Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Better Than Nothing

Holy crap, I just wrote a really long post about housecleaning. This may bore you, it kind of bores me. But I really like to know how other people keep house, so if you are like me, read on and then we'll talk.

As a stay at home mom, my other job is to take care of our house and all of the needs of our family. Just like many of you I have to keep up with the laundry, clean the bathrooms, cook most of our meals, do the shopping, the vacuuming, dusting, whatever. Basically, second to keeping my children safe and healthy, I have to keep us from living in squalor. And I have always struggled with keeping the level of not-squalor acceptable, livable, and preferably company-appropriate.

Things working against me:
  • I am lazy. I would much rather read through the hundreds of blog entries in my reader rather than clean something. I would rather lay down and drool in front of a bad reality show from VH1.
  • I have two small children who quickly "un-do" anything I have done, faster than I can "re-do." While I clean one room, I often have to sacrifice another room so that their mess will be contained.
  • Keeping things clean is hard. I do not have the instinct to not mess up a house. When I put splenda in my coffee, I most times will leave the empty packet on the counter instead of turning around, walking four steps, opening the pantry door and putting it in the trash. I leave junk mail on the counter instead of straight in the trash. I throw my clothes on the bathroom floor because it's such a long walk to the closet and I just don't feel like it.

I have found that the state of my house is directly related to the state of my mood. It's all very chicken-and-egg: When my house is clean, I am happy, but also when I am happy I am more likely to clean. When I am grumpy and overwhelmed and moody, I don't feel like doing anything productive and so I'd rather just mope about having a messy house.

I am always interested in how other people "keep house" because I am still looking for the magical formula that will work for me. And basically there are two different kinds of people: those who are just born neat, who would instinctively put the empty splenda packet in the trash and for whom things being in order is just part of who they are. And then there are people like me who are fighting themselves everyday not to just throw stuff in a pile to deal with later, then cursing themselves "later" when they have mountains of junk and splenda packets to deal with.

So, here is my new plan:

Step 1
Clean your house for company.
Or even better, have your husband clean for company because he is so much better at it and he just can't take it anymore. This step isn't really necessary, but it starts out by making things much more manageable.

Step 2
Assign each room of the house a day of the week.
For me, all rooms or groups of rooms (like the kids rooms and bathroom) are assigned Monday through Thursday with a small group of things on Friday since I hardly ever feel like doing much on Fridays. Monday-kitchen; Tuesday-master bedroom and bathroom; Wednesday-living room, dining room, family room, office; Thursday-kids rooms and bathroom; Friday-laundry room, powder room, foyer and steps.

Step 3
Make a list of all the chores or things that should be done weekly in each room or zone.
For example, I want my toilets cleaned every week and the floors vacuumed. I don't need (or want) to dust my baseboards every week, so that doesn't go on the list. I also don't list the "everyday" chores like "empty the dishwasher" because it has to be done for us to move forward in the day. Also, laundry is an everyday chore that I just always do.

Step 4
On that particular day if the week, DO SOMETHING FROM THE LIST.
For example, yesterday was Monday, my kitchen cleaning day. I cleaned the microwave and coffee maker and wiped the counters and the faces of fingerprinted appliances. Then my children wet-Swiffered the floor while I vacuumed the dining room (I was working ahead cause I felt like it). There are still several things I didn't check off the list like cleaning the stove. I hate that chore because no matter how hard I try it always looks dirty so I'd rather not bother.

And you know what? It is better than nothing. This is my new mantra for housecleaning. It is better than getting frustrated and discouraged and sitting on my butt reading blogs of people who I'm convinced have immaculately clean houses.

Next Monday I will tackle the kitchen again, I might skip cleaning the microwave if it still looks clean from this week, and maybe I'll try for the stove. Either way, each week is a brand new start. I try and do something off the list.

And it's better than nothing.


AM said...

When I read that you were doing a post on cleaning, it was if I had won the lottery! I love reading about cleaning. Pregnancy freak thing. :)

I like your idea. A few months ago, I developed a chart to hang on my fridge with each day of the week and what chores I would do on that day. Then there was also a side list of daily chores, and monthly chores.

although Emma can sometimes be helpful and put away her toys, she often likes to undo my work, which drives me bonkers. When I stay at home agian, I think I'll just have to learn to let go and only clean up the living room once a day instead of contantly trying to go behind her and tidy up. Less toys in the living room would help. Will try that.

With 3 dogs, I know that my house is never CLEAN. Meaning, I can vacuum every day, but tufts of Bella hair or pug hair will still fall and collect in places. If I mopped every day, that would help trememdously, but I dont care for mopping.

