Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Clean As You Go

I’m a huge fan of cleaning as you go…not just picking up your trash and putting your dishes in the sink, but actually “cleaning” as you go. Like when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning and you notice that there are toothpaste bloches on the mirror and a ring of dust around the tissue box. Instead of just thinking, “hmm, I should clean that later,” I prefer to grab a washcloth and wipe it all up right then. Not later. Now. And then I don’t have to remember to do it later.

When there’s a chunk of cat fur on the carpet from the latest kitten brawl, pick it up.

When the kids are heading to bed and their toys are all over the living room, help them pick up their toys properly.

When there’s dirty laundry, don’t just chuck it on the floor “near” the laundry room. Put it in the basket.

Wipe off the counters and the stove after dinner before the crud hardens. Ditto the table.

Clean up your coffee drips while they’re fresh.

Take out the trash or recycling when you notice it’s full.

When the baby or the cat grabs the soil out of the plants and it scatters on the floor, sweep it up. It’s easier to do it right away than wait until everyone has tracked it all over the house.

Save the Memories with Minimal Time

Two easy ways to jot down those important memories — especially good for those with little ones hitting milestones every day!

  • Jot it on your calendar. Every year I make a photo calendar with my kids’ photos to give to family, as well as to use myself at home. Since I already keep these calendars from year to year for the cute photos and layouts, I’ve started jotting notes on it when milestones are hit. It gives my brain a place to save the info for later to transfer into the baby book, and since I keep the calendar in the kitchen, it’s always in sight so I don’t forget to record the moment. Baby’s first time crawling or Big Bro’s new somersault skill or Baby’s third tooth or Big Bro’s correct use of the word “asinine” — it’s all there.
  • Email yourself. Sometimes, it’s easier just to send yourself an email recording something funny that was said, a conversation you don’t want to forget, or a sentimental moment that happened at the grocery store this morning. My first note was a letter to my oldest son’s future wife, apologizing for the loud snoring beast I created. I just sent myself a note about my son’s first Santa requests. He’s not old enough to write it himself, but I don’t want to forget. These little notes are saved in their own email folder for posterity, or at least until I can get around to recording them in the appropriate baby book or scrapbook. Or I can just give the kids the folder of emails and wish them luck deciphering them all.

The Monthly Zone Technique

In addition to my weekly cleaning zones, I’ve often set up monthly zones to give myself a specific goal of organizing, decluttering or decorating a specific space. I did this when I was getting ready to list my previous house for sale, to get it ready to show and move. I also set up zones when I was pregnant to get the house ready and provide some sort of structure for my nesting.

It feels like time for me to again set up some monthly zones, because I’m feeling the urge to purge and redecorate a bit, and I need the help focusing on a goal. Otherwise, I’ll get scattered and randomly purge throughout the house, leaving a weird trail of homeless and to-get-rid-of items and half-hearted attempts at decorating in my wake.

I was supposed to be working in my home office for September, but due to some illness and mindlessness, I only got about 1/3 of the way through it. So the home office will be included in the list, at the, uh, top.

October: Home Office
November: Kitchen/Dine-in Area and Living Room
December: Playroom and Formal Dining Room, Christmas decor
January: Master Bedroom, Bath and Closet
February: Garage
March: Older Son’s Room plus Upstairs Bath
April: Younger Son’s Room

These zones aren’t for “cleaning” but for organizing, decluttering and decorating.

This technique works equally well for projects. I’ve designated months before for catching up on photos, making holiday gifts, etc.

My weekly cleaning zones remain the same as before:

  1. Master suite (bedroom, bath, closet) and upstairs bath
  2. Playroom and formal dining room
  3. Living room and stairs
  4. Kids’ rooms (2)
  5. Home office
  6. Guest room, downstairs bath, and laundry room
  7. Kitchen and eat-in dining area