Wednesday, October 18, 2017

tips and tricks on organizing, and keeping things picked up around the house

I thought I would write a post that's actually useful.  I've had a few people mention lately that my house always looks so clean, and then I've seen a couple of posts on Facebook asking for tricks, and so this idea was born.

I need to preface this post with a couple of things first.  First, I don't work outside of my home.  Because I have all the time in the world, and because I spend most of my days here, I take the time to do these things consistently.  Second, my house does always appear to be clean, but don't inspect it too closely.  I am great at keeping the furniture dusted once a week, but we have two dogs and one cat, and their hair is all over the place.  I am not great at dusting off shelves, baseboards, and the tops of furniture pieces.

That being said, I thought I'd walk you through how I keep things like this, and the way my brain works with this whole organization topic.

It starts when I go to bed every night.

(This is EXACTLY what it looks like when I go to bed each night.)

I always make sure and go to bed with a clean kitchen.  I've put all the dishes into the dishwasher, and both sides of my sink are clean.  (I got the clean sink idea from Fly Lady.)  The dishwasher is turned on, the coffee is preset to start brewing at six, the counters and all the surfaces are tidy and wiped clean.  I include wiping off the surfaces, because it doesn't feel clean to me if the surface tops are dirty or cluttered.  (This is just how my brain works, and how Mom raised me, y'all, I know everyone doesn't do these things, and that's fine.  Whatever works best for your family is how things should be.)  Two times each week, I take a towel and a bottle of 409, and I clean the counters.  I move everything off, and clean every inch.  I also clean the tops of things like the coffee maker and the stove when I do this.  I hate a dirty stovetop!  Mine is a smooth top, so it can easily be seen when it's dirty.  I do this more than two times a week sometimes, like when I make something with chicken.  I try to keep things clean, but I also like them sanitary.

The next morning when I come downstairs, I let the dogs out, and I straighten things up in the living room while they're eating their food.  I fluff the pillows, I fold and put away all the blankets, I take any leftover dishes that were missed into the kitchen.  Eventually, the dishwasher gets emptied (usually around nine thirty or ten).  I make lunches and coffee in to go containers for my husband and my oldest son, and once they're gone, I sit down at the computer and read/write blogs.

I'll add this here: when my kids were little and their toys were all over the place, every single night before they went to bed, they were taught to clean up.  We sang the Barney "clean up" song every single time, and this included me helping them at first, in order to teach them.  I have always had lots of boxes and baskets lying around the house, so that all of their toys would have a place to go.  When the car rug was out, we had dish buckets that they used to hold all their little hot wheels cars.  They stayed out on that rug 24/7, because that is about how often all my kids ended up playing with them.  Their books have always had shelves to sit on, and at one time, there was toy box downstairs behind the couch, so they could be put away each night.  This saved my sanity, because who wants to be overrun with toys?!  Not me.  They also cleaned up their rooms each night, but that took work on my end.  I kept their closet cleaned out and organized, so that everything had a spot to go.  When it became too full, we would go through and clean out the toys.  Some were donated, some were put into the attic, but we rotated the toys often.  I had a rule on this: for every new thing that came in to their room, one thing needed to be put in the attic.  They did not mind this at all, trust me, they still had a TON of toys.

Another thing I do is that I try my best to avoid clutter.  I love cute things, y'all, but I don't need or want a lot of knick knacks (dust catchers, my stepmom calls them) lying around.  The more that lays around, the more you have to clean.  I also try to keep paperwork put away (this is an EVERYDAY battle, because life and bills) and I try to keep my kitchen drawers and cabinets cleaned out.  For mail, I have two cute boxes sitting on my counter in the kitchen.  One is tall and one is short, but ALL the mail goes in there.  Toddley clears it out when I ask him, which is about every six weeks.  Junk mails gets tossed immediately, and things that are paid off get shredded.  Sometimes things get put away into cabinets, so I try to have space for those things.  I have one whole cabinet in the kitchen that is designated for this kind of thing.

I also try to keep our pantry cleaned out, but I have these four teenagers who live here, so it's more complicated than it sounds.  Which leads to this picture:

Yesterday, Jonah cleaned out the pantry for me.  We have a good sized pantry, but just because we have the room doesn't necessarily mean that I keep it filled up.  Except for when the Christmas season is here, and everyone gives me tons of food because I have teenagers, I try not to overbuy grocery items.  That means I use what I buy.  We have the luxury of living two minutes from the grocery store, so I go often.  Sometimes three times a week.  I don't have eight boxes of chicken stock in my pantry.  I do, however, have thirty bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's sauces.  They were given to my husband, we did not buy all these!  If you need some, let me know.  Ha!

I even try to keep things organized in the pantry.  This means it gets cleaned out a lot and rearranged, because of those boys I mentioned.  Baking things on one shelf, breakfast items on another, chips and such on the bottom.

As far as cleaning goes, I dust at least one time every week, sometimes more.  I like for things to be cleaned on Monday and Friday.  I love starting and ending the week with a nice, clean house.  I clean the kitchen constantly.  If we eat dinner here, the stove is cleaned every night.  If we eat at the table, it gets wiped off every night.  Especially because that's where I sit to have quiet time.

I don't want crumbs underneath my bible and journal as I use them each time.  I think this was taken at night, because there are no cups on the edge of the counter, which is where the cups sit most of the time.  Sometimes they're taken upstairs or to the living room, and then they're brought back before we go to bed.  Sometimes the cups stay upstairs for a week, and the dad threatens to treat them like they're all four again, and forbid them to take food or beverage upstairs.

