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Keeping a Clean House

Secrets to staying on top of your household chores.

It doesn’t take long. A day with kids home from school and the dishes pile up, the laundry overflows, and the floor is covered with toys. As soon as you get one room cleaned up, another is a mess. After a busy week, the house is in need of some serious cleaning.

Some families seem to have a system of staying on top of household chores and their house could be featured in a magazine. Others continually live in a cluttered mess. If you’re struggling to keep your home in order, learn from the pros. Read on to learn a few of the secrets to a clean home.

A Family Affair

Mom didn’t make all the mess, so she doesn’t need to be the one to clean it. Once children reach a certain age they are more than capable of taking on their fair share of chores. Assign each child a set of duties each day that are appropriate for their age. Young ones can pick up toys and feed the dog, older kids can clean the toilet, empty the dishwasher, and fold the laundry. Each child should be responsible for keeping his or her room clean.

And remember—instead of asking your kids to do chores, tell them to. There is no need to bargain or bribe. Chores are a part of living in a family. They teach kids responsibility and the value of hard work and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Daily Straightening

Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or right before bed, but set aside a few minutes each day to tidy up the house. Load the dishwasher, throw in a load of clothes, pick up toys and clothes off the floor, and take out the trash. Make this a regular part of your daily routine and it allows you to start each new day with a clean slate.

Teach your kids how to clean up after each activity before moving on to the next. Emphasize that dress-up clothes, LEGOs, puzzles, or crayons must be put away before making a new mess. These small steps will help you stay on top of chores before you get buried beneath the mess.

I’m a big advocate of a work-for-pay setup rather than an allowance that isn’t attached to chores. It’s a great way to impart the value of money to your children. - Suze Orman

One Day a Week

Daily straightening of the house is important to keep the home an inviting place to be, but it takes more than picking things up off the floor to keep a home tidy. Set aside one day a week for deep-cleaning chores. Many families choose Saturday as their chore day. Other families designate one big chore for every day of the week, which keeps them from spending a whole day doing nothing but chores.

Deep-cleaning duties to consider accomplishing include cleaning the bathroom, washing windows, vacuuming, mopping floors, washing linens, and dusting furniture. Again, the whole family should be involved.

Donate and Throw Away

One reason why you may have trouble keeping your home clean is because you have too much stuff to keep up with. Clothes, shoes, toys, knick-knacks, dishes, books, crafts, and furniture that never get used still take up space. Spend time every few months going through your closets, cabinets, and drawers and set aside things to get rid of.

Some things may be useless trash to throw away, other belongings you can donate or give away. You may even be able to sell valuable items to earn extra cash. Paring down how much you have will make it easier to keep your home organized and clean.