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Have you ever walked into someone’s house and thought “okay, there’s no way this *insert uncheritable pet name here* has kids”?
I definitely have.
It’s so intimidating to go into a house you know houses just as many tiny terrors...I mean children...as yours does, but still feeling like it’s clean, organized, and uncluttered.
You have a toddler but can still see your floor? How?
You have dogs yet I see no caked-on drool across your wall? What’s up with that?
Unfortunately (I mean, fortunately) it is possible to have kids without living in what looks like a perpetual war zone. This is both good and bad news for you. It’s good news because it means that it is achievable, but it’s bad news because it means the simple presence of kids isn’t enough to give you a solid excuse for mayhem.
That’s where I come in. This should give you a few simple steps you can take to make sure your house is company-ready every day, not just on Christmas or Easter.
You probably don’t pay a lot of attention to the interior style of your second home, especially if you have small kids.
I know that keeping my house in keeping with the latest architectural or style trends ranks somewhere below alphabetizing my spice cupboard on my priority list.
My best advice here is to set your sights on something achievable. If you have small kids (or kids at all) it might not be realistic to have a ridiculous, Vogue-like interior going on.
This isn’t to say that your house can’t be stylish, but go for something low-maintenance. Fortunately, you can create a simple, easy-to-maintain decor almost no matter which way your tastes run, whether you prefer a rustic design style that combines all the coziness of thick and warm rugs and the simple charm of native and handwoven materials or whether you like something chic and more modern.
The trick here is that less is more. Pick a couple of key pieces and make sure you like your overall color schemes, but don’t go overboard with the knickknacks and breakables.
If you really want to make your home look its best, you need to take a step by step approach to clearing out the place.
If you were having guests, you wouldn’t leave toys, clothes, and other items hand around, and neither should you when it’s just your family. It’s tempting to let things slide when there’s no one around to see the mess, but try and lower your bar for what constitutes “messy” or “an unacceptably long time for something to be sitting on the counter” and it will make a huge difference in the way your house looks.
Ideally, you want to make it easy for your family to declutter and keep the place tidy.
Make some rules with your kids when it comes to cleaning up and actually enforce them.
Also, if you have a large number of seasonal items or sentimental keepsakes, the addition of storage units can make a significant difference.
Hypothetically, if you were going to have company or, goodness forbid, rent your house out on a place like Airbnb, you would have to face the judgmental looks of your guests or build a listing description to attract guests in the first place.
It’s important to look at your mess from an outsider’s perspective to get out of your “I live here” mindset. Sure, your desk looks clean to you, because you know what every last slip of paper is for, but to a guest it will just look like clutter. Same goes with massive collections of family photos, kids’ toys, or other paraphernalia we tend to collect (hoard).
Take a look around your house with the eyes of someone who’s never seen the place before and you’ll be shocked at the new cleaning revelations it brings.
Just as a fancy hotel would prepare a welcome basket for their guests, Try pinpointing the exact things in your home that make you feel the happiest, swankiest, or most luxurious.
In our house, I will take the extra 10 minutes each day to fill up diffusers with eucalyptus oil. It's only a small task, but every time I walk past 1 I feel a little bit better about my housekeeping skills and it brightens my mood. I thought I was just doing it for myself for months, but it turns out my husband was secretly addicted to them and mentioned that he missed the smell one day when I forgot. It turns out our entire family enjoys eucalyptus. (Now we just have to worry about an impending koala attack.)
But seriously, find one or two things that make your house “feel” the cleanest and make them a priority.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or time-consuming. Maybe you have one glass door that looks really great when it’s windex-ed daily. Maybe you need to vacuum your main hall every morning to rid it of dog hair tumbleweed. Whatever it is, find the one or two things that make the biggest difference to you and see to those tasks, even if nothing else gets done.
I went over this rule in my how to keep your house clean all the time post, but I keep going back to it because it LITERALLY is the only thing standing between my house and complete chaos.
Here’s the short version:
If it takes you less than two minutes to clean/put away/tidy something, do it as soon as you see it. If it takes more than two minutes, you can throw it on your to do list.
Seriously, it’s that simple.
Try that out for a week and I swear you’ll see a ridiculous difference in the tidiness levels of your house.
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
You just want to keep the house clean, have a happy marriage, raise functional kids, and still have a little left in the tank to be a real person as well.
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