I grew up in one the most organized and cleanest homes I have ever seen. I can really appreciate orderliness and the effort it takes to keep such a nice home. (Thank you, mom)! But, unfortunately, I am definitely not a BOP (born-organized person).
Since getting married, I have really strived to keep up a nice home. It’s been a struggle for sure. Even though I really like to organize things, clutter is always taking over. I have given every excuse there is… working too many long hours, too tired, morning sickness that was too debilitating, too many moves (8 in the last 4 years), babies that make too much of a mess, etc etc.
Living in Liberia has given me a whole new set of excuses. I’m not complaining now, but these are the realities of living here. I’ll share them with you and then tell you some fun ways that I overcome the clutter.
Everything is a process and EVERYTHING takes longer in Liberia. One missionary friend named their cat NEIL – Nothing’s Easy In Liberia. Here are a few examples that make cleaning harder here:
- Even though our well water is probably safe to drink, to play it safe we filter. So, that means filling pitchers from the slow-running faucet and pouring it through a filter each day just to have drinking water.
- We need to wash and soak all of our fresh produce in bleach water.
- Our toilet doesn’t flush on its own. We fill buckets of water from the slow-running faucet to flush. Usually we collect the water for washing hands into a basin for this. (Wishing we had better water pressure…)
- There is no running hot water and the shower faucet doesn’t work. So, to heat water to wash the dishes or to take a bucket bath, we have to strike a match (sometimes it takes a few tries) to turn on the gas stove, wait for it to heat, and carry water the water to the bathroom. We also need to carry and dump out Audrey’s bath bucket each night since it obviously doesn’t have a plug and drain. All these little things add up throughout the day.
- We don’t have glass windows, only screens, so dust from the dirt road easily finds its way in. After dark, tiny insects come through the screens to play by the light, die in the night, and require a sweep up each morning.
- We are still waiting for our washing machine that is on the container, so everything needs to wait to be done by hand. In the rainy season it can take 2-3 days for our laundry to dry. (My neighbors help me with washing the clothes, so don’t feel sorry for me)!
My mother-in-law (check out her daily blog HERE) has a really helpful book called Sink Reflections. In it are some great tools. Some of ideas listed before are things that I do that come from the book and some are my own ways of keeping clutter to a minimum. Maybe you’ll find them helpful too.
1) Hot Spot Fire Drill: I have a few areas in my home, such as the nightstand and small table in the dining room, that attract clutter. I spend 5 minutes each day on each hot spot putting away the clutter. The kitchen timer is my very best friend and makes cleaning and organizing so much fun. It’s like a race!
2) 27 Fling Boogie: Go through the house and as quickly as possible throw away 27 things into the trash. Or, put 27 things in their proper place.
3) Incorporate Cleaning into Already Established Routines: After my bucket bath each night, I do a quick wipe down of the shower tiles and tub. After brushing my teeth each evening I do a quick wipe down of the bathroom sink and swish the toilet. It only takes three extra minutes.
4) Pick out my clothes the night before and make the bed immediately after getting dressed in the morning.
5) Always and I mean ALWAYS use hampers. Sort your clothes in to lights and darks as you take them off. It removes one of the steps of laundry – your clothes will already to sorted!
6) Have a solid kitchen clean-up routine each night. For us: Clear table, put away leftovers, wash dishes wipe down stop top and fridge, wipe down table, counters and high chair, fill water filter, shine the sink, put cleaning cloths in laundry basket, and sweep kitchen and under dining room table. Ideally, the dishes should be dried and put away that evening, but I choose to wait until morning. I keep a check list right by the sink.
7) During Audrey’s naps and after she goes to sleep for the night, I spend 5 minutes setting up her toys in a way that will look appealing and fun to her when she wakes up.
8) Invite company to come eat once a week. This is a huge motivator to do some serious cleaning.
9) Have a designated spot for everything.
10) When I get something new, I try to give away the old. For example, during a recent bale party that my mother-in-law had, I got something like 50 ‘new’ shirts! (This may seem excessive but after going over a washboard a few times, clothes wear out and stretch out extremely fast). I went through my drawers and came up with a huge bag of clothes to give away.
11) Zoning: Each week of the month, focus on deep-cleaning a different zone of the house, spending just 15 minutes a day. (Cleaning cobwebs, dusting windowsills, furniture, baseboards, straightening closets, mop, clean curtains, organizing cupboards, clean scale, flip mattresses, clean windows and mirrors, etc. One key is to clean it even if it doesn’t look dirty).
Week 1: Entrance, Dining Room, Porch
Week 2: Kitchen
Week 3: Bathrooms, Children’s rooms and Extra room of your choice (office, laundry room, guest room)
Week 4: Master Bedroom
Week 5: Living Room
12) Don’t have a martyr attitude and work cheerfully. I try to not do it to get recognition or appreciation. I try to do it for the sake of having a beautiful home that will bless, my family, and my guests, and me too.
I’ll stop here for now. But, if you like these ideas, I highly recommend that you go get a kitchen timer and the easy-to-read book Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley.