2 Habits of People With Tidy Homes

posted by Andrea | 06/7/2016

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A couple weeks ago, I read an article entitled “32 Habits of People With Homes That are Almost Always Clean”.

The title seemed long and wordy, but I was intrigued enough to read the full article… which, I soon realized was also very long and wordy. In general, the article was bad (which is why I’m not linking to it above). The 32 reasons were dumb reasons such as, “they always use baskets” or “they empty the dishwasher in the morning”.

To be perfectly honest, my home is almost always clean but I rarely use baskets and I often empty my dishwasher while the boys are napping or right before bed.

I kept thinking about that LONG article, and I wondered if I could write something similar, but much more simplified.

I considered many of the things I do on a daily basis to keep our home relatively neat, clean, organized, and picked up… and I quickly realized that there are two main habits I have learned over the years that make this possible.

tidy home

1. We Rarely Procrastinate

Maybe I don’t use cute baskets to corral all my stuff, but I DO almost always put my stuff away immediately after I’m done using it. And maybe I don’t clean out the dishwasher first thing in the morning, but I DO almost always clean out the dishwasher within 15-20 minutes of it being clean.

In general, I rarely ever procrastinate on household chores — even if I’m really tired or really don’t feel like doing it. I know from plenty of experience (in my own life and from watching others) that if I put something off until “later”, the chances it will actually get done are significantly lower than if I just “do it now”.

  • I make my bed immediately when I wake up
  • I put my PJs away as I get dressed
  • I clean up the kitchen as I make breakfast and put breakfast dishes away as kids finish eating
  • We pick up toys and books before lunch
  • We clean up lunch stuff before naps
  • I fold AND put away laundry at the same time
  • I file or delete emails as I read them
  • I deal with paperwork right away so it never piles up
  • We pick up outside toys before dinner
  • I clean up dinner as I cook, and start the dishwasher whenever it’s full
  • The whole upstairs gets a “once over” before the kids go to bed
  • We wash dishes, pack lunches, and clean up the kitchen and living room before we go to bed
  • We plan tomorrow before today is done

Obviously, there are always exceptions to every rule, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that so much of my ability to keep my home neat and tidy nearly all the time is due to the fact that I rarely ever procrastinate on anything.

If I do happen to procrastinate on something, there is usually a good reason, and that particular chore will jump to the top of my to-do list — which I usually tackle after the kids are in bed for the night.

And speaking of “after the kids are in bed”… I’ve already shared how Dave and I use the evening hours to get organized and plan ahead for the next day, and I think that concept is the second crucial component to keeping our home neat and clutter-free.

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2. We Get Back to “Normal” Every Day

Over the last 10 years of marriage and home-ownership, I can think of very few (if any) times when we’ve gone to bed without picking up the house, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, or doing any number of household chores that we didn’t get to immediately during the day.

Although my house is NOT spotlessly clean and dust-free, it IS very neat, tidy, and “picked-up” almost all the time — thanks in large part to the fact that it never gets totally out of control.

There are 2 times every day when I try to get the house back to “normal” — before lunch (or naps) and before bed at night. 

During those times, we quickly go through the house and put away everything we got out to play with, read, wear, do, etc. It truly only takes a few minutes each time and it does 4 important things:

  1. It assures our house is never trashed or a complete disaster (at least not for more than a couple hours!)
  2. It makes the cleanup process SO much easier than if we waited weeks or months to finally pick up.
  3. It prevents us from losing or forgetting about toys, games, books, and clothes we already have (because we see them over and over as we pick up).
  4. It instills a really great habit into my children’s daily routine.

It’s amazing how many times Nora will say, “I want to do _________. Let’s pick up and go do that.” It’s not even a big deal for her to pick up (most of the time); it’s just what we do before we start a new activity.

Also, even though Simon can’t verbally say “let’s pick up” he makes it VERY clear that he wants his room to be neat and clean before he takes a nap or goes to bed at night. If certain things aren’t in their place, he’ll ask to get out of his crib, put the items away, and get right back in his crib!

Cleaning up after ourselves really isn’t as difficult or as horrible as so many people make it out to be — in fact, I have a feeling that if you force yourself to do it for a few weeks, it will likely be exponentially easier. And eventually, it will become a daily habit you won’t even need to think about anymore.

