Adopting Better House Cleaning Habits

I love the concept of cleaning schedules- the pretty colors, the organized lists, the boxes I can check off. I can maintain them for a few months during the nesting stages of pregnancy, but adding a new baby to the mix puts an abrupt end to that. Now, most days I can’t find the kitchen counter and I wonder how long it has been since I scrubbed it. I step on toys in the family room (always Legos, ouch!), and there’s a mysterious smell wafting from somewhere downstairs.

Lately,  I’ve realized that unless I wanted to live in chaos forever, something would need to change. I tend to neglect my house so I can be ever-present with my children. But I have these amazing blessings: a beautiful family and a secure home, and I think it’s disrespectful to let my house go!

I’m not a bad housekeeper. I have bad housekeeping habits. I like the way that second statement sounds. It means that I can actually change and my house doesn’t have to be a disaster forever. Changing habits is a long term approach that can help me maintain a clean house, not a schedule that I will forget to follow one day, then eventually just give up on. Other people’s systems just don’t work for me!

These bad habits started when I was young. I had a lot of things and not a lot of places to put them. My room was always cluttered. Now that my own family and I share a home, we have kids’ clutter to fight and I feel like I’m always cleaning, but nothing is ever actually clean.  As the seasons shift from summer to fall, I’m going to work on maintaining better housekeeping habits.

I know that forming new habits seems simple- just 21 days, right? But if it’s so simple, then why do we struggle with eating healthier, exercising consistently, or not biting fingernails? We can’t actually just stop old habits- we have to replace them with better habits.

Related: What Clutter Steals From Us

Developing Better Cleaning Habits

1. Identify Excuses!

Did you notice that the paragraphs above are full of excuses?! Excuses are sometimes very legit, and sometimes they are my justification for problems! Identifying these excuses is going to be my first step in changing my housekeeping habits.

My Excuses for Why I Have A Messy Home

  • My kids make a mess and I’m always cleaning up after them
  • My hands are full holding a baby so I don’t put things away immediately
  • Miss H wants me to play with her instead of cleaning up lunch, etc.

2. Identify bad habits

These excuses actually give me some idea of the bad housekeeping habits that I need to break. What bad habits do these excuses explain?

  • Not having my kids clean up after themselves, and not storing toys in a way that reduces clutter
  • Letting messes build up and then being too overwhelmed to clean them
  • Giving into Miss H’s demands every single time she wants to play

3. Find Inspirational Ideas/ Goals

What inspires me to want to keep my house cleaner is a positive learning atmosphere for my homeschooled children. Less stress for them and for me will make everyone happier! I’ll Pin some pretty learning spaces to inspire me to keep our home looking tidy.

My goals: I want to go to bed with a clean kitchen and clean family room every night. Once I achieve and maintain these goals, I can add new ones.

Related: Why Kids Love Stuff So Much

House cleaning habits

4. Identify new habits to replace the old ones

I recently read the book The Power of Habit (affiliate link) by Charles Duhigg. This books was not only inspiring, but entertaining! One thing it mentioned is that we need to keep some things the same while adopting a new habit. For example, getting out of bed every morning is a cue for a habit. Some of us jump right into the shower, some of us change into our workout clothes, and some of us make our beds. Use the existing habit cue to attach the new habit. I’m learning to make my bed the minute my feet hit the floor.

Here are some other habit cues I’m shifting to fit in my new habits:

  • Have the kids clean up their toys and put away the toy bins when they’re done playing (habit cue: get up to walk out of the playroom.)
  • Clean up at least 5 things when I enter a room- this solves the problem of letting clutter build up and I can put the baby down next to me (habit cue: walk into a new room.)
  • Clean up the kitchen right after dinner instead of waiting until after the kids go to bed (habit cue: clearing plates from the table means the whole kitchen gets cleaned, not just the table.)

Writing down these goals and planning out each new habit works the best for me.

I could have said that I want to get in the habit of cleaning my kitchen every evening before bed, but if I’m gone for the evening or eat at a restaurant, that habit will be interrupted. Which brings me to the next step-

Related: 7 Ways to Win the Battle Against Toy Clutter

5. Don’t let the new habits slip- even once!

The habits I’m working on are really simple and not very time consuming, so I should be able to keep them up easily. Failing to do them, even once, will set me back in this habit-forming process! In his book that I mentioned earlier, Charles Duhigg said that his family meetings now are devoted to talking about habits. I think this is something that is worth trying with my family so that these new habits stick.

What are your best housekeeping habits? 


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