Last year a couple days before Thanksgiving, I cleaned out the dining room for the last time.
Tired of allowing that room to be a dumping ground for everything, I vowed to keep it clean from that day on.
Over a year later, the space has remained neat and clean and we eat all of our meals in there.
Committing to keeping the room clutter free meant I had to stay on top of the laundry.
And that was a huge turning point for me.
Because it inadvertently set off a chain reaction for the following things:
- I came up with a laundry system that works.
- The laundry stopped piling up.
- The kids became responsible for sorting, folding and putting away their clothing.
- This led to the kids having more and more responsibilities around the house.
- Having the kids more involved and not having to devote huge chunks of time to getting the laundry back under control gave me time to get on top of other areas of my home.
This wasn’t my intention at the time.
I simply wanted to use my dining room.
I figured everything else out by accident.
In the last few months and particularly in the last few weeks, things have started to snowball.
In a good way.
Once you get a really good hold on one area, things start to improve exponentially.
Because you aren’t constantly playing catch up.
Staying on top of the laundry eliminated so many time suckers for me.
Like I wasn’t wasting hours each week searching for a sock or a pair of pants or a kid’s favorite shirt and then consequently losing my sh*t five minutes before the bus was coming.
That time I was wasting before can now be devoted to other areas.
And that is how I have been able to get control of other areas of my house.
A couple weeks ago I wrote this post about how I handle our laundry because it’s a question I am asked quite frequently.
This is what my tiny laundry area looked like just a few weeks ago:
Although it didn’t look like there was a system in place, there was.
I was just waiting for my husband to put up the custom shelf I had asked him to build since the old wire shelf that had been hastily thrown up in that room nine years ago when we first moved in had fallen down like ten times and it was clearly not working.
Last week my husband came through for me, and while the space is not finished, now it’s much more functional and neat and getting closer to what I have been envisioning for a long time.
Having a system in place makes it so much easier to maintain order.
As long as you are disciplined.
The thing is, it takes very little discipline when something becomes a habit.
The amount of time needed to maintain order in the laundry department is minimal.
I have been very disciplined.
And you know what happened when I stayed disciplined myself?
I was able to stay more disciplined with the kids.
I stopped feeling sorry for them and allowing them to go for days without staying on top of their stuff.
And you know what happened as a result of that?
The kids realized that a small investment of time every day makes a HUGE difference in the overall quality of their lives.
And they came to this realization VERY quickly.
I do a load of laundry every day. That way it doesn’t pile up.
Now that I have my new shelf installed, sorting the laundry takes a minute or two every day.
The other week after cleaning their rooms really thoroughly, the little guys noticed how much better it felt.
There was an atmosphere of calm and order.
And they liked it.
I have been telling the kids for a while now if they just stayed on top of their stuff and put things back in their proper place and emptied their laundry baskets out daily, it would only take them a couple minutes to clean up.
And then they wouldn’t find themselves constantly searching for stuff they couldn’t find.
On another note, I have been doing quite a bit of reading and researching about habits.
And one thing I have learned is that we are all much more likely to maintain habits when we derive pleasure from them. When there is some sort of satisfaction as a result of completing a habit every day.
And so on weeknights, I have eased up a little bit on the no technology rule.
Because I have been thinking about how I approach this.
I don’t watch TV during the day. At all.
The television is never on.
But I do like to reward myself with some TV time at the end of the night.
I usually only make it for about fifteen minutes before I pass out.
But it’s still my treat at the end of the day.
I was thinking how the kids are super active, and they are good students and generally good kids.
And how I’d be kind of pissed if I had worked out and gotten my work done and straightened up around the house and done everything I needed to do during the day and I wanted to reward myself with my favorite show or some time playing a game for a little bit before I went to bed and I was told I wasn’t allowed to do that.
I could see how it might make taking care of all those responsibilities seem kind of pointless.
Especially to a little kid.
So on weekdays when we didn’t have swim practice or any other obligations, I started letting the kids have a little bit of technology time if they wanted it.
Plus it was nice to sit down with them during the week and just chill out for a little bit before bed.
But first, all their jobs needed to be done, their homework needed to be finished, their rooms needed to be clean, and all their stuff had to be ready for school the next day,
And you know what the little guys said?
They literally came downstairs after putting their clothes away and said, “Mom! When you put your clothes away every day and bring your dirty clothes downstairs right away, it hardly takes any time at all! We are going to do this every day as soon as we come home from school!”
They had a serious a-ha moment.
And I literally have not had to ask them to take care of their laundry since then.
Not one reminder.
Number 3 had his own a-ha moment.
He just started coming home, doing his homework, and then asking me, “Mom, what do you need me to help with?”
A thirteen-year-old boy said this.
I shit you not.
I was blown away.
He then said to me, “Mom, I’m just going to pick a room every day and clean it when I get home from school.”
I checked his head for fever and delirium, but he was fine.
Me being consistent with the kids has played a big part in this.
Cleaning up or vacuuming a room that isn’t totally out-of-control is much more manageable than a room that’s basically become a hazardous area.
So has the fact that we really have been working toward this for a couple years ago.
But the biggest difference in the changes that have taken place here really began with me.
When I started walking the walk, when I started staying on top of things, when I started being disciplined and consistent, the kids noticed.
And they started doing the same.
I didn’t even give them the opportunity to think, “Why do I have to do that when Mom doesn’t?”
For the first time in, well,
we are all working as a team here at home.
Rather than being a dictator, I am really being a true leader.
And it’s pretty remarkable what can be accomplished (easily) when you all work together.