Yes, there is time for fun and play. There is time for messy painting projects, crazy cooking experiments, fun games where we break out ALL the toys, and extreme periods of playing “house” or “dress up” where the entire second floor looks like a bomb went off.

However, there is also time to clean up EVERY day and get things back to “normal” before we go to bed at night. That way, when we wake up the next morning, we are ready to go all over again!

As I wrote this post, I tried to decide if one of these tips was more important than the other… but I honestly can’t choose one!

I think they both go hand-in-hand and are equally important to achieving a home that is (almost) always neat and orderly.

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Also, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I just want to be VERY clear about the fact that I do not keep my house neat and clean just in case unexpected visitors stop by. I don’t keep it neat and clean to prove anything to my friends, family, neighbors, or blog readers. I don’t keep it neat and clean to feel superior to people with messier homes.

I keep OUR house neat and clean because MY family functions better and is happier in a neat, clean, orderly space.

I realize not every family functions the same as my family. I also realize that although these 2 habits are very “simple” they will will not necessarily be “easy” to implement into your family’s daily and weekly routine if you are not currently used to picking up after yourself or pushing yourself to do it now instead of waiting until later.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!

My suggestion would be to pick one of the habits above and focus on implementing it into YOUR OWN routine for the next week or two. Then start the process of encouraging your family to come alongside you. If you feel like you’re making good progress with one of the habits, feel free to start implementing the other habit as well!

It might be naive of me to think this could work — but I also don’t think there is any harm in trying. At the very least, you can always change your own behavior.

Do you have a tidy home? If so, what are your best tips or habits?

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65 comments

  1. Ellen Allsop

    06/22/2016

    I live this post, I really agree that tidying up as you go along and not putting things off are important for staring organised and tidy. When I’m studying I make sure I put everything away before I start on another topic so my desk stays clutter free and is less stressful to work at. I also find that making sure everything has a specific home is useful for keeping everything tidy because you can’t use the excuse of ‘not knowing where to put something’ as an excuse for not tidying it up.

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  2. Darlene Saylor

    06/21/2016

    I enjoyed this post. I feel overwhelmed with paperwork and clutter. In my heart I would like to go back to the basics and simplify my life. You’ve given me some ideas. I’m 66yrs old. Can you believe I’m still not organized!

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  3. Annie

    06/16/2016

    I thought your article was perfect! This is the way we have organized our home for over 40 years. It helps greatly that I have a tidy husband. I have no ideas for what to do about a husband who wouldn’t cooperate. It was much harder to have a tidy house when we had six children at home. But our solution to that was a Saturday box. We had regular pick-up times before lunch and before bed. (Once in awhile before supper, depending on if we had somewhere to go in the evening.) We gave our children ample notice. “Pick-up time will be in 10 minutes.” Then announced when pick-up time started. They might or might not decide to participate. And we would tell them that it was their choice whether to pick up or not. We would pick up for them without complaint. But whatever we picked up would be put into the Saturday box and they couldn’t get it out until Saturday. And if it was Friday, it wouldn’t come out until Saturday a week later. (Otherwise they figured out that they could just not pick up on Fridays.) It really worked like a charm. Very little drama. Just matter-of-fact consequences for lack of cooperation. Now we are empty-nesters. We have had our house on the market for four years. Nothing develops a habit of always having your house tidy like knowing that it could be shown by a realtor at any moment. You definitely get rid of procrastination! I do find it interesting that after my kids were raised in a tidy house, some of them practice exactly the same habits that we did, while others aren’t tidy at all!

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    Sun Reply:

    This is neat to read! I grew up in a somewhat chaotic home. I’m thankful we didn’t have a lot of stuff and none of us were shoppers so the clutter was not so bad. Now I am SUPER organized because I don’t want to live with that overwhelm, and I love things being neat. Most of my siblings are more cluttery, and when their girlfriends visit me, they are always in awe and ask me all about how and why I am so neat/clean. I am the oddball in the family, and also the only girl. This carries over into so many aspects of our lives. My family growing up was very disorganized, spontaneous, late, and fun! I work hard to be on time and more of a planner without losing ALL spontaneousness. My siblings are still last-minute decisions and late people. I do work at it, but I’m also happier this way. I hated the chaos of growing up, but I think it was good for me so I ended up with more balance. I don’t want to miss out on all the adventure and goodness spontaneity can bring!

