The only way that I know of to keep a house neat and/or organized is do chores…daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. There is simply no way around it. Either you do them or you pay someone to do them, or…you suffer the consequences of not doing them.
Of course, not everyone cares how organized or neat their house is. I’ve been in plenty of houses to know that everyone finds their own comfort level of how they want to live in their homes. Especially when the tradeoff is their time. Many people prefer to do other activities – name anything – than clean out the garage…again.
I marvel at my clients with families who are in a constant battle with keeping their stuff in order. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for parents to deal with the mountain of stuff that accumulates in every room AND live a quality of life that includes sports, entertainment or educational activities outside the home.
I am a professional organizer. I live a somewhat minimal lifestyle. I’ve organized every square inch in my 650 sq.ft. apartment. It only takes a couple of weeks of a heavy workload to throw my own house into a bit of disarray. But it only takes me a short time to return my house to order.
I am asked all the time, “what can we do to keep this house organized?” But what people are often really asking is “what can we do to keep this house neat?”, and there is a big difference between being organized and being neat.
Being organized means you have systems and structures in place to control the chaos. Being neat means that you take the time to return things to their organized places. For example, if I organize your kitchen, the system is in place for you to know where everything should go. If you are are neatening up the kitchen, then you are generally return items to this proper place. For example, unloading the dishwasher, by putting the dishes in their proper cabinets is a chore. But completely necessary to keep a kitchen neat.
If you have organized systems, then the neatening up process should be a snap compared to never knowing where things should go. You end up wandering the house looking for an empty space to stuff something in, or just open the garage door and toss things into it. The difference is in knowing where something is when you go looking for it vs. never knowing where anything is and spending the time and money to go out and buy a duplicate item.
Chores, done on a somewhat regular basis will keep a house looking neat and organized. I believe in teaching children to do chores and to look at them as a necessary part of keeping home and family life happy. I also believe that time for doing chores needs to be on your calendar…just like any other appointment.
Chores you can do every day to help keep a house neat and decluttered:
1. Everyone makes their beds.
2. Picking up clothes from the floor and getting them hung up or put into the laundry.
3. Having a place for toys to live and then putting them there.
4. Teach everyone to only eat at the kitchen/dining table. Eliminates the chore of having to hunt down the banana peels from under the sofa cushions.
5. Getting dirty dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher. Unloading the dishwasher and putting dishes in the cabinets.
6. Gather paper clutter into a basket until it can be sorted.
7. Take out the garbage and recycling every day.