cleaning items

A little cleaning goes a long way when it comes to making your home happy.

If your family is anything like ours, your once quiet and empty home is now full of life. With one or more parents at home working, kids still schooling at home, not to mention the family pets, keeping the house tidy, clean and organized feels like an endless, overwhelming and even impossible task.

But before we get discouraged and throw in the towel, I'd like to share some time-saving tips and tricks from the books and blogs I've read on the topic, all of which I have tried and have found super helpful over the years.

Housework should not land on just one person but should be shared by all who live in the home. Even children as young as 3 or 4 can learn to feed family pets, fold clothes and tidy their toys. Kids of all ages gain confidence and learn responsibility when sharing family tasks. Our teens earn their screen time only after schoolwork and daily chores are completed, keeping them motivated to work hard without dawdling.

Creating a list of chores and breaking them up according to age and skill level will require some effort and patience from the organizer. But with persistence and practice, the family will get into the groove. And before you know it, the chore delegator will be out of a job.

Having too much stuff can steal our time, creativity and inner peace. So it is beneficial to write out personal and professional goals, travel plans and hobbies. It will surprise you how much time you'll earn back once you thoroughly purge and get on a regular cleaning schedule.

Some experts recommend organizing by the item instead of the room. I did try this and found it a lot less overwhelming. I've also found that listening to my favorite music while sipping my favorite beverage makes organizing and cleaning more fun and feel like less of a chore.

After you have organized and tidied your entire house, you can apply some new rules. One of mine is, if I acquire three new items, then three old goods must go, including bought items, hand-me-downs and gifts. Thus successfully keeping clutter away and allowing us to find ways to bless others.

Wiping out the inside of your fridge and freezer before new groceries get put away takes less than 10 minutes but saves hours in the long run. On that note, an hour of meal prep during the weekend can shave off hours during those busy weeknights.

Doing a load of laundry a day can keep the laundry pile-up blues away. Going through your closet seasonally can save you money. Shop what you already have before you buy and accumulate more.

Because our homes are not just the place we eat, sleep, work and learn, but also where we dream, create, hope, celebrate, love and grow, keeping them tidy, clean and organized is a worthy effort. For more housekeeping tips, you can check out my blog, breakfast@jessica's.wordpress.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of Jessica Jones.