Our Consistent Home Habits
I think of myself as a fairly clean and organized person. If my house is a mess and things are out of place, it can be tough for me to concentrate and feel settled in my home. In fact, I can’t really sit down and work until the house is picked up and everything is in its place. Finn is the same way. That’s why we’ve always been able to maintain a tidy household.
Then, enter two kids in two years. Wow, the chaos that those munchkins bring to our house is like no other! They come with endless laundry, lots of toys, and plenty of food and crumbs on the floor. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! The mess they bring to our house is a welcome one.
But as a couple who gets anxious when things are messy, we’ve come up with some consistent home habits to keep ourselves sane in a busy house and season of life. We were already practicing many of these tasks before we had kids, but we’ve found that this consistent routine is what helps to keep our family thriving.
First, Name What Matters
I’m a big fan of the podcast and blogger, The Lazy Genius. One of her core methods is to “name what matters.” What matters to me is that I feel less anxious and more relaxed in my home. For me, that means things need to be picked up and in their place. That might not matter to you and your family, and that’s okay! Figure out what matters to you and then you can implement the right routine to get to that place.
So, don’t read my list below and think that you need to implement all of these ideas. This is just what works for our family.
Our Daily Home Habits
None of these things are going to be revolutionary. Making the bed, running the dishwasher, doing laundry…not exactly groundbreaking techniques here. But it’s the consistency that makes it work!
Here are some of the tasks that are a part of my morning routine…
- Make the bed
- Squeegee shower (I use this one)
- Empty the dishwasher
- Open up all of the blinds and turn on the lights
- Fold laundry
- Put laundry away
- Water the outdoor flowers
I make it a point to get up at least an hour before my kids every day, usually, around 5:45 am. That means I have time to myself (to shower, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and catch up on emails) and it also means that I have time to prep the house for them. Occasionally, I’ll sleep in on a weekend morning, and while it’s nice to catch an extra hour of sleep, I find that I’m feeling frantic all morning long, as I attempt to unload the dishwasher with two little kids underfoot.
If I want to start the day on my own terms – feeling settled, calm, and excited to wake up the kids – then I have to wake up to knock out those morning home habits.
Throughout The Day
Over the course of the day, things definitely get messy around here. We have two kids after all! But I do find myself trying to keep things in working order so nothing gets too overwhelming.
- Clean up each meal
- Pick up toys before or during nap
- Put dirty towels, rags, and clothes in the hamper
- Add groceries or items to buy to a list: We use the Microsoft To-Do app to keep a running list of the items we need to buy. If we run out of something, we add it to the list on our phones. Then, the next time someone is shopping, they can see what’s needed and purchase correctly.
As I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s important for kids to see parents cleaning and doing dishes. Don’t save it all for nap time! Rory helps me pick things up and put items away and she loves being a helper.
We stop working at 5:00 pm and that’s when our evening routine begins. We all eat together at 5:30 pm and then it’s bath time, books, and bedtime for the kiddos. While they’re still awake, we typically clean up the kitchen from our meal and have Rory help with the toy clean-up.
Rory is very much in the “let’s delay bedtime as much as possible” phase and she is all about cleaning up her toys if it means she can stay awake for five extra minutes. Ha! She is actually very good at cleaning up all of the toys. She knows where every toy goes; she puts any trash in the trash can; she brings cups to the kitchen, etc.
When we first started having her help, I found that she did great when I gave her a specific task. For example, “You clean up your Magna-tiles and Mama will clean up the other toys.” Now, she knows where everything goes so I can just say that I’m cleaning up the kitchen while she tackles the toys. Is it perfect? No, but it’s actually super helpful!
Here are the tasks we then tackle once the kids are in bed…
- Draw shades closed
- Turn off all of the lights and turn lamps on
- Run the dishwasher
- Wipe down countertops (We use this spray. It’s the best!)
- Wipe down floors near the dining table (It’s usually crumb city over there from the kids!)
- Prep coffee and bottles for the morning
- Run one load of laundry
- Pick up any lingering items and put them in their place
Waking up to a dirty kitchen is the worst way for me to start my day, so I make it a point to leave the kitchen exactly the way I want it before I go to bed. Future Casey always thanks me!
Weekly Home Habits
Okay, so those are some of the home habits we practice every single day. Here are some weekly tasks that we do around here.
- Break down boxes: We get so many packages and I am guilty of punting the boxes straight into the garage. Finn’s job is to break things down and he does that every Wednesday evening before our recycling pickup comes on Thursday. Thanks, Finn!
- Water indoor plants: I tackle this task every Sunday morning and Rory helps me. She loves it!
- Prep white board: I recently shared all about our weekly white board and how that keeps our family on task. You can read more about it here.
- Fridge clean out: While I’m prepping our white board for the week, Finn usually clears out the fridge and we make a grocery list and meal plan for the week ahead.
Monthly/Quarterly Home Habits
With kids, things can get out of control fast. I feel like we’re constantly bringing in new toys and clothes as the kids outgrow their stuff. This means that the old stuff can accumulate and get out of hand. Finn is typically in charge of this department. He goes through their drawers and closets regularly. We save any super special pieces and donate the rest. The same goes for our own closets. I’m a “one thing in, one thing out” kinda gal.
As for toys, that’s a neverending battle. I find that my kids have better play time when they’re not swimming in toys. Therefore, we do our best to keep our toy cabinet under control. Once or twice a month, we’ll swap things out, moving items to the basement, or corralling items they no longer love and then donating them. When they get up the next day, they’re always excited to open up the toy cabinet (our TV console) and see what’s inside.
We are also those people who always have a bag in our trunk for donation. I swear, every time I go to put groceries in the back I open the trunk and find a huge bag ready for The Salvation Army. While it’s nice to have items leaving our house and going to a better home, we need to figure out a better routine for actually getting them to the donation center! That’s definitely something we can work on!
Outsourcing Home Tasks
We do a lot around here, but we certainly can’t do it all. Here are a few things we outsource to professionals.
We have a cleaner who comes every other week to clean the entire house. She deep cleans the bathrooms, kitchen, and every room. She also changes all of our sheets. It is money well spent. I used to clean myself (here was my weekly cleaning checklist), but with the two kids, a large house, and a full-time job, I couldn’t keep up. For us, it’s worth every penny. Of course, we tidy between visits, but she really does the majority of the deep cleaning around here.
We also hired a lawn service this summer to mow our grass weekly. Finn used to do it on the weekends, but it would take up to two hours to get the job done. He would much rather spend that time with our family, so we found someone to handle this for us. Again, it is money well spent for us.
One more house task that we’ve outsources is critter control. We have someone come spray the inside and outside of our house for bugs every quarter. I schedule it out for the entire year, so it’s not something I even have to think about!
What Are Your Home Habits?
This was actually a really fun post to put together as I thought of all the things that go into keeping our home in tip-top shape. And I must mention…that this list doesn’t encompass annual home maintenance tasks. You can find all of those in this blog post.
We have a busy and full house and I love the chaos that happens between these four walls. I’d love to hear…what are your consistent home habits? Let me know in the comments below.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.