When you have fifteen children and homeschool people ask you a lot of questions.
I don’t mind the curious questions, because let’s be honest I am nosey myself. I like to know things, especially, things about people and how they think, and what they do, and why they do it.
One question I get asked often is, how do you keep your home clean and organized?
People will say things like, “you must be really organized and disciplined.” For the longest time, I didn’t really see myself as a super organized or disciplined person. I would look at others and think they are so organized and disciplined. For example, my mom is very organized and disciplined. She taught us how to maintain a clean and orderly home. Everything has a place, and there is a right way to do certain tasks. Whenever my parents purchased a new property, my mom quickly took her vision for that property and made a plan to transform the property into her vision. She took the plan and then ran the plan. This is organization and discipline in my understanding.
So, when people would say to me, “you must be so organized and discipline,” I would think no not really, because I am not as detailed oriented as my mother. But maybe there is different kinds of organized and disciplined.
At my house, we have a schedule, a routine, each day, each week. There are certain tasks that are done in the morning, afternoon, evening. Certain tasks that are done on certain days, and at certain times in the day. For example, the goats must be milked in the early morning. The animals must be fed and watered in the morning. Meals need to be prepared, eaten, and cleaned up at relatively set times daily. School work and chores must be done within a certain time frame each day. In this manner, our days are somewhat organized and disciplined. Yet, our schedule is not very rigid, but more of an understood outline.
There are ways of keeping our home clean and orderly without a strict cleaning routine as well. One of the things people often comment on that makes me laugh inside is how clean my bathrooms tend to be. I think they must think with six daughters with long hair, and nine sons, it should be a given that the bathroom would be a mess. I will tell you the trick to maintaining a clean bathroom.
The trick is clean as you go. Whenever I use the shower, before I exit the shower I wipe it down. I teach my children to do the same. Whenever I use the toilet, I clean up around the toilet. When I use the sink, I wipe it down. I rehang the towel, and if I notice trash on the floor I pick it up. I teach my children to do just a little task whenever they are in the bathroom to maintain it’s cleanliness. Then when it is time to deep clean the bathroom, it isn’t that big of a task at all.
This morning, I woke before the rest of my family. It is Sunday morning and it is cold out, so there is no reason to wake everyone up early. Yesterday was sabbath which means we did not work. The house can get really messy on Saturday. We all eat all day, and play, and just rest, and by the end of the day, the house is clearly in need of a pick up. Every Saturday night after the sun goes down, we all pitch in and clean up the main floor. The kitchen, dinning room, living room, family room, hallway, playroom, mud room, and even the main floor bathrooms. We don’t do a deep cleaning, because we already did that on Friday. But rather, we quickly put the house back in order. It doesn’t take even an hour for us all working together to get the house picked up. But, often, on Sunday morning when I come downstairs there are still a few things that didn’t get done. A few unwashed dishes, or misplaced books, unswept floors, etc. So, I just slowly walk around and quietly take care of these little tasks.
This is the secret to keeping my home looking clean.
The secret is if you see a mess than clean the mess.
It doesn’t take but a few seconds to pick up a dirty cup and take it to the kitchen, or to sweep a few crumbs from under the table. It takes very little time to put the toys in the toy box, or the books on the bookshelf. Little children can be messy. But if you set an example of cleaning up often, they will learn to do it soon enough.
One of my favorite tasks that also brings order in our house is menu and grocery list making.
Each week, we assess the food we have on hand in the cupboards and fridges, then we make a menu for the week, and a grocery list.
Usually, by the time we get to the end of the week the fridges and cupboards are pretty empty. I actually love the feeling I get when I look in the fridge and it looks empty. That means that I fed my family well for a whole week, and now it is time to fill them up again. When the fridge is mostly empty, I like to take that opportunity before putting the next weeks food in it to wipe it down, clean it and organize it. It takes a couple minutes, but it saves time and money later. Then when the groceries for the week are brought inside. We put them all away in an orderly way, so we can find everything we bought when we need it. I don’t tend to over stock. We buy what we need each week.
The exception to this rule is if we are canning, freezing fresh produce, or if we are buying or butchering fresh meat. In those situations we do stock up, and we have separate pantries and freezers for the over stock. There are some other rare circumstances that we might stock up on other staples, like if someone offers us a good deal or gives us a blessing, but for the most part we have found it saves more money, and time to just plan for one or two weeks at a time.
I think keeping a clean and organized home can look different to different people. A family of five, and a family of seventeen is not going to need the same things. Likewise, different personalities make for different ways of maintaining ones home. But, one thing I do know, a clean and orderly home can bring a great deal of peace and joy to those who live in, and visit that home.
Simple little tasks, like wiping down the shower, or putting your shoes away can add up to a lot less work later.
Little changes can make a big difference in our homes and in our hearts. We can apply these ideas to our prayer life, scripture reading life, and our relationships with others. Little connections daily and/or weekly can add up over time.
Plan to be intentional and you will be.
Shalom from my home to your home.