Saturday, October 29, 2011

How to Fake a Clean House

I think the goal of most homemakers is to have their home be a place of peace and rest for their families and to have everything clean and in order.  But the reality is that having a houseful of small children creates a huge mess every day.  Most of my day is spent just keeping up with the destruction and many household chores go neglected.

It's not that I don't try to keep a clean house.  But, the last time I scrubbed my shower, my 2 year old was in the kitchen spilling a whole gallon of milk on the floor.  It can feel overwhelming and hopeless when everything I do gets undone.

I've had to let go of a lot.  I've made peace with this season of my life and this has become my new motto:
When we moved into our new home (after 7 years of praying and patience) all of our family and friends were so excited for us and would just "stop in to see the house".  I was mortified.  It felt like nearly every day I was giving a tour of every room.

We still had boxes to unpack and were trying to find places for things.  I would apologize for the mess as I kicked toys out of the way across the floor.

Of course they still loved us, mess and all, but it was a humbling experience for me.  It's been months since then and I can't blame our mess on moving anymore.

We have a busy home full of life, and life is messy.

I wanted to share with you a few tricks that I've learned that keep my house looking a little cleaner than it actually is.

  • Keep it all behind closed doors
It's a really simple thing, but closing the doors to your closets can hide a lot of clutter and bring much cleaner lines to your walls.  Don't forget your pantry and laundry room and any bedroom messes that you want to hide.

The same goes for cabinet doors and dresser drawers.  Taking a second to close them fully really makes your space look more finished.

No time to scrub your bathtub?  Close the shower curtain!  Your bathroom will look instantly cleaner.

  • Make your bed
Our beds take up most of the space in our bedrooms and an unmade bed can make even a clean room look messy.  Take a minute to fluff the pillows and smooth out your comforter, it really does make a difference in your whole room.

  • Clear off the clutter
I realize this sounds like cleaning and I promised you we were only faking a clean house.  It may take some cleaning to begin with, but then keeping it that way will be much easier.

Take a look at your bathroom counter top.  Did you leave out your makeup, hair products and deodorant for the world to see?  Find a place to store these things out of sight, under the sink or in your medicine cabinet.  What really needs to be at your sink?  Hand soap and a towel.  I even hide our toothbrushes. 

Keeping less on your counter tops means less to move when you do actually get around to wiping it down.

Look at the other flat surfaces in your home.  Are they covered in nick-knacks and other things that are just collecting dust?  I'm not a minimalist and I do like to decorate my home, but sometimes less is more.  You will be much more willing to dust the furniture when there is less to move.
  • Tame the paper
Even in our digital world, life comes with a lot of paper.  You can eliminate some of what comes into your home by banking online and opting out of receiving offers in the mail.  I have to admit I am rather old fashioned and prefer to write out checks for my bills, but I know a lot of people who love going paperless.

When I get the mail I sort through it right away.   Junk mail goes right into the recycling bin.  Magazines and catalogs that I want to read go into a basket that I keep by the couch.  Bills go where I store them.  Grocery store circulars and coupons to clip have their own place too.  Invitations and reminders are pinned to the bulletin board. 
Nothing is left to pile up.
  • A little prevention goes a long way
There are a few rules in our house that help to keep the mess down.  I've taught the kids that certain toys are not allowed in the living room.  It is mostly because I have a toddler that puts everything in her mouth and I want there to be a safe place for her to play.  Legos and Polly Pockets are banished to the big kids' rooms, and my living spaces are much cleaner.

I've also trained the kids to take off their shoes when they walk through the door.  If they are especially dirty they have to come in the back door.  It has saved so much mud (and we have a lot of mud!) from being tracked all over my house.

We only eat in the kitchen.  Our kids are messy eaters so keeping it confined to one place saves me from cleaning up crumbs and spills all over the house.
  • Only clean what bugs you
I can overlook the toys on the floor if I know there is no dirt or food on the floor under all the toys.  It has probably come from years of having babies crawling around. 

I do vacuum at least once a day and keep my kitchen floor swept, but only the dirty parts.  I focus on the high traffic areas and save the furniture moving for days when I have more time.  I spot clean the sticky messes and only mop when I'm really ambitious.

Maybe you are different, maybe fingerprints on your windows is especially disgusting to you.  Clean what you need to to keep your sanity and save the rest for later.


I realize that by sharing my dirty little secrets everyone who comes in my house will probably look a little harder for the cobwebs in the corners and maybe even peek behind my shower curtain.  That's ok.  I'm not prefect.  I would never trade this busy, beautiful life to have a perfectly clean house again

5 comments:

  1. you are my hero, crystal! thanks for the down-to-earth post on being a Godly mom! at this point, we don't have children, but if the Lord blesses us w/ some in the future, my prayer is that i can relax my standards to this degree. it will be a stretch, because i do so love a neat, clean, & pretty home, but w/ God, all things are possible! thanks for encouraging me today!

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  2. Thanks Joanna, you are so sweet! :)

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  3. Great tips, Crystal! A little thought really does go a long way to keeping things in order. Another thing that helped me was assigning the kids jobs every week (when they were old enough) like setting and clearing the table, sweeping the kitchen floor, vacuuming, etc. It occurred to me one day back then that my kids had logged more miles on our vacuum than I did. :)

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  4. Love these ideas! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes needs to close the shower curtain. :)

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  5. Thanks for giving me some good tips to keep in mind for the future!

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