A clean kitchen welcoming you to start your day… no dishes or clutter on the counter too. The bathroom, so well organised and everything just where you want it. Such that… you could actually reach for things with your eyes closed. No worry about the mismatch socks too. Bags and shoes waiting by the door… everything set and ready for work and school… Is it possible to wake up to this?
What if you had a little help with it? A little team… may be little Elves at night who did the job?
Yes. That would be possible, if only… elves really did come to clean houses every night.
I grew up in a family of five children. My mother did not do it all. I don’t say we were the perfect family because we weren’t. We had clutter and we made a lot of mess. We were always given full freedom to be creative, build our forts of cushions and always allowed to camp out under the blankets and dining chairs but…
We were always asked to clean up after ourselves. Honestly, we never really did clean up. Like all households, my mother did nag us and dad did with-hold our allowances and there were complaints and arguments all the time. Then one day, a new set of rules were made. Every night before going to bed, everyone in the family would do one chore. Since we were all different ages, we were alloted the chore according to our age. We had the freedom to do whatever we liked through the day. We could keep our rooms a giant clutter hole or we could build those towers of mattresses to jump on but at the end of the day before going to bed, one person was responsible for clearing that up to make everyone’s bed. That person would not be very happy doing it all so, through the day, he or she would mind the others and make sure the clutter was in control.
The person whose responsibility it was to clean up the dining table at night, didn’t like all the stuff collecting all through the day, so he or she would make sure that it was done at the right time or everybody did their share.
The person whose responsibility it was to press the uniforms, didn’t like having to press them every day of the week so, he or she made sure the younger ones would hang up their uniforms and not throw them somewhere.
You see, we started working as a team because having disagreements meant that we’d have to take our own dishes, make our own bed and press our own uniform along with a lot of different things. We started looking out for each other, helped each other out too and after a few days, it actually became fun and like a game. We would compete to see who finished fast or who had less work at the end of the day.
It isn’t like my parents didn’t do anything. They did their own share too. The end result was that we all woke up to a cleaner more organized morning and slept in a clean house every night. Our parents were happier and they had more time to talk and play with us. We were happy because we felt like we were contributing to the family has a whole. Our family became stronger because we all worked together towards one goal: a clean, happy morning.
Fast forward to my life with my kids. Ever since we had kids, I have always felt like I have the weight of the whole world on my shoulders. With babies… they are all so dependant on us. With a little toddler and a baby, life became a juggle. When we had three kids, the eldest one was always feeling neglected. I started to wonder how my mum did it all. And then… I remembered. I have started to implement these in my life for the past three years now. I had my fourth child last year and although my children are still very small and we do deter from this plan many times but when we do stick to this, our house remains clean and we do get up to a bright clean morning.
I have talked about the ‘Don’t Fret Just Kiss Rule’ in my Life Skills post. Here are 10 things, that don’t require more than 10 minutes each, that you can do every night to make your mornings really stress free. These are things that you can involve your family in too. Make it a bedtime routine for everyone, actually. That is how we do it around here. I hope you can use these to make your mornings easier and your home more organized.
10 MINUTES TO A CLUTTER FREE MORNING
1. Return the shoes, coats, jackets and purses to the closet. You can do these every time you come home too. We are the bare feet or socked feet at home kind of people. When we come home, we put our shoes away or as we have recently done: outsourced the responsibility of the shoe cabinet to our 7 year old son! Our toddler likes to hang around the shoe cabinet like all toddlers do. 🙂 We found that her elder brother was good at keeping her in check. So now, he has taken up the responsibility of checking if the shoes are in the cabinet each night or else he gets his little sister to do it under his command. 😉
2. Clear the tables off. NO newspapers, mail or clutter there. If you save newspapers or magazines, for whatever reasons, then keep them in their allotted place off the tables. Mail should never be left lying on the table. If it lies on the table, it will collect and it will be forgotten. Be smart, as soon as you get the mail in the morning, stand by your trash can while you sort it out. It is easier to collect less stuff and answer the mail right away. Also try to avoid getting home stuff that you don’t need. Pamphlets, shopping inserts, flyers… they are clutter. When you go to museums or travel, those maps, itinery plans and magazines… those are clutter. If you really need somethimg from it, tear that article and bring it with you, leaving the whole magazine behind.
