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How I Keep My House Tidy

I keep my house looking tidy most of the time. Maybe not to the standards of a Better Homes And Gardens magazine cover, maybe not a Martha Stewart gold-star level, but relative to other people’s houses, I do a decent job.

Except for B’s room. You can’t count that. You just can’t.

But the rest of the house stays in pretty good shape. How do I do it? First, I’m not afraid to nitpick and nag at husband and son. I know, I know, women aren’t supposed to do that, but that’s why their houses are a mess. Their husbands won’t pick up after themselves, and the women get mad and won’t do it, either. Wives, we’re supposed to TRAIN our men. You know what the Bible says: “Train up your husband in picking up his socks and taking his shoes off at the door, and when you get old, you will not break a hip cleaning up after him.” Or something like that.

I make an exception for tidiness nitpicking when it comes to children’s personal space, AKA the bedrooms. Unless they’re trying to breed cockroaches, in which case, okay, time to tell the kid that his next meal will come only after he has thoroughly vacuumed the floor.

So. First trick: train the people you live with to be tidy. Second trick: do regular mini-declutters.

I did one recently. I had a drawer that was stuffed full of used/reusable bags, plus had a couple of empty quart jars in it. My main issue with the drawer was with the jars (they didn’t belong there), but the bags had gotten out of hand.

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I also had over a half dozen empty quart jars on the pantry bookcase (yes, we use a bookcase for the pantry) that used to have dehydrated tomatoes in them. I had decided a couple of months ago that I was going to move all of the empty quart jars (some canning, most old honey jars) into the Tuff Shed until I actually needed them.

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Empty jars doing nothing at the back of top shelf.

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Empty jars at back of bottom shelf, collecting dust.

So, I took the jars out of the drawer. Then, I rearranged the bags there and decided that I would not save very many more of the frozen strawberry bags unless I found a use for them in the near future.

Now I had a little more space in the drawer, so I added the ice cube tray to it. Its mate had already been living in there for some time, and it didn’t help with the aesthetics of the pantry bookcase, which is where I had previously kept it.

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The extra quart jars were on the top and bottom shelves of the bookcase. After removing them from the bottom shelf, I was able to rearrange things in a tidier manner (did I mention I like to be tidy?) and even have some empty space.

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See the empty space?

After removing a couple jars from the top shelf, I had room to put the box of crackers (gluten-free and non-GMO!) that B snacks from at the front of the shelf where he could reach it. I was also able to add the jar of sesame seed paste to the front row, instead of hiding it behind the jar of almond butter, making it easier to reach and reducing the risk of knocking the almond butter off the shelf in the process of reaching for it.

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Bottom shelf – tidier, and the uglier things hidden or gone.

It took me probably ten minutes to accomplish this mini-declutter. About a week ago, I decluttered and rearranged a bookshelf in the living room. In another month or two, I will discover another area that is getting a bit out of hand and tidy it up.

My point: once you do a big declutter, it’s easy to keep your house decluttered if you do regular mini-declutters every few weeks. And mini-declutters are a lot easier than major ones – take it from someone who spent two years eliminating half of her household goods before moving to another state/lifestyle!

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