Anyone that has been to my house in the last couple of years will know that it is, ahem, a little messy. Just recently though, I’ve been making a concerted effort to tidy it up! We’ve been clearing out, throwing out and organising in every room and I think we’re beginning to make some headway. S even indulged in a spot of dusting the other day!

My problem is that once the house is tidy, I need to find ways to keep it tidy. It needs to be easy to keep tidy, or we’ll be living in a tip within a week! I’m self employed and I work a lot of hours – and I just plain don’t enjoy housework. So I really can’t be doing with lots of maintenance. I’m all about the low maintenance approach to housework.

Here are five ways to avoid a messy home:

  1. Throw things out – and be ruthless and quick about it. I can’t do this with S’s things, because I feel like The Worst Mum In The World if I throw something out without her knowing, and when she’s there everything is her favourite. But with my own things, I try to be as ruthless as possible. I try to ask myself, do I really love this? With items of clothing: am I ever likely to wear this again? Once I’ve decided I no longer want something, I put it into a bag and either give it to my sister or take it to the charity shop as soon as I can – so that I don’t have piles of junk everywhere, and so that I can’t change my mind! It also helps to get rid of old tech items collecting dust in your home by recycling iPads, smartphones, laptops and other gadgets.
  2. Make use of space under beds. S has as many plastic storage boxes under her bed as will fit. These are great for storing bedding, toys and anything else that doesn’t need to be used every day (S has lots of toys so we rotate them and store lots under her bed). I love the idea of something like a king size ottoman divan bed with storage too as this sort of thing is great for storing all of the sheets and duvet covers, but also spare blankets and duvets.
  3. Baskets, baskets and more baskets! On each bookcase at least one shelf has baskets on it which can be used to store things tidily away. Next to the front and back doors we have a basket where we put our shoes when we come in, so that they’re not left loose in the hall or on the kitchen floor to be tripped over. I know there’s no point in trying to make S keep her toys only in her bedroom, so there is a basket in the living room and another in the dining room, and she knows that any toys left in those rooms must be kept in the baskets.
  4. Everything has a home. This one sounds silly, but moving into a new home means that you need to find a home for everything again and until everyone in the house knows where things live, they will just be left wherever. Establishing where things live, and being strict with yourself (and everyone else) about making sure they go back there is a good way of forming habits and keeping the house tidy.
  5. Deal with paperwork as it comes in. One of the main sources of clutter and mess in our house is the endless piles of paper. I have a child who will regularly create twenty pictures for me in a day, and on top of this I have a terrible habit of buying notebooks. And of opening the post and just putting it down on the table. Before we know it, there are piles of paper in every corner. Now I have put a basket next to my desk where I put my notebooks and paperwork that needs to be dealt with. When S draws me a picture it goes on the fridge, and she removes another one – which then goes into a “special folder” in my bedroom. One day I will break it to her that I take photos of her pictures, and often recycle the actual pieces of paper. Shh!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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