will.i.am’s mix, above, is an awesome picking up song–and the bass solos are suh-weet!
Today’s topic is tidiness. In the countless conversations I’ve had with my girlfriend Gracia, I’ve felt the most profound sisterhood when we discuss keeping the house picked up. When the house is in order, I feel more well-being and control over life. But with four kids age 11 and younger and an aging Jack Russell Terrier, having a picked-up house is an elusive trophy. So here’s what works for me.
If you pick up throughout the day, you will at least keep up with the mess–over time, you’ll eventually conquer it. Many household managers advocate just picking up once or twice during the day, so you’re not constantly irritated by the repetitive, boring task. Either way, remember: We’re not trying to get your house perfect, just better than the day before.
If you schedule a pickup time, make it during your favorite TV show, so the task is done before you know it. You’ll get exercise while enjoying your show.
Pick times of the day when you have lots of physical energy, though you may not need much mental acuity. You’ll be happier and more productive, picking up more toys in less time and saving time for other chores.
Never go anywhere empty handed. I live in a quad-level house, and my kids drag toys and socks and underwear from one level to another. So when I go downstairs, I take diapers to the garbage. When I go upstairs, I take dirty socks to the hamper. Baskets are a good way to collect items to take from one level to another.
Play mind games. When I look around, often so much needs to be picked up, it’d be easy to get frustrated and give up. So when I pass through the area, my rule is to only pick up three items. I know this sounds a little obsessive-compulsive, but bear with me. Three items takes 15 seconds, gives you a feeling of control–and soon, the clutter is all picked up, which reduces your frustration.
Before you let your kids watch TV or play video games, have them do their homework and pick up. If they made a huge mess, have them just pick up five or twenty items each, depending on their ages.
Don’t forget to reward yourself for all your picking up throughout the day–maybe a cup of green tea at night or a bubble bath.
Write me with your strategies for keeping a picked-up house. That way, we know we’re not alone.