What does Tidy even mean?
Being tidy doesn’t mean you have to be minimal. It means you can find a thing quickly when you need it. It makes your life easier.
It doesn’t mean you have to rigidly stick to a certain look or style. It means you can have surprise visitors over without having a Panic Tidy.
It doesn’t mean that your home has to be run like a military operation. It’s just a way of helping your home feel more peaceful and organised.
Keeping your home tidy reduces stressful feelings and helps keep the chaos of normal life under control.
Here are 5 simple rules for making your life easier and finding that peace. You can pick and choose from them or do all 5.
Rule No 1. Make a Smart Place for everything.
Feel like the piles in your home are never-ending?
The problem might be that no-one knows where anything goes. There’s just nowhere to put anything, no-one can find anything and it’s a bit of a mess. It’s really stressful!
Make life easy for yourself – Make a home for a thing, where you need it the most, in a place that it fits, that’s easy to get to. It’s vital to make it easy! No one will put things away if it’s even remotely difficult.
Do it for yourself. When you’re tired or busy it’s easy for you AND for other members of the household, so you get to consistently see the tidy results you want.
Rule No 2. Don’t put things down, put them away.
Save your sanity – PiB-Wib it! Put it Back – Where it Belongs. This way you can avoid double or triple handling of everything AND avoid horrible big piles that make you feel exhausted.
When you have a Smart Place for everything (even if it’s just a big basket by the door) this is SO much easier. Instead of dumping everything on the kitchen bench, the couch or the hall floor, pause for a second.
Avoid a dump zone – When you walk in the door, the keys go in the Key Bowl, the mail goes in the Mail Tray, the school bags go on their hooks and the lunch boxes go on the kitchen bench.
The latest load of washing is clean and dry. Take the basket to each room and empty out the clothes that belong there. (Big people can put their own stuff away) Your little kid’s t-shirts are clean, folded and in your hand. They go straight into the t-shirt drawer.
Rule No 3. Put things away as you go.
Little and often. The task of taking the many, many, daily cluttery things from the wrong place to the right place (yay!) can be made a lot easier if you can tidy away as a regular tiny habit.
If you leave the jar of Nutella on the kitchen bench, and the knife, and the bread board and the bread and the magazine you were reading and your phone and your glasses and the mail that you had under your arm and the bike helmet that was sitting on the blender in the pantry… You’ll soon have a big annoying pile of clutter that you’ll have to deal with later.
Pause and make the time to pop the things you’ve just used back in their spot, or dishwasher, or the crafting box or book shelf. Your future self will thank you when you’re NOT faced with a big mess or pile to clean up later.
Rule No 4. Teach your kids to put away their things.
Getting your kids to put things away is easier when they know where to put their things. That’s why making Smart Places is the first rule.
Start young and be consistent and persistent. You know your kids, you know what’s going to work, what’s going to get them to do this new thing. The older they are the less easily they’re trained in the ritual or game of Putting Stuff Away. Older kids and partners are more likely to understand when you explain WHY you need them to pick up after themselves. They need the info to work this new task into their list of priorities, which is VERY different from your list of priorities (and there’s always bribery…)
After all, this is just what your family does, because you’re a team right? Teams support each other and work together to ensure the wellbeing of every member. It’s exactly the same in your family home.
Rule No 5. Make an end of day pick up time.
Your future self will say thank you! when you get up in the morning and the house isn’t looking too bad. DO NOT stay up until all hours trying to make everything look perfect. You’re going for better, not perfect.
Find yourself a gathering container. Anything will do.
At the end of the day sweep each living space. Put anything that doesn’t belong there in your basket. Clearing a room may take a couple of trips, or a bigger basket.
Just do what you can, but do it regularly. If you only have 5 minutes, grab the worst of it and do a little bit more tomorrow.
You might be able to get stuck in when your partner gets the kids into the bath, or it might have to wait until later. The trick is to not leave it so late that you’re so tired you’re about to fall asleep on the couch (or the floor as you’re scooping up LEGO – see rule no 4.)
So have a go, make your life easier and get Tidy!