Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Frugal Ima's Home Maintenance Commandments

Some of you seem to have finished reading my last post on home maintenance scheduling convinced that I am some type of super-energetic, Donna Reed-type Ima.  I am not.  We maintain our home with these Home Maintenance Commandments in mind to keep the cleaning easy and the process and the cleaners a little more sane. I'm going to take a moment to list them here, so that you can nod your head in agreement and find a bit of calm in your cleaning schedule.

  • Just Get it Done - Don't stew over a dirty job that needs to be done, or it will just get dirtier. 
Simple Mom says this beautifully, and every bit is true.  Often, a job quickly done now is a job that doesn't have to be laboriously scraped or scrubbed at later.  This goes for most spills (think kitchen floors, high chairs, toilets) and pickup jobs (snag that piece of laundry or trash on your way out of the room, or toss a toy in a bin as you pass by.)
  • Simplify - Make your cleaning process simple, quick, and easy.
Just 5 cleaners - Toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, bleach, and disinfecting wipes - clean everything in our home each week.  Glass cleaner or a bit of bleach in water can be used in place of all-purpose cleaner in a pinch.  Some home managers even clean their toilets and sinks with baking soda.     This means almost no surface goes without cleaning because of a lack of cleaning product. 

Keep a set of cleaning supplies in EVERY ROOM that needs to be cleaned.  All you need to do is reach under the sink or on top of a cabinet, grab the supplies, spray or douse the surfaces, and wipe or brush them clean.  This eliminates the excuse of putting the cleaning off because you would have to schlep supplies.  My bathrooms take no more than 10 minutes to clean because we obey this commandment.  Keep a tub of disinfecting wipes next to each toilet and eliminate your spouse or child's excuse for not cleaning up after themselves and leaving a mess.  Simple cleaning = cleaning that gets done. 

  • Go Easy on Yourself
If you clean one thing in your house, it is better than cleaning nothing.  If you didn't scrub one toilet or swipe one bathroom floor, it will get done next week.  That's the beauty of creating a home maintenance schedule!

One home manager I spoke to told me that her mantra of late was, "Better Than Nothing."  This has really helped me relax a little bit.  See this lotion container in my bathroom sink?  You can see that it's a little schmutzy.
 This photo was snapped moments after I cleaned my bathroom for the week.  The lotion has a little schmutz on it, but I know the sink and mirror and toilet are clean.  So what if there is a little schmutz on the lotion?  No one will die.

  • Hakol Haveil ("Everything is Futile")
This famous line from Ecclesiastes reminds us of the saddest truth of home management: If you have consciously decided to let gremlins invade your home for the next 18 years are raising small children, your house is destined to get cluttered and messy again. Let me say it again - Your children will destroy any and all cleaning you've just done.  Don't freak out when they do. It will get cleaned again next week, or the next time you Just Get it Done.  This photo was snapped this very morning.  You can see that the couch cushions have been strewn all over the living room, and that Rami is stark naked, bouncing up and down on the couch frame.  I didn't freak out because I knew that, before bedtime that evening, the living room would be picked up, (and that in the next few minutes, Rami would be getting dressed.)

About five seconds after I took that photo, Rami pishied on the carpet.  I then made the epic mistake of saying, "At least he didn't do #2 on the carpet," WITHOUT saying "kein ayin hara," shortly after which Rami did #2 on the carpet.  Because I had disinfecting wipes and cleaning rags closeby, it was quickly taken care of according to the Just Get it Done commandment and we went about our day.

In another fun incident, the boys dumped every single one of their clothes drawers on their bedroom floor.  I didn't freak out because the next day was laundry day and I decided to sort the clothing back into its place (with the forced help of some miserable boychiks) then.

I hope these Home Maintenance Commandments help you maintain a relatively clean house and relatively sane persona.  I am constantly having to remind myself of them, especially, the "Go Easy on Yourself" principle, but when I abide by them I always have a better week.  For example, here is a shot of my dining table and kitchen island RIGHT NOW:

You can see that there are misplaced cleaning supplies, sippy cups in need of washing, and pantry supplies to put away among other things.  But I'm sitting here typing a blog entry because it's what keeps me sane, and also because I know that 1. my house is baseline clean and 2. it's Better Than Nothing.

What are the Home Maintenance Commandments that help you maintain a more sane household?  I'd love to have some more to add to my arsenal!


  1. I keep the number of clothes down to a minimum. Lets say I only keep 7 t-shirts, 5 pairs of shorts, 7 pairs of pants, 10 socks and undies, and one jacket per (boy)child. I can never get so far behind in the laundry that it would be easier to buy new clothes, and the kids don't need a second bedroom to keep all their clothes.

  2. Hi Becky, tahnks for your comment! I do that....sort of. I set out their outfits an entire week ahead of time, and there are only a couple extra pairs of pants, etc. in their drawers when I do that. Definitely keeps things simpler!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Those are some home maintenance commandments to live by and not regret it! Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

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