Several people have asked me how I got my home organized and guest ready using routines, so I wanted to quickly share what I’ve done:) First of all, please understand that routines do not come naturally for me. I have tried lots of different systems and have had to be super flexible after my son’s accident in addition to juggling six kids. That said, this quarter my goal is to reestablish my routines and get my house back in order. I had company in town after Christmas (who just recently left) and at first I felt desperate, like I needed someone else to do it for me or tell me what to do. I even found an organization bootcamp online that focuses on routines but it was hundreds of dollars and I already had the STEP system in place with this amazing support group. I already had the skills. I just needed motivation and I just needed to begin, no matter how messy it looked. So I did, with company and all. Keep reading to find out how I established routines to get my house organized and guest ready!
1. Just begin.
Last year I made a super cute paper with my routines on it, but I struggled following it. Since I needed to tweak some things, I decided that if I just made a list on a scratch piece of paper, I could change it easily as needed until I was happy with it. It was a fluid list with no guilt attached. Use a napkin if you have to:) Just begin.
2. Start small.
Starting small was key for me. I started with writing down my ideal morning, day, and evening routines. Then I focused on my morning routine. The first couple of days it took me until noon ?. I had company in town and was juggling a lot. But I did it! Having a morning routine and setting boundaries for my kids has made a huge difference in my life. It’s like putting gas in my tank. One thing I added to my morning routine was a fifteen minute “home blessing.” I chose that term because it gave me flexibility. I didn’t HAVE to do the weekly chore in the morning. This allowed me to choose ANY place in my home that I wanted to bless (like unloading the dishwasher or wiping down my bathroom sink). I like the word blessing because it changed my attitude. I felt like I was doing service and showing gratitude for this beautiful home I’ve been given. I even set a timer so that I could give myself permission to quit.
3. Enlist help from others and add to your routines slowly.
In her book Daring Greatly Brené Brown said, “Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for help.” Starting an evening routine was harder for me because it involved my family which is always a wild card. I chose to be brave and ask for help. I started simple. Pick up 10 items before going to bed, have family prayer, and scripture study. That’s it. Getting my family together proved harder then I thought. I have kids, teens, and young adults. But we did it. I kept it short and sweet. Before we dismissed everyone I said, “Okay, everyone pick up 10 items and put them away.” They did it ?. I expected moaning. But ten items isn’t a big deal and even my son who was visiting picked up ten items as did my son who is still in a cast. In shock, I too picked up ten items and put them away. I didn’t fuss over the house being perfect. My kids did their part and I went to bed with an imperfect house. And I felt great.
4. Two minute do it rule.
Clutter attracts clutter and procrastination just puts off what I don’t want to do anyway and makes it build up into a mountain. It’s SO true! Unlike cookies left on the counter (which were eaten almost as quickly as they were set out), clutter has the opposite effect on our homes. Clutter really does attract clutter. I have watched this past week as my kids leave something on the counter top or table. Within minutes, another child does the same thing, and before we know it, we have a huge mess to clean up. I have done an experiment where I have tried to follow the “two minute do it rule.” This rule states, “If you can do it in two minutes or less, then just do it.” Simple, right? Sometimes I seriously don’t have two minutes. We have lots of appointments and the like and I am often running from here to there. Still, this rule has a lot of value. I have started following the “two minute do it rule” with my dishes. If I mess a pot, I clean it right away and then *gasp* dry and put it away! Seriously, this alone has been a game changer for me. I hate doing the dishes. Of course I like a clean home, but dishes are no fun at all. So I would normally let them pile up, but staying on top of them has had an impact on me and on my kids. Clutter attracts clutter but so does cleanliness. My kids have been less likely to leave things out because it sticks out like a sore thumb. Granted they still do, but we pick up ten items at night, remember? So it’s not a big deal and we have been slowly evolving and getting better.