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  4. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    06/11/2016

    Another great post, Andrea! It really is simple and a great reminder that keeping things neat can be accomplished rather simply. I love how you phrased it, “Getting back to normal every day.” I do the same thing before nap time and bed time. it makes me sleep better when I know things are in order!

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  5. Alisha

    06/09/2016

    Your list is so true! I’m not a naturally a tidy person but over the past couple of months I’ve been trying really hard to get into a routine of keeping everything neat and tidy and it’s starting to become second nature. I can rest so much easier when the house is picked up. My children help also so we are able to get everything done in record time. They don’t enjoy picking up but they do enjoy playing in a room that doesn’t have 1000 toys in their way.

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  6. Amy

    06/09/2016

    Wow! It’s funny how these 2 tips really do help! While we do go “back to normal” for the most part every day, we do tend to procrastinate in my house; with some things, not all. I really started to focus on these two tips after I read this post, and I must say, it really resonated with me. I found myself saying “Don’t procrastinate!” to myself yesterday afternoon when I saw the “CLEAN” light on the dishwasher! I could have waited until after dinner, but I didn’t. I got it done and after dinner was time to relax!

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  7. Jennifer

    06/08/2016

    I am constantly amazed by you and your family and all that you accomplish. I know you work hard, but you make it look so easy. I have read your blog for almost a year now, and I am never disappointed. However, I am one of those who has to clean for days before company comes. And even then, I have to apologize for some of the rooms looking like a pig sty (usually my middle child’s room). I love a clean house, but have never been able to actually accomplish it. I also just finally came to terms with the fact that I just can’t do anything home related – quickly (like this comment has taken me 15 minutes to write!). I am in awe at all those people I know who just whip up a clean kitchen in 10 minutes! I am scrubbing all day. But I am sure a lot of it is because I don’t have the habits down. And my kids certainly don’t. I also think it may be the fact that I have an almost high school graduate (agh), a very messy and attached to his things middle schooler (he even keeps other people’s cardboard boxes), and a third grader. I work part time evenings, and every other weekend, while my hubby works normal days with a long commute. With shuttling kids, working, church, etc etc, I just don’t know what “getting back to my normal” is. Doesn’t help that I am also a procrastinator by nature anyway. But then I think, these are merely excuses.I have got to be better then this. Someday I hope to start adopting your two habits because they make so much sense!! But I am totally overwhelmed at this point. Ahhhh. I do love being inspired by all that you guys do, though.Thanks for letting me vent a bit. Keep up the fantastic work.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Jennifer — and feel free to vent away if it makes you feel better!

    I know you might feel overwhelmed right now, but you really don’t have to wait until “someday” to start implementing the 2 tips I suggested in this post. You can start today by forcing yourself to “do it now” instead of procrastinating. Your home won’t magically be perfectly in order, but you’ll be taking steps in the right direction and creating a positive habit!

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    Sun Reply:

    Jennifer, don’t give up! I believe the busy schedule is a huge part of it, like you said. I am super-busy and homeschool my children, and we have a toddler too, but I am home all day. I think this is key. By being home during the day, we are able have built-in re-set times through the day. When schedules change, we have to relearn the re-set times, and it makes it harder, but just look for those windows in there-5-10 minutes when you can build in clean up times. Your schedule is really full, but if you can find the times that make sense, it works! For example, after meals, set a timer for 5 minutes and have everyone speed clean up, and make it fun! Play a favorite song at a time when you are all home and have everyone do a 3-minute tidy up and put things away. Have a laundry folding party with music, dancing, folding, and putting laundry away. Whatever works for your gang. 🙂

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  8. Vicki

    06/08/2016

    I have recently found Flylady.com . I am enjoying receiving her daily tips and zones on cleaning…please check it out…..

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  9. Jill

    06/08/2016

    Hi Andrea

    Thanks for your simple tips on this article. it really simple and I love how you put everything so simple. it true how you wrote that keeping house neat and tidy for our family to be normal and be happier, and function, I do that all the time, but no one don’t understand me why I am so addict to cleaning but it is all about keeping clean and been simple in life to be happy… thanks God for our mind and heart to be love the simple things. Now I Know why? LOVE IT!

