olds, no dh to help, 6yo disaster crew and a great dane puppy. I GIVE - CRY UNCLE - WHATEVER.

    My house drives BF crazy but he doesn't gripe at me, he is just in constant cleaning mode. I let the dog sleep with dd and I and he makes our bed using a pet hair roller prior to fixing the sheets.

    Last night, I left a brand new box of baby crayons (you know the thick kind) on the counter along with all the other stuff I'm not real sure what to do with, and now my dog has rainbow bright poo as she ate each and every crayon in the box PLUS half the box. Nom, Nom, Nom....

    I have the suitcase from our trip, still on the floor in my room and half packed, laundry in the dryer, need my carpets cleaned in a bad way but am putting that off until we're out of the house a few days. My Bissell stays in the corner of my bedroom, my garage looks like Home Depot exploded in it and my car floor is covered in Cheetos from our car trip.

    I could go on but no need - I simply cannot keep up with it all and I do it when I get to it and try not to let it drive me nuts the rest of the time.

  12. I thought I'd post a picture of the playroom in the morning, so you can see how it looks. I have no idea how it compares to other people's (as I mentioned in my post, my standard is pretty low). You can see both the Step 2 and Colorado shelves in the background, as well as the Duplo and Thomas tables. I didn't pick it up at all beforehand--just took a picture as we came downstairs this morning (sorry the quality isn't great--I took it with the camera in the cell).


    Let me know if you want to see other house pictures. I'd also love to see others' pictures, esp. ones showing how stuff is organized.

    Take 2: Rachel, let me know if this doesn't work.

  13. andrea--can't see your pic without a password

  14. With the twins (turning 3 in July) I have started making them clean up all toys before school and anytime before we leave the house and before bed. I rotate toys that bug me out of the rotation most of the time. Like they were fighting non-stop with the Thomas trains so off they went and now we use the train table as a Lego table. The Legos just have to be on the table for me to consider them cleaned up. All the play kitchen food & dishes have to be in the little 3 drawer wheeled cart and books on the bookshelves. Voila livingroom clean. I also keep a laundry basket for the Little People and another laundry basket for misc. other small toys, balls, etc.

    The twins are not allowed to play in their room so it stays clean & tidy.

    DS plays in his room and we are working on him putting things away when he is done. I should have started with him sooner but no time like the present.

    All dirty clothes go into the laundry sorter in my bedroom at the end of the night. I sort them by color and turn them right side out. I know I've posted my laundry practices in the past but I do it all on Sunday and have it put away before 7pm. I make everyone a pile on my bed and only put them away when I am done so I am not going into everyone's rooms and closets all day. I hang up most everything except for socks & underwear. Our laundry is no big deal though even for a family of 5. We re-use towels all week and the twins are stripped down to a diaper to eat so I don't have multiple outfits for them - they only use 1 outfit a day.

    We don't have a spare bedroom so I have no hiding spot to ditch stuff. I try really hard to keep the dining room table clear and all the kitchen counters. Clutter makes me nervous and unsettled.

    However.........the office is another story. It is a fire hazard and a huge embarassing disaster. I recently went to a home organization Ziploc House Party and the hostess had a contest for who needed the most help. So surprised I didn't win but......I learned that I am not alone. Everyone there has a room (or 2 or 4) that needs serious help.

    My friend's house is constantly covered in stuff. Every time I go there I just want to put things away. Why are there open cans of soda on the nightstand? She says her DH leaves them there. Either pick them up yourself of march him in there and make him gather them up. They are all over the the LR, too. Throw them away the next time you walk into the kitchen. Her couch is so covered with laundry every single day that you cannot sit down. Put the laundry away already. Walk the piles into each person's room at least to get them off the couch.

  15. My parents were both very **** about the house. My mom spent more time cooking/cleaning than she did with me. I loved my mom, but I think sometimes people get overfocused on chores and making the house look great that they put people on the back burner. My dad gripes about being "busy" all the time, and tired, and not able to spend time with people--he's doing projects to the house that don't need to be done because he can't stand imperfection. So, sometimes you just have to let it go and focus on what is most important to you. My house is a mess and I think one reason is because I'm rebelling against my parents being so over the top with cleanliness. Sometimes I feel like I could spend all day following my kids and picking up after them or ordering them to pick up stuff and the house still wouldn't be clean. It's frustrating but I've just learned to let it go, at least at this time, the ages that they are.

