***This post contains affiliate link to products that I found useful during my 31 Days of Cleaning.  If you would like to buy one of these products, just click on the link and you will be taken to the store's website where you can purchase them yourself.  This in now way affects the price you pay for these products, it just gives me credit and compensates me for the referral.***

So, you may be wondering why my 31 Days of Cleaning series skips from Day 7 to Day 31.  Well...about that...  This month's cleaning challenge I set for myself did not go nearly as well as I had hoped.  After AWANA, worship team practice, a rally, 4 days of revival at our church, followed by AWANA and worship team practice again, I lost my will power.  To be honest, I was just too tired to clean.

But, the month wasn't a complete loss.  My family hosted a party at our house which meant we had no choice but to get the main living area clean for our guests.  This may have included lots of 'disappearing' items to get rid of the clutter, but it's still nice to walk into the house and see a clean kitchen, dining room, and living room.  And it consolidated the mess to just a few rooms where we can continue to work on eliminating the mess.

Here are a few things I learned this month:

  • Kids want to, and should be allowed to help.  My daughter hasn't even started pre-school yet, but she likes to have her own jobs.  You have to decide what your child is capable of, but some of my daughter's 'jobs' include:
    • Loading the washing machine
    • Wiping down tables, door knobs and other surfaces with wipies or Clorox Wipes (Affiliate Link).
    • 'Cleaning' the windows (just ignore the streaks)
    • Throwing away dirty diapers and other trash
    • Putting away her toys
    • Putting away her clean clothes (we got her a small laundry basket from Dollar Tree (Affiliate Link) that is just her size!)
    • Cleaning up small, simple spills (like water)
    • Dusting
  • You can't declutter without getting rid of things.  Part of our problem is that we have too much stuff.  
    • For my husband and I, I set out baskets we could put things in we no longer wanted and waited before taking them off.  That allowed me to let go of things without the anxiety of losing things that I might miss.  After sitting in baskets for a month I pulled out one thing I regretted getting rid of.  Other than that, I couldn't' even tell you what's in those baskets.  That's a good sign that I don't need them.
    • For my daughter, I went through her toys and picked out things I didn't think she would miss--mostly broken toys, kids meal toys, party favors, a few of the hundreds of purses and bags she has acquired, etc.  Then I left them in a box in the living room.  At the end of the month, one or two of the toys had been pulled out of the box, but the rest were never missed.  I feel safe(ish) now that I can get rid of the things in that box without having a toddler meltdown when she realizes that one toy she wants is no longer here.
  • Picking up and cleaning are not the same thing.  One of the eye opening things for me after using a cleaning list is that I spend a lot of time picking things up, but i don't spend much time cleaning.  I haven't washed the windows, dusted away cobwebs, wiping away splatters from cabinet doors, etc.  These may be minor things, but after months of neglect the dirt really starts to show.  If I can keep the clutter under control I'll have more time to focus on actually keeping my house clean, not just picked up.
  • Hiding things in a 'storage room' doesn't really work.  No matter how hard I try to keep guests out of those rooms, they end up in there anyway--either by accident, or because it's the only way to our 2nd bathroom.  To truly feel comfortable having guests in my house I will need to get control over all the rooms in my house.  They don't have to be spotless, they just shouldn't be embarrasingly cluttered.
  • I enjoy my family time and weekend outings more when my house is cleaned up.  If were home and the house is messy I feel like I need to clean and don't actually pay much attention to my family.  When we're out and about I don't enjoy the time because I know there is a messy home waiting for me when we get back.  I feel guilty and can't enjoy myself because I feel like I'm wasting time that I should be using to clean.  I know that my family is more important than a clean house, but I can't shake the guilt.

My goal now that I've finished this challenge is to take the things I've learned and start putting them to use.  Even though I'm busy, it doesn't mean my house can't be clean.  What advice do you have for keeping a clean home?

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