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  10. Marisa

    06/08/2016

    Nice work boiling it down! You can often tell which writers respect their readers by how careful they are not to waste the readers’ time. It took some careful thought and self-awareness to process your daily routine into two simple principles that can be applied to thousands of different families. That’s why I keep coming back!

    The first problem I run into is my husband. He’s a wonderful man, but he’s not neat and tidy. (and sometimes he even gets annoyed if i tidy up his stuff too much!) I am coming to the decision that it’s simply easier to do the bulk of it myself rather than remind him over and over again. Also less stressful to accept that “his spaces” will not be tidy, instead of trying to change him. Choosing my battles & not worrying about who he isn’t–because he overlooks plenty of my flaws, too!

    Also, I can’t get my toddler to sleep before 10:30 or 11pm. He’s a night owl, like my husband and I! So my “back to normal” time is in the morning after my husband has left for work and before my baby wakes.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Marisa! And yes, it’s always difficult when you’re trying to manage other people’s spaces (especially when they are within your spaces). I have no magic advice or amazing tips… but what you’re doing right now sounds pretty good to me. You’re right that you can NOT micro-manage your husbands things — and your life would be no fun if you nagged him ALL DAY LONG.

    And if it makes you feel any better, Nora never went to bed before 10:30 or 11:00 until almost 3 years old. Now she’s sleeping by 7:30 almost every night!

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    Sun Reply:

    Marisa, does your husband know how you feel about the clutter? If he does, maybe plan a gentle conversation letting him know how you’d like to be able to organize at least some spaces as long as he is okay with your giving it a try. Then ask him which spaces he likes to have as his messy zones. Maybe he doesn’t realize he has so many, and this can open his eyes. Hopefully he can choose some messy areas…his side of the bed, closet, etc…his desk. But maybe the living room and kitchen can be neat zones that you stay on top of? Since you have accepted you’ll do all that work anyway, this way you can do it anytime without feeling you are stepping on toes. If he freaks out at the thought of change, ask him if you can give it a try for a month or a week before he decides. That’s what I do with all my minimizing, and my husband is sometimes wary and then can’t stop exclaiming how much it has made our lives easier. Now it’s to the point he tells me I can get rid of it ALL! There is really nothing we HAVE to keep. Of course he knows I know what he would mind parting with and that I would never get rid of anything of his, even a worn out sock, without first asking if he still wants it. 🙂

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  11. Tina

    06/08/2016

    Hi Andrea.
    I guess your two points summarize a lot of what was written in the article you mentioned in the beginning. 🙂 And they are so simple. And most of the time I’m quite good at following them. But my biggest challenge are the things that don’t have a “home” like drawings and paper-and-cardboard-constructions of my kids. Do you have those? And what do you do with them? I just”can’t” immediately trash them after they spent days at school and kindergarden to do them…
    I love reading your blog. It reminds me that it really doesn’t take much every day to keep things tidy and running!
    Tina

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Tina!
    And YES! It really does not take much time or effort to keep a home relatively neat and tidy once you have your system down 🙂

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  12. Katie

    06/08/2016

    I like this. We should take care of the things God has given us; I think it’s part of being a good steward. I do much of the same…I like to have things back to “normal.” 🙂

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  13. Joy

    06/07/2016

    Hi, Andrea!

    Thank you for these wonderful tips. You are right, they’re simple and can always be done. It might be hard for other families to follow but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. As the saying goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

    I really love this: “but I just want to be VERY clear about the fact that I do not keep my house neat and clean just in case unexpected visitors stop by. I don’t keep it neat and clean to prove anything to my friends, family, neighbors, or blog readers. I don’t keep it neat and clean to feel superior to people with messier homes. I keep OUR house neat and clean because MY family functions better and is happier in a neat, clean, orderly space.” I believe that’s the best motivation and reason for keeping any family’s house tidy. 🙂

    I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you so much again for sharing!

    Blessings!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Joy! I like that saying too “if there’s a will, there’s a way”!

