6 Things I Do EVERY Day to Simplify My Home

posted by Andrea | 03/9/2015
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simplify

In general, I’m home A LOT — mostly by choice, since I’ve chosen to work from home while my kids are around. But also, in the super cold, extremely snowy, LONG winter months, it’s almost impossible to easily get out and about with 2 little kids.

Being home all the time can get old, and sometimes frustrating when the kids just need to run around for a while, but for the most part, I like it (and I honestly think my kids do too).

However, it also means it’s even more important for my home to feel simple, organized, bright, cheery, user-friendly, inviting, etc. etc. because who wants to sit around all day in a place that doesn’t feel welcoming and inviting?? Not me!

Of course, I’m not going to walk around behind my kids picking up every last crumb, toy, book, or game. But I have noticed that there are a few things I do every single day (out of habit now) that really help my home to feel “homey” — and a place I love spending all my hours each day.

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As you’ll hopefully notice, the 6 tips listed below are all extremely simple, usually only taking a few seconds or maybe a couple minutes to implement. And if you do any of these things around your house, you can most likely testify to the fact that these simple gestures do, in fact, make huge difference in the overall “feeling” and “vibe” your home gives off.

Also, I should mention that I do not do any of the things listed below in attempts to make my home more presentable for unexpected guests or because I’m worried someone else might think my home is messy and cluttered. NO, the 6 things I’ve listed below are done because it helps ME to enjoy spending time in MY home. Period! 

6 things to simplify my home

1. Make the beds.

This is #1 on my list for a reason… I absolutely can not stand looking at messy, unmade beds in my house! It literally takes seconds to make the beds (especially kids beds) and it instantly transforms the entire room to look neater, more organized, less cluttered, more inviting, etc.

I can honestly say that I can’t remember a time (ever) in my entire life when I have not made my bed for the day.

2. Open the curtains.

I don’t like dark, dreary rooms — and since we use room-darkening shades on almost all our windows, I immediately open all the curtains and blinds at the first hint of daylight (our house is set back off the road a ways, so we don’t need to worry about people looking in.)

This takes me less than 1 minute and it instantly makes everything lighter and brighter (literally and figuratively!)

3. Clear off tables and counters.

I know I’m more anti-clutter than some people — but I do think we would all agree that less surface clutter creates a simpler, more calming, and more peaceful atmosphere.

I certainly don’t think every flat surface needs to be 100% spotless, but in general, I like to have my kitchen table, my kitchen counters, and my bathroom counters relatively clutter free.

This usually involves putting a few dishes away, putting the toothbrushes back in the drawer, hanging up a towel or two, and quickly wiping down the counter to remove any crumbs from breakfast. Nothing major, but it’s an instant pick-me-up!

4. Stack dirty dishes.

Although we put almost everything in the dishwasher (even small pots and pans), we do hand-wash larger pots, pans, casserole dishes, baby bottles, and some of our good knives. However, we usually only wash dishes after dinner at night — so if I get any hand-wash-only dishes dirty during the day, they will sit out for several hours, which means I need to stare at them all day long.

To make things look just a bit neater, I’ll often stack them nicely right next to the sink. Sometimes I’ll even put a kitchen towel over them to “hide” them from plain sight.

I realize this might sound a little dorky, but I do feel like it helps to make the kitchen seem cleaner and neater — and no, I’m not trying to impress anyone, this is just how I like it for myself (and remember, I’M the one who’s home all day!)

5. Pick up as we go.

Again, I don’t want you to envision me ruthlessly running around behind my kids picking up every single thing they get out… but I will say that we have regular pick-up times throughout the day, and we do pick everything up at those times.

Before we eat lunch and before bed are the 2 major pick-up times… but sometimes we’ll do quick mini-pick-ups before dinner, if we’re leaving the house for a while, if friends are coming over to play, or if we’ve made such a huge mess and there’s no more floor space to comfortably play 🙂

I think this “rule of thumb” is great for kids — but also adults too.

