Household organization and cleaning seem to be a mysterious burden for all of us. In answer to your requests this new column will pass along hints and ideas. Feel free to contribute your own tips.
We devoted the September, 1994 issue of AHE to organization. Mainly homeschool records, but also a little “fall house cleaning” and getting ready to start the new school year. Since then, I’ve received letters and phone calls expressing your frustration and need for more help in this area. Homeschoolers are constantly in their homes and I know that they have a tendency to become messy much faster than homes where the family is gone all day.
Now I’m not an expert at this, but I am a melancholy by nature and I can’t tolerate messy surroundings. I’m always looking for ways to keep my home, work area, files and schedule organized and clean without spending a lot of time doing it. I have found lots of ideas, information, and cleaning tools and supplies from Don Aslett’s Cleaning Center, P. O. Box 39, Pocatello, ID 83204. Write for a free copy of the Clean Report which arrives in a file folder marked Cleaning.* I read about the various ways to clean and the professional supplies to use, and I have proved it myself, it pays in time and money to do it right using the proper tools and cleaning supplies. I set a monthly amount to spend and slowly built up what we needed as we ran out of grocery store brands, replaced them with professional cleaning products.
Children and Husbands
So since you asked for it, I’m starting this little column with tips and ideas to help make life a little easier. I’m going to start with the biggest problem of all – children and husbands. I read in one of Don Aslett’s books that 90% of the messes are made by children and husbands, and that 90% of these messes are cleaned up by the woman of the home. By the way, he agrees with me, husbands and children should participate in picking up their own clutter.
The best rule for keeping a home organized is to have a place for everything and put everything in it’s place. This means to have a bookshelf or special place for school books and work when they aren’t in use. A toy box of some kind to put away toys is imperative. It also helps to have a place where the children can work on projects and not have to clean them up before each meal.
Have two or three times during the day when everyone helps to pick up the house for five minutes. Just before school starts, before or after lunch and then again before bedtime are good times. Even toddlers can help with this project and it really helps keep down the clutter of toys, books and other things. Half of the housework is picking up and putting away things that others leave out!
Make a household rule that if someone puts something down where it doesn’t belong they will pay a fine (1-15 cents depending on individual resources) or do a chore, to get it back. Children (and husbands) will quickly learn to put things where they belong. Donate the money you collect to investment or missions.
Another good rule is if you make a mess, you clean it up. This teaches children to clean up after themselves. You may have to touch-up or help at first but it’s a good habit.
The best advice I’ve ever been given was from Dorothy Moore. She said, “Don’t do anything for your children that they are capable of doing for themselves.” She meant making beds and picking up after themselves, etc. We are not the maid, we are the mother and we must train our children to help keep the home tidy and clean just as we discipline or homeschool them.
Turn your young mess makers into helpers. I was longing for a maid when my daughter expressed a desire to earn money. I had my “maid!” Each child has their daily chores which they do just because they are part of a family and those things that have to be done daily. But I pay for cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing the stove, washing the car, heavy duty cleaning, etc. Not much, 20-75 cents per chore but it provides her with a small income, and I get much needed help.
I hope these ideas help you tame the messiness around your home. Remember this is an ongoing process – keep working at it and you will be rewarded.
Article from The Adventist Home Educator Newsletter, February 1995, p. 6.
*Resources have not been checked out to see if they are still available.