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  14. Emily

    06/07/2016

    Love this post and it’s simple take away. Those articles with 50 some odd ways to keep yourself organized are overwhelming! 🙂 I was doing really well with getting back to “normal” every evening and then I had a fifth child…who is almost 9 months old and I need to stop making that an excuse. My days run so much smoother when the house is picked up and ready for the day. Thank you for the encouragement today!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Emily, I’ve heard people suggest that with every child, you need to DOUBLE your “recovery” time until your life gets back to normal. So by #5, you should certainly have at least 12-18 months (or more) before you need to get back to normal life 🙂

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    Emily Reply:

    Hahaha! Oh I love it!! So maybe by Christmas I’ll be back to normal?? Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

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  15. Jan

    06/07/2016

    As I read.. You used the word WE…..is very helpful to be successful

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  16. Molly

    06/07/2016

    Have you written anything on your blog about your thoughts on the KonMari method?

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    Andrea Reply:

    No Molly — and to be perfectly honest, I actually don’t even know what the KonMari method is!

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  17. 2 Habits of People With Tidy Homes

    06/07/2016

    […] 2 Habits of People with Tidy Homes […]

  18. Nicole Hodge Pittaluga

    06/07/2016

    Couldn’t agree more. My best habit is to never leave a room empty-handed. I always try to put things away as I go. If I am going to another room, I always try to grab something that belongs there. This has become more of a challenge since having a child, because I had to find new homes for certain things as I baby-proofed the house and made room for his things. However, making room for a third person has helped me to eliminate items I don’t use.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love this Nicole! I usually say “I always leave a space better than when I entered the space”. This is basically the same concept and it really does help!

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  19. Debbie

    06/07/2016

    I guess my most simple tip is, “When you see it, do it.” I know this is just a repeat of “don’t procrastinate.” It could just be me but something about me doesn’t feel at ease when I see a dirty toilet, shoes not in the closet, bath sink dirty and I’m right there and can easily get it taken care of and it would just take less than a minute. So if I’m washing my face and see the sink dirty, I just clean it right then and there. There’s no need to wait till the weekend for that because it doesn’t take much time to do. Picking things up, light dusting, and simple bathroom cleaning are just things I end up doing in the normal course of the day. A visitor once asked if we ever have dust in the house, and little do they know it accumulates in a matter of 2 days. I honestly couldn’t even remember when I dusted to give her an answer. Yet because I grab the duster if I see dust while I’m just walking by something, it just seems like it’s not a big chore. The only thing I have to watch is that I don’t do this while I’m getting ready to go somewhere. Otherwise, I’ll be leaving the house later than planned and get to my appointment late.

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  20. Lisa

    06/07/2016

    These hit on my two worst habits. I’m working hard to get to ‘normal’ so that I can be better about picking up. When your house is always a mess it is easy to leave to the morning again creating a viscious cycle. Thank you for the tips.

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  21. Bonnie'sMama

    06/07/2016

    As Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

    I like being able to walk through my house at night without turning on lights, and I can find pretty much anything I need, AND not step painfully on plastic toys or run into children’s furniture. That’s just one benefit of keeping my house tidy.

    Recently I compared notes about home organization with my siblings and cousins. I soon realized that there is a spectrum of organized versus unorganized, and various people function better at certain levels of organization. The thought of winging it all day long and taking care of meals or chores, etc, as they come up just drove me nuts! I could imagine the endless disaster and chaos and feeling overwhelmed, not to mention the awful state my children would be in as they waited on meals served too late, were given chores on the spot instead of given a heads up, and so on.

    But I’m also not capable at this point of coming up with or maintaining a super-organized structure–following a tight schedule, with certain chores always done on certain days, this activity at very specific times, etc. That would require more mental and physical energy than I’ve got to spare at the moment.

    Each homemaker and family has to figure out what works well for them in the area of tidying up. BUT I still have a sneaking suspicion that the messier homes would truly feel and function better if things were neater.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh I LOVE that Gretchen Rubin phrase! Thanks for sharing it!

    And yes, there is a big spectrum of “organized” and a big spectrum of “disorganized”. I’m with you that the certain days for certain chores has never worked for me either!

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    Bonnie'sMama Reply:

    Andrea, if you haven’t found it already or read any of her books, I bet you’d love Gretchen Rubin’s books and podcast. She has so many good strategies for life and organization and good habits.

