Our family is working to build better habits, and I’m sharing them with you each week through the Family Boot Camp series. This week my focus is on cleaning up the upstairs each day, especially after quiet time.
Daily quiet time is an important part of our routine, but one aspect we’ve struggled with is cleaning up the upstairs afterward.
We’ve actually always required the girls to clean up after their “nap”, but we have not been very good at checking their rooms to be sure they are really clean, which means we’re often surprised by messes at bedtime. It also means I’ve been stuck doing a major clean upstairs every few weeks!
We’re really good at cleaning up downstairs each night before bed, so it was frustrating to not have those same routines in place upstairs, especially since I love the simplicity that comes from cleaning up every day: messes don’t get out of hand, we never have to devote several hours to cleaning up and we’re practicing the discipline of taking care of something right away rather than saving it from later.
Over the summer, we decided it was time to build the same routines around cleaning up upstairs. Here are our strategies for making it happen:
The “inspection” has two purposes. One, it allows us to show the girls things they’ve missed in their own cleanup to help them get better at it as time goes by. It also allows us to catch any mess before it gets out of hand. One day of crafts thrown back in the cabinet is a lot easier to fix than a week of the same! And it also gives us a chance to help them put away any hard-to-reach items.
Leave It Better Than It Was
In addition, we’re working on a new rule: Always leave the room better than it was when you entered. That means whoever gets the privilege of napping in their shared bedroom — which is the biggest room and also home to some special toys — also gets the responsibility of making sure it’s clean, even if some of the mess was leftover from morning play.
Less Is More
Perhaps the most effective part of my strategy has simply been scaling back the number of clothes, toys and craft supplies available to the girls. (Notice I didn’t say books. Children’s books are on my do-not-declutter list, and I am happily accumulating those!)
Because the girls have less clothes, they’re less likely to change multiple times a day (a lesson they learned the hard way after they ran out of clothes after just a couple days). Similarly, even if they got all of the toys out, the mess would be manageable because we have reduced the number of toys we havthat
But I think the biggest difference has come from my new craft rules. Because I was so tired of finding loose pieces of paper everywhere, I bought the girls each one notebook and one coloring book. They’ve been warned that loose pieces will be thrown away and now they each have a place to draw, paint and color without creating a growing pile of paper in the process!
Are there still days we don’t get the upstairs cleaned up? Yep, of course. I strive for good habits, not perfection! But this is one habit that has really paid off for our whole family, and it’s so refreshing to be able to go upstairs without feeling like it’s a disaster area!
Next up: Reducing food waste.
What is your biggest daily clean up challenge?