I grew up with a Mama that saw the baseboards. They were an integral part of the family and everytime we cleaned the house, we cleaned the baseboards. My Mama was before her time using clean products. She would toss us a rag soaked in vinegar and we got to work. I also remember asking if a friend could come over and she would say “You need to clean up first…” but I looked around and everything looked spotless. Any tips for a tidy home I may have, stem from her.
As an adult, I’ve carried some of these good and bad habits into parenthood with me. I used to be extremely particular about my house before a guest would come over. With each new baby, I have learned that my standard of cleanliness wasn’t realistic, nor healthy. God was gracious to show me what was important and what was a problem that I needed to pray about. Thus, along my journey as a Mama, I’ve learned a lot about remaining tidy while still encouraging my large family to live freely and comfortably in our home.
We have five acres of land which means pigs, goats, chickens, horses, dogs, mud and more. The old me with 1 or 2 kids would have never made it through our current reality of 8 kids that school and play in or around our home all day every day. I remember my husband always wanting to host couples last minute and it caused me great stress. I have learned that cleanliness is important, but the culture of our home trumps my desire for spotlessness. I don’t want my kids remembering a Mama that never let them play or make messes. And I don’t want my husband feeling like he has to earn hosting privileges by living up to my standard. However, I do want my family to understand good stewardship, teamwork and how to consider one another in all things.
Here are my Three Large Family Lessons for a Tidy Home:
1. Bins, Bins and More Bins —
We don’t have a separate school room or live in an extremely big house. Recently, we had 5 children in one room while my Dad was living with us. That means bins are our best friend. They organize the closet, the large IKEA shelf, the Legos and pretty much everything everywhere. Bins give everything a home and even if the bin is not perfectly organized, they create less clutter. Large family living creates enough of its own chaos and I prefer to minimize other chaos when I can. The bins in our living room house all of the school toys and even the youngest kiddo knows how to put toys back into the bins. Bins make for a quick and easy pick up time at several points throughout the day.
2. Tidiness is a Team Effort — My kids know that tidiness is expected of them. We start our day with tidy rooms and a tidy home and continue throughout our day that way. Ever since they were little, they’ve learned they generally can’t take out more small toys or move on to something else until they have picked up what they were playing with. That makes pick up time so much easier. We do morning pick up, another in the afternoon, and right before bed. The floors and the rest of the house are generally tidy. It may not be perfect, but it’s relatively peaceful. Toys are up, floors are clean and everything in its home makes for a tidy space.
3. Cleaning is a Culture, not a Chore – As a verified neat freak that can’t have a Pinterest ready home, I’ve learned to let go. I’ve embraced messes when my anxiety is through the roof and realized that life is too short to be obsessed with chore lists or nagging after my kids. That means keeping a clean home needs to be part of our family culture. We clean because we value our home, we value the people in it and we want to be ready to welcome others into our spaces at any given moment. That doesn’t mean our baseboards will be spotless, but it does mean that if you show up unannounced, hopefully it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into too much chaos. Each child has a role in this culture. The youngest daily unload silverware, others wipe counters (and sometimes baseboards), middle children run the vacuum without prompting and the older ones pick up Legos or organize school books. As a large family, there are many lessons in making a sibling’s bed or helping a little one even when it isn’t all your mess.
There are a lot of practical ways to apply these lessons to your individual family, but each home is unique. I encourage you to study your family and find what works for them. Don’t be the sole one picking up after everyone in your home, but encourage a place of teamwork, stewardship and serving others. Children do what we do, not what we say. If we clean, love and serve one another with a happy heart, our family can model that behavior. Like my home and so much of our lives, it won’t be perfect so don’t let perfect be the enemy of good!
Do you have any tips for a tidy home? I’d love to hear them! Share in the comments below and be sure to tag @WacoMoms as you get to work cleaning with the whole family!
With Much Love,