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  22. Becca

    06/07/2016

    I read your emails daily and find you completely inspiring! I honestly
    Thought to myself when I saw this title one of the tips
    Would be “never sit down” hahaha
    I have 4 children….they do not care do live in cluttered mess
    But I DO, I find myself extremely frazzled and unable to
    function well if everything is a mess so I tend to
    Go all day everyday “cleaning” so I don’t end up with a huge mess.
    Also I start the dishwasher every night, empty every morning, and
    Pick up every night before bed. And of course laundry every day
    So it never piles up. Anyway thanks for the great tips, as always!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Becca!
    And I guess if I’m really honest, I probably don’t sit down a whole lot. Dave is very helpful, and we put our kids to bed pretty early (around 7:15ish) so we can do a lot of after they go to bed.
    I guess this is just the season of life for lots of clean-up at home… and hopefully my kids will start to be able to help in a couple more years!

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  23. Rachael

    06/07/2016

    Do people really think you just keep your house clean for other people? Why do people care? In my experience we all function better in a cleaner space and it’s just good practice to teach your kids to clean up after themselves. I’ll never understand why anyone would think that makes you a neat freak or not a fun parent. We have fun, then we clean up. Thanks for the tips!

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    Andrea Reply:

    There are A LOT of people who literally ONLY clean their house when people are coming over — so I think it’s actually pretty natural to assume many people clean their house only for company. Sad, but true!

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    Sun Reply:

    I agree, Andrea. I like to keep our home tidy for our family, and I’m the one that needs it most, but they all benefit from it, and they realized it eventually. However, while I am very neat, I am guilty of needing to CLEAN more when overnight guests visit. I wipe down bathrooms nightly, but if guests will be staying overnight, I will still scramble to wash shower curtains and scrub tubs…so that tells me I need to do more of that for US.

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    Sun Reply:

    Just adding that I scrub tubs for guests because I want them to shower in a clean space. Not just to impress them. Some of them think I am TOO tidy…the weird side of clean, but they know I don’t care. I do it for sanity and simplicity and love. 😉 But I am grossed out by some kitchens and bathrooms I’ve been a guest in and wouldn’t want to put someone else in that position.

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  24. Meghan

    06/07/2016

    Great article! Keep things tidy and organized does not come naturally to me (I grew up in a cluttered home), but I feel so much better and comfortable when things are tidy. My engineer husband gave me a great tip that I repeat to myself daily: never touch something twice. Instead of putting the dishes on the counter and then later in the dishwasher, put them directly in the dishwasher. If you bring the mail in the house and set it on the counter, you’ll have to “touch it twice” to go through it later. Just throw out the junk mail before even setting it down.

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    Anne Reply:

    I practice this too. The phrase I like is: OHIO (only handle it once).

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    Andrea Reply:

    ha! I love the “OHIO” acronym!

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    Andrea Reply:

    that’s a great rule! Also, it’s so good that you know yourself and the fact that organization doesn’t come naturally. That’s no reflection of your character – -we’re just all wired differently. Organization is NOT naturally ingrained in all of us — but that fact that you are continually working on it is so awesome!

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  25. Debbie W.

    06/07/2016

    Great article, Andrea! These two tips are very helpful to me. One question I have is about packing lunches the night before. I know you have mentioned this a lot of times, but I struggle with it because of ice packs and items that need to be kept cold. It ends up feeling to me that I’m packing lunches twice (the night before and still the morning of) so I stopped trying. But I would love to hear your approach if you are willing to share because I would love to not have to bother with the lunches in the morning at all, if I could figure out a way!.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Debbie,
    I guess we do end up packing lunches “twice” then — because we put all the non-refrigerated items directly in the lunch box and leave those on the counter. Then the refrigerated items sit in a little cluster in the fridge until morning. We pop those items in the lunch boxes with an ice pack and we’re good to go. It still saves boatloads of time in the morning though (at least in my opinion).

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    Debbie W. Reply:

    So yes, that is what I was doing. I think I will try it again. My kids just informed me there are 8 more days of school (we are pretty late in VA), so that gives me 8 days to try packing lunches at night again and see how it goes! Also, this whole blog post and all the comments are so inspiring! We are in the middle of moving so my house is even messier than usual but after reading everything (and for my own sanity) I’m recommitting to keeping everything as neat as I can!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you can do it! 8 more days and then no lunch packing for a couple months!

