I am NOT a domestic goddess.
The biggest challenge of staying home part time has been staying on top of domestic chores. Several sayings come to mind “cleaning a house with toddlers is like brushing your teeth with oreos”, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. I hate cleaning because I can’t ever stop appreciate the progress because it’s undone as soon as (and sometimes before) I am done. Check out Illustrated with Crappy Pictures for an amusing visual of my cleaning day.
I went from being OCD neat freak in college to not remembering what’s it’s like to have a completely clean house. Sometimes I may have a clean bathroom, or a clean living room, or a clean kitchen but never all of them at once and the clean part never stays that way for long (30 minutes if I am really lucky).
It became so depressing that I adopted a “why do I bother” attitude about cleaning, I’ll spot clean what gets really bad but other than that I’ve learned to have endless toy clutter and dust as roommates. And you know what? I feel better for doing so. I am not a Stephord Wife and never will be, we can’t afford a housekeeper. I don’t like ignoring my boys or putting them in front of the TV so I can scrub a tub, they don’t care that the house isn’t spotless, the total opposite, they are the reason why it isn’t spotless.
So while lowering your standards a little bit can be a good thing, having the house turn into a health hazard is not. So I am trying to avoid the panic/manic cleaning binge out of desperation because the landlord is coming over and try to institute a realistic cleaning schedule.
I will no longer aim to have the living room stay clean while I tackle the bathroom. With 3 males living in this house and only 1 very busy female trying to clean it, it is not realistic! I’ve created a schedule that will divvy up the tasks into bite size pieces that can be done 10-15 mins at a time so I don’t ignore the boys for long, I will still need PBS and Netflix’s help but it will be in reasonable amounts.
Will it work? I have no idea. Will I keep up with it? I don’t know but I am giving it a shot because I have been procrastinating too much. While I don’t have any hopes of getting this house in good shape, I want to build the foundation of a solid domestic routine so that when we move next month I will not let our new place get so out of hand as this one. It will be nice to not be embarrassed to have somebody come over for a playdate.
I love this new system because it takes the guilt out of not doing absolutely everything absolutely every day. If I notice on a Thursday that the toilet could use a wipe down, I can do it if it’s really bugging me, or I can just think “Oh, no big deal. Tomorrow’s toilet day”.
There’s something empowering about knowing when something’s going to happen, even if it’s not this very moment. (Clean freaks, this is for you, too. Follow this plan, and you can free up emotional space and find time in your day for other things.)
When I stick to my schedule, cleaning never feels like a chore, whereas it used to ALL the time. Now the house never has a chance to get out of control.
Listen to the girl who is easily overwhelmed, who is apt to look at a mountain of laundry plus a dirty floor and a pile of dirty dishes and a pile of toys and think “Geez, even if I start, it’s not going to make a dent. No one will even notice.”
So here is my sample schedule, it is still a work in progress but it will give you an idea to create your own. This is a maintenance schedule and it doesn’t include spring cleaning/deep cleaning items.
- Mama’s laundry
- tidy up bedroom, vacuum carpet
- collect trash and recyclables
- Toddler laundry
- sweep/mop dining area
- diaper laundry
- work- no cleaning
- Sweep/mop Living room floor
- tidy up boy’s playroom
- collect trash
- Bathroom sink/counter
- Bathroom floor
- diaper laundry
- Kitchen counters
- Kitchen Sink
- Sweep/mop Kitchen floor
- diaper laundry
Dishes are done as needed (usually daily).
Some people put their schedule on the refrigerator, others create a pretty poster that will match their kitchen decor. I use Evernote software for my schedule because I can add check boxes and I really need the emotional boost of seeing progress being made and I check a box plus if I start to seriously slack I can setup Evernote to remind me.
Now for the magic of pickup baskets. This brilliant idea is also simple: a basket in each area of the house (or just one big basket). In the evening, throw in everything that’s out of place, then go around the house and put those things away. This seriously takes 10 minutes. And the other brilliant thing about pickup baskets is, if someone is coming over and you have to quickly clean, toss everything in there, set it in its corner of the room, and voila! Your house is de-cluttered! I have designated a laundry basket for this task and will see how it works.
So I may never have a perfect house, but at least it will be semi decent and still full of love.