Monday, 17 February 2014

How To Keep A Tidy Home

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I love having a tidy home. Not only do I prefer how my house looks when it's neat, it is much easier to keep to my 15 minute a day cleaning schedule (no clutter to dust/wipe around!) and I rarely lose anything. Once the basic system is in place and becomes a habit, maintaining the tidiness takes very little effort either.

This is actually a topic I wrote about way back when I started the blog, and at the time I confessed that I didn't used to be tidy or organized. As a teenager, I was a keen artist and my discarded sketches literally used to pile up on the floor until you couldn't see a single inch of my bedroom carpet. I didn't catch the tidy bug until I got my own home (sorry mum!), and then didn't really become super organized until I moved into a house so small that it was either learn to be organized or audition for one of those "extreme hoarder" TV shows.

The point I'm making is that a lot of tidy people aren't born that way, they just learned a few basic principles and stuck with it until it became habit. In this post, I'll share those principles and will even sweeten the deal by giving you some free editable labels (to be shared in Thursday's post). Pretty things make it easier to feel motivated, I find.

Sort Out That Clutter

Being tidy is far easier if you aren't hanging onto items that you don't really need, but decluttering is something which many people confess to finding a challenge. This is often because the job seems overwhelming, as there is so much to sort through. Human nature means that most people will quickly lose the motivation and simply give up.

It can help to see decluttering as a long term process, and not something you can achieve in a weekend. When I was trying to make all of our belonging fit into our old shoe box home it literally took me weeks to sort through everything, just doing 10 minutes here and there. Taking action little and often will still help you to achieve a clutter free home in the end, and the approach also helps to ingrain the habit. Since then, getting rid of clutter has been an automatic ongoing process for me, and not something which I need to dedicate a chunk of time to.

I think a lot of people have heard the following principles for cluttering, but just in case I will revisit them here. As you go through items ask yourself the following questions:

Is it something I use regularly?

Is it beautiful?

Is it sentimental?

If the answer is no, get rid of it. If the thought of getting rid of something makes you feel a little anxious, put it in a box and stash it in a shed, garage, loft or closet for six months. If after this time you haven't really missed or needed anything in the box, donate the box to charity.

Have A Place For Everything

This is something that you can start working on at the same time as decluttering, although it is easier to implement without too many unnecessary items hanging around your home. Every single item in your house should have a dedicated place to put it, and you - and everyone else in your home - needs to get in the habit of returning things to that place as soon as the item is no longer needed. Not having a system means that miscellaneous items tend to accumulate in spots such as the kitchen worktop, and soon you can't remember what's even in that big messy pile.

If you find that something keeps being left lying around rather than being returned to its "home", it could be that the dedicated spot just doesn't work for your needs. I find that when I bring something new into the house, it can go through several "homes" before I find the perfect place for it. Once you are happy with where things are kept, use labels and the power of nagging to ensure that everyone knows it too - my husband still asks where things are kept, but it cuts down the number of questions. ;-)

Tidy As You Go

If tidying up feels like a chore then you are less likely to do it. Tidying as you go takes a bit of dedication to make it a habit, but it is worth it! If you need to go to the kitchen, take your dirty coffee mug with you and put it straight in the dishwasher. If your child has left their favorite teddy downstairs, put it on the bottom step so that they remember to take it back to their room when they go up to bed. You get the idea!

Obviously, this approach doesn't always work so well with kids' toys. I know some parents who have a "put your toy away before you get a new toy out" rule, and that's fine if it works for your household. Personally, I prefer to let my kids do what they want in the play room during the day but everything has to be put away before bath time. Implementing the previous tidying principle ("everything has its place") obviously helps the kids to control their own mess at the end of the day!

If you have any tidying tips you would like to add, leave me a comment!

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