I am not a naturally clean and organized woman. I love and appreciate the benefits of a clean and organized home, but when it comes to actually doing the work, I’d rather be doing just about anything else.
As a mom though, keeping the house reasonably clean and picked up is more of a sanity-saver than a choice!
The Ten Minutes Until Clean Philosophy
This philosophy is a self-regulating tool that I use to keep my home from getting out of control. It gives me freedom from perfectionism because it sets up boundaries around how messy a room can get before we need to pause and pick up.
Let me explain how it works.
The Ten Minutes Until Clean Philosophy has to start with a clean room (in this case, it going to be the downstairs of the house which in my home includes the kitchen, dining room, living room, and a powder room).
So, if I start with a clean downstairs, my goal is to keep it neat enough that it can go completely back to the original state of clean within ten minutes time.
This means that when I am in the living room working on school with little and middle people, and my big kids are doing school in the kitchen or dining room, I need to be keeping an eye on my little people and making sure that they are not pulling out more than can be properly put away in ten minutes.
This philosophy works really well in our home for a few different reasons.
1. It’s easier to keep a clean house clean than it is to clean a dirty house.
It’s a universally accepted truth that it’s much easier to maintain a clean house than to clean a dirty house. A clean house makes you want to keep it clean. Making sure that the house only get ten minutes down the road to chaos helps to keep the momentum going.
2. It allows us to live, play, and work with freedom and tidiness.
I don’t like being the mom who is always fussing and clucking at the children to “clean that up, that’s not where that goes, only one book out at a time, etc.” I’d much rather let the children play and live and enjoy the space.
Putting a toy away as soon as you are done with it gives you a definite advantage, but the lines get blurred when there are multiple children in a room. If Johnny is playing with the train, and Timmy is waiting for his turn, it’s going to start a fight of epic proportions if Johnny does what Mother has been nagging him to do since he was a year old, and put the train away as soon as he’s done with it.
If you add in another child or two, who is also playing with a different toy…can you see how policing and enforcing the “one toy out at a time” rule becomes logistically taxing?
3. It keeps the children involved in the process.
The children know and understand that when Mom gives the call “Okay kids! Time to clean up!” that it will take us all less than ten minutes to get it done. They know this because that call goes out multiple times a day.
The children know that if every person doesn’t pull his own weight, it takes longer for everyone. They also know that if Mom sees a child standing around trying to look busy, but not actually doing any work, they will be assigned an extra job.
Reigning The Mess Back In
If you think that you are going to be able to clean your house the one time, and then totally maintain it, and never have a slip-up, well, you may be right. But if you are, you are a much better housekeeper than me!
I let the house get beyond Ten Minutes Until Clean at least once a week. And I always kick myself when I do. Because in order to get it back, I have to work for it!
After you’ve been doing Ten Minutes Until Clean for long enough, it doesn’t feel like work, it’s just a habit and part of the day. But once you go over that ten minutes into, God forbid, twenty or even thirty minutes (eek!), it definitely feels like work.
Need help staying on top of the chores? Download my FREE cheat sheet!
The best thing that you can do is reign it in. Get it under control before your mess gets worse. Turn on some music, assign everyone a task, get it knocked out, and then celebrate when you are done!
Whatever you do, do it with a good attitude. Your children will pick up on any sarcasm or exasperation on your part.
Is it better to have a messy house with a sweet, happy mama, or a perfectly clean house with a crazy OCD mama?
Messes happen occasionally (at least weekly for me) and they just need to be dealt with in the same manner as any other less than ideal situation.
It’s always easier to maintain a clean home than to start from scratch. So figure out what your family can clean up in ten minutes, and go from there!