A few days ago, I finally got my home in order the way I like it and thrive best in it. It had been weeks (with all of our sickness) living in a less than orderly house with piles that only grow taller and messes that only expand within each room. I know for a fact my girls play/create/learn better when the day begins in an orderly house. They have a blank canvas--lack of mental and physical clutter-- to start a new adventure of play, to write and illustrate a new fashion magazine, or turn the living room into an Indian village.
The trick to keeping up an orderly home for the child and their mother (I'm much more inspired to bake and read and create where there's order) is letting the maintenance follow the day's activities as naturally as possible.
Order in the home has become essential to our large family and our happiness together. Although I'm not perfect, there are 5 things that help keep our home in such a way that we can live happily alongside one another.
5 Ways to Maintain Order in the Home
1. Always wake up to a tidied home.
There is something about waking up refreshed for a new day along with your children and being greeted by a happy, clean, and orderly house. It only invites creativity and enthusiasm for the new day.
I'm a lot more willing to jump into the day myself--exercise or making a special breakfast or planning a special activity with my kids--when there is nothing around me to clutter my mind or overwhelm me. Because those first few hours in the morning really dictate the remainder of the day, I've learned to do what it takes the night before (and sometimes that means putting in more time after the kids are in bed) to start a day with peace and strength for whatever the day may bring.
2. Close the evening with a final sweep of the house.
The only way to wake to an orderly house is to take care of it at night. Our girls know that there are certain points throughout the day that we take care of any messes or clutter. The evening is one of them. After dinner and pajamas are on, my girls expect to be given different tasks to tidy before they can really enjoy the quiet evening in the living room with a book or story. Some clear the dinner table, others are given the task of tidying the living room, and others have to confirm the art room is picked up--which it rarely is. And so, every evening the children and both parents are busily attending to their tasks to close out the day. It really is a natural process to slow down the day and prepare for the next.
Everyone works to then enjoy those quiet moments before bed with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of unity as a family to maintain our home's peace.
3. Teach your children to be responsible for their play and tidying.
Although I still am a constant reminder-er, my girls know that when they choose to dump the bag of blocks on the floor, they will be expected to put them back when finished. They know that their plate and fork and glass from every meal is their responsibility to take into the kitchen. When your children is taught to own their play and activities throughout the day, that ownership allows them to mature and feel a sense of pride in being responsible, at any age.
As you give your children certain responsibilities over activities throughout the day, it means you have to remind less and they learn to remember more.
(Here's one example of a way to give extra responsibility that my kids and I love: a Dinner Helper Station.)
4. Be willing to work alongside your children.
Although there are many tasks my children can handle on their own, some tasks overwhelm them which can lead to a battle between child and parent. Some disorder in our home requires a little (or a lot) of adult help. Just having me in the room where a huge tidying job is present seems to give my kids the momentum to do it. Jumping in and helping while giving instruction helps even more. And in no time, the task is completed without a major struggle. Everyone wins and feels the literal strength of working together.
5. Most important, teach your children why order is so vital to the life of your family.
Use moments during your day to teach your child the importance of order. Not only is this important for order to be understood and kept up for the family unit, but it goes deeper than that. As you instill order into your children while they are young, it will become a solid principle they live by, whether at home, a neighbor's home (by tidying up at a neighbor's house) or more long term, as a student in college with roommates.
I want my children to be able to feel the difference of a lack of order and order and choose the latter. Children can feel it in their play, the mood of the home, the mood of the family, and its productivity. I know they feel it just as I feel it if I wake to a wild and cluttered house, it truly affects my day. As we use teaching moments to give them the vocabulary to express those feelings, they will want to keep the peace and order of their most precious place, home.
the sleepy time gal