Thursday, November 6, 2008

Housework - Part One

Confession: The first time I read through Simplify Your Life I was working as a single mom and ... had a cleaning lady. Since then I've gotten remarried, had another son, made the decision to stay home for both of my boys (I was at home for my oldest before he was in school) and returned to cleaning my home on my own. So I've never worked out a proper routine. Before life with a cleaning lady my routine was no routine -- clean when I looked around and said "Damn, this place is a pit!" Blush, it's true. Kristi posted her daily cleaning routine recently and it got me to thinking about my short comings in this area. What I have been doing over the past year is blitzing the whole house in one day while both of the boys (9 & 4) are in school. The problem there is that a) Things come up, and then lo and behold, the house doesn't get clean. b) To do a really good job I can't get it all done in one day. c) Our house isn't that big - dining room, living room, kitchen, laundry room, finished basement, 2 1/2 baths, 4 bedrooms - if I attack the whole house thoroughly, plus deal with children and dinner, I'm ready to collapse by 8 pm ... and I'm physically fit!! Here is what I'm working on:

  1. Get up before your children (if you have them, and if at all possible). Drink your coffee or tea, get yourself together, get ready for your day, get your act together. This goes at the top of all lists -- it's a huge help in all things. My children get up at 7am (no one is allowed out of their rooms sooner ... except for bathroom, etc., if they can't get back to sleep, they can read a book.) and I get up at 5:30am. I've been working on creating this habit and now I get up at that time automatically. It makes for a much calmer, happier morning routine for everyone. ... I digress ...
  2. Make a list of all of the housework that you expect to be done.
  3. Create a daily cleaning ritual. Top things that you always do EVERY DAY. Currently I'm trying Kristi's routine. Link it HERE.
  4. Pick one day during the week to tackle the big cleaning projects.
  5. Select certain cleaning projects to do on different days throughout the week.
  6. Select certain cleaning projects to do at the beginning of the month that need to be done once a month.
  7. Stream line your house. Make it CLEANING FRIENDLY. Position things so it's easy to get your vacuum in (like how your coffee table is positioned - how shelves are positioned). Get rid of unnecessary clutter. Decorating is cute and all, but don't go overboard with nick-knacks that collect dust and make cleaning take an eternity. (sorry nick-knack lovers) Down size your piles -- like books that I keep under my coffee table ... the more that are there, the longer it takes to clean. Keep it simple.
  8. Give your children jobs! They can help ... even the small ones ... and it's important to teach them early to create good habits. (Some come out naturally neat, some come out naturally messy. I have one boy that's like Pigpen from the Peanuts, and one that's like my Portuguese Mother-in-Law -- it's genetics, the boy is just neat!)

Here is my list (a work in progress) of housework that needs to be done on a weekly basis. I'm still working out how I will break this down throughout the week (more on that later ... after I work it out :) ). It's a good idea to assign days to do certain things. I know that sounds really psycho OCD, but the idea here is to make it a habit, and make sure it actually happens. In this way, schedules help. You plan ahead and create a realistic schedule that will work for you ... and therefore the housework will actually get done:

  1. Wake up before your kids. (did I mention that already?)
  2. Vacuum thoroughly.
  3. Clean bathrooms thoroughly. (When I say thoroughly, I mean -- we are not talking spot clean, I'm talking scrubbing every inch of the place with elbow grease -- and rags of course -- so that Emily Post could walk in a feel proud.)
  4. Wash Floors and Walls of high traffic areas thoroughly on your hands and knees while scrubbing hard.
  5. Dust all of the furniture.
  6. Change all of the beds. I have my 9 year old strip the beds and plunk the sheets in the laundry room. Start a load of laundry and (I do dry these in the dryer unless I can dry them outside in the fresh air) they will be dry and ready to go by the time you're 1/2 way through your cleaning projects.
  7. Wash windows with hand prints and dog nose prints on them. (grrrrrrrr)
  8. Empty waste baskets (this should be done when you're done with a bag of kitchen trash which for us is once a week b/c we recycle and compost -- before you bundle it up go around and gather up trash from waste baskets around the house.
  9. Tidy up the FRIDGE.
  10. Iron. (This is an area I struggle with.)
  11. Tackle a project on your project list. This is a Simplify Your Life idea that is fabulous. I'll talk more about projects later -- but for starters tackle something relatively small that's driving you bananas, and get it done!

Did I miss anything?
I will post more on my daily cleaning routine later ... this is getting long!
The whole idea is for this plan to become routine and manageable. What works for you? Do you have any advice for me as I go to make my cleaning schedule?


The Domestic Goddess said...

Hey! Like the new banner. I've given you an award. Come by my blog to pick is up.

Amy said...

Ok I would say I do things very similarly except for the wake up at 5:30 part! If assigning chores for certain days means you're OCD than I am definitely that and way beyond! I should work more on the special projects...then my closets and such would be much cleaner!