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It takes a lot to keep your house clean.
It’s never enough to just do a bit of work, and then hope that it stays clean for days or weeks on end. That never happens. Instead, you have to keep cleaning (and cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning).
It's so important to have a system in place so that you’re able to keep on top of it, but sometimes you need to triage. Something happens that made things extra dirty and you need a way to get your house back to a livable status ASAP.
These five tips are ways to get your house out of pigsty status as fast as possible. If you want a way to keep your house clean long-term, you can check out my blogs on how to keep a house clean long-term, the secret to keeping your house clean all the time, or how the broken windows theory applies to keeping your house clean.
This post is really about how to give your house that emergency jolt to get it from messy to livable, rather than keeping it clean long-term.
The first thing you should know about your house is which two or three tasks are most important.
These are the ones where, if you have time to do nothing else, they will make the biggest difference in how it feels. For most houses, this could be things like vacuuming the main living areas, wiping down the kitchen counters, or dusting highly visible areas.
It differs from house to house, but these do you tasks make the biggest difference in whether you walk in to your house and think “yuck”.
If your house is in a true pigsty status, your first step should always be to do these two or three top priority tasks daily while you're getting caught up. This will prevent backsliding and make sure your battle against messiness is primarily unseen, rather than commented on by your entire family.
It’s important for you to realize that you do not have to solely take on this responsibility yourself.
You're on this blog because, I assume, you are a mom. That means you have unpaid labor just waiting to help. Maybe waiting with an eye roll, but waiting nonetheless.
A child as young as two can help hand you things out of the dishwasher as you clean. Elementary school students are great at sorting laundry, even if they aren't really focused enough to fold it properly. Middle schoolers can clean an entire house if given the proper incentive (aka bribery).
Don't feel like it's a failure to ask your children to do chores or help out around the home. It's not you crying uncle as a housekeeper, it's you being victorious as a parent and creating children that don't think the world revolves around them for no effort.
There's actual psychological research that ties children's success in their careers later in life not to their academic performance, but to whether or not they perform chores. If you need some help with a chore chart, I've got you covered there too.
There's something that you really don't have time or bandwidth to do, and you can’t outsource it to your kids, sometimes it's very helpful to call in a professional cleaner on a one-time basis just to get you back to a sustainable point of clean.
From a general cleaner to oven or roof or rug cleaning specialists, if you want to balance your life a bit more then leave these tasks to the experts.
You don’t have to feel guilty about getting a bit of help!
Even if you don't like the idea of having professionals clean your house, there's sometimes tasks that just don't fit into a family routine.
When that’s the case, there is no limit of ways to Outsource specific tasks. There are even apps for finding someone to do your laundry for you. Don't feel like you need to do everything yourself, especially if you are cleaning up after a major event, you just had a baby, or some other extenuating circumstance.
Sometimes taking a task off your plate for as little as a few days can help you get back on your feet.
Sometimes the biggest problem with the house isn't that it's dirty, but that it's messy.
In these circumstances, there really is no substitute for throwing all your crap in a pile in the middle of the floor and putting it away one item at a time, with an empty box for Goodwill in the corner.
If you feel your house is becoming overrun with material objects, sometimes it's necessary to take a couple of days living in chaos to weed out all your stuff and only put half of it back on the shelves.
You won't always have time for a massive cleaning like this, but if your house is feeling messy and dirty and you can't see a way out, sometimes it's nice to leverage the fact that it's already chaotic and really knocks some bodies down with it.
Chances are your house is far closer to clean than you think it is.
We are generally our own worst critics when it comes to housekeeping, so take a critical eye, go through things systematically, and you will be back to clean in no time.
If you need some extra help, try the attached workbook. It's a free downloadable PDF that helps you get your house from messy to spotless in a short period of time.
Sweep on, Mama!
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.
I'm here for you.
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