Baby Series 2. - Keeping home with littles.

Would you believe me if I told you I have a cleaner home with two toddlers and another baby well on her way than I did as a newlywed? 

Well it's true! My house is wayyyyy cleaner and easier to maintain than ever. 

I am messy by nature. An absent minded professor. The type who will have many things going at once, get overwhelmed, and then focus on one thing, as chaos surrounds me.

However, since becoming a mother, I've learned that my nature, my messy self, contrasts greatly with my nerd self, and my desire for order and freedom. It takes some discipline, but a tidy home creates a refuge for my family, and has become an act of worship, so our home may be used to further the gospel. 

When I was pregnant with our first, my husband was sent to Italy for two weeks. During those two weeks, I asked my mom to come stay with me. We spent that time preparing for baby, painting the nursery, picking out nursery decor, and she taught me the basics of running a home with children. I have affectionately nicknamed those two weeks as "mommy-prep boot camp", and they forever changed how I run our home. 

Throughout those two weeks, my mom served me and I observed. I watched how she got things running in the mornings so we could have a free day. I watched as she made meals and ended with a relatively clean kitchen. I watched as she shuffled laundry back and forth, without a pile ever in sight. I watched as she dusted and vacuumed, swept and watered plants. Everything was a fluid motion. It took mere minutes out of her day, and we were always left with a clean and inviting space. When she left, I determined to make those things a routine in my own life. 

As time has gone on, I have found a similar rhythm. Our home is rarely perfect, we do have two toddlers, two large dogs, and two messy adults, after all. But, our home is clean enough for unexpected guests, and just dirty enough to feel free.

To keep our home decently tidy I do these things at least 90% of the time. There are nights I leave it for the next day, or moments I just say "forget it". But for the most part, these are done everyday, no matter what. 

For the kitchen-

I always run the dishwasher after dinner (if it's at least 1/2 full). During breakfast, I unload the dishes and put them up. Once my girls have finished eating, I rinse their dishes and place them in the dishwasher. All our food is put up, and the floor around their chairs is swept up. I do the same routine after lunch, and often use lunch time as a time to prep for dinner. As I cook dinner, I rinse the dishes, and put away whatever ingredients I no longer need. We always eat as a family around the table. As J bathes the girls, I rinse dishes, load the dishwasher, put away leftovers, wipe counters and the table. Then, it's ready for the next day. Once a week, the day before I get groceries, I clean out the fridge and pantry, and wipe down anything that got dirty.

For laundry-

I run 1-2 loads a day. Sometimes these are folded the same day, sometimes I wait to have a folding party while watching Netflix. I recently began washing clothes by person, folding, and putting them all away at once. This has been a game changer! Instead of having multiple piles for multiple people, I simply put away one to two piles for each person. This saves my kitchen table, bed, ottoman, or whatever else hold the piles till they are put away. I always start a load before bed, switch over to the dryer the next morning, and start a new load (if needed).

For bathrooms-

In our master, I keep all my makeup in a small drawer and throw it in there as I finish. I then simply put the drawer away. All other products are separated into other drawers. I have my daily essentials in the top drawer, hair products and brushes below, with styling tools on bottom. I can easily clean our space within a few minutes.

I employ the same tactics in our girls' bathroom, and usually pick up their space as their daddy puts their jammies on.

Under the sink in each bathroom, I keep sanitizing wipes handy. I use these to wipe counters, quickly freshen toilet seats, and pick up any other messes. I deep clean bathrooms once a week and keep a toilet cleaning disk in each toilet. 

For floors and surfaces-

I sweep daily. Without fail. Two toddlers and two large dogs call for floors to be swept everyday. I have a small vacuum I will also pull out sometimes as well. My carpets are vacuumed every other day in the living room, and once or twice a week in the bedrooms (we rarely spend any time in the rooms outside of sleeping). 

For dusting, I use my handy swiffer duster every couple days. I love it for quick jobs, and will quickly run over surfaces when I pass through the room. Once a week I deep dust with pledge and a rag.

I use a wet mop pad, or steam mop once a week, after vacuuming.

Trash is gathered every evening (if it's not already put away by our middle girl), and misplaced items are always put back in place at the end of each day, keeping surfaces free of piles. 

For the car-

I don't like to leave things in my car, so items are unloaded and put away daily, if we go anywhere. I was going to the car wash every two weeks, but with summer approaching, I think this will simply become a fun way to play with bubbles and water. 

For outside-

I water our plants every other day, or as needed. The porches are swept at least once or twice a week, and I have the girls pick up their toys every time we play outside. Pillows are adjusted on our chairs and bench before we go in, and other items are put back in the garage. My husband mows and weed-eats once a week, and I try to keep up with the flower beds. We are in the process of converting our pool to saltwater, and this weekend will be spent prepping the deck and surrounding space for summer weather. We spend over half our time outside everyday, so keeping a straight space is important, even on the porch. 

For everything else- 

Simply putting things in their place as we finish keeps our home in order. I know if I don't take care of that item soon, things will pile up. Our girls help with simple tasks such as trash gathering, picking up toys and putting clothes in the dryer.

My husband and I follow a more traditional view of who takes care of what in the home. With that said, we both help each other with the family tasks. Though he doesn't scrub toilets or keep laundry going, he does help with dishes and folding clothes when he sees I need help. Likewise, I will take out the trash, organize the garage, and even mow (It's a riding mower...and I actually enjoy it), when it helps him get the job done sooner. 

I have become pretty ruthless about going through things in our home. I go through our wardrobes, drawers, and cabinets multiple times a year to give away or sell items we no longer need. As we pull down seasonal decor, I only keep what I put out that year, the rest I give away. This helps me keep up with all the stuff coming into our home! And if I get bored, I rearrange a room before I buy something else. J has been known to walk into a "brand new" space multiple times a year! 

All in all, over the years, my greatest lesson has come through learning the discipline of keeping home. Being a stay-at-home-mom, a homemaker, I find it a vital part of my job to keep a tidy home, not for Pinterest perfection, but for our days to be free to experience all the wonderful things life has to offer. I desire a clean home that glorifies the Father through the stewardship of what He has given, and a space that is used to minister to the hearts entrusted to us as family and friends. 

I want the freedom for someone to stop by and play, for Saturday mornings to be spent cooking big breakfasts, for Sunday afternoons being free to truly rest, and for the rest of our week to flow, without stopping to get it all back together. Life is chaotic enough with littles, the duties of home and family, and our outside commitments. Making home a refuge from the chaos is something I find joy in doing. This is our space to learn and grow, and I want to make sure I put in the discipline to give the soil of our home the best nutrients possible for the little flowers we tend and keep. 

When you look at homemaking as a discipline, a simple routine, a constant amid the chaos of life, and you see it for what it truly is- making home a refuge for your family and the Gospel. Suddenly, folding the clothes is an act of service, cleaning up after a delicious meal is an expression of gratitude, and getting your hands in the dirt is stewardship of the land God entrusted to your care!

It all can be a simple act of worship. Taking the mundane, offering yourself and your nature (like my messy self) as a sacrifice, and using your time to serve and give selflessly, so home is a sacred refuge for not only your family, but for others in need of a warm place to land.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17