    I agree! I was a mess when we sold our house last summer. I found myself screaming at the kids for walking through the livingroom after I vacuumed. Totally NOT me! I decided right then and there that I FEEL SORRY for people with perfectly neat houses cause they're not enjoying their life

    I do hate clutter though so I do have bin/ totes/ baskets, etc to throw all the junk in to keep my counters clean and toys off the floor when its time to clean up. I do also have rooms that I'm OK with being cluttered (for my own sanity!!) one is our office and the other is the playroom.
    Your playroom looks like an average playroom and a fun kid friendly house.

    Don't sweat the small stuff!

  16. The title made me laugh. Last night, after spending a great day with DD and having had our house spotless on Sunday morning, I looked around and the house was totally trashed. And I have ONE kid. Sometimes I can't take it...it depresses me! My motto is I could pick up all the time or wait for one big mess and clean every few days!!

  17. Mish:
    My house sounds like yours and honestly - for me, right now, if its a choice btw sitting quietly enjoying a cup of tea in my rare spare moments or taking a rest - I'd do those. Yes, there are freaking toys everywhere and the kids room are fairly neat and I'm on top of their laundry - but my room looks like a clothing bomb hit it.

    My floors are in dire need of a good clean - I do vacuum regularly, kitchen is cleaned daily and the bathroom is kept on top of - but the rest of it has gone out the window right now.

    I will catch up - someday when DD sleeps through the night......


  18. You ladies rock - I can bearly keep my head above water at our house.

    I try to stay on top of things but some weeks I feel like it is a lossing battle. Working fulltime, having a family, keeping up a home (with very little DH help) and being involved with a couple committees sometime I just alittle overwhelmed.

    I my motto has become what I do not get done today I will handle tomorrow. And most of the time it works, but there are those times when I feel like I'm on a sinking ship,

  19. thanks for the tips and commiseration. I guess the key to not feeling (or being) overwhelmed is to keep on top of things. One website I've seen recommended never leaving a room empty handed--there is always something that belongs somewhere else.

    I was able to get the playroom and Ds's room and bathroom picked up and the laundry folded in a few minutes this morning (though the swiffer stays "on call"). Then DS stayed home this morning and put his army of cars and trucks all over teh floor again. However the kitchen is still a mess, though DH cleaned up a bit in the morning. The thing I don't get about men -- why don't they go the whole nine yards? He put some dishes in the d/w but didn't wipe down the counters, clean off the island, or make sure the counter clutter was in its place. So it looks almost as bad as before, but he feels like he "cleaned" today. ???

  20. Hey, my hall bathroom floor got cleaned today. Wanna know why? Because it was flooded with 2 inches of water. I thought I had used every towel in the house to mop it up only to discover that indeed there were hand towels and wash cloths that were needed to mop up when DH tried to fix it.

    I now get to do several loads of laundry and it ain't even Sunday!!!

    Nevermind, DH says we shouldn't use any water/sinks/toilets at this point so I get to go to the laundromat. Lovely.

  21. Let's see...
    -I pick up DS's toys every night after he goes to bed.
    -I wash pots/pans while I am cooking or done cooking and do the dishes right after we eat
    -Laundry hampers are in the garage along with the washer/dryer so I don't have to look at dirty clothes
    -Every morning before work I go through the house and pick up any dirty clothes/towels and put them in the hamper
    -I changed all bills over to email notices so I know that just about everything that comes in the mail can do directly into recycling. The mail piling up was a big issue for me.

    Oh and the big one...I have housekeepers that come once and week to do all the scrubbing, mopping, vaccuming, dusting etc.. Oddly enough this has led to me keeping the house neater because they can get to more places to clean that way. It took me years to finally have someone clean the house. It has definitely brought my stress levels down.

    aniela-my husband does the same thing in the kitchen. Drives me batty. He makes a sandwich, washes off the knife, but leaves it in the sink and leaves his crumbs on the counter. WTH? But he washed the knife so the PB wouldn't stick to it while it sat in the sink. Way to go!

  22. Put your house up for sale!!! Seriously though, we just listed our house for sale....and did a MAJOR decluttering, and have found it surprisingly easy to keep clean b/c we don't have nearly as much stuff as we had.As for counter clutter, I have a bin that I am keeping in one of my cabinets, and I go through it every couple of days.I'm sure you'll get lots of great ideas from everyone here!
    LOL, same here
    The only time my house has been constantly clean, in constant "show" condition.

