Do you ever feel that you are running around in circles trying to tidy, but it still remains a mess? The evening sweep is one routine that’ll help keep your house clean with minimal effort.
It’s 8 p.m. and all the kids are in bed.
You just want to fall down on the couch comatose.
Then eat ice cream, binge watch Netflix, and recover from your hyper-vigilant day.
But there’s something else that compounds the tired weary feeling, and that’s an untidy home. Not because you “should” have a spotless home with no clutter anywhere. No “should’s” allowed.
But because clutter and untidiness actually has a negative affect on your mind. The Princeton University Neuroscience Institute puts it this way:
Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.
Then they paraphrased that for us mortals by saying this: when your environment is cluttered, your mind becomes distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an organized environment.
It’s not rocket science people… it’s apparently neuroscience.
What’s an “evening sweep?”
An evening sweep is when you take 5-15 minutes going from room to room in your home tidying up, returning things to their place, and straightening.
I started this years ago and it’s one of my favorite and most effective ways to keep a relatively clutter free home.
I go through phases (late pregnancy, a massive de-cluttering phase, or a busy time with work) where I don’t do it every single night, and I feel those effects immediately.
1. Do it before you sit down
This is key for me. If I crash before I do the sweep, it often doesn’t get done. I use the rest time as incentive to push through and do it.
When I walk from the last child’s room or away from the kitchen sink, I’ll quickly walk around and start putting things back where they go, in the laundry, etc.
Then, as soon as I’m finished, I’ll relax. Sometimes with a good book, nice drink, or whatever else I feel like that evening. If you don’t do it before you enter relax mode, it probably won’t get done.
2. Do it quickly with purpose
The key here is to have the goal be the sweep and to do it quickly. If you are the type to get distracted by many things along the way, try your best to focus.
Otherwise, you’ll end up not having swept anything and have created a few new piles of things to captivate your attention.
In just 15 minutes a night (while you’re in your pajamas!) take your home (and heart and mind) from stressed out to organized.
3. Have the kids help before bed
I’ll often have the kids help me do a sweep of their things around the house before bed. At various points throughout the day we’ll tidy up so that the mess doesn’t get so big it takes an hour in the evening.
The goal is to do small sweeps – and have your kids do them as well – throughout the day so that one final evening sweep leaves you with a tidy home.
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4. Use a timer if need be
If you tend to get distracted or are worried it’ll be an endless tidy up leaving no time for relaxing, set your handy timer.
I’m going to write a post soon on all the ways you can use a timer, but suffice it to say, set it for 10 minutes and go hard and fast.
Then you know it’ll end. If your home is a big mess then you don’t have to try and climb Everest in one night. Baby steps will build better habits than big jumps you can’t maintain. This is the timer I use
Pssst… grab a 2 pack of timers here.
5. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow
There is honestly a lot to be said for waking up to a tidy home. Of course your little love bombs will blow it all up within an hour or two of waking, but that’s okay.
Waking up to a tidy home is such a nice way to reset and start your day right. You probably already have a good mom morning routine, and if you’ve done your evening sweep you won’t even need tidying in that morning routine.
I may be in the minority, but I let my kids make a monster mess if they want to because they’ll be the ones picking it up. So don’t be fooled into thinking the house is always clean and tidy.
However, I do make an effort to end the day that way and it really really really (and a few more really’s) helps my mental health.
Follow this checklist until your tidy routines become second nature.