Ever wonder how some moms do it? You show up after an impromptu play date invitation and somehow they have effortlessly maintained their houses. They aren’t even worried. Come on over!
I envied those women for so long. Was there a secret skill set I had not yet unlocked as a human being? Even now, after forming better habits, I would rather read a good novel or get lost browsing social media than vacuum. It’s a constant challenge.
But nine years ago, I decided enough was enough.
How I began decluttering
Back then, my husband and I were newlyweds. We lived on my customer service job salary and his new consulting business income and were on a tight budget. Our favorite frugal hobby was to crash on the couch and binge watch sci-fi shows. Then we discovered the show Clean House, and that inspired a massive decluttering of our possessions. You can read more about that journey here. (Pro tip: watching decluttering shows as a couple is excellent for starting conversations! And with Marie Kondo on Netflix, what better time to start than now?) But once our son was born, our progress came to a screeching halt. It took several years to bounce back.
The habits that make a tidy home possible!
Since then, I’ve renewed my quest to find how to be a better household manager. Over and over I’ve found there are some common habits tidy people have—ones they do without thinking—that magically keep their houses looking clean with minimal effort. Y’all. Since I began implementing what I’ve learned, the following six daily habits have changed my life.
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1. Clean the Kitchen Sink
Every morning, unload the dishes in the dishwasher. During the day, load the dishwasher as you dirty dishes. Then at night, before bed, turn on the dishwasher. Finish the handwash-only items or any stray random dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher. Then clean the sink.
The magic here is the sink has to be empty to be cleaned. By emptying it you complete the circuit and set yourself up for success the next day.
2. Put Away the Laundry
Every day, do a load of laundry. And every day, take the dry clothes out of the dryer, fold them, and put them away.
Don’t pile them on the laundry seat (you know what I’m talking about!) Don’t pile them on your bed. Don’t leave them in the dryer to deal with later. Wash them. Dry them. Fold them. Put them away. (If you can’t put them away that night, at least do it the next morning.)
The magic here is that emptying the dryer and putting the contents away immediately makes it easy to keep the cycle going. If the dryer is full, you can’t put a new load in. If you can’t put the wet clothes in, they start to stink and you have to begin all over again.
So empty that dryer. You’ll have a chance to do your next load and won’t get behind. Then, fold and put away the clothes. Then you won’t have a pile that collects dust on the floor and has to be cleaned all over again. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Ahem.)
3. Wash the Kitchen Counters
This one is so simple and very satisfying. Once or twice a day, take a microfiber cloth (I like to use my Norwex enviro cloths for their bacteria-removing ability, but any microfiber cloth will do) and wipe down the kitchen counters. Or use your favorite multi-purpose cleaner. If you haven’t made a mess early on, just wait until after dinner. But if you’ve cooked or used the counter for a kid’s activity, try to always wipe it down.
The magic here is in the necessity to declutter the counters before you can wash them. It’s a sneaky way to force you to put away the things on the counter and throw out any trash. But don’t focus on that part. Focus on how pretty your counters look after being washed!
4. Sweep the Kitchen
This is a simple task that is easy to ignore once a layer of crumbs has made its way to the floor for the umpteenth time. After all, it’s just
The magic here is that the kitchen usually gets the heaviest traffic of the house. By
5. Clean the Bathroom Sinks
Once a day, run a microfiber cloth over your bathroom sinks. All of them. It’s amazing how such a simple act can improve the overall impression of your home. Treat yourself to shiny faucets and toothpaste-free basins.
The magic here is if your sink is clean, the whole bathroom feels cleaner, even if just that one part of it has been wiped down daily. It sounds strange. But it really is true.
6. Do an Evening “Reset”
This is a catch-all tidy that includes, but is not limited to, several habits on this list. And it’s where the magic really happens.
Every evening, at a convenient time for your family, insist on a quick tidy of all the living spaces. We do this right before bathtime. Then we can finish up while our son takes his bath and relax after he goes to bed. That down time is sacred in our household.
Have your kids grab their toys and take them back to their rooms. Help pick up family toys or activities, like board games or blocks. Grab any laundry from the day that needs to be put in dresser drawers or closets. Throw out trash. Shelve books. Stash papers in their appropriate spots. Clear homework and put it in easy to access spots for the next school day, if applicable. Fluff couch pillows. In other words, put the room back the way you found it in the morning.
Fair warning … the first time you do this, it will feel like a lot of work at the end of an already exhausting day. But the second time will be easier. And the next even easier than that. Before you know it, it will be a natural habit.
Note: For stay-at-home moms who have a young child at home, consider implementing a mini-reset earlier in the day. In our house, if my son has had a particularly enthusiastic morning of play, I will do a mid-afternoon reset. This way only the new mess will need to be cleaned up during the evening tidy.
The magic here is you get to walk into an already tidy living space every morning. No matter what chaos happened the day before, you get to start fresh! You won’t be backlogged and start behind the game from the beginning. You’ll feel empowered to keep the ball rolling and continue your new habit for each day after.
And that’s the secret that tidy moms know. A little bit of work each day—just a handful of consistent habits, really—is all it takes to stay on top of things. You really can do it.