Cleaning, Homemaking, Organization

5 Tips for a Tidy Home

Are you tired of tripping over toys and overwhelmed by your constantly cluttered counters? Don’t believe that little voice in your head that’s telling you “You don’t have time to clean” or “My house will always be like this, I’m just not an organized person.” You do have time to clean and you can be an organized person – you just need a new strategy for keeping a tidy house!

If you consistently apply these five tips, you will begin to develop new habits that will help you create and maintain an orderly home. According to science, it will energize you, increase your productivity, decrease your stress, and improve your overall well-being. When your outside world is organized, your inner world reaps the benefits. Happy cleaning!

1. De-accumulate

This step is probably the most challenging, but it’s essential. Most of us have too much stuff in our homes: stuff that we don’t like, stuff that we don’t want, stuff that we don’t need, and stuff that’s broken that we need to throw out, but don’t. The more possessions you own, the more clutter you will have, and the harder it will be to keep your place tidy.

The solution to the problem of too much stuff is to de-accumulate. Grab a friend (preferably one of those no-nonsense type of friends), grab a trash bag, and grab some boxes. Then pick a room (or even corner of a room if it’s really messy) and start sorting. Throw out the trash and broken things. Then, put the things you don’t absolutely love, want, or need in boxes and donate them to charity.

Having a hard time deciding what to keep and what to get rid of? Use common sense and your friend. Use common sense to tell yourself that if you haven’t used something in a year (or if you forgot you even had it), you probably don’t need it. Use your friend to help you decide on the more difficult items, because unlike you, they won’t have a personal attachment to it. Believe me – they will have no problem telling you that don’t fit in that sweater anymore and you really don’t need 30 coffee mugs in your cupboard!

2. Have a Specific Place for Every Item in Your House

Once you’ve sorted your things, you need to find homes for the possessions that you love, need, and want. Why? Because it is so much easier to keep your house tidy when everything has a specific place to come from and go back to.

One of my problems is having stacks of paper accumulate in the kitchen. It drives me crazy! But the reason that it happens is because I don’t have a specific place for things like incoming mail, receipts to be recorded, to-do lists, etc. I used to have this problem with my daughter’s toys. Because I didn’t have a shelf designated for toys, they ended up all over the place. So, my advice to you is to find a home for every single one of your belongings.

What about those things that are hard to classify or that you’re not sure if you should get rid of? Sometimes it’s handy to have an extra tote for items that defy classification or a drawer for stuff you’re not sure you’re ready to get rid of yet.

But, my question to you is; if you don’t have a home for it, do you really need it? If you must have a “junk drawer,” make it a habit to go through it occasionally and reevaluate if you should be keeping all that stuff anyway. Just sayin’.

3. Put Everything Back in It’s Place When You Are Done with It.

What is wrong with this picture? Nothing? Look again! There’s a homeless book on the desk! That’s a big no-no. If you’re anything like me, you know how tempting it is to simply walk away from something when you’re done with it. “Eh, I’ll get it later,” you think. And then later never comes. Pretty soon your house is full of dirty socks, unwashed dishes, and random pieces of paper and you feel overwhelmed because it looks like a tornado hit!

Don’t fall into the sneaky trap of laziness – it only makes more work for you in the end! Instead, make a habit of putting things away when you are done with them. Every. single. time. No matter how small the item is, put it away where it belongs.

Okay, but let’s be real. Sometimes you have to leave your stuff where it is because there’s a minor commotion going on in another part of the house. Maybe your toddler discovers toilet paper for the first time or someone dumps the fish bowl out in the living room, who knows? After you’ve calmed the chaos, try to pick up where you left off. If you can’t, don’t worry because I have another tip that will help you out with those little messes that pile up despite your best efforts.

4. Clean As You Go

This method is handy when you’ve got a busy household and things just aren’t making it back to home base. It’s really simple: clean as you go. Find some dirty clothes in the bathroom? Put them away on your next trip to the laundry room. Spy a toy under the kitchen table? Give it to your toddler to put away. Making dinner? Wash those dishes while your casserole is cooking. The trick here is to always be on the lookout for things that need to be returned to their homes and to put them away on your way to do other things. It will help you stay ahead of the mess.

5. Make a Final Sweep Before Bed

Before my husband and I got married, my pastor reminded us of the Scripture “Never let the sun go down on your anger.” It’s great advice for marriage and it can be tweaked a little to help you keep your house tidy: “Never let the sun go down on your messes.” If you’ve got kids, chances are good that despite your best efforts to put everything away and to clean as you go, you will still find stray toys strewn around your house at the day’s end.

I know you’re tired and you can hear your pillow calling your name from the other room, but turn a deaf ear for a minute. Rally the troops and have everyone pitch in to do a final clean. Gather up those remaining toys, books, and pencils and tuck them in for the night. Locate any Legos lurking on the floor because, trust me, you do NOT want to step on those in the dark! Do the dishes, wipe the counters, and sweep the floor. You’ll feel much better if you wake up in the morning to a clean house, I promise.

What are some strategies that you use to keep your home tidy? Share your tips below!


18 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler in the Kitchen

Pop quiz: Which has a shorter attention span, a goldfish or a toddler?

