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What is it about January that gets us all thinking about fresh starts and new beginnings? Maybe it’s the brand new planner with all its possibilities, or perhaps it’s how a newly-cleaned house feels a little empty–in a good way– after all of the holiday hubbub. Whatever gives you that extra nudge of new year’s motivation, grab it and run! Take advantage of the impetus to do something that can have a positive impact on your family for the coming year: resolve to create a healthier home in 2021 (and no, we’re not just talking about social distancing and mask-wearing).
Start by forming these simple, yet effective daily habits. If you’re overwhelmed by a list of ten, start by implementing a few at a time. You may be surprised by what a big return you’ll receive on a relatively small investment of time.
When you consider where your shoes have been, it doesn’t take long to realize that you may not want to spread that dirt and detritus throughout your home. However, neither do you want a large pile of shoes cluttering up the entryway and creating a trip hazard. Purchase decorative baskets or bins, or create built-in cubbies as a collection point for shoes. The big payoff comes when it’s time to load up the kids for school and you don’t have to spend twenty minutes searching the house for lost shoes!
As simple as this sounds, this one habit can do much to mitigate frustration. When working in the kitchen, for instance, put away spices and other ingredients as they are used, rather than leaving them to clutter up the counter and later become mixed up in dinner’s dirty dishes. When possible, use the “touch once” rule, meaning that if you pick something up you take it to its intended destination, rather than simply moving it from one place to another.
The relatively small amount of discipline required to make your bed each morning can set the tone for the entire day, as well as create a calming mood when it’s time for bed again.
Waking up to orderly surroundings helps to center your day. You’ll be able to find your purse, your keys, your shoes (remember–they’re by the door) and you won’t be inadvertently stepping on and cursing at wayward Legos.
We all have that one place in the house we tend to avoid–the hall closet that’s so full of seasonal dishes, excess linens, and/or Costco overflow that you fear something will fall on your head the next time you open the door, or maybe it’s the kitchen junk drawer with its diverse assortment of refrigerator magnets, old Sharpies, and an unidentifiable sticky substance. Take the plunge! Grab a trash bag and a few cleaning supplies and sort through whichever mess you’ve been avoiding. You’ll love the feeling of accomplishment, with the added bonus of freeing up more space.
And speaking of unidentifiable sticky substances and unpleasant smells, why not tackle the refrigerator? The best time to embark on this project is shortly before you plan to grocery shop and right before trash day, as not only will you realize how many out-of-date condiments need to be replaced, you may also be surprised by how much garbage is lurking in your refrigerator. It’s much easier to wipe out the refrigerator when its contents are emptied–and think how pleasant it will be to have so much clean space to put away your fresh groceries.
A nightstand tends to be another magnet for disorder. You often drop keys, jewelry, books, papers, or other miscellaneous rubble from the home there as a holding place. Before you know it, however, your belongings are covered in used tissues, tangled in phone charging cords, and coated in a thick layer of dust. You can’t find your alarm clock or your glasses, and forget about the TV remote! Taking a few minutes each morning or evening to clear the chaos helps to visually and psychologically calm the space,
Another simple yet often overlooked task, sweeping bare floors keeps dirt and grit from grinding and wearing on the surface of the floor. It also helps corral such items as the aforementioned rogue Legos.
Few things make a house more lackluster than a layer of dust coating the furniture and woodwork. Many types of microfiber cloths serve well for dusting, as do disposable types of pre-treated dusters. On surfaces that have particularly thick build-up, vacuuming prior to dusting with a cloth might work best to remove all of the dust.
Keep a microfiber cloth under the sink to wipe up drips and splashes on counters and mirrors between regular cleanings. Do your best to keep the counter clear of hair appliances, makeup, or other items that could go in drawers or in cabinets. When you don’t have time to do a full clean of the bathroom, simply changing the towels can lend a fresh feel to the space.