3. File Paper Work. Every night before going to bed, we file our papers. We didn’t do this for years and it was a nightmare when we finally sat down to figure it out. There was just so much to do. We then, got into the habit that either my husband or I would sort it out every night. School papers, the bills, whatever has come in. Usually it is less than 5 papers for us now. Imagine what would happen if it was 5 papers collecting everyday for weeks or months lying there!
4. Empty your pockets and purses and get them sorted. We started doing this after I washed away a few important papers and found a lot of coins in the washer! Since we are filing paper work, emptying those pockets will make all those things like receipts and phone numbers and addresses (if you are the scribbling kind ) scrambling out. Keep a separate box or folder for receipts. I can’t tell you how much time we have wasted finding a receipt for exchanging an item. So, every night get the stuff out of your pockets, put the receipts away, cash and coins sorted and if you will be needing another purse the next day, move all of your stuff the night before so that you are ready the next morning.
5. Store technology, chargers, media, remotes, CDs/DVDs out of sight. It is best if we can all learn to put things away as soon as we have used them but so often, this doesn’t happen. Every night, before you switch off those lights, put the laptop in its place, store the chargers away, replace those DVDs in those racks and give your living room a once over to see that you won’t accidently be sitting on a remote!
6. Put away clothing. With three little ones in our house and two adults, we have a lot of laundry coming out. It really helps to pick everything and put them in their respective closets or in the laundry. Even little children can help with this and they should be taught to do it. I have put this as part of my children’s bedtime routine now so they know that when they change into their pajamas, they should put their clothes into the laundry hamper. We are teaching our toddler now. A little reminder like ‘ where do these go now? The LAUNDRY!!!‘ is such an easy way to instil in them a new habit and set them off for a life skill called ‘pick up after yourself’! 😉
7. Put back toys. This is another thing that I have added to my children’s bed time routine. Put the toys away before bedtime. That is how they start their bed time routine actually. This tells them that it is time for bed and time to stop playing.
8. Tidy up the homework and arrange the bags. We also get our son to pack his homework and bag before bed time. This prepares him for the next day. I assist him in picking out his dress for the next morning too. When you ready your bags and clothes, make sure you put out the shoes and socks too.
9. Put kitchen items away. I always find that the reason my kitchen gets cluttered is because of what gets on the counters. Those appliances, dishes or utensils, the ingredients or what escaped from the measuring cup… you know? When I started putting things back in their place every night and just wiping the surface with a wipe, it really helped keep things tidier. The dishes? I know…! The best solution and that I swear by now (even though sometimes I fail..), is to put them away as and when you finish using them. As soon as you are done in the kitchen, load that dish washer. As soon as you come in again and you see it needs emptying, put the things away. In the beginning it seems like you have to do it in spite of yourself but trust me, in less than a week it becomes a habit. Stick up a brightly coloured note if you need a reminder but really, it helps!
10. Clean all bathroom surfaces. The last thing that everyone does before bedtime is, use their bathrooms. 🙂 So, when you are done using it, (usually, it is always the mum who is the last person to go to bed!) throw those dirty towels into the laundry and put those items away. Give everything a spray of water or wipe it clean with a paper towel or disinfectant wipe and you are done!
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Each of these things take 10 minutes or less to do but they make things so stress free in the morning. You can do additional things too. Involve your children and spouse with this routine each night. I know how hard it is to make sure they do it and I know that is a job in itself but they can be your biggest asset in keeping your home clean. Treat them like your little team. Sit down and have a family meeting. Give them their due importance. Tell them how you love it when they help you. Tell them that you only ask for them to do one thing. If it is onething, they will do it. My husband’s job is to only take care taht stuff that comes out of his pockets gets to their alloted place and nowhere else. For the kids, one takes care of his school stuff and the other takes care of the shoes cabinet. They both, however, have to pick up their toys. Everybody, puts things in their alloted space or mom confisticates. Some days, everybody cooperates. Some days, nobody does. My kids are 7yrs and 2yr old. I cannot complain. 🙂
Tell me what you do to make your mornings easier. I would love to hear from you. Do join us on our Facebook Page and if you are interested, join our mailing list above.