We have a half bath downstairs that stays clean.  When I wash my hands in there, I get water on my hands, and wipe off the whole counter.  Then I wash my hands, dry them, and then dry the counters.  Because of boys, the toilet gets cleaned often as well.  (To make this easier for myself, I keep Lysol wipes in the cabinet.)  The floor gets wiped down really well (also with those Lysol wipes), and things are kept pretty tidy under that bathroom cabinet.  Extra toilet paper is in there, and clean hand towels.  It's actually junky right now, and I'm thinking it'll get straightened out today at some point.

I do that same thing in my bathroom.  The surfaces get cleaned all the time, mostly because we have a cat that I mentioned, whose food the dogs would love to eat.  So her food stays on my bathroom countertop.  Which means that countertop gets cleaned off with Lysol or 409 all. the. time.  I try to keep things tidy in there, as well, and put away.

Our bedroom stays neat, as well.  I make the bed almost every single day (except for sometimes on Sunday), and I try to keep things dusted off and put away.  The dresser is where Todd empties his pockets, so it's a little more filled with clutter, but occasionally, it is all put away and gets a good cleaning.  Most of the time, I ignore it.  He needs to know where his receipts are.  We have a cedar chest at the end of our bed that also becomes a catch all, so it gets decluttered all the time.  I have a million books in this house, it seems, so I have to put them away, and I put away the laundry that will get put there.

The floors stay pretty clean.  Well, hair-free.  I don't mop a ton, because I hate all the mops we own.  I need to fix that.  The downstairs gets vacuumed everyday.  Sometimes with my Dyson vacuum, sometimes with the Roomba.  It's not always perfect, but if the dog hair is mostly gone, I'm happy.  That Roomba was one of the best things my husband ever bought.  It was pricey, but it saves my sanity over the hair that Callie sheds.  Who knew German Shepherds would shed so much?!

The laundry is done daily.  I have figured out that if I do one complete load of laundry every single day, it will not overwhelm me.  The boys can all do their own laundry, but I just throw it all in there together and wash it at one time.  I don't usually separate the colors either, unless there's a new red shirt.  I wash all the colors and whites together, on cool.  Sheets and towels are washed separately in hot water.  I don't like to iron, so all the laundry gets folded right away, except for when I forget, like I did last night.  I love neat piles of folded clothes, and I love to fold.  I blame it on the days when I worked at Eddie Bauer Home, and my job was folding towels.  I seriously love folding clothes.  Most of the time.  The boys usually help me with this, but sometimes I do it while they're doing school work.   

The goal here is not perfection.  I have too many boys in this house for that.  I have found what I can live with, and I let go things that don't drive me nuts, like Jonah's basketball on the table.  I think my house is a welcome mix of tidy and lived in.  People always compliment me on it being so inviting, and I think it's that mix that make people say that.  It is certainly not my cleaning abilities.  

One last thing, and I'll wrap this up.  That is that lately I have been taking one area and cleaning it out each week.  It started in my laundry room.  I cleaned out the cabinets a few weeks ago, and I have been able to keep them and the surfaces of the washer and dryer clean!  That is huge.  Usually the top of the dryer becomes the catch all.  Yesterday it was the pantry and this coffee cabinet.

It was really dirty.  I took everything out and washed it all off, then put it back.  I threw away a bunch of old coffee, too.  This is the cabinet by my coffee pot.  It's where the boys make their chocolate milk each day, so the syrup stays there too.  I don't know why the honey and the cinnamon sugar container are there, but I left them.  I'll probably move them when I'm done with this.  Ha!  

A few weeks before that my closet got cleaned out.  The boys are always in and out of our closet and things get messed up often.  Helping it stay clean is the fact that we don't have a ton of clothes and shoes.  We wear everything we own, and all of our clothes (summer and winter) fit in our closet.  Neither one of us care much about trends and new things, so we have a pretty minimal wardrobe, and buy things to last for years.  If we've had something that hasn't been worn in more than a year, it gets donated.  We are not at all attached to things or clothes.  Sometimes that is great, other times it's really bad.  I will not be taking any of this "stuff" into heaven with me, so I live by that. Things that matter to me are pictures, memories I've written in my journals, bibles, the occasional piece of furniture, and sometimes books that people give me.  

The bathroom cabinets were also cleaned out, and have stayed clean as well.  Prompting me to do this is the fact that we are tossing around the idea of moving soon, and I'm trying to prepare in advance for the arduous task of packing up a house full of stuff.  Jonah cleaned the garage last night, or got a huge start, at least.  All those shelves need to be purged.  And the attic too, but that's a whole other post.  It is really, really bad. 

If you don't know where to start in order to start living simply and (slightly) minimally, pick one room that you're in all the time, and just start.  Go from top to bottom around the room, cleaning, and purging.  It might take a whole day in one room, but at least you'll have started.  I aim for one area a week, and if more gets done than that, I consider it a bonus.  If you start with a smaller area, it motivates you to keep going, so I recommend that.  Start small and work your way up.

I hope this inspires you to jump in and get started in your own home!  Thanks for reading this longer than was intended post.  Love to all.  


  1. You are inspiring. I just got up and swept my kitchen floor! God bless you and your family!

  2. That made me laugh out loud! Thank you for the sweet words. 😊 And good for you! I actually did the same after writing all of this out. God bless!

  3. I love this, but then again I love all your blogs. yes start with the small areas and it will make you feel so accomplished when you are done that it will give you the inspiration to tackle those bigger areas. love you cuz and give the family a big hug from me and ryly


Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog!

Hello, Monday 6/24/2024

  Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with   Holly  and  Sarah  for today's post. I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was really n...