I’m always on the look-out for things I can quickly pick up and put away throughout my house — clothes, towels, games, toys, papers, kitchen items, food, mail, etc.etc. It takes me 10 seconds to grab something and put it away — and doing this all day long means there is little left to do at the end of the day.

6. Go through my nightly routine.

Speaking of the “end of the day”, Dave and I have our own nightly routine… and WOW, does it make a HUGE difference in the overall look and feel of our home.

You can read about our routine in more detail here… but the basic concept is that we quickly do a general once-over of the entire house after the kids are in bed. We finish cleaning up anything from dinner and anything from the kids’ baths. We wash the dishes, pack lunches, get stuff ready for breakfast or pull meals out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner. We put away any toys, books, games, or clothing left sitting out, fold any remaining laundry, etc. etc.

I know this might sound like a lot, but since I try to keep up on things during the day, since we do this every night, and since we do it together, it honestly takes between 15 and 30 minutes total, to do everything listed above (and yes, it’s totally worth that 15-30 minutes!)

Not only does this allow us to both enjoy a couple hours in a nice clean home before we go to bed, it also allows ME to sleep better knowing everything is put away and cleaned up… and I don’t think I have to mention how fabulous it feels to wake up to a relatively clean and organized home every morning!

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Like I mentioned above, these 6 things are all relatively simple habits to develop and besides #6, they all take mere minutes (or even seconds) to accomplish. And the payout from these simple tasks is so rewarding — it makes it that much easier for me to stick with these daily and nightly routines.

As someone who spends many MANY hours at home each week, I can confidently say that these 6 simple tasks, chores, to-dos (or whatever you want to call them) have greatly improved the overall feel and mood of my home — if that makes any sense!

And honestly, even if you aren’t at home all day, every day, I can’t imagine you would NOT benefit from implementing some of these simple tips into the time you do spend at home.

What are your best daily tips and tricks for a simplified home?

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32 comments

  1. Rebecca

    06/20/2015

    I joke that my daughter keeps a pet sock monkey that poos sock pellets all over the house. You know, those rolled-up socks that were discarded for whatever reason like she stepped in something wet or her feet got hot. One of her jobs is to collect all the sock-turds every night, because sight of them the next morning makes me CrAzY!

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  2. Lists and Links I Love - Joyfully Thriving

    06/04/2015

    […] listed 6 things she does every day to simplify her home. I make our bed daily and it really does make a difference. I’ve been working harder at […]

  3. Fibromyalgia and Household Chores

    03/11/2015

    […] with fibromyalgia. Her simple yet classy styles are kid (and mommy) friendly! Her most recent post 6 Things I do EVERY Day to Simplify My Home is a great example of how simple she keeps it, and how perfect her methods are for people with […]

  4. Pam

    03/10/2015

    I taught my kids when they were young that it takes more energy to step over something than to bend down and pick something up and put it away. This worked worked well and stuck with them into adulthood. Even when passing by something, my younger ones will grab something and put it away if they are going into the room it belongs in!

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    Andrea Reply:

    awesome “lesson” — and yes, if you teach them young enough, it will become a habit in no time!

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  5. Jessica

    03/09/2015

    Where did you get your room-darkening shades? We want to get them for Nora’s room since it’s still light out when we put her to bed.

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    Andrea Reply:

    We got them from Lowe’s — but I believe they sell them at Home Depot too. They are amazing!!

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  6. JJ

    03/09/2015

    I have a tote that I bring upstairs and downstairs, so I can easily take things as I go. I put the things from the tote where they belong and set it either on the stairs(if I’m downstairs) or on the ledge(if upstairs). This has helped from a bunch of things being thrown on the stairs and looking cluttered. I love your tips, especially about opening the curtains! I need to do that!

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    Andrea Reply:

    We kind of do the same thing with a basket. We have a landing area to the upstairs and to the basement so both spots are good places to set things until you’re going up or down again. It makes it easy to bring things up and down without actually walking up and down 500 times a day!