I LOVE clorox wipes. I keep a container in the bathroom and EVERYDAY I take at least one wipe and wipe down the counter, toilet area. That way, if company every suddenly comes over and needs to use the bathroom, at least it looks clean. I also make sure the dishes are done every night and wipe down the countertops everynight. Sometimes just spray and wipe with a paper towel, but sometimes really cleaning with a sponse and dishsoap and getting the stove top too.

As for the clothes on your bathroom floor, could you just resign yourself to needing a hamper in there? So at least they are in a containment device?

AM said...

lol- apparently I didnt need to mention I am a pregnancy cleaning freak. My mile long comment took care of that...

the adventurer said...

what works for me (note: I am not perfect). I make lists, but I also have a husband that takes care of misc. cleaning or will distract Luke for me to do it. Dan takes care of cleaning toilets (until he decides to sit down, then I will), vaccuming, and some nights cleaning up the kitchen. I find I have more energy in the morning if I have a clean kitchen. Also, I constantly de-clutter since if I have 5 things out of place, my house looks like a wreck.

And lastly, I'm not hard on myself. My first job is being a wife, second mom, and third all the rest. This is a busy season in life and at the end of the day I'd rather say I played blocks and moo-ed like a cow instead of being stressed about the house. :)

Anyway, I like your list, I have one similar and always keep things in check! I think you are normal ... and that it's time to get outside for walks/playtime and then it won't be so bad!!! Thank God it's MARCH!!

Ijustworkhere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swistle said...

My strategy is:

1) Do what is driving me CRAZY.

2) Don't do anything else.

3) Have five children so no one can complain.

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh I like talking about this too. I was actually thinking about posting sometime similar too, but you beat me to it and that's fine.

Have you looked at FlyLady's website? She has zones and daily tasks set up similar to the way you do it. I used her "system" (in my own way) for a while, and it really worked well. Then I got lazy again. Now I mostly just do what I have to.

I try to keep clean the things that I know will drive me nuts. Keeping the kitchen clear of dishes and the sinks clean is one thing. Another is keeping the bathroom tidy. After that I just try to keep the main surfaces, like end tables, dining table, etc, cleared of clutter. The rest I do when necessary (dusting, vacuuming, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Bunny, I thoroughly enjoyed your post about cleaning. :) I am one of those "people born neat". I do instinctively throw my splenda packet away. However, after Eli (#2) was born, the ongoing keeping my house gleaming (or feeling the need to) completely vanished. Every room except for the kitchen and the front room (the ones that visitors see) is a total disaster. And I'm learning to be okay with that.

I'm lazy too. I was sooooooo glad to read I'm not the only one. No, when kids finally go down for naps, I hit the blogs too, not clean. Whatever! Cleaning? Yeah, right, just what I wanted to do with my 1 hour of free time.

I better run. America's Next Top Model is on vH1 today. :) ha ha.

Stacy said...

I have two different clean status': One is the clean, clean state where all the floors have been vacuumed and mopped and everything is dusted. That rarely happens. The other status is just picked up, where everything is fairly neat and there's only a few piles sitting around. That is usually the status quo. One thing that helps with the kids' toys is having places to stash them. In our downstairs I have two woodedn trunks with cushion on them in front of the windows that are the toy boxes. They are great to throw everything in when we need to pick up stuff quickly.

Christina said...

First off, let me dispell one myth - THIS blogger doesn't have an immaculately clean house. ;o)

Your list of things that work against you is SO me. I am not born neat, and yet the mess and clutter drive me nuts. My husband is....well, a slob, LOL. People tell me I'm lucky to have a husband that doens't care if the house is a mess, but I wish he did and would help. No matter how bad I feel the house is, he says it looks fine to him.

Your new strategy sounds very similar to what I'm tyring. But instead of assigning a room to each day, I'm assigning a task - one day vacuum the entire house, another day mop, another day bathrooms, etc. We'll see how it goes.

Good luck - to both us us!

Shalet said...

I've tried flylady; she has great ideas but I just never seem to keep up. My housecleaning sounds very typical to yours. Here is the cleaning plan I came up with. Somedays it works better than others.

kim said...

Are you me? Seriously.. This is a post I totally could have written. I'm right there with you on the cleaning front.. Here's what I've done"
I clean (pick up, dust, vaccuum) an area a day Mon-Fri. Mon is kids rooms and bathroom, Tues is master bed, Wed is living room, Thurs is kitchen, Fri is family room.
What really keeps me on track is iCal - an apple application. I set alarms and they pop up on the computer (which is in the living room and is always on) and say,"clean the ____ today" I set it to remind me within 2 hours until the job is done.
The first week was the longest, but I've found that everything seems to be more upkept during the week and each week there is less work to be done (mostly)
And, if there's a day that I'm feeling particularly lazy, tired, or sick, I skip it and leave it for next week.... so far it's working for me.