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  26. Sarah

    06/07/2016

    I LOVE my tidy home! We all live better and happier when it’s today and (mostly) clean. It helps that I’m not sentimental about things.
    My tips would be:
    1.) Do it now! Don’t let piles happen. Go through the mail on the way into the house, put the bills in one place or pay right away and file. Shred the rest now! When we get home from anywhere-grocery store, playdate, work, wherever-we put EVERYTHING away right away. Then it’s done and isn’t sitting around waiting to be put away. I don’t have to add it to the to-do list because it just happens. I suppose this is the same as your #1 tip.
    2.) I have a evening and morning routine so that I haven several things I know will get done and I don’t have to put them on our to do list. Every evening, the kids put away their things and tidy their rooms, as well as doing a few chores. I balance our budget from our purchases from the day (before i forget), put in a load of laundry, start eh dishwasher, makes sure nothing is on the counters, and tidy all the living spaces downstairs. In the morning, I unload the dishwasher, move the laundry (and in an hour take it out and put it away right away), and check email.
    3.) I have my kids help! They do their laundry weekly and have morning and evening chores. They expect it, and all the housework shouldn’t fall on me! We all live here! My 10 year old daughter is currently washing the breakfast dishes, and after that we will start school.
    I certainly don’t judge other people for messier homes! We all have different personalities and different needs. Having a tidy home is worth the effort it takes for ME.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love your tips Sarah! Thanks for sharing!!

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    Sun Reply:

    Sarah, this is so good! I’ve had to learn over the years and am still learning to make things simpler. You gave me some great ideas! Specifically laundry and putting away right away. I do laundry at night – I love the empty basket, but then the clothes get put away the next day when everyone is awake. I’m going to challenge myself to get it done right away, with the toddler’s clothes only waiting to be put away first thing in the morning.

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  27. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    06/07/2016

    I completely agree! I think it’s interesting that if you’re not used to cleaning up here and there and keeping things tidy, it feels like a big ordeal and such a fuss, but when it’s a habit, it’s no big deal and makes life so much easier. I just hate when our house feels overwhelming to clean so I try to keep it from getting to that point by tidying up throughout the day. I could definitely get better at the procrastination part though. I never feel like cleaning up after each meal, but I do try to do the dishes once a day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    we usually only do the dishes once a day too (in the evening). I don’t wash dishes after every meal, but I do clean up the entire kitchen and dining area after each meal.

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  28. Leanne

    06/07/2016

    yes… even with three busy boys, my house is generally tidy..
    as much as I can I keep up with clutter… occasionally, I have to just sweep all the stuff (legos, dvds, books, magazines, random papers) into a laundry basket and then in a day or two when I have enough time, I sort through everything and the boys have to put their stuff away or it gets pitched 🙂
    the other odd thing I do is I almost NEVER take laundry out of the dryer without putting it away RIGHT THEN. I take all the clothes to the back hallway and the 3 adjoining bedrooms, and literally just sort the clothes to their rooms right then and there… everything is either than folded and hung up RIGHT THEN….
    and we break one more rule– on busy nights or busy mornings, I break out the paper plates… it saves my sanity… seriously….
    I also read more blogs like yours to challenge me to not give in to low standards!!! 🙂 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    well you’re better than i am with the laundry. I usually start a couple loads first thing in the morning, but then I don’t fold them until nap time (and then put them away after nap time). Also, paper plates are amazing for parties, holidays, big gatherings… or just busy mornings!

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    Leanne Reply:

    I wasn’t that efficient when my kids napped! and with 3 boys, we use plates…ALL…THE…TIME…. paper plates are life saver!
    you are amazing at what you accomplish!! and I love that you really seem to ENJOY IT! that’s so inspiring…

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    Andrea Reply:

    honestly, I LOVE doing “home things”. I’ve always been a homebody and I’ve always loved learning better more efficient ways to manage our home. It is a pretty handy “hobby” to have!