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    JJ Reply:

    Yes, you’re right! It makes it much easier. =D

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  7. Karen

    03/09/2015

    I make my bed before I leave my bedroom and take all of my dirty laundry to my utility room. I also put away any clothes that I didn’t get to and I try to leave my room all in order before I go downstairs. I also require this of my children before breakfast. This keeps the bedroom areas pretty orderly and I don’t have to go back up for cleaning.
    My children are older so they each have chores that they must do before school (sweep, wipe table, take garbage out, etc). Once they are sitting at the table for school, I do the dishes and wipe the counters and start a load of laundry. Then I am free to work with them and I know that the kitchen is cleaned up and I have put my “mechanical maid” to work on the clothes. Also, before I prepare to cook, I try to fill up the sink with hot sudsy water and place the dirty things in there as I use them. It helps with the overall clean up after the meal.
    As my laundry comes out of the dryer, I bring the basket into the school room and fold while I’m instructing or giving a test. When we break for lunch, the kids bring the baskets up and distribute the clothes into the different rooms. This helps to keep things flowing.
    In order to keep my home fairly organized, I have been working on scaling back what I have and rethinking how I use my spaces. For an example, in the work area of my kitchen I have nothing on the counters except the appliances that I use, no decorations or clutter. This really helps to keep it easy to clean and a fast clean up. The decorations are used around the table where we want the warmth and beauty.

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  8. Yda

    03/09/2015

    Great post! I follow the same routine every day. I work part time (some hours at home while daughter naps) and having an organized and clean is a must for me.
    Every night with my husband we follow your same routine. Everything is in the right place before bed and we have time to relax. Nothing like getting up in the morning knowing that you are not going to find a mess!

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  9. Amy P

    03/09/2015

    First time commenter here – just wanted to say “thank you” for all of the great tips! I work part time at home and the daily messes in our house (made by us and our 3 little kids) make me want to give up! But I have started some systems that are really helping. And now I have your voice in my head saying “daily maintenance”!! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amy! daily messes can be so overwhelming — especially when you KNOW they will be made the next day, and the next day, and the next day. It almost seems pointless to clean them up. I guess for me though, I like having my house “back to normal” every night so the daily maintenance is always worth it for me. Glad my voice is in your head now too 🙂

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  10. Gillian

    03/09/2015

    Easy simple steps…..the things that parents should teach every child, male or female.

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  11. Janice

    03/09/2015

    The maxim “A place for everything and everything in its place” makes it easier to maintain one’s nest. Most of the trouble for so many of us is that we have TOO MUCH of the “everything” in our homes, garages, offices, etc. I love the military idea of SOP which means Standard Operating Procedure. I think if we followed this idea and the little maxim stated above, we would discover so much greater peace and accomplishment. Thanks for reminding us of your simplify principle and practice. Oh yeah, I also like your idea of progress not perfection. You are just so practical!

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  12. Dawn

    03/09/2015

    Yes!!! My hubby laughs at my urgent need to open all the curtains and blinds first thing every morning, even before coffee!! LOL!!!
    I hate dark rooms, so the house must be nice and bright for me to wake up and be happy.

    Since our dishwasher started acting wonky, we have begun washing the dishes by hand after every meal. Of course, there are a lot of us home all day, so one meal makes a good sized pile of dishes. The kids rotate on washing, and there is very little complaining because since we wash after every meal it goes very quickly.

    We pick up al day too, especially the homeschool stuff. With 7 students, that can get out of control fairly quickly. Notebooks and pencils everywhere!! It’s easier now that my kids are older. My youngest is now 8. But I remember the days of all little kids. It was imperative to stay on top of things to keep Mommy from feeling like she would lose her mind.

