How to Tackle a Messy House

I had the best time this weekend!  I mean, THE. BEST.

There were so many favorite things involved: helping friends organize and decorate, finding treasures in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, lunching at my favorite local restaurant, Saturday night crafting, Sunday afternoon thrifting and taking K.K. to her first princess party.

I normally keep up with basic housekeeping on the weekends by using morning and evening routines.  It’s simple stuff that keeps my life from spiraling down into general untidiness.

But this weekend, I just didn’t wanna.  After waiting way too long to engage in social activity, I got out and didn’t want to go home.

On Sunday when nightfall came, all good things came to and end.   I found myself in the doldrums of Sunday evening under three days worth of dishes, laundry and crafting.

I was faced with a choice.

A.) Put children to sleep, lock into robo-cleaning mode and wake up to an orderly house.

B.) Go to bed at a reasonable hour and tackle it fresh in the morning.

C.) Wallow by ignoring the mess and logging on to Pinterest instead.  Let mayhem ruin my productivity for the week.

I chose “B” on account that there was no time for “C” and I am a morning person, not a night owl.   Staying up late is the enemy since I cannot necessarily count on those warm-n-cozy hours of sleep between 1 am and 5 am.

I was glad I went to bed early right in the hot mess.  I got up the next morning, despite my dread, and tackled the mess.  By noon it was history.

One of my most popular posts on From Faye is about the ways I motivate myself to do housework.  At the time I wrote it, it was just for fun.  Well, apparently it is much more serious to the Googlers and Pinners of the world!  (Mkay, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t also Googled “housework motivation”…because let’s face it, I have.)

Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do would be to write a post about my method for tackling a messy house on a Monday morning!  (Also known as “crisis cleaning.”)

How to Tackle A Messy House

The secret to this method?

Gain momentum by eliminating the decision-making that slows us down and gets us off-track.  In other words, less THINKING, more DOING!

I break the process into stages because as a mom of two littles, my life is lived in fifteen minute increments!  Having a method gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps keep me on track even with frequent detours.

Here’s a little bit of what I was greeted with on Monday morning when I woke up:

How To Tackle A Messy House On A Monday Morning 2


How to Tackle A Mess House On A Monday 1

Yes, that is a dirty diaper on my kitchen table.  And a play cookie on an iPhone.  I don’t know.  These things happen.

Here is how I handle these delicate situations.  Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself:  I AM BIGGER THAN THIS MESS.   Now channel your inner June Cleaver as you do the following:

The first step is to get myself together.

How to Tackle A Messy House on A monday 4

You’re useless to the world in pajamas.  Grab some basic hygiene, your supplements and some coffee.  Trust me.  It works better this way.  (If you want, you could dress to shoes).

You are now ready to face anything.

You will need two laundry baskets and a plastic bag.

How to Tackle A messy House on A Monday 5

When your house is in utter disarray, the worst thing you can do is start obsessing about the details.  You need instant, visual gratification so you can gain momentum.

After years of studious analysis, I have concluded that all messy houses are made up of three things:

1.) Dirty Laundry

2.) Trash

3.) Stuff that Does Not Belong (either needs to be donated or put away)

We address these first because it will make your house feel insta-clean.


Grab a couple of laundry baskets and a plastic bag.  One of the laundry baskets is for dirty laundry.  The second basket is for stray items that do not belong.  The plastic bag is for straight up trash.

DSC 0675

Without much thought, fly through each room of the house gathering dirty laundry, trash, and all stray items.


Stray item = basket.

If a particular item belongs in that room (like blocks on the nursery floor), you can leave it.  You will get to that later when you do basic tidying.

Not sure if it’s trash?  Basket.

Find a $100 bill?

Basket.  Basket.  Basket.

Your basket should be a fairly random pile of foolishness.  Receipts mixed in with a pile of headbands and play cookies will make your OCD start to twitch, but just ignore it.  I had two baskets of mayhem when I was done.

Here is what the inside of my “stray items” baskets looked like:

DSC 0683

DSC 0681

When I’m finished gathering, I put my laundry, trash and stray items in one spot where I can deal with them later.  For me, that spot is the kitchen table.

There it is.  My messy house.  Yours may be a bigger pile, or a smaller one.  Doesn’t matter.

How to Tackle A Messy House Final Step

Once the the bulk of the chaos is cleared away, I can actually think straight!  My quality of life just went up like 100 points.

I move on to the next step which is my basic tidying.  That includes tasks like making beds, picking up toys, and doing the dishes.

How to Tackle A Messy House On A Monday 3

When this step is done you’ll start to feel like life is worth living again.

You are ready for step 4.

Trash and Laundry

Take the trash out and start a load of laundry.  Ah.  Instant gratification.  Two big things are instantly cleared from your pile.  Plus, the washer is going, which makes everything feel better anyways.

Your final step is to put away the foolishness in the baskets.

Step 5

I save this for the end because it requires the most thought.  If you want to, you can leave this part for when the house is quiet and the kids are napping.

I complete the last step by sorting my baskets into piles according to where they belong.  Like this:

Final Sort

Then I deliver each pile to it’s home.  I have to credit my mom with being the queen of the oh-so-tedious “sort and deliver.”  She taught me her ways.

And there you are.  You have just tackled a messy house and showed it who is boss.

This particular day, I started at 9:30 and was finished by 12:30.  This was with snacks, lunch, naps,  a silly toddler and a little teether by my side.

So, how do YOU tackle a messy house?  Give me your secrets!  Pinterest is waiting!