Kids are crying, you can’t find your keys, your oldest child can’t find her jacket, your toddler just lost his sock, you have fifteen minutes to get to a destination that is twenty-five minutes away and you haven’t even left the house yet…sounds familiar, mama?
This could be a typical scenario for any parent as you are about to leave the house with your children, or when you search the house from top to bottom for that important document – it can be such a stressful and hectic situation!
Aside from benefits such as saving time and giving you a clear mind, cleanliness is something that is highly important in our lives as Muslims, as the Prophet Muhammad said:
“Cleanliness is half of faith.” [Sahih Muslim]
This applies to our homes too. It is a place where we spend a lot of time, eat, drink, sleep and worship Allah . Even though our many other tasks may make it difficult to keep the house spotless at all times, having organisation in your home will make it easier to maintain general cleanliness, keep you happy and increase your productivity.
As a mother of three children ranging in age from three to eight years old, I have learned a few tips over the years to help keep the house in order, assist me in staying organized and keep chaotic situations to a minimum.
Here are my tips:
1. Create a schedule
Create a cleaning and organizational schedule that’s divided into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to keep you on track of what needs to get done within a timely manner. Here’s an example:
Daily: wash dishes, sweep the floor, wipe the kitchen counters
Weekly: vacuum, mop the floor, clean the bathrooms
Monthly: clean out your food pantry and refrigerator
2. Select a productive time slot for daily chores
Once you have a schedule, the next step is to decide on a productive time to actually get things done!
Every household will have a different time period that is appropriate for doing certain tasks. For instance, some families will like to get the cleaning done right after fajr prayer before the kids get up; others may prefer to get their cleaning and organizing done when the kids are in bed during the evening.
Personally, I prefer to get the cleaning done first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, while my husband is still home to watch over the kids.
Choose the time that suits you best; once you start this routine, you will notice that the chores seem to lessen as you maintain the cleanliness.
3. Put seasonal items away
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find winter gear amidst summer clothes; for example, trying to find your other winter boot in a pile of shoes that consist of runners and sandals; or trying to find your sunglasses in a pile of gloves and hats, and well… you get the point!
So, try and keep the out-of-season items away in the basement or in storage; not only will this keep your wardrobes and cupboards organized, but it will also save you time in that you will have less clutter to find an item when in a hurry. I always find that this is always a good chance for me to have a mini spring clean at the same time.
4. Use boxes in your children’s bedroom
Boxes are a fantastic way to keep things sorted and tidy, as well as instilling good habits in children by encouraging them to put back their things in their allocated boxes. Boxes are great for storing toys, or sorting clothes within wardrobes and closets. Ikea and eBay have great, cheap selections for different sized boxes in a variety of colours.
I used to find myself rummaging through my children’s clothing only to find clothing that no longer fit them. I would then dig back into the clothing pile to try and find something that did still fit them, causing me to waste time and get frustrated. Not to mention, the idea of sorting out their clothing was stressful enough to think about. It was a daunting task I tried to avoid. That’s when I came up with the idea of keeping a box in my children’s closet. As soon as I would notice a clothing item no longer fitting, I would place it into the box. At the end of the month or so, I would have a box of clothes that were too small, ready to store or donate!
5. Invest in storage pieces
It is always a good idea to invest in storage pieces for your home, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Baskets, boxes and ottomans are fantastic for storing toys and little knick-knacks that you need on a day-to-day basis. Over the door pocket organizers are also good for storing small gadgets and accessories without taking up any floor space.
6. Store documents in folders
Folders will aid you in: a) keeping all of your papers together in one place, and b) keeping your sanity!
Designate one folder for receipts, another one for paid bills, another one for artwork your children have done, another one for warranties on appliances, and so forth!
You can then label the folders and put them into a filing cabinet or a book shelf, this way you know where to find what you are looking for when you need it!
It is also useful to have a small shredder to discard sensitive documents, or an alternative is a camouflage stamp, which covers addresses and names so your personal documents can be recycled safely.
7. Create a place for everything
Make a habit of routinely placing items in their own place: the shoes always go into the boot tray, jackets always get hanged up in the closet or behind the door, car keys always go into a tray by the phone, the unread mail always goes into a pile on the living room table, and so on. When you and your family are consistent about these things, they become habitual, making life easier in the long run.
8. Get the family involved
I know, I know, when the kids do the chores, it takes forever, and when your husband does the cleaning, he just doesn’t do it like you do… but it does get better – I know this from personal experience!
With the kids and husband helping out with the organization and household cleaning, not only are they learning where things go and where to find items within the house, but you foster a sense of ownership and togetherness. This is because it shows that the responsibility for a clean house does not solely belong to the wife or mother, but with the whole family.
Give your husband a gentle nudge by kindly reminding him of how our beloved Prophet Muhammad used to help with chores around the house, as it was narrated:
“Hisham said, “I asked ‘A’isha , ‘What did the Prophet do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.”” [Al-Albani]
Another important habit for the family is to recite “SubhanAllah” and “Alhamdulilah”, thirty-three times each, and “Allahu Akbar” thirty-four times, before sleeping, as the Prophet Muhammad gave this advice to his daughter Fatima and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib , when she asked for a maid to help her with her housework. He said reciting this was better for them than getting a maid. [Sahih al-Bukhari]
In this way, you are actively connecting cleanliness and tidiness with the deen.
9. Don’t stress over it
The truth is that I can give you all the tips in the world with regards to keeping your home organized and clean, but we can’t always expect our homes to be organized and neat, especially if you have children!
So, have realistic expectations and prioritize.
These tips are just to help you out on a daily basis so that cleaning and organizing won’t end up becoming overwhelming for you in the long run.
Now, it’s time for you to share with us your secrets: how do you maintain organisation within your home? Do you have a schedule? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!