    We don’t have much of a winter here in coastal SC, but boy do we have SUMMER. When it’s over 100* outside with humidity at 95%, we have to stay indoors with the blinds closed up. That’s when keeping things clean becomes even more important to me. if I can’t have light, I need to have clean!!

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  13. Edie S.

    03/09/2015

    NOT doing any of these little routines is exactly why my home is a wreck and not homey feeling! Daily maintenance is definitely the key factor in keeping a neat and welcoming home, as you have stated often. Thank you for the tips!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes exactly — daily maintenance is key!!

    I know it might seem overwhelming at first, especially since you might not know where to start, but just pick ONE thing for now. Do it every day, several times a day and focus on it until it becomes a habit. I realize it will not totally transform your home and that many other things might still be “a wreck” as you put it — but you have to start somewhere!

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  14. Amy

    03/09/2015

    I completely agree with all of these points! I also had to institute a cleaning schedule (for myself, mind you!) because I felt like I never knew what needed to be done when. Now when I have little snippets of time, I can work on a “semi-annual” or “quarterly” task. I’m often accused of being over-the-top when it comes to a tidy and clean home, but I’m home all day and I like it. My husband likes it too! Many times he recalls when we both worked outside the home (before kids) and we spent our weekends cleaning. Now I usually only need his help with big tasks that involve moving furniture or things I prefer not to do alone. With baby #2 arriving soon, I hope to maintain my daily routines to keep myself sane! Thanks for validating what I do every day!

    As far as hand washing dishes: We use a basin or dishpan to “corral” the hand washing until there is enough to do a batch. And I throw a handtowel over it sometimes too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we just had a bunch of people over Saturday for Simon’s birthday party and literally the only cleaning I had to do was touch up the toilets and bathroom sinks a bit. it took about 20 minutes to do all 3 bathrooms and we were ready to go. So nice not to spend our weekends cleaning!

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  15. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    03/09/2015

    Great reminder, Andrea, that the simple things do make a big difference! I do these things too and try to accomplish a thing or two from my ongoing to-do list. The more I write down, the better is for me! I need to remember that when I slack on my list making for a time.

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  16. Jen T

    03/09/2015

    I do all of these tips, but now that my kids are older and generally stay up later than I do, the house generally doesn’t look quite like I left it when I wake up at 5. And yes, they do clean up most of the time…somewhat…but let’s just say their standards are not quite up to mine at 12 and 15…especially when they have friends over!

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    Angela Reply:

    Hee! I wonder what it will be like if there comes a time the children are up later … how we enjoy our quiet evenings! That would bother me if they messed things up while I slept. Hmmm…must figure out a plan for avoiding that!

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    Jen T Reply:

    Well, mine are 15 and 12, and my husband stays up too…they do their own thing so it’s not a big deal that they are up later!

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  17. Ashley

    03/09/2015

    Love it, Andrea! As a fellow spend my days at homer, I can attest to the things making a huge difference in how much I enjoy my home. I don’t do these things every day as I’d like, but days I do my mood is so much better. And these things really don’t take hardly any time, likes you said!

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  18. Deb

    03/09/2015

    LOVE it, but I could never leave hand wash dishes out all day……….I am over the top!

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    Kay Reply:

    Wow, Deb! You probably did not mean to sound so rude, but you did! Andrea, I am inspired as always by your post. You are doing an awesome job!

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    Lyn Reply:

    Didn’t strike me as rude, either.

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    Kimberly Reply:

    Deb didn’t sound rude at all. She said she even said she LOVED the post

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    Jen T. Reply:

    I didn’t take her comment as rude at all…she clearly acknowledged the fact that she has issues at the end of her comment, lol.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, dishes are one thing that I refuse to let take up my time during the day. Unless there is a massive amount (like I do a baking marathon or freezer cooking day) I will always save them until after dinner (sometimes even the next day if we don’t get many dishes dirty). I know it doesn’t take much time, but for some reason, few dishes on the counter (stacked neatly) doesn’t bother me nearly as much as other forms of clutter and mess!

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