Stop eating Oreos while brushing your teeth!

So we’ve been talking about careers a lot lately…but (luckily) that’s only part of life.  When we’re not at work, (and for some of us, even when we are), we’re at home sweet home.  Since you spend a lot of time there, the environment you create in your home is an important part of your overall state of well-being.

Out of habit from having summers off as a teacher, as well as getting the majority of visits from family during the summer, I tend to do my deep cleaning and organizing this time of year.  It’s an activity that I enjoy and look forward to, though this wasn’t always the case.  I used to struggle a lot with keeping a clean, organized house.  First of all, I just wasn’t interested; it seemed I could always find better things to do.  Then, when two kids came along, things got really messy!  A friend recently posted a card on Facebook that said, “Cleaning the house while the kids are home is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos!”  Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

Learn a few tricks from the experts:

Luckily, several years ago I stumbled upon Fly Lady (Funny name, I know.  FLY stands for First Love Yourself.  If you don’t understand the connection between loving yourself and keeping a nice house, read her website.  Really – good stuff.)  If you are not familiar with her, think of Fly Lady as a sort of grandmotherly next-door neighbor who’s been-there-done-that and figured it all out.  She says to think of housecleaning not as a chore, but as an act of gratitude for your beautiful home.  (If your home is not beautiful to you, make it that way: paint rooms, buy new throw pillows, fresh flowers, whatever your budget allows.  Having a house that pleases you is much more motivating when it comes to keeping it clean.)  Fly Lady has great tips for simplifying cleaning and breaking it down into daily tasks that only take a few minutes to do.

I have a friend who was so grateful for me introducing her to Fly Lady that I felt it was the best gift I’d given her in a long time.  She even bought some of Fly Lady’s cleaning products. (She has a special toilet brush, you see…)

Call in the troops

Another way to make cleaning more manageable is to delegate.  When we bought our current home, which is larger than any of the previous ones, I was nervous about being able to keep it clean while working full-time.  I told my husband and kids that if we were going to buy this house, they had to help me, and they do.  They key is to find which tasks everyone likes and is good at. (I know, you’re thinking they won’t want to do any, but trust me, some people really like vacuuming!)  An added benefit to having the kids help out is that it’s good for them.  Studies show that kids who have chores at home grow up to be more successful in school, as well as later in life.  It makes sense: they develop a work ethic, learn organization and responsibility.  Even the tiniest ones can pick their clothes up and put them in the laundry, put their toys in the toy box, etc.  Older kids can do most other cleaning chores, if you show them how.  Just remember it’s better to have help than to have everything done perfectly.


Keep it simple by getting rid of clutter.  Fly Lady says you should give away, recycle or throw away 27 things every week.  I admit I don’t always remember to do this, but I am a notorious purger – I love to go through closets and rid them of anything that hasn’t been worn in a year.  My sister in law once enlisted me to help her throw things away because she knew I would help her get rid of her clutter.   But what about sentimental keepsakes, you say?  A good rule of thumb is, keep it only if it’s important enough to pass on to your children someday.

Break it down

I used to have a designated cleaning day.  Then, during one particularly busy week, I told my kids we would have to clean their rooms one day and vacuum the next.  Later, my son announced that he liked cleaning better when I “broke it down into chunks”.  I’m all about helping my son to like cleaning (my future daughter in law will thank me someday…), and do you know what?  I discovered I like doing it better in chunks, too -that way one room is always freshly cleaned!

Now, when I clean, it really is an act of gratitude.  My clean, organized house relaxes me and frees me to be more productive.

How About You?

Is your home a refuge for you?  If not, what can you do to make it more relaxing?  What are your cleaning/organizing tips?  Share in the comments!

Next week:  How to Clean Green

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