Monday, August 30, 2010

Operation Pick-Me-Up

After yesterdays post, I got a few emails wondering what tips I had for keeping a home that houses a large family neat and tidy. The people want to know how we keep our house that is overflowing with nine people and all of their possessions organized. So today I will answer the people. Because I am nice like that.

First, it is important to remember that although nine people live in our home, six of them are over the age of 13. That means there are twelve hands capable of doing chores and helping out, as opposed to a normal household in which one momma must carry the majority of the work load alone. What can I say? Work at a behavior center, and get a clean house! Emma is going to be starting her official chore list this year as she enters first grade, and Kate picks up the toys that she gets out, but for the most part Boss, the big girls, and I carry the load. Boss is responsible for doing our families laundry (he has always done this at his request), and for deep cleaning the master bathroom and shining our wood floors once a week. The big girls daily clean their bathrooms, sweep the floors, take out the garbage, and clean the kitchen counters and dining table. That right there covers a HUGE chunk of the daily work that needs to be done! I am the official picker upper. Yes, that is actually an official term. I just made it up, so that makes it official. I put everything in its place twice a day, dust several times a week, and generally am in charge of the dishes (which with nine people eating three meals and two snacks a day can often be quite an undertaking!). Just didn't want you all to think I was lazy :). But even with all of our busy hands, there are still a few areas of our home that could quickly get out of control if I did not have a system. Here are a few tips for making your home appear to be neat and tidy. (As long as no one opens the closets! Just kidding. Or not.) Oh yes, one other tidbit that I must divulge is that our home is tri-level. Upstairs are the bedrooms and bathrooms. Downstairs is the basement family/home school room, the laundry room, and our playroom. Our main level houses the living room, dining room and kitchen. Having a tri-level house is awesome and sort of feels like cheating, because if the main area looks tidy, the other two areas could look a mess, and a visitor would be none the wiser! Once again, just keeping it real. Now moving on to my tips.

Tip 1 - I always have candles going! I am cheap and cannot afford the highly esteemed Yankee Candles, but I do love The Candleberry Co. candles! My favorite scent is Friendship Tea. Yummo! Smells so good and burns evenly. However, my very favorite home scent product is my fragrance oil burner. I love it! I bought a pretty, white porcelain one that I leave on my entry table. You light a tea light candle to put in the base of it, and then you pour about a teaspoon of oil into the top. My favorite scent is Cinnamon Nutmeg by Elegant Expressions. You can buy it at Wal Mart for $2 a bottle. It is the best thing I have EVER smelled, and it seriously fills your entire house. So, so good. While candles have nothing to do with picking up, I just think lighting something that smells good is such an inviting thing to have in your home. Our pick up process begins when the candles are lit.

Tip 2 - I keep a shoe basket right by our front door in our entry way nook. Each season I pull out the children's appropriate shoes and fill the shoe basket with them. That way every shoe they will need all season long is right there. When we need to leave to go somewhere quickly, the children can grab their shoes and they are right there by the door. This eliminates searching in bedrooms to find the missing shoe. When we come home from being out, shoes go back in to the basket first thing. I like this method because nothing gets tracked into the house, we always know where shoes are, and that is one less thing that I have to pick up! Not the most attractive, but I am certain it is one of the things that I will miss once it is just Boss and I. Our tiny shoe basket has been with us since the beginning!

Tip 3 - No matter where we have lived, we have always created a play room. If the choice is using space for an office or a play room, the play room will win every single time! At this stage, with three small kiddos, having someplace to corral the toys is a must. I let the girls get out whatever they want all day long, but at the end of each day, toys are carried back to the play room. I don't even care if they are put away there. I just want them in the room. That way I can shut the door and pretend that ignorance is bliss! We try to keep toys out of the bedrooms, but I still seem to be failing at this. They sneak them up. But generally speaking, in our house, bedrooms are for beds, clothes, and books. Everything else in the play room!

Tip 4 - If you are a home school momma, you know that keeping track of supplies can make you crazy! I found a big, old hutch and I have shoved everything inside! Once a month I try and organize this, but at least I have a place to shove supplies behind closed doors everyday!

Tip 5 - I hate paper clutter! I keep a file thing right by our kitchen phone where all paper items (mail etc.) go. I try and purge this space weekly. I NEVER leave paper lying around in stacks. It would quickly overtake me if I did!

Those are just a few tips I have for keeping things neat and tidy in a home with a large family. Some days are better than others, but again, on the crazy days where I look around in bewilderment, I try and remind myself that I will indeed miss this one day. And that puts a smile on my face as I tackle the chores over, and over, and over again.

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