Remember the good ole days (Back in March), when everyone thought that wearing masks in public would be the worst part of functioning in a post-COVID world? Oh, how foolish we were!
No, what we couldn't possibly have imagined were the heaping piles of laundry that would envelop us every time we stepped foot in our living rooms, the sticky fingerprints that would appear on our walls, and windows, and furniture, the toys that we would trip over in our bathrooms and kitchens... Must I go on?!
Wearing a mask to pick up a gallon of milk is nothing compared to the "Jurassic Park meets Hoarders" catastrophe that has replaced any kind of order that our homes once possessed.
If you feel like you're drowning in kids, clutter, and chaos, you're not alone! Check out these helpful tips to tackle the "COVID Clutter" and regain some semblance of order in your home once more.
1. Kiss Your "Normal" Expectations Good-bye
While the world may have been holding its breath, waiting for life to resume as usual when the pandemic began, it's become alarmingly clear that life as we knew it isn't coming back any time soon. What does that mean for you? Breathe.
It's time to bid farewell to old expectations and pave the way for new ones. Let's face it, expecting a house full of energetic little ones and working parents to stay tidy round the clock just isn't going to happen. Take into consideration the tremendous changes your family has endured in a short period of time, and give everyone (including yourself) a break. The laundry didn't get put away today? So what! You can get to it tomorrow. Save your energy for more important matters, like keeping your sanity.
2. Put Little Hands to Work
If you think that you're the only one who can keep your house somewhat organized, think again. Kids of all ages are capable of cleaning up after themselves. Here are some simple ways to involve your kiddos in the cleaning process:
- Create a cleaning chart that assigns age-appropriate tasks to each child.
- Present chores as games, such as racing to beat a 5-minute timer.
- Make it second-nature -- Dinner's over? Have them put their dishes in the sink before going to play.
- When all else fails, bribe them with a reward like ice cream or screen time.
3. Work in Short Bursts
If you wait until you have an uninterrupted hour blocked off to tackle your chores, your house is sure to look like a tornado hit it in no time. Rather than trying to get your home spick and span all at once, focus on accomplishing small tasks throughout the day.
- You have a few minutes while the kids eat their lunch? Unload the dishwasher.
- Going upstairs to grab something? Bring the folded laundry with you.
Setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, is a great way to keep you on task (we see you ADHD folks) while ensuring you painlessly tackle that pesky "to do" list by bedtime.
4. Lose the Excess
Let's be honest, we all have too much stuff. After all, does everyone in your house really need a Kardashian-amount of shoes to choose from, for their Zoom meeting? The best way to keep your home feeling open and inviting is to get rid of all the junk that your family doesn't need or use.
If you feel like the walls are closing in on you with clutter around your home, it's time to put on your Marie Kondo panties (the ones that spark joy, and don't crawl up where they're aren't wanted) and clean it up. Sifting through the items that you can donate, recycle, or toss won't just make your place look better, but is a surefire way to make you feel lighter as well.
Decluttering may seem like an overwhelming process at first, but the real work comes later: not replacing your old junk with new junk. This means asking yourself if the online purchase you're about to make is really necessary? When your home is organized and clutter-free, you'll thank yourself for exerting some self-control on that Target run.
5. Find a Routine That Works, And Stick With It
Raising little people is never easy, but it's particularly exhausting/frustrating/mind-boggling during a global pandemic. When you feel overwhelmed, just remember the clutter didn't appear overnight. It took time to build old habits, and it will certainly take more time to make new ones stick. Be flexible and find what works, and set those expectations with the whole family.
Whew... that was a lot. Look, at this point we suggest you break out the bath bombs and take a minute to relax. You earned it!