Clutter Patrol Routine

Normally I’ve been trying to save my tool kit feature posts for Saturday but today I actually been doing some cleaning around the home! @_@ Like holy cow, how did that happen? Well let me tell you around 2am this morning I got really, really, REALLY annoyed. I was tired, it was humid, it was the middle of the night and Little Bear was just pinging off the ceiling keeping my other sons awake and nobody seemed to care that the Quiet Time Rule was in effect. And for whatever reason, it was at this point the mess of the living room just really hit me.

Usually I find the mess oppressive, depressing, and generally overwhelming. But in the wee hours of this morning it just struck me raw in a silent angry way. And I told them that when we got up later in the day we would be cleaning it. I got the typical “Okay” from them. I know they fully expected to blow me off and not get it done. This irritated me more.

So no, the boys aren’t happy. I got the hallway cleared. The bathroom somewhat done and the kitchen partly presentable. A dent has been made in the disaster we call a living room. I know the older boys were a little miffed that we cleaned while Little Bear was sleeping but I know we would have made less progress with him awake AND we would have made none today if we had waited for him to wake up. There is nothing more annoying than getting a toy box filled only to have him dump it as soon as you turn around just because he doesn’t want to clean. But that’s not the point of this post.

Your home is in crisis and you have mustered the energy to clean it. Either you have a team (your children) to help you or you are flying this solo it doesn’t matter, it’s still an overwhelming task. How can you break this down into smaller, more manageable tasks? More often than not the true source of the chaos is in the clutter so we’ll focus on that. Once that’s addressed you can take care of the other cleaning like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc. but as long as the clutter is in the way you can’t get any of that done. Hence my Clutter Patrol Routine. Ideally you do this everyday to keep the clutter at bay, but right now I fail in the cleaning department. Right now when it comes to cleaning I’m in the crisis control world. Maybe someday I’ll get my act together again and have my home fairly clean all the time like I used to before Little Bear was born. Not sure why I have changed so much, but I have but this was what I used to do every day and it really helps a lot. Feel free to make a visual chart of this if you’d like to teach your kiddos how to follow along and help you out with this.

  1. Grab a Shopping Bag or Small Trash Bag
  2. Fill Bag with Trash around Home for 15 Minutes
  3. Put Filled Bag in Trash Can
  4. Grab a Laundry Basket
  5. Fill Basket with Dirty Laundry around Home for 15 Minutes
  6. Put Filled Basket in Laundry Space
  7. Grab an Empty Buss Tub
  8. Fill Buss Tub with Dirty Dishes around Home for 15 Minutes
  9. Rinse and Stack Dishes by Kitchen Sink
  10. Grab a Toy Box
  11. Fill Toy Box with Toys around Home for 15 Minutes
  12. Put Filled Toy Box in Toy Space
  13. Put away Books, Magazines, Papers, Mail, Games, CDs, DVDs, and Electronics around Room for 15 Minutes
  14. Repeat Cycle until all Clutter is Gone in Home

If your home is small enough you can do the entire home in one shot, otherwise you might want to stick to one room at a time. Feel free to edit the list to match the needs of your home. Obviously if you don’t have children you won’t be picking up toys!

I use the timer and rotation method so that you don’t get stuck on any one thing. Yes I know the kiddos are going to want to shirk the work, but they’re going to find that it comes around again and that they’re going to be right back at whatever it was they blew off. It’s not going to be “oh times up I’m done” kind of thing.

You can also break it down further by saying “Pick up all the wrappers and put them in the trash.” Or “Pick up all the glasses and stack them by the sink.” And “Put all the trucks in the toy box.” It gives your children something concrete to focus on and work with that isn’t as overwhelming as “pick up the toys” when they have a mountain or carpet of toys to pick up.

You may even find that a similar tactic is helpful to you. “I’m going to pick up all the socks I can find” or “I’ll pick up just the books first” may feel less intimidating than “I really need to clean this mess!”

Edit 12/19/2016: I now have a template visual chart created with Open Office that you can download here if you’d like for you to modify and use as you’d like. It should look like this:


3 thoughts on “Clutter Patrol Routine

  1. Love this. My ADD brain was reproduced in a beautiful baby boy – fast forward to a scattered teen with enormous potential (read frustrating). The timer trick is a great one and worked when he was younger. But I still invoke it as needed 🙂 You are a great writer – keep it up!

  2. Pingback: Afternoon Routine Visual Chart | The Art of Chaos

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