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How to Clean Less and Play More

Mom Blogger Shares Tips for Maximum Organization in Mininum Time
-- By Stephanie O'Dea, BabyFit Contributor

I like things clean.

But I don't really like cleaning. I notice that our family runs more smoothly when there is order and stability in our home. The kids are better behaved when their living space is organized and they know where their things belong.

I love being able to spontaneously invite friends over without fear of dirty dishes throughout the kitchen, wet towels on the bathroom floor, or unmade beds.

I like being able to shrug when the kids lick spilled crumbs from the floor (will the playing-cat-game ever get old?).

I like that we can plan outings on the weekend rather than spend precious free time cleaning up after a way-too-busy week.

I like that the laundry is manageable and not overwhelming.

But I still don't like cleaning.

Instead, I prefer to do a little bit every day (or have someone else do it!) so I never spend a day inside cleaning when I could be out and about having fun. I have chosen to Clean Less and Play More.

Our family has a small list of chores we do daily: rain or shine. The Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household (stay tuned for that article, BabyFit moms!) came about after a family brainstorming meeting. We realized that in order to keep our family (read: ME) happy, we needed to each take responsibility to help keep the house in running order.

Our house isn't spotless. It isn't pristine. But it is clean.

There are a few things to keep in mind when Cleaning Less and Playing More:
  • if it isn't dirty, don't clean it
  • if you do a little bit every day, it won't get overwhelming
  • if you get it out, put it away
  • you are in charge of your own stuff
  • help each other
  • children learn by example
  • don't expect your home to look like a magazine spread. This is real life
  • if you have too much stuff, it's time to PROM (Purge, Remove, Organize, Maintain)
  • don't bring stuff home unless you know where it's going to go
  • changing habits takes time
The beauty of the Clean Less, Play More methodology is how easy it is to get back on track when Real Life happens. If you take or have to take the day off, you can rest easy knowing that your home isn't going to get horribly out of hand because it's tended to regularly.

I promise that once you get a hold of the daily, weekly, monthly, and sporadic chores, you'll have much more time to do the things you want to do. You'll have the time to update the scrapbooks, do crafts, read fun-for-you books, and sleep.

Mmm. Sleep.

Stephanie O'Dea is a blogger and mother of two (with a third on the way). She is the author of the forthcoming book Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking, inspired by the blog A Year of Slow Cooking. She writes about home organization at

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    Member Comments About this Article
    "Coming from a "perfectionist" family this is often hard for me. But my mom shared with me that it took her to long to realize that enjoying her family had to come first over keeping the house clean. No, we are never really dirty but we it does get messy... but it's more time spent with the lo. Plus, studies show that children are more likely to develop allergies if brought up in a super clean home. So personally, I keep things real clean like the bathroom/ kitchen but the floors are left for 2 w..." -- DCULLER
    "This isn't cleaning less and playing more. It's just spreading out the cleaning so that you're doing it ALL THE TIME. I do it this way because I have to, but we still need to spend time on the weekend doing the really heavy cleaning." -- SNASH07
    "I didn't find this article all that helpful. My house is definitely always "picked up" that by no means is cleaning in my eyes." -- SALMONMOM2B
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