It’s probably a goldfish but sometimes it seems like it’s your toddler. We’ve probably all been there: you’re trying to finish your morning coffee or trying to frantically whip dinner together while your toddler winds around your legs, begging for you to entertain them. Somehow, they are bored of the large variety of toys you provided for them and they need something new.

If you can relate to that, this list is for you. It’s a list of 18 things that you can entertain your toddler with, right in your kitchen. It’s perfect for a busy weeknight or a long, rainy day stuck inside. These activities are things that they can do on their own (with supervision of course.)

1. Let Them Stack “Blocks”

Don’t have any blocks? Don’t worry! Find some unopened pasta boxes and let your child build a skyscraper, and knock it down. Build a skyscraper, and knock it down. You get the idea.

2. Spice It Up A Bit

Pull out your spice rack and let your child remove and rearrange your spices. All the better if your spice rack is one of those spinning ones. Your child will probably also enjoy shaking and banging the spice jars, so be careful if they are made of glass. Also make sure they can’t get the lids off!

3. Teach Them Their ABC’s

Fridge magnets are a classic childhood toy that I think every kitchen should have. Your kid can play solo by taking the magnets on and off or rearranging them to form “words.” You can also tell them the names and sounds of the letters or teach them to spell their name. Having a small container near the fridge to put letters in can be fun too. Last night my daughter filled up my husband’s shoes with letters!

4. Bring Out Their Inner Explorer

Designate a cabinet for exploration and fill it with unbreakable items your kid can’t get hurt with or choke on. Let them poke around and discover new objects. Switch it up occasionally to keep it fresh and interesting.

5. Encourage Them To Wash Dishes

Set up a wash basin with some plastic dishes and utensils, soap and water. Provide them with a scrub brush or wash cloth. You may want to strip your child and surround them with towels, because they will make a mess. Guaranteed.

6. Start A Mariachi Band

Fill some plastic water bottles or pill bottles with rice, beans or lentils. Tape the lids on so they can’t make something else for you to clean up (or eat too many uncooked beans) and let them shake the night away.

7. Train A Future Rock Star

This is a classic. Line up some pots and pans, give your kid a wooden spoon, and let them drum up some fun. Grab yourself a pair of noise cancelling headphones and your kids will be entertained for an hour. (Ok, maybe five minutes. But at least you were able to finish your coffee, right?)

8. Create A Teething Station

Grab your wooden spoons and rubber spatulas and put them in a bowl. Let your child chew to their heart’s content.

9. Make An Obstacle Course

If your child can cruise, set up some chairs that they can maneuver around to explore their environment with. If they’re not at that cruising stage yet, set up a low table where they can stand and play with toys. This used to be my daughter’s favorite activity.

10. Design A Sensory Bin

There is a good reason that there are a million and one ideas on Pinterest for sensory bins: they are a cheap way to entertain your kid for hours. And, it’s easy to keep your kids engaged because you can change them up daily or weekly. Here’s a fun one from Swaddles n’ Bottles.

11. Turn The Kitchen Into A Dance Floor

This activity is super easy. Turn on some tunes that you and your child like and rock out. They can dance and you can chop your veggies to the beet. (Sorry, had to sneak a bad veggie pun in there.)

12. Veg Out

Give your child an array of fruits and veggies to explore. You can even give them a magnifying glass. Depending on the age, though, they may try to eat them skin and all. I gave my daughter a banana once and she started eating it through the skin! Obviously I stopped her, but yuck! Moral of the story? Be vigilant!

13. Whip Up Some Water Shakers

Fill empty water bottles or spice containers with water, food coloring, oil, glitter and whatever else you can think of. Make sure the caps are secure and watch your child enjoy sloshing the colorful, sparkling water. Here’s some ideas from Preschool Inspirations.

14. Get A Little Slimy

If you don’t mind a little (ok, a lot of) mess, whip up a batch of slime! You don’t need any fancy ingredients to make a safe, non-toxic slime or playdough. Once again, Pinterest is your friend here.

15. Sweep Like Cinderella

Kids love to help with chores. And, it’s good for them. Dress your toddler in their favorite princess costume and put them to work with a dustpan and broom. They might not do a great job, but they will have fun. Plus, it will pay off later when they can sweep the floor on their own while you kick your feet up for a well deserved rest.

16. Swab The Deck

Similar to number fifteen, but possibly more fun because it involves water. (Kids love water.) Give your kid a washcloth and a spray bottle and let them wash the floor. (Kids love spray bottles, too.) You might need to teach them that they can only spray the floor, not the family cat.

17. Work On Fine Motor Skills

Provide your child with some cheerios, pasta, or other food item with holes. Then give them a pipe cleaner, a shoe lace, or a string with some tape on the end and teach them to thread the “beads” on the string. Depending on what you give them as “beads,” they may just end up snacking. But that’s okay too, because the goal was to entertain them, right?

18. Wear A Baby Backpack

If all else fails, wear your baby. My mother-in-law used to put my husband in a backpack (when he was smaller of course) and wear him around while cooking. He loved hanging out with mom and watching her do things. These days there are many great baby carriers and wraps that you could use to serve the same purpose. We use an Ergo baby carrier or a BabyWombWorld wrap. Just be smart if you’re working in the kitchen please!

How do you entertain your toddler when you need to get things done? What are your favorite go-to activities?