I'm not going to pretend that I have a streamlined, simplified, or organized life. But in pursuit of the holy grail of Having It All Together (ha!) I have run across some things that work for me as a household manager. Of course, as my children grow, things will change and need to be adjusted, but a couple of things have helped me feel like my head is hanging on by a thread (a little Harry Potter shoutout for you there) as opposed to falling off completely. One of those things is keeping to a cleaning schedule - or more accurately, a household maintenance schedule. Each day has its own tasks to be completed on that day of the week. (Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is bathroom cleaning day, etc.) I actually started doing this almost a year ago, when I was working full time. It worked just as well for me then, albeit a bit differently, as it does now that I'm only working part time. This is also a really good idea if you are a student - you are juggling so many things between classes, jobs, and extracurriculars that I imagine a scuzzy apartment is easy to find yourself in.
A household mainteance schedule is born from the same concept as menu planning, and offers many of the same benefits:
- It saves time. Scheduled weekly (or bi-weekly) maintenance of any task means that things will always be in a state of relative clean. When you take the time each week to wipe out your fridge shelves, sanitize the sink, scrub toilets, or swipe dust off of baseboards, things don't even have a chance to get grimy. That means that any time you go to clean, it will be easy-peasy and very quick, as opposed to requiring buckets of elbow grease and hours of your precious time. A twice-weekly cleaned toilet takes 2 minutes to clean; whereas a neglected one could take an hour to clean (don't ask me how I know that.) Take a few minutes each week to wipe down your range top and never scrape at built-up grease again.
- It reduces stress. You always know when the last time you did something was. This keeps things cleaner in general - it's easy to forget that it's been an entire week since you vaccuumed along the baseboards. This way you know that your enviroment is always at a base clean level. I don't know about you, but I can only relax if I know I'm not kicking up my heels amidst grime.
- It encourages whole-family participation, and reduces fights about "helping out around the house." David knows that Monday is laundry day, so he works really hard to run the laundry machines on Sunday so that I can fold and put away by the end of Monday (he HATES folding laundry.) On Wednesday morning, he often wipes down the bathroom mirrors or runs the toilet brush around the bowl because he knows that Wednesday is bathroom cleaning day. Knowing which tasks need to be completed on which days eliminates the guessing game as to what household work is the top priority, and enables family members to work together towards a well-maintained home (and eliminates the oft-used excuse that "I didn't know what needed to be done!")
- It helps manage clutter. We all know how quickly stuff can build up. Doing a systematic, once-weekly whole-home cleaning means that any unnecessary stuff has to be dealt with every. single. week. - significantly slowing things down. I am much more inclined to pitch stuff that I don't need if I know I'm going to encounter it again and again till it drives me crazy.
- It is healthier. The basic reason we need to keep clean homes is because it is unhealthy to live amidst dirt and debris - period. If you can't say for sure when the last time you disinfected your sink was, how do you know it was recently enough?
- It saves money. I swear to you, I am so overwhelmed with things as they are that if I let the household maintenance get away from me for even a couple of days, things would be such a mess that I would eventually throw my hands in the air and hire a professional cleaner. I'm never tempted to do that using this system.
I will probably share our household maintenance schedule next week, including the steps it took to come up with a plan that makes the most sense for our household, just so you all get a sense of how things run and how my head is still on. In the meantime, do you follow a home maintenance routine? Why or why not?