I love the concept of cleaning schedules- the pretty colors, the organized lists, the boxes I can check off. I maintained one for about two months before Baby E was born, but adding a new baby to the mix put an abrupt end to that. Now, most days I can’t find the kitchen counter and I wonder how long it has been since I scrubbed it. I step on toys in the family room (always Legos, ouch!), and there’s a mysterious smell wafting from somewhere downstairs.
My last post was about habits to teach infants, and one of the habits was order: something I’m failing at! I realized that unless I wanted to live in chaos forever, something would need to change. I tend to neglect my house so I can be ever-present with my children. But I have these amazing blessings: a beautiful family and a secure home, and I think it’s disrespectful to let my house go!
I’m not a bad housekeeper. I have bad housekeeping habits. I like the way that second statement sounds. It means that I can actually change and my house doesn’t have to be a disaster forever. Changing habits is a long term approach that can help me maintain a clean house, not a schedule that I will forget to follow one day, then eventually just give up on. Other people’s systems just don’t work for me!
These bad habits started when I was young. I had a lot of things and not a lot of places to put them. My room was always cluttered. Now that my own family and I share a home, we have kids’ clutter to fight and I feel like I’m always cleaning, but nothing is ever actually clean. Recently I wrote about how clutter has a negative effect on learning, so I’m going to work on maintaining better housekeeping habits.
I know that forming new habits seems simple- just 21 days, right? But if it’s so simple, then why do we struggle with eating healthier, exercising consistently, or not biting fingernails? We can’t actually just stop old habits- we have to replace them with better habits. These steps are different than the steps I wrote about in How to Help Form Positive Habits. They are modified since I’m a grown-up and I’m working on them solo!
Developing Better Cleaning Habits
1. Identify Excuses!
Did you noticed that the paragraphs above are full of excuses?! Excuses are sometimes very legit, and sometimes they are my justification for problems! Identifying these excuses is going to be my first step in changing my housekeeping habits.
My Excuses for Why I Have A Messy Home
- My kids make a mess and I’m always cleaning up after them
- My hands are full holding a baby so I don’t put things away immediately
- Miss H wants me to play with her instead of cleaning up lunch, etc.
2. Identify bad habits
These excuses actually give me some idea of the bad housekeeping habits that I need to break. What bad habits do these excuses explain?
- Not having my kids clean up after themselves, and not storing toys in a way that reduces clutter
- Letting messes build up and then being too overwhelmed to clean them
- Giving into Miss H’s demands every single time she wants to play
3. Find Inspirational Ideas/ Goals
What inspires me to want to keep my house cleaner is a positive learning atmosphere for my children. Less stress for them and for me will make everyone happier! I’ll Pin some pretty learning spaces to inspire me to keep our home looking tidy (be sure to follow me on Pinterest!)
My goals: I want to go to bed with a clean kitchen and clean family room every night. Once I achieve and maintain these goals, I can add new ones.
4. Identify new habits to replace the old ones
Since Charlotte Mason suggested working on one or two habits at a time, I’m just going to work on two habits for myself, and help Miss H with one habit. I already have some of our toys in large storage containers that are put up high when not in use, but I often forget to put them back, so I will add that to Miss H’s clean-up habit.
- Have Miss H clean up after herself, and if she gets toys out for Baby E, have her clean those up as well. Put toy bins away
- Clean up at least 5 things when I enter a room- this solves the problem of letting clutter build up and I can put the baby down next to me
- Tell Miss H that we can play when I’m finished cleaning the room. (This seems to work better than saying 10 minutes, etc.)
Writing the goals down works best for me!
Notice that my goals are different than my habits. I could have said that I want to get in the habit of cleaning my kitchen every evening before bed, but if I’m gone for the evening or eat at a restaurant, that habit will be interrupted. Which brings me to the next step-
5. Don’t let the new habits slip- even once!
The habits I’m working on are really simple and not very time consuming, so I should be able to keep them up easily. Failing to do them, even once, will set me back in this habit-forming process!
When I’ve worked on habits with students or my children, I am the one who holds them accountable with a gentle reminder or subtle look. But since I’m working on my own habits, I’ll need to find other ways to stay accountable! Mentioning that I’m trying to change these habits to my husband was my first step, and telling you right now is step two.
I’ve been working on these habits for about a week now, and so far, I think we’re feeling less stressed! Miss H picked up her toys without being asked, and not letting messes build up so much has made cleaning up easier. Now when I pick up a few things, it actually has an impact. When I feel like I have these habits down, I’ll move on to other habits.
Are you going to try this habit forming transformation with me? If so, let me know what habits you chose!
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