    It also helps that the kids are in school all day. BUt honestly, we are literally constantly clearing up the clutter - it's amazing how easy it is to just throw something down on the counter, or in the sink, etc.

    We are going to contract this week and I am sooooo relieved because I can't keep this pace up, that's for sure.

  23. I just hired someone to come clean every other week but I clean every single day. I vacuum the family room after my twins go to bed. I only allow minimum toys in there as well...but we have baskets and a big trunk that the bigger stuff goes into. Their more fun stuff is in the play room and isn't to leave that room. Our entire attic is the playroom--it is finished--and I have a baby gate at the top of the stairs, so they go in there and I shut the gate. They play while I put away laundry and clean their rooms/bathrooms. I don't like clutter, so I always keep the kitchen tidy. We run the dishwasher every night and I empty it every morning. Dirty dishes in the sink make me nervous, so I just don't put anything in the sink unless it's a pan that needs soaking and even that doesn't stay in there long. We're in the process of organizing the play room, though. That room is a disaster, however we always put the toys away when we finish playing in there but my 5 yo doesn't help as much as he should. The twins are only 19m so they don't quiet get it but once they can all clean up after themselves, it will be awesome!! It also helps we have a large home and don't use a lot of the rooms here as well...

  24. Go to the library and check out Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (AKA the Flylady). It's all about strategies to keep your home decluttered and it really inspired me. I don't keep my home spotless, but it's definitely been better since reading her book. The best tips for me were 1) never go to bed with a dirty sink - so I always make sure dishes are in the dishwasher, I usually run it at night, and I wash any pots and pans, and then rinse off the whole sink before going to bed and it really is nice to wake up to a clean sink, and 2) clean in 15 minute increments. I always start cleaning up and then I get distracted by some other task or the computer or a book/magazine/TV. My kids go to bed 7/7:30 and DH gets home from work around 8:30. So, after the kids are in bed, I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and don't let myself get distracted while I clean the counter, work on the dishes, dust bust crumbs, etc. Then if I have laundry to fold, I spend another 15 minutes or so in front of the TV watching E News or something fun while I fold the laundry. Then I'll try to do another 15 min of tossing toys that have gravitated from the play room to the family room back downstairs, and cut up fruit and veggies and put them in tupperware for my DDs' lunchboxes the next day. It's so much easier to get myself to clean when I think of it in 15 min increments. The book has a bit of a Christian bent, but I just ignored those parts since I'm Jewish.

    I only cook dinner for DH about once during the week, which means I don't have more dishes to do late at night. He helps himself to a sandwich or cereal. We often get take out on Friday nights.

    2 thoughts for you, Mishmash - 1) I can't remember how old your DC is - can't he help with moving his laundry to the machine or putting it in a hamper at least? Can he do the swiffering? My 4 yo DDs each have their own swiffer and have LOVED to clean the kitchen floor for at least a year. 2) what are all these packages you've ordered? Is it stuff you really need? If so, why is it still in boxes? Is it new clothes or toys - if so, can you donate/toss old clothes and toys before you add new stuff?

    Hope that helps!

  25. Vanessa, thanks, I've heard of the Flylady so I will look her up again. My DS is only 2y9m, so while he "helps" when I do laundry by putting in what I hand him, he is not consistent about picking up when I ask him to. And he thinks the Swiffer is a toy, so I have to remove the soap dispenser or risk having it all on the floor.
    My DH is teh cook, but he can never put anything away once he uses it. So every morning he makes DS oatmeal and I inevitably find the oatmeal, dates, brown sugar, and tea stuff still left on the island along with whatever DH eats. When I bake I am good about putting things back as I use them -- I really don't get why that is so hard for him to do!
    The stuff I ordered is either for the house (curtains, new vessel sink for the one that I need to replace in DS's bathroom due to water damage) -- but this means installing teh rods and the new vanity too, but no time for that. Or other packages are teh new double stroller and atatchments, but as the baby is only 4 wks old we haven't gotten to it yet!

    I will try the 15 min thing and the clean counters every night (that always skeeves me out)-- though I hate that this falls on me!! I'm interviewing a new cleaning lady on Sat. but she can't move in with us...nor can DH move out!

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