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  29. Jane

    06/07/2016

    Great advice! Thanks for posting this today. I wouldn’t consider my house messy, but NOT procrastinating doesn’t come naturally to me. I find that I have to constantly remind myself to pick things up right away. I think it’s all about creating good habits…and that’s something I’m working on! 🙂

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  30. Jen

    06/07/2016

    I LOVE this!! I get sooo weary of people telling me my kids aren’t happy or we can’t possibly have a relaxed life because my house is neat and organized. How does that make any sense?? It’s another reason I get a little itchy when I hear the Mary and Martha Bible story! Yes, Mary chose the “best” thing-but perhaps Mary was able to choose the best thing because Martha was doing all the housework and keeping things running smoothly! 🙂 Poor Martha always gets a bad rap! Why must they be mutually exclusive?? 🙂

    In my opinion, I have four happy, well-adjusted kids who love the Lord and also enjoy living in a neat and organized home! I don’t walk into a friend’s messy house and say “wow your kids must be so unloved and neglected because they live in this mess!” but people always feel like they can tell me how OCD I am or how my kids must live on pins and needles in our clean home! It makes no sense to me! Okay–off my soapbox! Can you tell you’ve hit a nerve with me?? HAHA 🙂

    To answer your question: I was thinking about this the other day, I feel like one big key for me is that I am efficient. I “just do it”. I am not a procrastinator and would rather take 5 quick minutes now and empty the dang dishwasher than watch dirty dishes pile up in the sink all day and have to deal with all of it in the evening. Practically, this means that I purposely walk past the recycle bin on the way in from the mailbox and immediately throw anything I don’t want into the bin. No piles on my counter! Also, if I’m running out of shampoo and buy a new bottle, I pour whatever’s left in the old bottle into the new one and THROW IT AWAY! That way, I don’t have to keep two bottles around until every last drop is out of the old one. (Most new bottles have plenty of room for the last bit of the old bottle!) We live about 20 minutes from major shopping: I plan my trip carefully in order to use my time most efficiently, accounting for locations of stores and any cold food I may need to get home quickly. I also try to do my shopping when one of the kids has to be taken that direction anyway so I can kill two birds with one stone. If I’m working upstairs in my home office all day and have things that need to be taken downstairs and put away, I make a small pile of those things and take them down when I go. I don’t make a million trips and everything gets where it needs to go.

    Another thing that helps immensely is that, like you, I’m not terribly sentimental (almost to a fault) and that really helps cut down on the clutter, storage needs, etc. I have also come to realize that this character quality of MINE does not mean my kids will be, or have to be, the same way so I’ve had to loosen my grip on this a bit as they’ve gotten older and wanted to hang on to things that are important to them. To me, all of these mean just a little bit of time and effort on the front end saves me so much time and effort–and clutter–on the other end! And, like you, it has become second nature to me–and my kids! We don’t even think about it, it’s just how we roll around here. 🙂 And now that I’ve written an entire blog post……….:-)

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks for the tips and words of wisdom 🙂

    it does help that we are not sentimental — it’s crazy how much easier it is to purge when you’re not emotionally attached to anything!

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    Mel Reply:

    People say judgemental things to make themselves feel better. If their houses are messy, if they can find something to criticise about your tidy house it justifies how they live because you are ‘wrong’ and the fact they are misinformed is irrelevant to them and their personal agenda. I have the same issue at the moment that some people think I am too over protective of my children, they tell me to leave them to run wild because that is what they do, even when there are dangerous situations nearby (deep water, busy roads etc – my youngest is a very immature 4 yr old). I just think each to their own and mind your own business (would love to have the nerve to say it to their faces) and then get on with my own life my way. My kids are happy and safe which makes me happy.

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    Mel Reply:

    Ps NERVE. HIT. TOO.

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  31. Meredith

    06/07/2016

    I share pretty much the same philosophy. My rule on procrastinating is, “is it something I EVER feel like doing?” Unloading the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, mopping the floor—tasks that never sound appealing so I do them right away always, because I’m always glad they’re done. Organizing or cleaning out a closet–I enjoy those tasks, so I’ll wait until I’m in the mood to tackle it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yup, there are so many things that we will NEVER feel like doing, so might as well just do them now and be done!

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  32. Paulette

    06/07/2016

    So simple and so true! I practice the same habits and it makes my life so much easier. Visual clutter makes me anxious.

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