Tidying up for the New Year


By Amy Koons


As much as I love Christmas decorations adorning our house, I also love when all the decorations come off the tables and other surfaces, and the long-dead tree gets hauled out of my living room. After the garland has come off the banister and all the other Christmas paraphernalia has been removed from our living space, things start to feel more orderly and calm.


Then I inevitably get the bug to do even more organizing and cleaning. A new year stretches out like a clean slate. I get the urge to purge! I want to start 2017 with less clutter weighing us down.


I had great intentions of doing more purging and cleaning during Christmas break, but time got away from me and we were busy doing fun stuff, like a Cousins-sleepover and ice skating and watching movies and sleeping in (at least I’m honest!).

Large chunks of time to work on house projects never seem to clearly manifest themselves in our busy household!


I always think I’m going to get more stuff done when we are taking time off school. Then, during breaks, I realize that we are not going to accomplish things around the house like I thought we would. So, after awhile, I start to pine away for more structure and routines, so maybe I can start to get stuff done again. It’s a vicious cycle!



Thankfully there are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that have helped me get stuff done around the house, despite the busyness of our family life. These tips have saved me over and over again. So I thought I’d share them with you.

1) THE ONE-MINUTE RULE – If you can do it in one minute or less, do it immediately. My kids love to go check the mailbox and bring the mail in. When I see a pile of mail on the counter, I can quickly throw away the junk mail and put the bills in their designated space. It takes one minute and it’s done. Or, if I see a pile of coats on the floor, I should quickly hang them up (or, better yet, call out for my kids to do it). If these one-minute-or-less tasks are done immediately and habitually, a great wave of clutter will always be kept at bay.


2) SPEED CLEANING – Set the timer for 15 minutes and speed clean one room. I think this tip came from the Fly Lady materials. It’s amazing what a ticking timer can make one do, and it’s also amazing how much better a room can look in just 15 minutes of frenzied cleaning. This can also make cleaning more “fun.” When our toy room starts to get out of control, I use this trick to help the kids stay on task. They are often overwhelmed by huge messes. Without a timer, they would probably take all day to clean up. So, we set the timer for 30 minutes and then we all work together like crazy. We almost always beat the clock. I am very happy to dole out popsicles, or some other treat, as a reward for their hard work.


3) THE CALENDAR TRICK – Set aside one chunk of time each week to work on projects that have no immediate urgency. It’s the projects with no clear deadlines that constantly hang over our heads. Does anyone else out there feel guilty that their six-year-old still doesn’t have a baby album? For a time, I set aside two hours on Thursday afternoons for working on photo albums. I’m going to start doing that again this month. It might take a while to catch up on some projects, but at least I am moving forward and making progress when I schedule time for these tasks. If you’re like me, it’s the failure to complete these non-urgent tasks that make me feel like I “never get anything done.”


4) ORGANIZE LISTS – Wunderlist is a great app that I use to help keep my to-do lists organized. Some of my lists include: things I need to do on the computer, clothing items my children need, a list for house projects, errands I need to run (I try to run errands only once a week to save time), etc. I also use the GroceryIQ app for my grocery lists, which I find very helpful. Having said all this, it’s good to remember that God is the only one who gets His to-do list done every day and not to be slave to the to-do lists.



Our most important job is to nurture, love, and educate our children. But if you are hoping to get your house into better shape, I hope the above little tips will come in handy to help you reach your personal and family goals!


Amy is a second-generation homeschooler and a native Californian, transplanted to the Midwest. She loves reading good books, exploring new places, and going on adventures with her kids.



Used by permission. Originally published at https://blog.hslda.org/2017/01/11/tidying-up-for-the-new-year/

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