5. Add weekly, monthly, and yearly routines.
I then added weekly routines to my daily schedule. I chose to be flexible on the time but used it as an incentive to reward myself later with project time. Here is what I wrote down but it will be completely different for each person:
- Sunday: (my day of rest) Church, calling, family time, choir
- Monday: Finances, weekly review, meal planning, quick dusting
- Tuesday: Sweep/mop
- Wednesday: Vacuum
- Thursday: Bathrooms/Water plants
- Friday: Laundry, Mastermind/goal time
- Saturday: Family project time, family fun, garage/outside maintenance/cars
Weekly routines have been harder for me to fit in but I’ve tried. My ten year old actually helped me on sweep and mop day and that was the day that we had company come unexpectedly. Because we have been picking up ten items every day it has helped so much!! I also made a list of monthly routines that I will try to fit in during each week as time permits. I hope to add yearly routines that I fit in monthly, but I still have a week to figure that out ?. Right now my monthly is listed as follows:
- Week 1: clean fridge
- Week 2: organize/deep clean a zone (yearly routine)
- Week 3: wash bedding and change air filter
- Week 4: polish furniture and attend temple
- Yearly chores? TBD (I have ideas but I’m starting small, remember?)
5. Show self compassion and be flexible
Self-compassion is key! Each one of us has a unique situation and circumstance. Some of us battle mental illnesses, others are going through financial trials, while others are running their households alone. As important as I feel my routines are, I have learned that people are more important and that routines can and should be flexible! It’s necessary to set up boundaries so that we can function and fill our banks, but it is also important to be flexible. Two nights ago when I started my evening routine, my teenage son came downstairs and wanted to talk. I paused what I was doing, sat on the couch near him and listened…for 45 minutes. I haven’t had a conversation like that in months. He shared his struggles at school, concerns for the future, and actually asked for my advice. While I had wanted to finish what I had started, I wouldn’t trade that conversation for anything in the world. My planning could wait until the next morning. After our conversation, I went upstairs to check on my other kids. My ten year old daughter was still awake, so I tucked her in bed and kissed her good night. She said, “What chore do we have again tomorrow?” Vacuuming. “Okay.” I think she felt a small sense of security knowing that I am trying to create a more structured environment at home.
7. Let go of perfectionism
In order for your routines to work, you need to let go of perfectionism. Yesterday was vacuum day. It was easy in my bedroom and on the main level. However, as soon as I entered my kids’ rooms, the story changed. The vacuum rattled when I entered my son’s room, just like it did in the scene from the movie The Incredibles. Clothes were strewn on the floor and only a tiny patch of carpet peeked through. While I had asked my daughter to clear her floor and vacuum her own room, my son doesn’t get home until just before dinner and has a heavy school load with high school and concurrent enrollment college classes. There is a time and a season, and for him, I will be lucky to get him to pick up on Saturdays. And it’s okay. I vacuumed the patch of carpet that I saw and closed that door. You heard me right. I closed the door and walked away. Perfectionism has killed many a good idea in my life and it is time for me to let it go. Literally.
8. Be grateful for what you have
Recently my 21 year old son was in an almost fatal accident. He fell down a 50’ waterfall. I was at the base of the falls when it happened. No words can adequately describe that scene. However, I know that it was only through God’s help and the help of some incredible first responders, surgeons, doctors, and hospital staff that he survived. It rocked our world and for months most of my days were spent in the hospital and at follow up visits. We had meals brought in and some neighbors even hired house cleaners for us on two occasions. The heavens were filled with an outpouring of prayers from friends and strangers alike. My gratitude for the service rendered to our family is overflowing. While I do believe that routines can bring a sense of order so that we can live our lives more freely and with purpose, there is a time and a season for everything.
I found some photos that I took of my home a few days before the accident (see above). This is what people saw when they came into my home while I was in the hospital. I don’t really need to be embarrassed though at the time I was. We are human and we are juggling a lot in our lives. At some point we have to do the best with what we have and move forward. Letting go of perfectionism allows us to focus on what matters most in our lives. Allowing ourselves grace and time to heal is also important. My attitude about life has taken a 180 and I have been filled with gratitude. Gratitude for my son’s life, gratitude for my family, and gratitude for my home. It is time to show it.
9. Routines bring peace of mind and JOY
I cannot tell you how much joy I have felt of late. Knowing that my house doesn’t have to be perfect right now allows me to relax and enjoy the journey. If I miss a day or have to rush a chore, it doesn’t matter because the routine will come up again and I will have a second chance to do a better job the next time. I hope this helps:) You can do this!!!