Maintaining a Tidy Home with children

Chaos is the opposite of order, and as a homemaker, I choose order. Why is neatness important? My biblical responsibilities to keep home run deeper than keeping up with the laundry, cleaning house, and making food. How I manage my household, devopes the atmosphere of my home. If my home is in chaos, cluttered, and dirty, it portrays a restlessness. It gives a sense of mismanagement on my part, which can cause my family and guests to feel unwelcome, uneasy, and stressed. I believe an ordered home is a peaceful home. I am best able to create an atmosphere of peace for my family and guests, if my home is run with methods and purpose to those methods.

Keeping the house tidy with four little people is no small task. But I rest on a few guidline that are very helpful in keeping our home in a state of order. I did not say completely pristine, but in order.
My methods for keeping an ordered home are as follows:

  1. Every item we own belongs somewhere. It is difficult to put something away, if there is no “away” for that item. So, there needs to be a designated home for each toy, book, paintbrush, and Lego.
  2. Every object in the home must serve a purpose. I purge our home constantly. The children’s things go through regular cleansing. After each birthday, after Christmas, and during seasons of growth, I move out unused, broken, or outgrown clothes and toys. Removing items that are no longer serving purpose makes room for new toys and items that are being used. I do the same in my kitchen.
  3. No one get’s out a new project or toy until the current project is put away. Chaos is created when my children are allowed to go from making one mess in one room to making another mess in another room. Before I know it, every room in the house has been destroyed. So, the policy is that each item must be picked up completely before moving on to the next thing.
  4. There is no rest until we pick up the mess. Before naps and before bed at night, ALL the rooms in the house must be straightened up. I do not let the children leave things out to play with after naps. I have come to realize that my children never want to go back to that same item after sleeping. Besides, getting up to and then having to pick up right away is drudgery. So, if everything is neat before the children rest, it is a joy for us all to start into something fresh or simply play outside. The same policy extends for bedtime. Before bed all toys games, books, clothes, and such must be put away. I do not let them go to sleep until their room is neat.
  5. A general pick up before Daddy comes home. I am all about creating an atmosphere of peace and joy in our home. Stuff all over the house does not bring a peace of mind to anyone. Stuff is distracting from conversation and rest. So, when it is close to when my husband comes home from a long day at work, we do a general straighten up with the children. So, my husband is not faced with chaos upon arriving home. My husband has no idea how messy our house might have looked all afternoon. A pick-up in the early evening, also makes the before bedtime pick-up tear-free, because all that needs to be put away are the items they used after dinner.
  6. Make messes! But Clean them Up. I greatly encourage my children to be creative, and getting messy is part of creativity. But I do not embrace the messy part of creative minds as right. Creative people can learn to be neat and orderly too. Right now, I have a kitchen counter full of finger-paint drawings, the living room has yards of wooden train tracks, and a sofa full of books. Three messes made by three different children. We might have a house that is a bit messy right now, but there is a little girl currently playing in each mess. That little girl will pick up her own mess when she is done. The key is that when we make a mess, we don’t leave it. We ALWAYS pick it up. And my children are ingrained with that concept. Learning to pick up one’s own mess is a good life skill. Because even as an adult, I make messes. I need to take responsibility for the mess I make, and clean it up.
  7. If mommy’s help is required to clean up a mess, those toys or projects can only be used with permission. There are messes that require adult help in putting away correctly. Sleeping bags somehow never make it back correctly in their sacks, cushions never get straight back on the sofa, play-dough will need to be swept, finger paint leaves brushes and counters to be washed. So my rule is that I must be asked before those types of play are used. I know what I have to do each day, and if I can incorporate picking up certain things into my day.

Putting into practice these seven steps has helped me immensely to keep our house neat on a regular basis. I am able to keep up, because regular messes are tended to as they are made. Messing and picking-up are one item-not separate ententes in our home. I am able to cultivate an orderly home that is not burdened with stress and chaos. Through having order an atmosphere of peace can be created.